Sleepers are those nice gems you’re able to take later on in fantasy that go a long way towards winning your league. Last season we had Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews, AJ Brown, Austin Ekeler, DJ Chark, among more than a few others emerge and put up unexpected but great fantasy numbers a year ago. Patrick Mahomes and Phillip Lindsay the year before.
They can be your saving grace if you miss terribly in the beginning of your draft(like taking Leveon Bell in the first round instead of Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, or Dalvin Cook). Without further ado, here are ten players with whom you can take in the mid to late rounds. Starting with….
- Kirk Cousins
You like that Kirk? You got your first playoff win last season. Your former offensive coordinator is in Cleveland while the team traded away Stefon Diggs. So why am I listing him here? Because I think he has top 10-12 QB potential. The team promoting Gary Kubiak to that role is a big improvement still. Broncos, Texans and Ravens fans know him well.
In fact when he was an offensive coordinator last (in Baltimore), Justin Forsett rushed for 1266 yards and 8 touchdowns. By far his best season statistically as a pro and also made the pro bowl. 35 year old Steve Smith put up 79 catches for 1065 yards and 6 tds while Joe Flacco had his best statistical season that year as well. And turned down a pro bowl invitation for the birth of his child. In conclusion, I’m all in on the QB1, RB1, and WR1 in Minnesota this season. Speaking of coaches who run the Shanahan west coast zone blocking scheme…..
2. Jimmy Garoppolo
If not for a missed deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders(I know, painful memory Niners fans. My condolences), we might be referring to Jimmy Garoppolo as a super bowl champion. Yes they lost Sanders this offseason to the Saints. Yes he had some inconsistencies in a run heavy offense. But he also had his flashes. Like the 4 td games he had against the Cardinals twice(who he plays against week 1) and the 4 td game he had against the Saints.
Plus last season was his first season removed from his ACL tear in 2018 against the Chiefs. Players generally take a year to get to where you once were after that injury. Like his former teammate Tom Brady for instance. In spite of the loss in free agency, and the injuries to Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in training camp, I believe Garoppolo has 30 td potential. Plus those two will be back and he still has George Kittle to throw the ball to.
3. Zack Moss
The fantasy community is divided on the Bills backfield. Some like Singletary to build on his rookie campaign, and some like Moss better. The Moss side swayed me into their thinking. 37 year old Frank Gore got more carries than Singletary last season, and had 1 fewer touch than him when factoring in catches.
This was in spite of the significant talent gap between the two runners. Though Singletary’s fumbling issues last season played a big role in this taking place. Moss had 4 fumbles in nearly 700 carries through his collegiate career while Singletary had 4 in his 180 touches last season. Yikes. Moss is a bigger, stronger, and faster running back with underrated receiving skills. And he has received rave reviews in camp. Let your opponents take Singletary. Take Moss afterwards instead. Speaking of rave reviews in camp….
4. J.K. Dobbins
A terror for opposing Big 10 defenses, Dobbins would wreak havoc on that conference with regularity throughout his collegiate career. Drafted in the second round by the Ravens; a team that broke an NFL record for team rushing yards last season, this pairing feels like a match made in heaven for the rookie running back.
Though he’s behind Mark Ingram on the depth chart, and I suspect he’ll remain there barring injury, I think there will be enough touches for both backs to lead successful fantasy seasons as potentially low end twos or high end flexes. And he has generated a lot of buzz at Ravens camp. Like Kareem Hunt and Jonathan Taylor, Dobbins has RB1 potential if treated like a bell cow back.
5. Diontae Johnson
Putting up any kind of stats when you’re stuck catching passes from the likes of Duck Hodges and Mason Rudolph is an accomplishment in its own right. Putting up roughly 60 catches and 700 yards is a solid rookie campaign. The Steelers are regarded as the best team in terms of drafting and developing wide receivers.
With the strides Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster made from year one to year two, Johnson has some lofty expectations to live up to. Fortunately for Steeler fans, he and Juju should both put up better numbers with a healthy Ben Roethlisberger throwing them the ball. I mean it can’t be any worse than what they had last season right?
6. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown
He started off his rookie campaign with a bang; gaining 147 yards and 2 tds against the Dolphins. He seemed poised to have a monster rookie season after that game. Though it wound up turning into a solid but inconsistent rookie season overall; due to the two screws in his foot he spent that whole offseason rehabbing.
He flashed in the playoff loss against the Titans. Fast forward to this season, the screws have been removed and he has gained 23 pounds of muscle. He looked much faster this offseason; causing problems for the dbs trying to cover him in camp. Given this information, 2020 should produce a much more fruitful season statistically for Hollywood Brown.
7. Mecole Hardman
When Tyreek Hill went down last season, you got to see a glimpse of what made Hardman a dangerous deep threat coming out of college last season. Once Hill returned, he had a very quiet rest of his rookie campaign as a receiver.
He saw no more than 4 targets a game after that, and had games where he wasn’t targeted once. Fast forward to year two and he’s a more mature player with a better grasp of the playbook. With Sammy Watkins injury concerns, keep an eye out on Mecole Hardman enjoying a more fruitful second season statistically. He’s a receiver I’d consider taking a flyer on late.
8. Hayden Hurst
Formerly the 3rd tight end of the Baltimore Ravens, Hurst is now the starting tight end in a potentially explosive offense in Atlanta. Austin Hooper was a favorite target of Matt Ryan’s last season finishing second on the team in targets behind Julio Jones. With Hooper now being in Cleveland, Hurst should see substantially more opportunity to produce in fantasy. He’s a top 10 fantasy tight end to me, and has potential to be borderline top 5.
9. T.J. Hockenson
The tight end from Iowa who was compared to Gronk coming out, he had a quiet rookie season after starting it with a bang. He set the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in their first game. Though the quiet rookie season was in large part due to injury. The word out of Lions camp is Hockenson has looked very good, and looks to play a big role in the Lions offense this season.
Tight ends generally don’t produce in their rookie seasons either. They’re known to make a big leap in their second season however. Which is why I’m very comfortable with having Hockenson as a starting tight end in fantasy. I would sooner take him than Hunter Henry.
Thanks for reading. Like and/or comment on this article to express where I’m right or wrong in this article; in addition to who I should have included. Or you can find me on Twitter to let me know your thoughts. Photo credits to Steelers.com, baltimoreravens.com, buffalobills.com, chiefs.com, 49ers.com, vikings.com, detroitlions.com, atlantafalcons.com