Fantasy Football: Defining and Finding 2016 Sleepers

Sleepers might be the most valuable resource in fantasy football. Digging deep into player profiles and projections can be the gold that buys you that fantasy football championship.

Here we are going to look at some sleepers for Fantasy Football, but first we have to define what a sleeper is because there are a lot of definitions out there. I base it on Average Draft Position (ADP).

Fantasy Football - SleepersNobody is sleeping on Antonio Brown. In the same way, people aren’t sleeping on Jeremy Langford. Langford is a starter and is going to get a good amount of carries in Chicago.

Listen to Ben Stiller and make sure you do plenty of research on those sleepers or he might put you to bed before the playoffs.

For ADP, I’m using consensus rankings.

Quarterback Drafted outside the top 20
Running Back Drafted outside the top 45
Wide Receiver Drafted outside the top 60
Tight End Drafted outside the top 20

Here are my favorite sleepers by position.


Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

Cowboys Blog - Dress Code: Cowboys Uniform History and Rankings 3
Nov 13, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill has an average ADP of 22. Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor, and Kirk Cousins are all drafted before Tannehill.

For three straight seasons, Ryan Tannehill has thrown for at least 3,900 yards and 24 touchdowns. That’s closer to Matthew Stafford range than it is to Sam Bradford range.

Now in Adam Gase’s offense, which saw Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler thrive, Tannehill has a shot to far exceed his ADP.

Robert Griffin III, Cleveland Browns

Robert Griffin III is getting a second chance at a starting gig.

Ruined by the Washington Redskins under Mike Shanahan, Griffin sees his fortunes turn with offensive mastermind turned head coach, Hue Jackson.

Equipped with a solid offensive line, above average running backs, and a plethora of receiving options, Robert Griffin III is poised for a return to the top of the QB Ranks.

Griffin currently has an ADP of 26, but I’m predicting a finish inside the top 12 in fantasy football.

Others: Jay Cutler, Teddy Bridgewater

Running Back

Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Gone are the days of CJ2K, but before his injury in 2015, Chris Johnson was having a very productive season for the Arizona Cardinals.

Given the opportunity to start again, after winning the job out of training camp, he averaged 74 yards a game for the high-octane Arizona offense.

Chris Johnson is now the backup to David Johnson, who is seeing the starting job after an impressive stretch of games in 2015. David Johnson, however, struggled in the final four games, including the playoffs.

If David Johnson struggles out of the gate, it would not surprise me to see Chris Johnson get a look. Currently drafted the 46th running back on average, Chris Johnson could be huge for your Fantasy Football team.

Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks

Cowboys Blog - Cowboys Trade for Running Back Christine Michael
Aug 23, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (33) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Seattle won 17-10. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Christine Michael is not a very popular name Dallas Cowboys fans. Brought in to help carry the load after Joseph Randle struggled with life, Michael failed to keep his job.

Michael was cut three times in 2015 before finally landing back with the Seattle Seahawks. Now after a career “awakening,” the former Aggie is primed for a breakout season in 2016.

Thomas Rawls is still working his way back from injury, and by all accounts, Michael has been very impressive in training camp. Coaches and teammates have all lauded Michael’s renewed focus and commitment to the game.

With an ADP of RB70, Christine Michael could win you a fantasy football championship. Michael is getting a ton of buzz at the moment, so he may not be a sleeper for much longer.

Others: Paul Perkins, Wendell Smallwood

Wide Receivers

Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys

Terrance Williams became the most popular Cowboys starter that many wanted to replace. Count me as a fan who thought they should give Brice Butler a shot at starting opposite Dez Bryant.

Williams has stepped up his game in training camp. Throughout camp, many have noted that his route running has improved and he’s brought a new ferocity in his run blocking.

With an ADP of 70, Tony Romo returning, and a backup quarterback (Dak Prescott) who can throw a deep ball, Terrance Williams has a really good shot at a 1,000 yard season and double digit touchdowns.

Tajae Sharp, Tennessee Titans

Fantasy Football - Sleepers 1Tajae Sharp was drafted in the fifth round by the Titans in 2016. The former UMASS product has been recently turning heads with his play in the preseason. He stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and can catch the football. Against Carolina this preseason, he amassed 6 catches for 68 yards in the first half.

He seems to have earned the trust of Quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee coaching staff.

The Titans are pretty deep at Wide Receiver, so predicting a target distribution is difficult.

Others: Will Fuller, Houston; Pierre Garcon, Washington; Mike Wallace, Baltimore

Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football: Preseason Tight End Rankings - Week 3
Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a player with a ton of upside if he can keep his head on straight.

Tight Ends

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a popular pick in fantasy football drafts before preseason activities started. A twitter rant put him in the doghouse with the coaching staff in Tampa Bay, and he’s had to fight his way back since. He was demoted to the second team.

In May, he had an overall ADP of 90. At the end of July, post-Twitter rant and post-demotion, his ADP was in the 130s.

Compare that to teammate Cameron Brate. In May, Brate had an average draft position in the 320s. At the end of July, his ADP now sits in the 220s.

Don’t let the ADPs fool you; Austin Seferian-Jenkins is by far the more talented tight end. With the preseason coming to a close and the regular season nigh upon us, Seferian-Jenkins has now taken back some of the first team snaps and is trending toward starting in week one.

Others: Benjamin Watson, Baltimore; Clive Walford, Oakland; Will Tye, New York Giants

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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