The Fantasy Glossary at NFL.com defines a sleeper as “a late-round pick or waiver-wire selection who exceeds his statistical expectations and becomes a prominent option in fantasy leagues.” These sleepers can change on a week-to-week basis, and it just so happens that Week Four could shape up to see nearly all Buccaneers as sleeper candidates.
With NFL bye weeks starting this week (both the Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers have the week off), fantasy owners may be forced to tap the waiver wire for their replacements. And it is there that you may find some of the biggest fantasy football points earners in this week’s Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchup.
1. A New Buccaneer Cannon
The Buccaneers will welcome a new starting quarterback this week in rookie Mike Glennon. While he is certainly not sending shockwaves through the fantasy community (owned in 0.6% of fantasy leagues), he does make his first career start against a defense that ranks 30th in points allowed to opposing QBs.
The Arizona Cardinals boast one of the most athletic cornerbacks in the league with second-year man Patrick Peterson. Rookie Tyrann Mathieu is also making waves, compiling 23 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble. However, despite their positive play, opposing quarterbacks have been able to put up an average of 22.3 fantasy points per game against them. In their three games this season, the Cardinals defense has allowed seven touchdown passes and 297 yards per game.
In addition to facing a defense that can give up points through the air, Glennon comes in benefitting from having worked in a pro-style offense during his time at North Carolina State. He threw for 4,031 yards last season, with 31 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also showed proficiency in passing to his running backs, something that should be noted as
Of course, competing in a pro-style offense and competing as an actual NFL pro are two entirely different things. Glennon now must compete against NFL defenses rather than college defenses, but his familiarity with the system could give him an advantage.
Fantasy-wise, putting a rookie quarterback making his first professional start for an offense that has yet to get things started is likely considered a stretch. But this is the sleeper edition, and Glennon certainly qualifies. With two bona fide fantasy starters (Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton) on bye, Glennon could fill a role in deep or two-QB leagues.
Fantasy owners facing a bye with their regular starting quarterback could also pick up Arizona signal-caller Carson Palmer. Palmer is owned in less than 10% of fantasy leagues, averaging just a shade over 10 fantasy points per game. The Buccaneers defense has proven stout against the pass, allowing the 12th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks despite facing two of fantasy’s best QBs in Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Based on matchup, Carson Palmer would seem to be a same-tier fantasy starter as Tampa Bay’s young gun this week.
2. On the Receiving End
Going into the game, both Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Mike Williams (hamstring), Tampa Bay’s two leading receivers, are listed as questionable to play. Jackson (88.3 yards per game this season) and Williams (42 ypg, 1 TD) have accounted for 60% of the Buccaneers’ receptions this season and 68% of the team’s receiving yardage. Should they sit out, or at least be limited by their injuries, the Buccaneers would roll out a couple of sleeper candidates at wide receiver as well.
Outside of Jackson and Williams, the Buccaneers’ leading receiver is Eric Page with 55 yards on three receptions. Right behind him is Kevin Ogletree with 40 yards and a touchdown on three. Of their combined 95 yards, 90 came in Week Three after the injuries to the starting receivers. The two could see themselves lining up more at receiver this week. Coincidentally, however, these two receivers are likely the most comfortable with starting quarterback Mike Glennon, having worked with him more on the second team in earlier weeks and throughout the offseason. This familiarity, on top of their likelihood of seeing more snaps, could boost their sleeper potential.
Should your fantasy league offer points for special teams returns, this makes Eric Page a dual threat this week. Page has taken out two kickoffs this season, averaging 30 yards per return. On six punt returns this year, he has averaged 7.8 yards. Kevin Ogletree is no stranger to shaking up the fantasy world. Last season, as a Dallas Cowboy, he went off for 114 yards and two touchdowns against the New York Giants in Week One. Then, in Week Nine, against the Atlanta Falcons, he had 96 yards and one score. If Jackson or Williams sit this week, either Page or Ogletree could put up respectable fantasy numbers.
The Arizona Cardinals leading receiver is Larry Fitzgerald. He had his best week to open the season, with 80 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. Since then, against the Detroit and New Orleans defenses, he has just seven catches for 97 yards. This week, he and his fellow Arizona receivers face a Buccaneers defense that is giving up the fifth-fewest points to opposing receivers, despite allowing two WR touchdowns last week.
3. Creating Turnovers
Currently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked ninth in fantasy points at the D/ST position with 29 points tallied over three games. That number is impressive considering the team ranked last in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game last season and allowing the second most passing touchdowns. It is even more impressive when you factor in that they have faced Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots already this season.
So far this year, the Buccaneers have 12 sacks, the same number of takedowns they had in the first eight games this season. The team also has four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown. The Cardinals’ offense has allowed eight, nine and 13 fantasy points in their three games this season. Carson Palmer has been sacked nine times and thrown four interceptions.
The Buccaneers have a number of playmakers in individual defensive player (IDP) leagues this season. Safety
The Buccaneers linebacker corps is arguably among the best in the NFL, putting up some head-turning statistics this season.
On the defensive line, DE
With the Cardinals’ offense struggling in pass protection, and the Buccaneers proficiency in getting to the quarterback and forcing turnovers, all highlighted IDP options and the Buccaneers D/ST as a whole are great plays this week. And, at just 18.7% owned, this Buccaneers defensive squad counts as just one more Tampa Bay Week Four sleeper.