NFL

Fantasy Football: 6 Sleepers for Week 2

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
Fantasy Football: 6 Sleepers for Week 2

The word "sleeper" gets thrown around a lot in the world of fantasy football, to the point where an actual definition may vary from person to person. In general, sleepers are NFL players that may be flying relatively under the radar in a particular field. That could be an under-rostered player in season-long leagues, a player with an exciting matchup in a given week, or even a potential star just ahead of their true breakout.

In any case, we all need to find a sleeper from time to time. Whether you're a fantasy football hipster looking to roster an exciting new player before your league-mates hear about him, a daily fantasy manager looking for a lower-salary player to fill out a lineup loaded with studs, or even just a manager in a pinch due to byes or injuries, we have you covered. We'll be bringing you six fantasy sleepers each and every week throughout the season.

Fantasy Football Week 2 Sleepers

Baker Mayfield, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

FanDuel Salary: $6,800

Much has changed since Baker Mayfield's exciting, record-setting rookie season with the Cleveland Browns. The former first-overall pick flamed out with the Browns, lost the Carolina Panthers starting gig to Sam Darnold, and then made a couple spot starts out of necessity for an extremely banged up Los Angeles Rams team a season ago. Heading into the 2023 season, Mayfield was "competing" for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting job against former second-round pick Kyle Trask in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement. Things really could have looked worse for Mayfield in his first outing as the Bucs' starter, and now he'll get a Week 2 matchup against another soft NFC North defense as the Bucs take on the Chicago Bears.

Mayfield did just enough as a passer to secure the win for Tampa Bay in Week 1, completing 21 of 34 passes (61.8%) of his passes for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. He only took 1 sack while surprisingly rushing the ball 8 times (for just 11 yards, though). His primary receiver corps of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin could actually help Mayfield turn in some fantasy-relevant outings during the 2023 season -- he was shockingly the QB13 among all quarterbacks in Week 1.

His matchup this week puts him firmly in streaming territory in season-long leagues, and with a $6,800 salary on FanDuel, he becomes an easily-stackable quarterback in DFS with Evans ($7,100) and Godwin ($6,300). The Bears just got dusted by the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 despite the Packers missing WR1 Christian Watson due to a hamstring injury. They managed to keep the Packers' ground game in check for the most part but were simply picked apart by unproven quarterback Jordan Love. This is an ongoing issue for Chicago after their defense allowed the most points in the league a season ago, so it seems unlikely they'll figure something out ahead of their Week 2 matchup with the Bucs.

With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin beating up on Chicago's secondary, Mayfield is in a good spot to put up solid numbers in Week 2. He doesn't have the same kind of rushing upside as other stud fantasy quarterbacks, but his eight rush attempts in Week 1 could be a precursor to a bigger rushing floor for him than we've seen in previous seasons.

Josh Reynolds, WR, Detroit Lions

FanDuel Salary: $5,900

The Detroit Lions look poised for another year of strong offensive output in 2023. Quarterback Jared Goff kept the ball moving in the passing game, completing 22 of 35 attempts for 253 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers really should have looked even better, too, but starting wideout Marvin Jones unfortunately dropped the ball -- literally. Jones caught just two of his six targets on the night for only eight yards, lost a costly fumble in the red zone, and dropped two passes on critical plays. It was an ugly night for Jones, of the kind that could portend an increased role for the next man up.

That next man up looks like Josh Reynolds, who did have a strong season opener. Reynolds caught 4 of his 7 targets for 80 yards against the Chiefs and looked like the only Lions receiver that could make a play down the field. With Amon-Ra St. Brown and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta dominating underneath targets, Reynolds could flash as the boundary receiver in the Lions' RPO-style offense if the team phases Jones out of the offense.

Reynolds' strong Week 1 performance should earn him a promotion, too. He amassed 36.4% of Detroit's air yards in the passing game in Week 1, drawing targets 10.7 yards down the field on average. He was efficient with the ball in his hands, producing 2.2 more yards after the catch per reception than expected, according to Next Gen Stats. If he turns into an every-down player and earns more targets -- as it looks like should -- he could become a weekly starter in fantasy football this season.

He has a chance to ball out against the Seattle Seahawks this week. The Seahawks' secondary was picked apart by the Los Angeles Rams' combo of Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell in Week 1, which does not bode well for the rest of their season. The Lions' offense is good enough to know that, when they have a favorable matchup to take advantage of, they should be able to put Reynolds in a good position to score some fantasy points this week.

Kendrick Bourne, WR, New England Patriots

FanDuel Salary: $5,900

New England Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne isn't going to be a sleeper for much longer if he continues to play like he did in Week 1. When the Patriots really needed a play against the Philadelphia Eagles, they looked Bourne's way. He was highly productive in Week 1, catching 6 of his 11 targets for 64 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Bourne has actually been with the team for three seasons now. His first campaign with the team saw him quietly put up 55 catches for 800 yards and 5 scores with a rookie Mac Jones, but he unfortunately fell back into obscurity last season after a falling out with infamous coordinator Matt Patricia during training camp. It looks like he could be on the rise in 2023 with new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien calling the shots, though. Week 1 was the first game in his New England career that he played as an every-down player. That means his target share numbers could be stickier on a week-to-week basis than we may have anticipated. We can't expect him to draw 11 targets every game this year -- the Patriots trailed for the entire duration of their Week 1 loss -- but without a true WR1 on the roster, Bourne might become the guy for them this year.

This week Bourne and the Patriots are slated to face off against the Miami Dolphins in a game with the fourth-highest implied total (46.5 points) in Week 2. There's a good chance the Dolphins' defense could be gassed heading into the game, as well. Only two teams in the league played more defensive snaps than the Dolphins' whopping 76 snaps in Week 1. Even when fresh their defense still allowed 34 points in the opener, so the Patriots could have a chance to put up good numbers in Week 2.

Jerome Ford, RB, Cleveland Browns

FanDuel Salary: $4,800

There were plenty of reasons to be in on Jerome Ford in the Cleveland Browns' offense this year, but even his most optimistic fans could not have possibly expected him to handle 15 carries in the season opener. Granted, he did see most of his work in the fourth quarter as the Browns managed a serious lead over the Cincinnati Bengals, but to see him handle that much work while coming off of an injury bodes well for his fantasy opportunities this season. The Browns didn't even give another other backs any touches behind him and Nick Chubb, so it looks like he's in for some solid production this year.

Ford did mix in for a few touches before the fourth quarter -- including a series at the goal line -- though it looks like he'll be playing solidly behind Chubb for the most part this year. That makes him one of the premiere running back handcuffs to stash in general, but it still leaves room for him to work his way into the "Kareem Hunt role". And, if we see the Browns in any more blowouts, he looks like the go-to guy in those situations.

We might have another blowout on tap in Week 2. The Browns are slated to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the few offenses in the league that managed to look as bad as the Bengals in Week 1. The Steelers could be in for a rough day against the Browns' defensive front after what we saw their offensive line muster against the San Francisco 49ers last week. If things go as poorly for the Steelers this week as they did last week, we could see Ford hit 15 carries again in Week 2. If you play in season-long leagues, Ford needs to be rostered before kickoff in Week 2.

Chuba Hubbard, RB, Carolina Panthers

FanDuel Salary: $5,600

The Carolina Panthers did not look especially exciting in their 2023 opener, but Chuba Hubbard had a surprisingly solid day. While starting rusher Miles Sanders lost a fumble and took his 18 carries for 72 yards, Hubbard looked explosive with his touches, rushing the ball 9 times for 60 yards and catching 2 passes for 9 yards. Hubbard mixed in more often than we might have expected given the stout three-year contract the Panthers handed Sanders in the offseason, and his play in Week 1 could force the Panthers into more of a committee situation than we were initially projecting.

It's not the first time we've seen Hubbard look good on the field, either. The former fourth-round pick played well for the Panthers after they traded away Christian McCaffrey last year, averaging 4.9 yards per carry while toting the ball 95 times for 466 yards. While his rookie season left much to be desired, we're still really only a few seasons removed from Hubbard rushing for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns as a 19-year-old for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. He might be more talented than we've given him credit for so far in his NFL career and could have a chance to usurp Sanders if he continues to out-play him.

This week the Panthers will take on the New Orleans Saints, who, relatively speaking, bottled up Derrick Henry in Week 1. While they did manage to keep Henry to "just" 4.2 yards per carry in Week 1, they looked vulnerable to the Titans' secondary playmakers -- and especially to backup rusher Tyjae Spears. Spears' final stat line suffered due to Ryan Tannehill's struggles, but his usage in the passing game did seem to find a weak spot in the Saints' defense. With Sanders likely handling the majority of early-down work, Hubbard could make a splash for Carolina in the change-of-pace role and as a receiver against the Saints this week.

Hayden Hurst, TE, Carolina Panthers

FanDuel Salary: $5,400

Our final sleeper of the week is another member of the Panthers, tight end Hayden Hurst. As sloppy as the Panthers' passing game looked in Week 1 (just 146 passing yards), Hurst looked like he could be a featured part of that offense while rookie passer Bryce Young gets up to speed.

Hurst ran a route on 90% of Young's Week 1 drop backs, firmly entrenching him as a part of the team's passing-catching group and not as a blocker. He ended up leading the team in Week 1 targets with 7, catching 5 of those for 41 yards and the first touchdown of Young's career. Considering the Panthers' current group of pass-catchers, it seems possible that Hurst may actually lead the team in receiving for most of the season.

That's pretty much all you can ask for in a tight end in fantasy football; just pick a guy who is running routes and has a good chance of drawing targets. Even in Carolina's rocky offense, his 7 targets were the third-most among tight ends in Week 1 while his 41 yards ranked ninth-most at the position. The numbers weren't flashy, but he certainly got the job done relative to the Travis Kelce-less field. Hurst is still widely available on waiver wires in most season-long leagues -- and could stay there until the Panthers' passing offense takes a step forward -- but you could do much worse than Hurst if you're looking for production at the tight end position.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.