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10 Early Fantasy Football Sleepers

Jun 1, 2017

Jamaal Williams could carve out a role in Green Bay with just Ty Montgomery at running back

You know it’s an exciting time when talking about fantasy football sleepers is actually relevant and we’re at that point right now. The calendar has flipped to June, we’re another month closer to the season starting, and before you know it, you will be drafting the ever important sleepers that can help win championships.

While some may look to the rookie class for sleeper potential, there are also veterans with improved situations that bring upside worth thinking about. In both cases, using our expert consensus rankings, the featured pundits below have named their favorite sleepers sitting further down the ranks that can offer a worthwhile return.

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Q1. What running back outside the top 50, is your top sleeper candidate?

Jamaal Williams (GB): Consensus RB #52
“There are a lot of bodies in New England, so instead of Rex Burkhead, I’ll go with Green Bay rookie rusher, Jamaal Williams. The BYU product lands at 52 at the moment and with a fairly wide open Packers offensive backfield, he’s an interesting back to target. I’m a bit higher on Williams’ actual talent than most, as I actually see a guy who is very instinctive and can create a bit on his own. Role is going to be the key here, though, and with just a converted WR (Ty Montgomery) and other rookies to contend with, Williams could be looking at a big workload as a rookie.”
Kevin Roberts (Breaking Football)

“While there are running backs outside of the top 50 that are “safer” with clearly defined roles, especially in PPR leagues (Sproles and Chris Thompson, for example), Jamaal Williams is someone to target for those searching for this season’s late-round, league-winning, deep sleeper. Despite showing promise as the Packers’ lead back, Green Bay spent three picks in this year’s draft on running backs to compete with Ty Montgomery. Of those three backs, Williams is the most likely to challenge Montgomery for early-down work. Williams is a physical runner who rarely fumbles (one fumble per 140 carries in his college career) and could realistically earn a role early on as a goal line back in one of the league’s top offenses. With Montgomery only logging double-digit carries in one game last season, it would not be surprising to see Williams splitting early-down work with the converted wide receiver at some point as well.”
Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

DeAndre Washington (OAK): Consensus RB #67
“I’m tempted to list Marlon Mack, who’d surely become a more attractive asset if Frank Gore were to tumble over the age cliff like a geriatric lemming, but I’m not convinced beyond all doubt that Mack would out-touch Robert Turbin if Gore expired. Instead, let’s go with DeAndre Washington. Health and age concerns leave me skeptical about the Marshawn Lynch comeback. Washington has a better college pedigree and athletic profile than fellow second-year RB Jalen Richard, and if Lynch goes belly-up, D-Wash should be first in line for early-down work.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Alvin Kamara (NO): Consensus RB #56
“I love the potential that Kamara brings with the Saints. In 3 seasons as the scatback, Darren Sproles never had less than 71 receptions. Kamara excelled in the passing game at Tennesse with 40 receptions and 4 receiving TDs just last season. The Saints gave up serious draft capital to move up for Kamara. He should easily earn that role with his new team.”
Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Q2. What wide receiver outside the top 60, is your top sleeper candidate?

Kenny Stills (MIA): Consensus WR #63
“For me, high-ceiling sleeper Kenny Stills edges out high-floor sleeper Robert Woods. Stills has spent four years offering us sampler portions of his talents, and he’s still just 25 years old; it’s time for the full prix fixe menu. Stills runs like Hermes after a regrettable one-night stand, but he’s not just a one-dimensional track guy. His career catch rate of 58.6% is outstanding when you consider that he’s averaged 16.7 yards per catch — a home run hitter with a low strikeout rate. He had nine TD catches on 81 targets last season. Stills doesn’t *need* DeVante Parker to flop in order to have fantasy value, but if Parker remains nothing more than a tease, Stills could step into the breach and become a top-20 receiver.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Quincy Enunwa (NYJ): Consensus WR #61
“It’s not often that a team’s number one wide receiver is available in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. With an ADP in the late 12th (MFL10s), Quincy Enuwa is one of fantasy’s most undervalued players. Enuwa, who led the Jets in receiving yards in 2016, showed high-volume potential at the end of the year, catching five balls in three of the last six games. With only Eric Decker, who comes into 2017 recovering from both shoulder and hip surgeries, and a group of unproven pass-catchers as his only competition for targets, Enuwa should be featured in New York’s passing game and with the Jets expected to be trailing often in 2017, the potential for garbage-time production could see Enuwa post low-end WR2 numbers.”
Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Will Fuller (HOU): Consensus WR #62
“Fuller is 100% the wide receiver that pops up when you look at the latest rankings, as he displayed some serious speed as a rookie and still produced a solid 47-635-2 line despite having to deal with Brock Osweiler for most of the year. Speed kills in the NFL and Fuller is a big play threat waiting to happen at any moment. Whether or not Deshaun Watson can step up to the plate during his rookie year will probably decide Fuller’s ceiling, but he doesn’t need a litany of catches to churn out WR3 value in his second season. I like him right there as a flier WR3 with possible WR2 upside.”
Kevin Roberts (Breaking Football)

Allen Hurns (JAX): Consensus WR #68
“People are sleeping on Hurns. In Weeks 1-7, when he was healthy, he was on pace for over 70/1,000. He wasn’t scoring at the same pace as 2015, but neither was his counterpart, Allen Robinson. Allegedly Blake Bortles was playing through a shoulder injury for most of the season. With both Hurns and Bortles healthy coming into the season, sneaky production waits in the later rounds.”
Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Q3. What tight end outside the top 20, is your top sleeper candidate?

Julius Thomas (MIA): Consensus TE #25
“Tight end drops off significantly after the top 15, but once we look outside the top 20 I start finding mild interest in Jared Cook and Julius Thomas. Thomas is back in a familiar system and has way more upside than Cook at this point in his career. If he can stay healthy, there could be a real chance for him to thrive in the role Jordan Cameron never could while in South Beach. Thomas doesn’t have the gaudy expectations he did when he signed with the Jaguars, either, which allows him to start fresh and gives you the chance to take him as a flier late in drafts. He was a monster in Denver and could have a real shot at besting the numbers he put up in Jacksonville over the last two seasons. I also like Evan Engram in New York, but rookie tight ends rarely flourish in year one.”
Kevin Roberts (Breaking Football)

“After two injury-plagued years in Jacksonville, where he was only able to pull in 76 receptions for 736 yards in 21 games, look for a healthy Julius Thomas to rebound in 2017 in Adam Gase’s tight-end friendly system. The last time Thomas played for Gase, he recorded 24 touchdowns in 27 games, catching passes from Peyton Manning in Denver. Admittedly, Ryan Tannehill is not Manning, but even with mediocre quarterback play, Thomas could flirt with double-digit scores as the clear go-to tight end in an offense that historically looks to the tight end in the red zone.”
Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Erik Swoope (IND): Consensus TE #35
“I’m all over Swoope at TE35. Andrew Luck has always peppered his tight ends with ample targets, and Swoope has ascended to No. 2 on the Colts’ depth chart, behind less athletic starter Jack Doyle. New Colts GM Chris Ballard has been talking up Swoope, and it seems certain that the former University of Miami basketball player will have an expanded role this year.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Austin Hooper (ATL): Consensus TE #22
“It seems everyone is riding the hype train for Hunter Henry. My favorite sophomore TE is Austin Hooper. The Falcons brought him around slowly, as most rookie tight ends are. For the first seven weeks, Hooper was only seeing just over 23% of snaps. After that, he was playing in nearly 70% the rest of the season. The big play ability is there, he sported a very nice 14.3 yards per reception. We all saw the highlight TD catch in the Super Bowl. I’m not calling for Hooper to be a top-5 guy, but I think a TE is definitely in his range of outcomes.”
Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Thank you to the experts for naming their early sleepers. Please give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice and subscribe/listen to our latest podcast below for more fantasy info.

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