While it has become increasingly difficult to identify true fantasy football sleepers in this day and age, with the common fantasy player having far more information at his or her disposal. We give it our best shot at identifying some of our favorite sleepers heading into the final draft weekend of the year. This is part one of our five-part series. We will be covering our favorite sleepers, breakouts, bounce backs, breakouts, and a few bold predictions for the upcoming season. As the pieces get linked, we will link each piece. Enjoy, and if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter.
Name one sleeper you are really high on in 2018?
The rookie out of Ole Miss is a guy I’ve been touting all offseason, reporting on the Redshirts Pod that I believe he will be the team’s Week 1 starter. He may not be much of a “sleeper” anymore given the recent hype, but I still like Wilkins to lead the Colts in rushing in 2018. With Mack currently dealing with a strained hamstring, Robert Turbin suspended for 4 games, and Nyheim Hines primarily in a pass-catching role, Wilkins has a clear route to opportunity. In fantasy, opportunity is king, and Wilkins will get a shot to prove he’s the guy in Indy’s backfield. With Luck looking like he’ll be ready for Week 1, the team as a whole is primed for bounce-back success. Give me the back on the roster who is the only one with true between the tackles size – Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT)
The Colts enter the 2018 season with a healthy Andrew Luck under center and a new coaching staff led by former Eagles OC Frank Reich. With incumbent Marlon Mack currently nursing a hamstring injury and veteran Robert Turbin out the first four games due to suspension, Wilkins finds himself alone atop the depth chart. Though he’s sharing reps with fellow rookie Nyheim Hines and career journeyman Christine Michael, the Ole Miss product has reportedly shown well throughout training camp and at the very least, has a leg up on his only competition. The bottom line? If the season started today, Wilkins would be first in line for starter’s reps in an Andrew-Luck led offense that’s primed for positive regression after a disappointing year. Draft him where you can and buckle up. – Patrick Clapp (@PHClapp)
Enunwa has already demonstrated that he can be productive in the NFL. In 2016, his second season, Enunwa lead the Jets with 857 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns, despite 23 fewer targets than Brandon Marshall and the trio of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bryce Petty, and Geno Smith. Those quarterbacks combined for the worst quarterback rating in the league, the second-worst completion percentage, and the most interceptions in the league. Losing 2017 due to a neck injury, Enunwa comes back to a Jets team in need of good pass catchers. Wide receiver Robby Anderson faces a suspension due to some offseason trouble, Terrelle Pryor is nowhere to be found in the preseason and is coming off of an awful season with Washington, and there are no reliable tight ends. Playing from the slot and with a presumably better quarterback situation with Josh McCown and rookie Sam Darnold, Enunwa is poised to compete for comeback player of the year. At WR6+ prices, take a late flier and reap potential WR2 numbers. – Sam Lane (@FFStompy)
This preseason has been a big one for Geronimo Allison, as he’s cemented himself as the third wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. In 2017, when Jordy Nelson was unable to get anything going, Allison stepped up. Over the Packers’ final four games last year, Allison caught 12 of 18 targets for 86 yards. Allison also showed last year that he could play both in the slot and on the outside. Allison’s usage should see a major uptick now that Jordy Nelson is out of the picture and Randall Cobb is a bit injury prone. Right now, Allison is ranked as the 70th overall WR, making him a great value for late round fliers. – Katie Babino (@katiebabs23)
A sleeper I am very high on is Tyrell Williams, I don’t see Mike Williams staying healthy, gaining the trust of Rivers, and establishing himself enough. Tyrell is playing for a contract and has had a 1,000-yard season before, in 2016, with 7 touchdowns to boot. I see Tyrell with a similar stat line and anchoring your WR3 spot all season. – Dwight Peebles (@FFPeeblesChamp)
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Gio Bernard is going in the 11th round according to Fantasy Football Calculator. He’s one of the best pass-catching backs in the league and has proven his worth a standalone option in PPR formats. Here’s a fun fact. Gio Bernard was an RB1 over the final five games of the season last year racking up 297 rushing yards on 64 attempts and hauling in 19 of his 21 targets for 167 yards and chipped in two rushing touchdowns. He also finished 15th in targets(61), 14th in receiving yards (381), and 6th in yards per touch (5.7) on the season. Gio has been a model of consistency since he’s been in the league with finishes of 29th, 35th, 17th, 19th, and 12th his rookie season in PPR scoring formats.
While Joe Mixon is all the rage right now with his 2nd-round ADP, it’s Gio that I would much rather have at a significant reduction in price. I mean, how is Latavius Murray, Corey Clement, Nick Chubb, Ty Montgomery, and CJ Anderson all going in front of him? My mom always told me that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. Draft Gio Bernard everywhere in the 10th round and feel great about landing a player who at worst is a solid flex play, while also carrying RB1 upside if anything happens to Joe Mixon in 2018. – Kevin Steele (@FantasyWrath13)
With an ADP of 151 overall in 12 team leagues and projecting as the 57th running back off the board, Bilal Powell is currently severely undervalued. He is listed atop the Jets depth chart as the RB1 over new signee Isaiah Crowell. Crowell is expected to take some of the early down work away from Powell but is not a threat to take Powell’s established pass-catching role. Even so, I am not a believer in Crowell to control the touches as he consistently let down fantasy owners during his Cleveland tenure. Elijah McGuire may also miss the first eight weeks of the season on IR so I expect Powell to be heavily in the Jets backfield as a runner and pass catcher. In 2017, Powell was RB26 in PPR. He was 22nd in the league in rushing attempts (178), 20th in rush yards (772) and 19th in rushing touchdowns (5) and that was with Matt Forte as the “lead back”. Powell is great at making the most of his opportunities and needs to be considered as a high end RB3 with high volume upside if he can lock in an every-down role with a strong start to the season. – Travis Finkel (@TravisFinkel)
Hyde finished as RB8 in PPR leagues last season, posting 938 yards on 240 carries with eight touchdowns and 59 receptions for 350 yards. For those thinking he was a product of Kyle Shanahan’s offense, well, he finished as RB18 in 2016, while missing three games. Besides liking the actual talent of the player, Hyde has been able to establish himself as the main back in Cleveland through two preseason games. Hyde carried the ball nine times for 64 yards and a touchdown week 2 of the preseason and has played the majority of snaps with the first team in both preseason games. With Chubb appearing to be settled into a backup role, Hyde appears to have the running downs role locked down, and his 86 receptions the last two seasons suggests he could potentially be in for a three-down role. Remember, Browns said they plan to ride the hot hand with their RBs this season and in Haley’s no-huddle offense Hyde should find himself on the field a lot. He’s going as the 36th RB off the board in ESPN leagues. – Joshua Kellem (@FFtalkDotorg)
This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned Hurns as a sleeper and it won’t be the last. His ADP actually went down over the past month, with him now falling into the mid-10th round (WR#46) in half-PPR, 12 player leagues. Hurns will outperform this ADP and is the anticipated #1 receiver in the Dallas offense. Dez and Witten left 231 available targets behind for the taking. I’m not concerned with Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams. Rookie WR Michael Gallup could see more work as the season progresses, but Hurns’ opportunity and amount of targets provide a solid floor in the later rounds.
Hurns showed fantasy owners what he is capable of in 2015 when he finished as the #16 fantasy WR in half/full PPR. He caught 64 receptions for 1031 yards and 10 TDs. He’s missed games over the past two seasons with injuries and got dinged up a bit recently, so he isn’t without some risk. His talent is often underestimated. Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception on Allen Hurns showed a strong success rate on deep patterns as well as a 91.7 conversion rate on contested throws. This was THE HIGHEST conversion rate among contested throws of Matt’s sample over the last four seasons. Targets. Opportunity. Talent. Bounce back offense. Tenth round ADP. I like it. – Jen Smith (@TheOnlyJenSmith)
This isn’t a real sexy pick, but here we are. Originally this was going to Randall Cobb, but as I was writing this the trade rumors have started to swirl so I decided to go with someone who is on the verge of becoming a year-in and year-out reliable fantasy asset. We don’t have much to go off of for the second year receiver, but know this: In his second year, he led the No. 1 offense in targets (94), receptions, yards and tied for third on receiving TDs (behind Gurley and Watkins). Now looking at current ADP, Kupp and Robert Woods are not too far off. Why take Kupp over Woods at the same price, Ryan? Here’s why for me:
- Woods, it was nice of you to show us you can ball out and all as the Rams No. 1 Wide Receiver which was made apparent by Week 3 of the season, but now with Brandin Cooks in the mix he’s back to being the No. 2 – a spot he was very familiar with in Buffalo. And as a No. 2 receiver, I think his potential to outshine Kupp can be diminished because…
- We know Kupp is going to be on the field. He ran 59% of his routes in the slot, and also played on the outside as well. We know Cooks will mainly run on the outside, and Woods favors the outside. I like drafting receivers who will get usage and there’s a ton of film from last season to show what Kupp can do in space. Like Wild Card Weekend versus ATL.
- Sneakily, Kupp had more WR 1 (top 12 weeks) than he’s getting credit for with 4 in Standard and 5 in PPR formats. That was more than Chris Hogan, T.Y. Hilton, Stefon Diggs, Alshon Jeffery and tied with Michael Thomas – all who are being drafted ahead of him. Oh, and better than fellow teammate Robert Woods I may add.
This is all as a rookie. Again, we don’t have much to go off of, but that’s why he’s an ideal sleeper. Going in the 8th round currently, this is around the time I start looking to build up my roster with valuable RB/WR assets. At his current price, Kupp will be on a lot of my teams for the 2018 season. – Ryan Williams (@RyanAlexander_W)
Courtland Sutton – While he has Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in front of him, he figures to be in the same position that Kenny Golladay was last season. He likely won’t hold a ton of week-to-week value, he’s worthy of a stash in deeper formats in the event something happens to either of the veteran wide receivers.
Anthony Miller – It’s hard to ignore the strong camp Miller has put up. He very well could be second in targets by the end of the year on an offense that is sure to take off with forward-thinking Matt Nagy now at the helm. Miller is one of my favorite late-round wide receivers.
James Washington – Another preseason/training camp darling, Washington looks to be the Martavis Bryant in this offense. While many would shy away from a teams No3. WR, the Steelers top three wide receivers all had 50 receptions or more last year making Washington a viable option. His immediate value will be as a field stretcher which is something he demonstrated at the collegiate level averaging over 20 YPR and graded high in contested catch rate in Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception.
Jeremy Hill – The pendulum has swung back and forth for Jeremy Hill this season. He cut 10 pounds over the offseason and really has shown. He looks like a different player and will likely be the teams new short-yardage/goal-line back in New England. With injuries to Rex Burkhead (knee) and rookie Sony Michel (knee), Hill is a few injuries away from having real RB1 upside.
Michael Gallup – Another rookie, however, this one could end up being the teams WR1 before the season is over, albeit on a low-volume passing offense. Gallup has the highest ADP among the rookie WRs listed, but that’s mainly due in large part because of where he stands in the pecking order for targets.
Mitchell Trubisky – I really wanted to select Trubisky as my sleeper. He’s currently going undrafted in all formats, which really shouldn’t be the case. The offense is completely revamped and as mentioned above, should benefit from an offense that will be far more aggressive in the passing game. One could also make an argument that no offense will be more improved with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton. and Anthony Miller. Trubisky looks mighty similar to where Jared Goff stood a year ago with far better options in the passing attack.
John Ross – I really could do a whole write up on the Bengals passing offense this year. They are primed for positive regression and should provide far more fantasy goodness than a year ago. John Ross was selected as a top 10 pick in last years NFL draft but saw very little action during his rookie campaign. Ross has speed (4.22 40-yard dash) comparable to Tyreek Hill but has a ways to go before being nearly the route runner he is. Ross enters 2018 with a real opportunity to be a weekly WR4 or 5 in PPR formats and will have some boom weeks. I am buying the Bengals offense in 2018 and have zero qualms drafting Dalton, Green, Bernard, or Ross at their respective ADPs.