It’s always important to draft as many elite players as possible, but it’s also important to find those players late in the draft that will give your team that extra boost it needs to win your league. Every year, there is always at least one guy that hardly anyone predicted to take over the fantasy world. There’s also a handful of athletes that don’t even get going until the 2nd half of the year. But finding out who is going to take off and drafting them in the later rounds of your draft means putting in some study time. Sometimes it’s luck, or a gut feeling, but it is nice to select a player you view as a sleeper and then you’re right. It adds depth to your roster and increases your chances of winning, which is what we’re all hoping to accomplish in our fantasy leagues.
I’ve narrowed down my list of sleepers to my top 3 based on their position. None of these guys are going too early in drafts, and a couple of them are already on people’s radar. With that, here is my list of NFL players your should NOT sleep on.
Top Sleepers: QB
Mr. Mustache was a nice surprise for fantasy owners and the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. He played 14 games last season after Nick Foles fell to injury. Minshew actually played so well, the Jaguars decided to make him the official starter and shipped Foles away to the Bears. Now, he’s not the best QB in the league, and I don’t recommend drafting him to be the starting QB for your fantasy squad. However, he’s going to add some nice depth to your roster, and who knows, maybe your starting QB falls to injury, gets suspended, etc… Having Minshew right there to sub in is going to keep your team competitive. In 2019, the Jorts wearing QB put up over 3200 yards and 21 touchdowns. He only threw 6 interceptions too, which gave him a great TD/INT ratio. Those stats led him to averaging 16.4 points per game, where he actually finished as the QB21 in PPR leagues. He has some decent WRs this year, and the Jags are a bad team, which means Minshew could be that gunslinging QB you need come playoff time.
Daniel Jones played 13 games last year after filling in for Eli Manning. During that time span, Jones threw for just over 3000 yards and 24 touchdowns, which led to a 16.5 point average per game. This was rather impressive, considering how much shit everyone gave the Giants for drafting him so high, he’s a rookie, AND the Giants dealt with injuries all year long. I’m sure you’re aware of the sophomore slump, but I have a hard time seeing that happen for the Giants QB. New York actually has a pretty dangerous looking offense on paper, with Saquon Barkley in the backfield, a sturdy O-line, and a talented WR group, Daniel Jones already has the tools around him to be successful. Most people aren’t drafting Jones until the later rounds, so if you feel like being risky, stack up your roster and take Jones as your starting QB.
Most people have Tannehill written off their board as they believe last year was a fluke. The truth of the matter is, Tannehill has always been a decent QB in the NFL, just go look at his career stats. Last year in Tennessee, Tannehill stepped in as the starter following a week 6 loss to the Broncos. From week 7 on, Tannehill played as one of the best QBs in the league as he scored 18+ points in 8 of those 10 starts. I know, it’s unlikely for Tannehill to play at such a ridiculously high level throughout the entire 2020 season, and he’ll likely have a regression. But it’s not going to be as big as people think it’s going to be. AJ Brown has superstar potential written all over him, Jonnu Smith is an athletic TE with huge potential, he’ll have the same offensive coordinator calling the plays, and the same core group that was around him is still there. The best part about him, he’s a dual threat QB. Not only did he throw for 22 touchdowns, he also ran in 4… So even if Tannehill’s play regresses, he’s likely to still average 16+ points per game (depending on the scoring format), which makes him an incredibly reliable QB for your fantasy squad.
Top Sleepers: RB
Ronald Jones II
Otherwise known as RoJo, the Tampa Bay RB looks to be running away as the RB1 for this offense. A lot of the focus and attention is on the passing game. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, GRONK, and Tom Brady, are all pretty high on most people’s lists. However, RoJo is listed as the RB32 according to Matthew Berry, meaning that Jones isn’t even getting drafted until LATE in fantasy drafts. Last year, RoJo wasn’t the best RB, but he certainly wasn’t the worst, as he finished the season with 724 rushing yards along with 6 touchdowns. He also averaged 10.4 points per week in PPR formats, which made him an “okay” FLEX option. Considering the rest of the RB group in Tampa isn’t all that pretty, and opposing defenses are going to focus on the pass game, I’m expecting Jones to gobble up rushing yards and some touchdowns to help the Bucs run out the clock when they have the lead. He does have a fumble issue though, which could be a problem, but overall, the stock is rising for Ronald Jones II.
Almost everyone has Howard written off their draft board and I have yet to understand why. 2019 was obviously the worst year of his career so far, but from a statistical standpoint, Howard still produced. Although it was his first time not receiving at least 200 attempts, he still ran for over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns. He actually averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and in the 10 games he did play, Jordan Howard averaged 11.1 points per game. He’s now on a young Miami team hoping to develop in a wide open AFC East, and Howard is by far the best RB on that roster. I’m not saying draft Howard with the thought process he produces like an RB1, but he has the potential to be a solid RB4 with RB3 potential. Someone is going to run the ball in Miami, and Howard is going to eat up the attempts like Joey Chestnut on the 4th of July. If you’re in a PPR league, take Howard late in the draft and add some solid depth to your squad.
I know, he was hurt the entire 2018 season and only played 5 games last year, but hear me out. The Washington Football Team has an interesting offense that’s not really too far off from becoming a potential threat in the NFL. If Dwayne Haskins can improve, and the front office can build around him, the Football Team could find themselves as a dark horse playoff team in 2021. As of right now though, the RB situation is incredibly questionable. Adrian Peterson is doing is best Frank Gore impression and continues to take carries away from younger talent, and Washington just drafted rookie RB Antonio Gibson. At the end of the day though, Guice has the potential to be that special Running Back this franchise needs to take the next step, he just needs to stay healthy. So far, in his 5 career games, Guice has rushed for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and he’s averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game. Considering Peterson is an aging future Hall of Famer, and the other RB is a rookie trying to figure it out during a pandemic, Derrius Guice has the chance to become a viable RB1 for the Washington Football Team. Right now, he’s hardly on anyones radar in fantasy football, but I truly believe he has RB2-RB3 potential if he can stay healthy this year. He’s a high risk, high reward type of player.
Top Sleepers: WR
Most people are high on Darius Slayton as the top wideout in New York, but I’m here to tell you, it’s going to be Golden Tate. He’s entering his 11th season of his career, and considering how young this team is, Daniel Jones is going to need a reliable WR in the passing game. In 2019, Tate only played in 11 games total. During that stretch, he had 676 receiving yards along with 6 touchdowns. He also averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game, and you could argue that if he played a full 16 game season, Golden Tate would’ve finished 2019 as his 2nd best year in his career (at least in fantasy football). The main attack of the Giants offense is going to be Saquon Barkely, but I’m fully expecting Golden Tate to emerge as a legit WR3 this year in fantasy. Take him, and give yourself a strong FLEX option this year.
The Packers WR group is spread thin, especially after Devin Funchess chose to opt out this season. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have many options around him, which means it’s likely Aaron Jones and Devante Adams are going to have a HUGE year. But football is played with 11 guys on the field, and Rodgers can’t strictly throw to Jones and Adams every single play (although, he might have to this year). That means a WR2 on this Packers team will emerge, and my pick is Allen Lazard. He’s 6’5″, 227 pounds, and flashed some great play for the Packers last year. During this offseason, Rodgers even made a comment about Lazard, calling him an “ascending player.” At the very least, Lazard should be a nice red zone target for Aaron Rodgers, and considering how much focus defenses will put on Devante Adams, we may be looking at a future breakout star in Green Bay. Lazard has the potential to be a solid WR4 this year, and should have a few games where balls out.
Tajae who? I haven’t seen a single person mention this guy’s name yet in the fantasy world, which means he’s so far under the radar, you probably won’t even have to draft him. The former Tennessee Titan is now on the Minnesota Vikings. He was the WR4 on the Titans, but now that he’s with the Vikings, he has a legitimate shot at becoming a solid WR3, low-end WR2 on this roster. Right now, Adam Thielen is poised to have a monster season, and rookie Justin Jefferson was put on the COVID-19 list (he likely just has to go through tests until he’s cleared, then he will be back on the roster), which leaves an opportunity for someone to step up. Even if Jefferson was fully healthy, I’d still take Sharpe, as rookies are going to have a rough time adjusting to the NFL due to COVID. Sharpe is an excellent possession receiver, and due to the fact that defenses will be forced to target Thielen, I’m expecting Sharpe to get open quite often throughout the season. I mean, who else is going to pass catches in Minnesota? Olabisi Johnson? (Snoop Dogg GIF – WHO) Chad Beebe? (Another Snoop Dogg GIF – WHO) Or will it be another WR we’ve never heard of? Acquire Sharpe by week 2 and add some nice depth to your fantasy roster.
Top Sleepers: TE
Alright, he’s probably not a sleeper pick at this point, but I left him out of my Top 10 Tight Ends list, and I think he has the potential to at least finish as the 11th best TE in the NFL. Hurst was one of those guys that showed he has the talent to be THAT guy in the league last year in Baltimore, albeit, he didn’t get the ball that much. However, he’s now on a Falcons team where we just watched Austin Hooper thrive in. Hurst is similar to Hooper in many ways, and has a chance to be the 2nd option behind Julio Jones. You might have to draft him sooner than you’d like this year, as many people have him on their radar as a potential breakout player.
He’s entering his 14th season of his career, and is turning into the Frank Gore of Tight Ends (two Gore references in 1 article, not bad right). Olsen spent 2017 and 2018 battling injuries, and in 2019, he finally was able to play 14 games. Last season, Olsen had just under 600 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also averaged 8.8 points per game, which isn’t too bad for the TE position. I like his chances this year, as he’s now on a team with a substantially better QB, and last year, Russell Wilson showed how much he enjoyed throwing to his TEs when they prove to be a reliable target. Will Dissly is coming back from a gruesome injury, and Luke Wilson doesn’t provide much in the passing game. Greg Olsen might not make any big time plays, but with the weak O-line in Seattle, expect Wilson to dump it off to Olsen throughout the year.
I’ve noticed Smith has gained a little bit of momentum in mock drafts, which means people are starting to jump on the Jonnu bandwagon. For the first time in his career, Smith will be playing as the TE1 in Tennessee, and based off of his athleticism, and flashy plays made in the final quarter of the season, it’s safe to say that Jonnu Smith very well could be the steal of your fantasy draft. Tannehill proved that his favorite target is AJ Brown, but during the regular season, Jonnu seemed to be option number two for the veteran QB, especially after Adam Humphries missed games due to injury. Jonnu is so athletic, that the Titans ran a few plays with him lined up as a RB, where he showed he could play that position too. If you’re looking for a TE late in your fantasy draft, look no further than Jonnu Smith, as he has the potential to be a legit breakout player this season.