Week 1: Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains

Can Paul Richardson pick up on Sunday where he left off in the final weeks of last season? Fanalyst Liz Loza thinks so.

It’s baaacccckkk! Not just football, but a regular dose of my Deep Sleepers and DFS Bargains. Every Friday I’ll continue digging for gold and doling out five under-the-radar grabs.

To review … all of these players are owned in less than 60 percent of Yahoo leagues (at time of writing) and/or are a significant value in our daily game. They’re not the obvious picks, and they’re not without their risks, but that’s why they’re so cheap and available! I’d never advocate taking all of these guys, but rather utilizing them if a manager were in a pinch at a position or aiming to build a “stars and scrubs” sort of DFS lineup.

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Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle Seahawks ($17)
A second-round selection from the 2014 draft, Richardson’s potential has always been huge, but he’s had trouble staying on the field. In college, after missing the 2012 season due to an ACL tear, he bounced back and set a Buffs record, logging 1,201 receiving yards. This back-and-forth has followed him into the pros: flashing in a big spot … but then ending up on the IR. Last year, however, after Tyler Lockett fell victim to a broken leg, Richardson showed up and delivered for Seattle.

From Weeks 16-19, the 6-foot, 175-pound wideout played nearly 67 percent of the team’s snaps, averaged 3.75 catches per contest, and scored two TDs. And that was as the team’s No. 3 receiver! With Jermaine Kearse now in New York and Lockett listed with the second team, the 25-year-old figures to see a larger piece of the passing pie.

Expected to line up opposite Doug Baldwin, Richardson has a sweet matchup to open the season. In what figures to be a shootout at Green Bay, he’s likely to draw CB Davon House, who was so bad Jacksonville (a team that allowed 12 receiving TDs in 2016) cut him. Assuming he can eschew catastrophic injury, he should be $$$ on Sunday.

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Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints ($14)
I can hear your groans through the interwebs, but don’t let a (false) narrative allow you to miss out on top-10 potential at the position. In 2016 Fleener averaged over five targets per game and closed out the year as fantasy’s 12th most productive TE. He also only had three drops on the season.

While he didn’t catch on to Sean Payton’s playbook as quickly as many had hoped, he was a stud when subbing in for Willie Snead. With the team’s slot receiver sidelined (toe) in Week 3 vs. Atlanta, Fleener converted 7 of 11 balls for 109 yards and a score. Admittedly, this go-around will be tougher, as Drew Brees is on the road and the Vikings only gave up four TDs to TEs last year, but Fleener still figures to get fed. He’s had a year to acclimate to the offense and fills an immediate need in the team’s season opener.

Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles ($13)
Third in red zone targets last year with 13 looks, the Eagles clearly want to get Sproles involved near the goal line. Averaging almost 11 fantasy points per game in 2016, Sproles closed out the season as a top-25 producer in PPR formats. Facing a Redskins defense that gave up over four catches per game and four receiving TDs to RBs last year, the vet opens the season with a friendly matchup. With Alshon Jeffery likely to draw shutdown CB Josh Norman, and in a pairing with shootout potential (Vegas set the line at 48), Sproles figures to be involved in scoring situations. While everyone else is on TE Zach Ertz, Sproles is an under-the-radar contrarian play. FF: FF: 11 total touches for 63 combined yards and 1 TD

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Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears ($13)
It may be a boring vet call, but someone has to catch the ball in Chicago. A technician in the slot, Wright has been consistently serviceable when on the field. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him sidelined far too often. Still, after entering the lineup for Tennessee last year, Wright was a top-10 producer three times from Weeks 4-11, scoring on each of his red zone opportunities. He wasn’t able to finish the season due to … you guessed it … injury, but he’s healthy right now. Showing well in the regular season dress rehearsal and reuniting with former OC Dowell Loggains and former WRs coach Zach Azzanni, Wright has flex appeal in Week 1.

Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angles Rams ($10)
It feels like I’ve spent the summer using ALL the words on Kupp. Highly productive at Eastern Washington, the rookie has looked L-E-G-I-T throughout the preseason, serving as Jared Goff’s sure-handed safety valve. Opening the season at home and facing a Colts defense that not only gave up the sixth-most receiving yards per game (275.5) last year, but is also without their best corner, Kupp could reel in as many as six grabs on Sunday. While I like Sammy Watkins in this matchup as well, the chemistry between Goff and Kupp is undeniable, making the rookie a surprisingly safer bet.

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Bonus: Will Tye, TE, New York Jets ($10)
On the premier episode of Yahoo DFS Live with the RotoGrinders crew, I was asked to present a Sawbuck Special. While Dean and Dalton chickened out, I dug deep for a $10 baller. With Austin Sefarian-Jenkins suspended the first two weeks of the season, Tye has been added to the Jets.

He may not be a world-beater, but he did do some #werk for the Giants back in 2015 when Larry Donnell was banged up. From Weeks 10-17, Tye averaged 4.6 catches and nearly 53 yards per game. He also scored three TDs over the last four weeks of that season. A capable receiver with solid speed (4.6) for his size (6-2 and 262 pounds), Tye is a tournament dart throw who could stun against a Bills defense composed of newcomers and part-time starters.

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Dig Deep with Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF.