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Fantasy football sleepers for Week 1

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Week 1 of the 2021 NFL football season is days away, and it’s time to fine-tune your fantasy lineups. This includes hunting for solid flex players and sleepers that can pop off and help you win the game.

Each week during the NFL season, this article will highlight some deep sleepers for you to consider when setting lineups. You’ll never see Tier 1 players mentioned in this article, as I’ll look to unearth legitimate deep sleepers — players either low-owned or rarely started.

Here are some of the deep sleepers you should keep an eye on for Week 1.

 

 

Week 1 QB sleepers

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ aerial attack are in a good spot to hit big against the beaten-up Bengals, especially after starting CB Trae Waynes was ruled out:

The Bengals ranked dead last in sacks (17) last season and sixth worst in QB hits (69). With Adam Thielen healthy and record-breaker Justin Jefferson entering Year 2, Cousins should be able to put up starter-worthy numbers this week.

Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers

Sam Darnold gets a “Revenge Game” against the Jets in Week 1 — and with an immensely improved supporting cast. Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson are a killer trio of pass-catchers. This game has a low over/under of 44, but that’s largely because this is Zach Wilson’s first game under center on the opposite side of the field. If he’s as impressive in Week 1 as he was in the preseason, this game could easily shoot over.

QBs so sleepy they may never wake up, but the upside is still there if you’re desperate: Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger

Week 1 RB sleepers

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs-Cowboys season opener has a mouth-watering 51.5 over/under, with Tampa operating as massive 8.5-point home favorites. This sets up well in terms of gamescript for Leonard Fournette (and Ronald Jones). The Cowboys allowed the second-most rushing yards per game (159) to opposing team’s last season.

James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are 3-point underdogs against the Titans in a game with the second-highest over/under of the week (52). As underdogs, this would appear to be a game that sets up better for Chase Edmonds, but the high scoring potential sets up well for James Conner, who figures to lead the team in red-zone and goal-line rushing attempts. He’s a good flex sleeper with the TD upside this week.

David Johnson, Houston Texans

It may feel gross, but if there’s a time to feel good about playing David Johnson it’s early in the season against terrible run defenses. The Jaguars ranked 30th in the league last season in rushing yards allowed (153 per game). We don’t know how the mix between Johnson, Mark Ingram and Phillip Lindsay will play out, but I expect Johnson to be somewhat immune to gamescript as the team’s likely third-down back.

RBs so sleepy they may never wake up, but the upside is still there if you’re desperate: Sony Michel, James White, Devin Singletary/Zack Moss

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Week 1 WR sleepers

Corey Davis, New York Jets

Corey Davis was a rapid riser this preseason, and you should feel great about inserting him into your Week 1 lineup. According to our WR/CB matchup chart, Davis has the seventh-best matchup among all WRs.

Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns

The primary reason to like Jarvis Landry this week is a simple one: The Browns-Chiefs game is going to produce a ton of points, with the Browns likely passing early and often to keep up with the Chiefs high-powered offense. The over/under is pegged at 54.5, the highest of the week. If you’re making a choice between a few different flex options and Landry is one of them, do not overlook the game environment.

DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

DeVonta Smith’s rookie debut should be a good one. The Eagles square off against the Falcons, who gave up the most passing yards in the league last season. Trusting a rookie in their debut is always a little scary, but there may be no better opportunity for Smith all season.

WRs so sleepy they may never wake up, but the upside is still there if you’re desperate: Michael Pittman, Michael Gallup, Kenny Golladay, Jakobi Meyers, Elijah Moore, Mecole Hardman

Week 1 TE sleepers

Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks only kept four WRs on their roster, and while it’s obvious that DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will absorb about 50% of the targets, the lack of depth at the position suggests Gerald Everett could see the field and run routes more often than we expect, perhaps even sliding into the slot on some snaps. 

Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns

The reason to like Landry above is the same reason to like Austin Hooper as a sleeper: The game environment is incredible. The Chiefs allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs last season. Hooper is a solid streaming option. 

TEs so sleepy they may never wake up, but the upside is still there if you’re desperate: Eric Ebron, Jared Cook, Zach Ertz

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