The word “Sleeper” in Fantasy Football means different things to different people. For some it’s that guy nobody is drafting that may breakout. For others it’s that guy you are targeting in the second half of the draft with nice upside. For my list I only looked at QB’s and TE’s with an ADP below 150.00, and RB’s and WR’s with an ADP below 100.00 (ADP provided by myfantasyleague.com on August 30th).
These three Quarterbacks should not be drafted to be your starter, except possibly as a QB2 in two QB leagues, but if your starter should go down with an injury all three are in situations to put up solid stats week to week.
Brock Osweiler (ADP 156.09) – Brock Osweiler studied under Peyton Manning the last four seasons in Denver. When given the chance to start for an injured Manning last season he put up at least 250 yards in 5 of 6 games, breaking the 290 yard mark in three of those five, and threw 8 TD’s vs 3 INT’s. Now with Houston, coaches have praised his work ethic this off season, and in limited time through the first three pre-season games he has completed 69% of his passes for 297 yards and 2 TD’s with no interceptions. He also has many more weapons to throw to this season, in an offense that made Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden look good at times last year. DeAndre Hopkins is possibly one of the top 5 receivers in Fantasy Football, and Houston has added Will Fuller and Braxton Miller through the 2016 NFL Draft. Fuller looks to start on the outside and brings breakaway speed to the team. Miller will be the slot receiver and is also a threat for yards after the catch with every reception. In addition, Jaelen Strong, has shown up in shape this season and is making a difference. The Texans also added one of the best pass catching backs over the last two seasons, in Lamar Miller. The only thing I see that could hold back this offense is health along the offensive line. Perennial Pro-Bowler LT Duane Brown is already a candidate for the reserve/PUP list, so backup Chris Clark will need to play well to get the team off to a solid start.
Joe Flacco (ADP 161.32) – Flacco is coming off a season where he missed the last six games due to a knee injury. The prior season was his best season in the league with 27 TD’s against 12 INT’s and falling just 14 yards short of the 4,000 yard plateau. This season Flacco has actually been given more weapons to throw the ball to. Kamar Aiken is their best returning receiver. Thirty Seven year old Steve Smith Sr. is coming off of an Achilles injury, but should be ready for week one and last season was on pace for a 1,400 yard season prior to the injury. Speedster, Mike Wallace has been added and has stood out in camp. Last year’s first round draft pick, Breshad Perriman, who missed the season, will finally be ready to take the field. So Flacco this year may finally break the 4,000 yard mark.
Trevor Siemian (ADP 205.53) – Siemian steps in as the starter on a ready made team coming off of a Super Bowl win. He was a 7th round draft pick in 2015 out of Northwestern, and outperformed Mark Sanchez this training camp to win the job. I like Siemian’s chances to succeed because he has a good arm, and he will be throwing to Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who have both topped the 1,000 yard mark the last two seasons in Denver. Denver also improved their offensive line in adding Donald Stephenson and Russell Okung at the tackle positions. Head coach Gary Kubiak has had good success with young quarterbacks in the past, and I look for it to continue this year.
Other sleeper candidates: Dak Prescott (DAL), Robert Griffin III (CLE), Sam Bradford (PHI)
I chose running backs that are likely to help your fantasy team from day one, other than handcuffs who may start at some point this season.
Derrick Henry (ADP 100.33) – Henry has looked no less than amazing this pre-season. DeMarco Murray is the lead back, and has shown he can handle a heavy workload in the past, but look for Henry to get 12-15 touches per game in an effort to keep Murray fresh as the season wears on. Henry could reach 10 TDs in this role and Murray normally misses a handful of games each season.
T.J. Yeldon (ADP 100.34) – Yeldon will likely get equal time with Chris Ivory to start the season. Ivory will most likely get goal line carries, but Yeldon is by far the better receiving back. With Ivory’s running style he has a hard time making it through a complete season, and Yeldon should benefit over the last eight games. To start the season, Yeldon is a better play in PPR leagues, but by the end of the season I see Yeldon as one of the better backs to own across all leagues.
Christine Michael (ADP 139.39) – Coach Pete Carroll has said that Michael will have a role in the Seahawks’ offense this season. Coaches have been impressed by the change in Michael this time around with the team, and it has translated into playing time with the first team offense this pre-season. Thomas Rawls is still the starter for this team, but look for both backs to impress this season. Michael’s pre-season stat line 24 carries for 157 yards.
Other sleeper candidates: Rob Kelly (WASH), DeAndre Washington (OAK), Jerick McKinnon (MIN)
Stefon Diggs was originally on my list, but with the Minnesota QB situation the Vikings may be even more run heavy than normal this season.
Willie Snead (ADP 113.13) – Snead has looked like Drew Brees’ go to guy this pre-season. Last season, in fifteen games, he just missed 1,000 yards receiving (984 yards), and his 3 TD total should at least double this season.
Devin Funchess (ADP 121.09) – Funchess has outperformed Kelvin Benjamin this pre-season, and in Carolina’s regular season dress rehearsal he was targeted 10 times. However, Benjamin and Ted Ginn appear to be the starters to this point with Funchess coming off of the bench. However, if Funchess continues to impress he will be on the field.
Tajae Sharpe (ADP 151.67) – Rookie, Tajae Sharpe is a fifth round pick out of UMASS. His play this pre-season facilitated the trade of Dorial Green-Beckham to the Eagles, and has locked him in as a clear cut starter. Sharpe is perhaps now the WR1 on this Titans team and could be first in line for targets this season.
Other sleeper candidates: Chris Hogan (NE), Quinton Patton (SF), Josh Doctson (WASH)
Vance McDonald (ADP 179.48) – McDonald performed as the 11th best TE in his six games with Blaine Gabbert in 2015. With the season ending injury to Bruce Ellington, McDonald has a good chance to lead the 49’ers in receptions this season. Zach Ertz was a close second to Jordan Matthews in receptions and yards in Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia offense last season.
Virgil Green (ADP 186.12) – Green has mainly been a blocking TE to this point in his career. He has been featured this pre-season and has looked good. He has a good rapport with QB Trevor Siemian after spending last season practicing together with the second team offense, and has caught all eight of his targets this pre-season including a couple of TD’s. Another TE had a similar rise for this team just a few seasons ago – Julius Thomas.
Jesse James (ADP 201.26) – Ladarius Green is out for at least the first six games, making Jesse James the starter at TE. In pre-season game number 3 he was targeted three times on the opening drive and capped off the drive with a 5 yard TD reception from Ben Roethlisberger. He is a 6’7″ target on a team full of small receivers, and should garner enough targets and TD’s to be a relevant TE2 this season.
Other sleeper candidates: Hunter Henry (SD), Austin Hooper (ATL), Crockett Gillmore (BAL)