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).
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 fantasypros.com 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
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
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
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
Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys
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.
Tajae Sharp, Tennessee Titans
Tajae 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
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
Is Dak Prescott a Player to Avoid in Fantasy Football in 2018?
For the Dallas Cowboys, the plan is to stick with Dak Prescott to hopefully turn him into a successful long-term franchise quarterback. Going into his third year in the league, this could be a season that defines his future on America's Team.
However, after the entire team struggled in 2017 while trying to overcome several key absences (including Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith), Prescott's level of play has been questioned by plenty around the league. Fans, analysts and writers everywhere aren't as sure as they were in 2016 about the quarterback's future.
And now, according to NFL.com, Fantasy Football players should beware of drafting Dak Prescott once their "friendly" (we all know they're anything but friendly) seasons begin.
Earlier this week, NFL.com Fantasy Editor Marcas Grant published an article telling us ten players to avoid for the 2018 Fantasy Football season. Perhaps it may come as a surprise to some that Dak Prescott is in there among names like Ty Montgomery and Jack Doyle. You can read his full article here.
To be honest, I see his point here.
It's more than fair to say that it's not going to be an easy year for Dak. He's got to prove a lot in a year that could have a juicy extension at the end of it. After going through a sort of an expected sophomore slump, Prescott's third year in the NFL should be his best one yet.
There's a big but, though. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are long gone, leaving Dak Prescott with a promising yet unproven set of pass catchers.
Will a dominant running game led by five great offensive linemen and Ezekiel Elliott be enough to help Dak and the rest of the offense? Probably. but how much will Prescott be able to accomplish?
Through a painful 9-7 season in which the Cowboys never seemed to be able to find a steady pace, #4's stats took a hit. Here are his numbers from his two years in the pros:
- 2016: 311 completions, 67.8% completion percentage, 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs.
- 2017: 308 completions, 62.9% completion percentage, 3,324 yards, 22 TDs and 13 INTs.
- He also ran for six touchdowns in each of his two seasons.
Per FantasyData.com, his fantasy points dropped from 286.88 in 2016 to 260.66 in 2017.
Despite his numbers dropping, Dak certainly took huge strides as a passer. From taking command of the offense as a captain to making throws he wouldn't make as a rookie, Prescott was able to demonstrate improvements during a rough sophomore slump.
Even with Dez gone, the receivers the front office brought in throughout the offseason are expected to be Dak-friendly. If the receiving corps actually make his strengths shine, the Cowboys' offense will take a huge step in 2018.
Maybe, as Jason Witten mentioned on Adam Schefter's Podcast, Dez is as good as anyone going up for the football. But that's not what will make Dak shine. This revamped WR room might be just what he needs, though.
At the end of the day, even though I truly believe he'll have a good career in the NFL and that he's the future of the Dallas Cowboys, I doubt he should be marked as an early target in the Fantasy Football world.
As of right now, from a Fantasy Football perspective, I would barely rank him as a Top 15 quarterback for many reasons.
First of all, the Cowboys' game will revolve around Ezekiel Elliott. Secondly, it doesn't matter how much faith we put into these pass catchers, they haven't proved anything yet.
Dak is not a bad player at all. But taking Prescott in the middle or even late rounds of a Fantasy Draft might be the safest way to go right now.
Lastly, I leave you with some "Fantasy Nuggets" from fellow Inside The Star writer and Fantasy Football Guru John Williams:
- Dak failed to score 10 standard format fantasy points only four times last season. He scored 15+ points nine times and 20+ six times in 2017.
- In 2017 - even with a down second half - he finished as the 13th best QB in points per game and as the tenth best in total QB scoring.
- In 2016, he was in the top 10 in both categories mentioned in the previous bullet point.
- His ability to run and score touchdowns on the ground easily make him one of the best 12 QB options for fantasy football.
Fantasy Football Implications of Ezekiel Elliott’s Suspension
Ezekiel Elliott has been suspended by the NFL for 6 games for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy. This will leave a void in the backfield for the Dallas Cowboys and on many fantasy football rosters around the world. As it is with the real league, it's a next man up philosophy in the world of fantasy football as well.
At the moment, that next man up is Darren McFadden.
Just two years ago, with Dallas still clinging to playoff hopes in the wake of Tony Romo's injury, McFadden rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He finished fifth in the NFL that season despite not seeing more than 10 carries a game until week six. From week 6 until the end of the season, McFadden had 7 games with more than 90 yards rushing.
McFadden's touchdown total from that season leaves a lot to be desired, but let's not forget the quarterbacking chaos that went on that season. Between Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel, and Kellen Moore, defenses weren't worried about being beat in the passing game.
Frankly, it's a miracle that McFadden rushed for 1,000 yards.
Over 11 games from weeks 6-17, McFadden averaged 21.45 touches per game and 108.27 total yards per game. At that pace, stretched over a 16 game season, McFadden would have totaled 1,732 yards, which would have led all running backs in total yards that season.
If you still have to draft, I would take a chance on McFadden around the 7th or 8th round in 10 or 12 team drafts.
As for Alfred Morris, he will get some touches as much as the Dallas Cowboys will look to run the ball. That being said the second half of 2016 showed who the coaches preferred as the backup.
The last time Morris ran for more than 1,000 yards was in 2014. In 2015, if you'll remember, he lost his job to Matt Jones who has since lost his job to UDFA Rob Kelley, who is starting but is being threatened by 2017 draft pick Samaje Perine.
When Morris played last year he was pretty ineffective averaging a career-low 3.5 yards per carry.
With McFadden's injury history, you can take a shot on Alfred Morris late in your fantasy drafts around the second to last or the last round.
How Should You Value Ezekiel Elliott in Upcoming Fantasy Drafts?
That's a difficult question to answer, because a lot will depend on your league settings. My simple answer is, if you can get any discount on Ezekiel Elliott from his average draft position of 3.0, then you're getting a good value for at least the second half of the season.
Just a week ago I wrote to not allow this absence to sway you too much. I stand by that.
Fantasy football is about getting as much value as you can with each draft pick. Elliott is a top 5 value in any setting, even if he has to sit out. I think you can comprise a roster good enough to get into the playoffs, then you'll want Elliott for a playoff run.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys, all you need to do is tread water while he's out. If you can make it through the suspension at or around .500, you will still be in good position to win your fantasy football league.
When Elliott comes back, he will be the starter.
Even if they make him earn it, it won't take long. He's just better than McFadden and Morris. If your league lets Elliott somehow slip outside of the first round, snatch him up and make sure you draft McFadden. You'll thank me for it later.
While many will look at this situation as a detriment to Dak Prescott and may feel deterred from drafting him as the 9th quarterback in your league, I actually see it the opposite. While Dak was very efficient in Dallas' run-first offense, he showed throughout the 2016 season that he could be leaned upon in a shootout or to bring the team back from a large deficit.
In fact, Dak might have played his best game of the season during the playoff loss to Green Bay when the team got down 21-3. Forced to pass, Prescott completed 63% of his passes for 302 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in nearly leading the team back to victory.
With a full offseason in the Dallas offense and a really good compliment of receivers led by Dez Bryant, I fully anticipate Dak to have an excellent sophomore campaign.
Dallas may lean more on the pass during Elliott's absence, which will make Dak more valuable to me. Remember fantasy football is about acquiring stats and with Elliott out, Dak will have a great chance at putting up even bigger numbers. Especially if the run game is ineffective.
Fantasy Football: Draft Ezekiel Elliott Early, Don’t Be Swayed
Plenty of fantasy football drafts have come and gone, but many still remain as training camp is in full swing. The question has come up in the fantasy football Twitter community; what do you do with Ezekiel Elliott amidst rumors of a suspension? And the short answer is nothing.
Investigations into whether or not Ezekiel Elliott has violated any of the NFL's policies have persisted. Supposedly, those investigations have come to a close. The personal conduct policy, the domestic violence policy, and the substance abuse policy seem to all be in play as the league decides on the appropriate punishment for the Dallas Cowboys' star running back.
You could go the safe route and drop Ezekiel Elliott down your draft boards or you could take a chance at having one of the top scorers in fantasy football on your roster.
Say a suspension does come down. At worst, a drug suspension would be four games.
The domestic violence issue seems to be circumstantial evidence that even the Columbus Police and District Attorney declined to pursue. The NFL's personal conduct policy could apply, but that seems to be more of a threat than anything. So the question is, if Elliott is out for four games, does he lose his value somehow. I'd say no.
We don't have to go back very far to see a similar star running back with a similar suspension. In 2016, Le'Veon Bell was suspended for the first three games of the season and many people slid him down their draft boards. In some mocks, I saw him going outside of the first round.
Sure he missed the first three games of the season, but he finished as fantasy football's No. 3 running back and was there when you needed him most. Playoff time.
Bell only had three games where he failed to score less than 15 standard fantasy points during his 12 game season (didn't play in the season finale). The point being, anyone who drafted Le'Veon Bell in the first round or the top of the second was quite happy with the results.
If Ezekiel Elliott misses time, it will be at the beginning of the season, but like Bell, he will be around at the end of the season when you're trying to put away a championship win.
If you're drafting at the top of the first round, don't let Ezekiel Elliott's consistency and scoring ability get by you because of a threat of suspension. He'll be available to you when you need him most.
The first few weeks of the season are tough matchups for Elliott anyway.
Dallas will face the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams in the first four weeks--all teams with tough defenses. Though Elliott is a guaranteed starter for those four weeks, it's likely you're lowering expectations for him against some of the top run defenses in the NFL.
For me in 2017, the reward of having Ezekiel Elliott on my roster far outweighs the risk of any potential suspension. Draft Zeke and reap the benefits.
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