8 Way Too Early Fantasy Football Sleepers
We see it every year; one or two teams who jump out ahead of the rest of the league. They did so by drafting Alvin Kamara and Robby Anderson or Jordan Howard and Davante Adams. Obviously maintaining health and not drafting busts like Jordy Nelson or Isaiah Crowell is crucial, but utilizing your late-round picks on high-upside sleepers is every bit as important and perhaps the most controllable of the group. Today, I’ll give you eight early names who stand out to me as quality sleepers, and so you know, here is how I define a sleeper:
- They can’t be someone who’s ADP is in the top 100 picks (using Draft.com’s ADP from hundreds of early 2018 drafts)
- They can’t be someone who everyone considers a sleeper (think Corey Davis and Andrew Luck)
- They can’t be rookies because we have no idea where they will end up and how they will fit in
With that said, let’s take a look at the list:
Josh Doctson (WR – WAS): ADP #102
We do not know for sure what this Redskins’ depth chart will look like seeing that Terrelle Pryor, Brian Quick and Ryan Grant are all free agents. Likewise, Kirk Cousins may skip town, but regardless, Doctson is worth more than pick #102 no matter who his quarterback or wide receiver counterparts are. Washington made it clear that he was their #1 wideout, as did opposing teams. In the second half of the season after he replaced Pryor, the Redskins threw his way a team-leading 61 times and he had 847 air yards which was 48% of the total team air yards in that time. All of this while he had shadow coverage from Richard Sherman, Xavier Rhodes, Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins (twice), Casey Heyward, Patrick Peterson and Aqib Talib. His athleticism pops off the film in game tape and with another preseason under his belt, his stats could explode in 2018.
Jordan Reed (TE – WAS): ADP #111
In late November of 2016, Reed dislocated his shoulder. He battled through various injuries the rest of that season and through 2017, but until that point in his 43 game career, he was dominant. Granted, those injuries may pop up here or there, but just consider these numbers:
Reed only started 70% of those games because Fred Davis was still on Washington. He somehow managed 85% of Gronk’s production through a large sample-size despite that. Let’s not forget how injury prone Gronk is too. He has missed 26 games over the past six seasons while Reed has missed 28. The difference between the two is that Gronk is 2 years older, has recency bias on his side and is being drafted nearly 1o0 spots higher. Sign me up for Reed, even if he performs at “just” 85% of Gronk’s production.
Aaron Jones (RB – GB): ADP #112
Every year in the 10th round, we are left with a bunch of starting running backs that are never safe bets any week to be RB2s. Either that or a group of high-upside fliers who could win you the league if they fall into enough snaps. Prepare for Jones to lead the high-upside group next year. Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams are still on the Packers so Jones will likely look like the odd man out. With that said, Jones is the best athlete of the bunch and was far and away the most efficient with his touches:
- Aaron Jones 71 fantasy points on 90 touches (0.79 pts/touch)
- Jamaal Williams 117.8 fantasy points on 178 touches (0.66 pts/touch)
- Ty Montgomery 68.6 fantasy points on 94 touches (0.73 pts/touch)
With Aaron Rodgers coming back, whoever gets this job has significant upside and could return first round type of value. Whether it happens in the preseason or middle of the season, I want Jones on my roster in case he takes over.
Pierre Garcon (WR – SF): ADP #118
The 49ers should look at add some more help in the passing game this off-season, but if they don’t, Garcon comes in as the lead man once again. He posted 40 receptions for 500 yards through his 8 healthy games. This was off pace from the 113 and 1346 that we saw the last time Kyle Shannahan was his offensive coordinator but then again, there is a substantial difference between C.J. Beathard/Brian Hoyer and good-RG3/Kirk Cousins. Now that Garcon gets Jimmy Garropolo tossing him passes, he could surge toward that 90 to 100 reception mark and over 1,000 yards which is a terrific value for the cost.
D’Onta Foreman (RB – HOU): ADP #122
As it stands right now, Lamar Miller is still the lead back for the Texans and Foreman is recovering from a season-ending achillies tear. That may change this off-season, however. If Foreman looks healthy, don’t be surprised if the Texans cut Miller and turn Foreman loose as a bell-cow back. If that happens, he will likely be a top 40 pick in fantasy drafts. Assuming Miller remains the starter, however, Foreman is the top candidate to take over a job early in the season and become 2018’s breakout running back.
George Kittle (TE – SF): ADP #130
In his rookie season, Kittle was overshadowed my Evan Engram, who had virtually no competition for targets and is practically a wide receiver. That does not take away from the fact that he had a terrific rookie season or a tight end, however. When you compare his rookie numbers to the best tight ends in football, Gronk, Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen, you’ll notice that his catch percentage was higher than all except Reed and Gronk, he had more receptions than all except Reed and more yards than everyone except Gronk. If that were all, it would be extremely impressive. What’s more, though, is that he is the best athlete of the bunch, running a 4.52 40-yard dash and posting a 132-inch vertical leap at 6’4″, 247 pounds. He is a freak of nature, primed to break out with a full season of Jimmy G tossing him passes.
Donte Moncrief (WR – FA): ADP #164
While he is a free agent, the most probable scenario is that he chooses to stay with his all-world quarterback, Andrew Luck. If that is indeed the case, we are getting a premiere athlete in a premiere situation at the cost of a late pick. It seems as though he has been around forever, but keep in mind that he is younger than both Michael Thomas and Josh Doctson. This means that it is nowhere near too late for him to showcase his elite athletic profile. With Luck throwing him passes, Moncrief has been a touchdown machine, much how Jordy Nelson has been to Aaron Rodgers. To get that type of asset in the 10th would be a steal. To grab it in the 14th is downright robbery.
Terrelle Pryor (WR – FA): ADP #168
Like Moncrief, Pryor is a free agent. It seems as though he is destined to leave the Redskins, however, seeing that he was replaced mid-season in their depth chart. There is, of course, plenty of risk if you select Pryor, but he offers more upside than anyone this late in drafts. If you can believe it, Pryor is bigger and faster than both Mike Evans and A.J. Green. He needs to improve in many areas of the game, but we have seen glimpses that suggest he could return a third or fourth round value if given the opportunity in a quality offense.
Thanks for reading. If you haven’t already, please check out the FantasyPros Football Podcast (below) that I co-host with Mike Tagliere. Good luck this season.