Every fantasy site has to have one of these, right? Welp, time to be a sheep and get our first one done with. However, unlike most sites, we here at FantaCity look to give you less talked about sleepers. No need to sell you the same tea as everyone else. Instead, take a sip from our punch. It's a refreshing change of pace.
I'm gonna keep this one short. Depending on how you view mobile quarterbacks, Jackson was the second or third best QB in this draft. He now heads to a revamped Baltimore O where the only weak link is the man who stands in his way: Joe Flacco. Were it not for his mega contract, Flacco wouldn't even be in the conversation for week 1 starter. Jackson on the other hand has shown significant growth each year and finally offers the Ravens something they've never had. Jackson could very well take this offense to the same heights Watson did. Albeit not immidiately.
In the meanwhile, his dual threat ability will churn out fantasy points like a machine. That alone will make him one of the few rookie QBs with a chance at succeeding in fantasy-land. It's no coincendince that several QBs who embrace this playstyle are at the top of the crop. Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, and Watson are the big-name examples. Getting anyone similar to those 3 would be huge. Espescially in 4 points/passing TD leagues.
He, like many of the players below, is going dirt cheap in drafts. Say the QBs you wanted all get snagged from you and you get stuck with an undesirable option like Case Keenum. Fix your woes by taking the Jackson with your last pick. Wait for the Ravens coaches to become fed up with Flacco and voila! You got yourself a potential top 12 QB.
Sleeper Meter: 6/10
Never thought I'd be preaching Alex Smith as a sleeper but here goes nothing. Last year he finished as QB4 and his currently going as QB20 (4for4 2018). Sure he got traded to a new team but this is absurd. Yeah the majority of Smith's career suggests last year was a fluke. What if it's not? At his current asking price he can be had at the end of your draft. Little investment for a top-12 upside QB is phenomenal value.
You're probably doubting his chances of another top-12 performance in Washington. Well let's make one thing clear, he is not in a bad situation. Sure it's a 'down-grade' however the surrounding talent is more than adequate. Cousins managed a top 10 campaign there with even less. A healthly Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder along with new additions Paul Richardson and Darrius Guice give this offense sneaky upside in 2018. So if you're a late-round QB guy look to Smith as an excellent option this year. It'll be hard for him to underperform his ADP and his upside is fantastic.
Sleeper Meter: 7/10
After Jared Goff's gigantic second year leap thanks to his new coach, many fans have been trying to pinpoint who the next 'Jared Goff' will be. Most look to Mitch Trubisky. While I wholeheartedly agree, I cannot stand by as Marcus Mariota gets an underwhelming amount of appreciation. Understandable considering many owners were burned by him last year. However, the Titans are about to undergo a huge change. They might even be Superbowl contenders come December. All thanks to new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur who has spent plenty of time working with great coordinators and coaches like Sean McVay.
Finally casting aside mediocre and uncreative coach Mike Mularkey, the talent of the Titans roster will finally be unlocked. The primary benefactor being Mariota. There's a good chance a scheme more fit to his strengths gets put into use. Weapons are plenty available too with second-year breakout candidate Corey Davis, old-reliable Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews, and young slot weapon Taiwan Taylor on deck.
His performance last year was nothing more than a fluke. According to Pro Football Focus Mariota had one of the highest percentages of big time plays dropped. Several of which were touchdowns. I don't expect this to continue as the surrounding talent is too good to let it happen again. With LaFleur playing everyone to their strengths, the chances fall down even more. Happily take Mariota at his QB18 price and reap the rewards later (4for4 2018).
Sleeper Meter: 7.7/10
Last year Ajayi was being drafted at the end of the first/ early second. There was good reason for that. Do not forget his dominance in Miami two seasons ago. He is still young and uber talented. Yet this year he has been falling to the end of the fourth/ early fifth (4for4 2018). Why? Because he's gonna have to share the ball with Clement and Sproles? The latter is coming off a gruesome injury and recently announced retirement is around the corner.
If anyone takes away a significant amount of touches it will be Clement. However, recent reports from local beat writers suggest the Eagles will try to squeeze every ounce of value they can from Ajayi this season. An odd remark given Pederson's tendancy to utilize multiple RBs. However, the drum beat has been growing for Ajayi and it'd make sense given Philly under Pederson hasn't put much assets into RBs. Blount has left 173 carries behind (O'Brien 2018). Looking at the RBs on the Eagles roster, Ajayi's style is the closest to Blount. If he absorbs the majority of these touches he'll have plenty of opportunity to produce.
At his current ADP of 4.10 in 12 team leagues, the risk is worth the reward. Sign me up for a potential top 12 RB due for 12-15 touches a game with goal-line work in an offense who will see plenty of time on the field due to its defense.
Sleeper Meter: 7.8/10
Yeah Kerryon is a popular sleeper. I get it. But there is still conflict over whether he'll be relevant in year 1 due to Detroit's tendancy to use committees. That's simply because they never had anyone of Kerryon's talent. They knew it too. Detroit traded up in the second round just to snag him. You know who else has been acquired via a traded draft pick the past couple years? Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook are 3 examples from last year alone. Teams recognize talent when they see it and will go out of there way to acquire it.
With disappointment Ameer Abdullah, an old LeGarrette Blount, and receiving specialist Theo Riddick as his only competition, it's fair to expect early down work as the bare minimum for this star in the making. Scratch that, it's inevitable. He plays with the same patience as Le'Veon Bell and has the same freakish jump cut as David Johnson despite his size. Not to mention he was arguably the best receiving back in the class not named Saquan.
Under a new staff, the Lions are obviously looking to go in a new direction this year. For starters they replaced most of the staff. The new O-line coach Jeff Davidson will likely make zone-blocking more common in Detroit. Given Johnson's patient playstyle, this is perfect for him. In addition, a new staff means a new look on the backfield. Bye-bye committee? Perhaps. If that day were to come the owner of Kerryon Johnson would be a happy man to say the least. I assure you that day is on the horizon. To prepare, I fully plan on rostering Johnson as an RB3 on all my teams. It would be wise for you to do the same.
Sleeper Meter: 7.5/10
Did you really think this was gonna be about Matt Forte? Come on now. Am I really that bad of an analyst to back up a retired player as a sleeper? I'll answer that for you with a yes. The real reason for the subtitle is GM Chris Ballard.
Not too long ago he used to work for the Bears. While there he drafted many talented players. One of whom was none other than Matt Forte. Over the offseason Ballard drafted two runningbacks: Nyheim Hynes and Jordan Wilkins. Given Marlon Mack's shoulder injury, this made sense. After seeing him play some more, Ballard told the media he sees Wilkins as a similar player to Matt Forte. Forte was a dynamic threat capable of compiling chunks of yards through both the air and the ground. If Wilkins is anywhere close to that talent he will be able to produce at this level.
This comparison is a fair one. Both were relatively big backs who weren't known for their speed. Rather, they both made their money using excellent vision and patience. Throw that behind the Colts new and improved O-line and there is serious potential there. It will take a couple weeks to wrangle the starting job away.
Everyone's talking about McKinnon, and with good reason. Shanahan's top RB gets fed plenty. I'm sure you've heard the stats. Like how the lowest touches/game a starting RB under Shanahan has ever had was 15.9 (Richard 2018). McKinnon has never been a featured back due to his short stature. So while this freak SPARQ athlete seems to be a lock for a top 12 finish it might be wise to stop and think. Can he handle it?
If he can't look no further than fellow SPARQ standout Matt Breida. He was also hand-picked by Shanahan and has more a little more size to him (5'11", 195 lbs). Plus he showed flashes as a rookie as the Tevin Coleman to Carlos Hyde's Devonta Freeman. Say McKinnon gets hurt, Breida could easily step in and fill his shoes. With GaropoGOAT now in town this offense has a chance to be one of the best in the league. Shan-the-man will make sure Breida is a key part of that with or without McKinnon. He should be valued respectively as a poor-man's Tevin Coleman.
If you recognize this name, I know what you're thinking. Luke, that is the backup to Todd Gurley. The same guy who is going #1 overall because he is a workhorse in a top-5 offense and carried people to championships last year.
I know that. It's exactly why I like John Kelley. John Kelly is a very talented rookie. When I first saw he went to the Rams I was incredibly upset. For he was one of the handful of RBs in this draft that could play all 3 downs. Kelley could pass block better than the majority of his class, could catch passes with ease, and showed elusiveness as a runner. The latter I cannot stress enough. He bounced off tackles and kept balance like Kareem Hunt.
The main knocks on him were average acceleration and poor size. Poor size? He's 5'10" and 216 lbs. Sure he might get a bit more beat up but it's been done before. Alex Collins and Mark Ingram are 5'10" 217 lbs and 5'9" 215 lbs respectively. I believe Kelly's game will translate in similar fashion to either of these backs. In particular Mark Ingram. Both gritty tackle break and shakers who can excel at all 3 downs.
Dating back to 2013, the player taken #1 in the majority of leagues has either had a down year or been hurt for half the season or longer. Considering Gurley had a heavy workload of 343 touches last year and is bound to have a similar workload this year. I woudln't be too surprised if he got hurt. Say he does get injured, look to John Kelly to take over as a 3 down back. Going undrafted in most leagues, Kelly is an excellent lottery ticket to stash. If given the opportunity this man will take it.
Sleeper Meter: 4/10
Currently, D.J. Moore is viewed as the top rookie receiver amongst the majority of the fantasy community. Currently, Allen Hurns resides as the Cowboys WR1. What do these two have in common? They're wrong.
Who am I to say whose right? After all, it's not like the highest graded receiver in college according to Pro Football Focus went to a team with 219 targets up for grabs.
The man will be fed. His only real competition at WR is Allen Hurns. He was good at times with the Jags, however that was due to his old college coach working as the offensive coordinator there. Outside of his scheme Hurns will only be decent. Gallup, on the other hand, has too much upside.
Dallas wanted Courtland Sutton but they may have gotten something better. Gallup is a far better route runner, debatebly the best in the class.
Now Dak has a young receiver who can do the same but with one catch. He can do it at any WR position. X, Y, Z you name it. The man has the whole alphabet in his game. And that catch, is exactly why he's going to be reeling in the majority of Dak's passes this year. In all honesty, he has the tools to be the next Odell Beckham Jr. No I am not a Cowboys fan. I fully believe this kid can pull it off. His college career is a testament to his talent and he went to the perfect situation. At his current ADP of 15.04 he's more than affordable, he's free. So what else do you need to hear? Gallup into the sunset with Michael Gallup this fall.
Sleeper Meter: 8/10
Name a receiver in Seattle other than Doug Baldwin, I'll wait. No Jimmy Graham is gone But wait, that Brandon Marshall guy is there, right? He's pretty good. Or at least he was when he wasn't like 90 years old. Wait a second, what was Seattle thinking? Baldwin can't possibly handle that kind of workloa-
As Kanye West once said, "I'm gonna have to stop ya' there". There is someone else to help. The long-forgotten Tyler Lockett is here to save the day. A crafty route runner with plenty of speed to his game, Lockett is pretty much John Brown. Both are afterthoughts after several injury plagued seasons. Even when healthy he had to get Baldwin, Graham, and sometimes Paul Richardson's leftovers. Now the table is stacked with a feast of targets more plentiful than ever before in the Russell Wilson era. Presumably healthy, Tyler Lockett is hungry and ready to take what's his.
Albeit, Seattle WRs have one of the toughest schedules in the league this year. It's not gonna be easy by any means. However Wilson has a knack for confusing top tier defenses that aren't the Rams thanks to his outstanding scrambling ability. Good scramblers cause improvised plays to spring like weeds on lawn. When the play breaks down some corners begin to struggle and that is where I believe Lockett can overcome his tough schedule and take advantage of all the targets available. Going in the 14th round of 12 team drafts, there's not much to lose (4for4 2018). Oh and by the time I finished this article it looks like Doug Baldwin might have a knee injury to start the year. More targets for Lockett...
Sleeper Meter: 6.5/10
OK seriously guys, this year is the time Watkins get it done. Alex Smith has left Kansas City and with it so has his tendencies. We don't know who Mahomes is going to favor yet. The only thing we know is that the Chiefs are gonna have to pass even more. Their defense is debatably the worst it has ever been during the Andy Reid era and every game is starting to look like a shootout as a result. Mahomes is no stranger to this as he came from an air raid offense in college. Last year the Chiefs attempted the 7th most passing attempts in the league with 543. The Chargers led the league with 583 (NFL 2018). Being in constant shootouts could easily boost the Chiefs into that range.
Tyreek Hill had 105 targets last year as their WR1, Kelce had 122, AND Kareem had 63 (Pro Football Reference 2018). Taking fluctuation and game script into consideration and it's fair to say they'll probably garner around 300 targets. Leaving 243 targets available in KC. Over the past 10 years only 6 players have finished as a WR1 in PPR with less than 110 targets (Borgognoni 2018). There's a legitimate chance Watkins hits that number. Even if not, Watkins accumulated 2.09 fantasy points per target last year in an offense in which he barely had any time to learn (Player Profiler 2018). The 7th best fantasy points per target after having minimal time to learn one of the most complex systems in the NFL? Pretty impressive. Just like how he didn't drop a single ball last year.
Worried he'll get hurt? Understandable. However keep in mind he played in every game the Rams starters played in last year (15). The 16th they were all benched in an attempt to rest for the playoffs. Reid knows talent when he sees it. He also know how to use it. For the first time in his career Watkins won't have to deal with #1 corners as he'll be primarily in a slot role. This opens the door for plenty of mismatches. The same tactic has been used to boost the productivity of Larry Fitzgerald and Nelson Agholor. Expect Watkins to have a career comeback similar to the latter did last year. If Watkins gets at least 85 targets he's a lock for a WR2 campaign. At his 7th round ADP in 12 team leagues Watkins is set to be a bargain (4for4 2018).
Prior to an injury last year Charles Clay was on a tear. Given the lack of reliable receivers in Buffalo that could very well be the case again this year. McCoy, who usually soaks up a hefty target share himself, is getting up there in age and may underperform/ get hurt this year. Kelvin Benjamin hasn't really been special since his rookie year. Furthermore, young QBs have been known to target TEs frequently. Josh Allen is poised to be the Bills starter and will likely do similar. Everything is shaping up for Clay to have a massive workload this year yet he's going at the end of drafts. Oh and did I mention he has one of the easiest TE schedules in the league? Yeah, he's that good of a deal.
RSJ is the way to go with a late round pick. He is a freak athlete with his size speed combo who is also working with a young QB in Josh Rosen. Wait Bradford's the starter? He'll be just fine until he gets hurt. Kyle Rudolph finished as TE3 in his only year with Bradford. RSJ will surely benefit from either QB. The only other people guaranteed to get more targets than him is Fitzgerald. Arizona is going to be the underdog in most of their games meaning they'll be down often. To catch up they'll have to pass frequently creating plenty of opportunity through the air. David Johnson will take about 60-100 targets away. Leaving Ricky-Seals Jones with enough looks to get by. Mike McCoy offenses tend to feed TEs. Ricky Seals-Jones will be productive with whatever he gets considering he led TEs in fantasy points per opportunity. So if you forget to draft a TE or simply don't trust your other- look to RSJ as your answer.