Fantasy Football: Post-Hype Sleepers
Every single year we hear about players that are supposed to break out. The all-hype team, but in the end, they never really panned out. Some of the players I’m talking about from 2016 include Thomas Rawls, Donte Moncrief, and Jeremy Langford. For as much as they were talked up (and drafted in the first four rounds), they never lived up to expectations.
Most people write these players off for good, but you really shouldn’t. In fact, there may be a chance for you to take advantage of players like that. After all, there were plenty of reasons they were hyped as much as they were. Are any of the players on that list? Read on to find out the post-hype sleepers who can return massive value in 2017, despite not living up to expectations in 2016. The limitations are this: must be drafted outside the top 40 running backs, top 50 wide receivers, and top 15 tight ends.
C.J. Prosise (RB – SEA) Current ADP: RB42
There were a lot of analysts excited about Prosise last year, that was until he got hurt in training camp. For whatever reason, everyone wants to talk about the debate between Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls for the starting running back slot, but I’d argue that neither of them will be very valuable behind that Seahawks offensive line. Instead, go with the player who doesn’t need the offensive line to produce. Prosise was a former wide receiver, so his role is solidified. If he can stay healthy, he’s the one you want at his current cost.
Duke Johnson (RB – CLE) Current ADP: RB45
This time last year, Johnson was regarded as a solid RB2 in PPR formats and a solid RB3 in standard leagues. What a difference a year can make, as Johnson is now falling into the 11th round of most drafts. The Browns have said they’re going to use Johnson out of the slot and you should believe them after seeing the first preseason game. After losing Andrew Hawkins who caught 60 passes over the last two years, it makes sense. On top of that, should Isaiah Crowell get hurt or struggle, Johnson would be a must-start every week. He’ll arguably have flex value right out of the gate.
DeAndre Washington (RB – OAK) Current ADP: RB64
At this time last year, we were looking for the running back to replace Latavius Murray in Oakland. That didn’t quite happen, but why are we not looking at one to replace 31-year-old Marshawn Lynch? Washington is built like a young Maurice Jones-Drew and averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his rookie year. The Raiders have already talked about limiting Lynch’s carries, so don’t be surprised if Washington delivers in 2017.
Kevin White (WR – CHI) Current ADP: WR54
This is not me saying that White will ever turn into the No. 7 overall pick he was drafted as, but to see a guy who’ll see 100-plus targets drop this far in the rankings is noteworthy. Over the first four games of 2016, White saw 36 targets under the same head coach and same offensive coordinator. The only difference is that Cameron Meredith has replaced Alshon Jeffery and Mike Glennon has replaced Jay Cutler. White will be given every opportunity to succeed in 2017 and could be one of the better late-round targets at wide receiver. There were just three wide receivers who saw 100 or more targets in 2016 and finished outside the top 50 wide receivers.
Josh Doctson (WR – WAS) Current ADP: WR58
Another former No. 1 pick who missed his rookie season due to injury. Doctson is already dealing with a soft-tissue injury, but if he can stay on the field, he’s being extremely undervalued. Over his three seasons as the starter, Kirk Cousins has never targeted a wide receiver more than 6.8 times per game, meaning Doctson and the most-hyped wide receiver of the preseason, Terrelle Pryor, may be closer in target share than most think. Don’t forget he was drafted to be their No. 1 wide receiver, while Pryor is on a one-year deal.
Devin Funchess (WR – CAR) Current ADP: WR75
This time last year, everyone was talking about Funchess and how he could overtake Kelvin Benjamin who was coming off a missed season due to a torn ACL. Funchess was drafted as a top-40 wide receiver in some leagues. After playing behind Benjamin and Ted Ginn, everyone has given up on Funchess… except for head coach Ron Rivera. Ginn is gone and Rivera said that they should have used Funchess a lot more in 2016. In the first preseason game, Funchess was out there for 9/9 snaps with the first-team offense. It’s possible that everyone was just one year early.
(Oh how close you were, Eric Ebron. Just missed the criteria as the TE14. He’d be atop this list.)
Coby Fleener (TE – NO) Current ADP: TE16
Just last year we were talking about Fleener the potential No. 1 fantasy tight end. Ok, maybe that’s excessive, but he was drafted as a top-six tight end. I mean, Fleener has been a top-six tight end before with Andrew Luck, so it’s definitely within the realm of possibilities with Drew Brees. The Saints traded away Brandin Cooks who saw plenty of targets over the middle of the field. They really only added Ted Ginn to replace him, who doesn’t play over the middle of the field. Sure, Alvin Kamara will take some of those targets, but Fleener is a great post-hype pick, because he’s essentially free.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE – NYJ) Current ADP: TE32
There was a time when Seferian-Jenkins was considered a top-eight dynasty tight end. That was until he was issued a DUI and released by the Buccaneers. Reports about him getting sober and getting his life together are encouraging, because his talent was never really in question. With the Jets losing Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa, there are a whole lot of targets up for grabs. If you paid attention to my “How Much Does Team-Scoring Matter” article (read here), you’d know that tight end is the least sensitive position to team-scoring.