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16 Early Fantasy Football Sleepers

May 31, 2018

With great athleticism and opportunity, is Ricky Seals-Jones a tight end super sleeper?

We’ve finally gotten back around to that blissful time of year when fantasy football sleepers become a very relevant topic of discussion. With June almost underway, we’re not too far away from preseason NFL action and our ever important fantasy drafts. After sifting through this year’s rookie class and examining veterans with improved situations, our featured experts are here to give you the skinny on the valuable sleepers lurking deep within our expert consensus rankings.

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

Doug Martin (OAK)
“It’s really a wonder why more people haven’t tied Doug Martin to a direct path of success. While he’s been inefficient in two of his last three seasons, he’s also played behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. Going to play for the Raiders, who arguably have a top-three offensive line in football, should be a treat for his eyes. On top of that, Marshawn Lynch will be 32 years old this year — an age when most running backs fail to sustain their earlier success, especially ones who have been a battering ram like Lynch has. It’s not very common to find a running back outside the top-50 who has multiple 1,400 rushing yard campaigns on his resume. ”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Ty Montgomery (GB)
“Montgomery was a top-five RB during the first three weeks of 2017 until he got injured. That was when their depth chart included Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. Aaron Rodgers loves Ty Montgomery and lost his BFF, Jordy Nelson. Obviously, the two rookie running backs got experience last year and could absolutely be far more involved. But for Montgomery to drop out of the top 50 seems to be an overreaction. ”
– Jason Moore (The Fantasy Footballers)

Kalen Ballage (MIA)
“Ballage is a frustrating player to project because he underwhelmed in college, never really locking down a feature back role at Arizona State, despite having one of the nation’s top athletic profiles. It is the lack of college production and his fourth-round draft pedigree that have allowed Ballage to be readily available in the late rounds of early drafts. At this price, I am buying. Ballage has arguably the best hands of any back in this class, making him a strong candidate to earn passing down work early on. With feature back size and athleticism, Ballage has the potential to push Kenyon Drake for early-down carries as well, giving him a high floor with workhorse upside if he were to learn to play up to his potential at the pro level.”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Peyton Barber (TB)
“Barber is a candidate for more work than one might expect. While everyone is hot on the trail of rookie Ronald Jones II, Barber is the forgotten man. Due to Jones’ slender frame, Barber could also carve out a role as the team’s short-yardage and goal-line back. This gives him more upside than a traditional handcuff. From Weeks 13-17, Peyton Barber averaged 15.6 carries for 67 yards and 0.2 rushing TDs while adding 2.4 receptions on 2.8 targets for 16.6 yards for a solid 9.1 standard fantasy points. While it may not be the flashiest pick, Barber should provide some value to owners on draft day. ”
– Anthony Staggs (Pyromaniac)

Darren Sproles (PHI)
“Darren Sproles missed most of last season and he is now 35 years old, but the Eagles insist he is their starter right now. This isn’t to say that he will see 200+ touches, but he should see enough to be fantasy relevant. Keep in mind that he’s been a quality fantasy player even at an advanced age, finishing 29th, 48th, 30th, 36th, 23rd and 10th among running backs since his 28th birthday, and those rankings are in standard leagues. Don’t hesitate to add him near the end of your draft if you’ve loaded up on high-upside backs. Sproles should be a quality week to week flex play.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Jordan Wilkins (IND)
“Mack enters camp in position to lead the Colts’ backfield with fifth-round running back Jordan Wilkins, an afterthought buried on the depth chart. However, there is opportunity in Indy with Frank Gore out of town, and the Ole Miss product ran well last year and profiles as a strong pass protector and special teams contributor. That should be enough to earn him the attention of his coaches, and opportunities throughout the season. There is no clear-cut lead horse here, and Wilkins strikes as a player who could take advantage of his opportunities.”
– Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)

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

Geronimo Allison (GB)
“If the Packers continue to ignore Dez Bryant as a free agent, Geronimo Allison is going to be very fantasy relevant, as he’ll step-in opposite Davante Adams and play in two wide receiver sets with the greatest quarterback on earth. Do I need to remind anyone that James Jones caught 14 touchdowns from Aaron Rodgers back in 2012 before hanging up the cleats just a few years later? Allison also knows the offense and has produced with a healthy Rodgers in 2016, totaling 22 targets and turning them into 202 yards and two touchdowns. Guys, he’s going after Terrance Williams. ”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

John Ross (CIN)
“Ross had as bad a rookie season as is possible. Literally, he scored negative fantasy points. That being said, no one expected the rookie-curmudgeon, Marvin Lewis, to give his rookie WR enough playing time to be valuable. Fast forward a year and all the reports out of camp are glowing about the work Ross has put in. As a top 10 drafted rookie last year, it’s inconceivable to think he won’t get work this year especially while Brandon LaFell is 31 years old and on the way out of town.”
– Jason Moore (The Fantasy Footballers)

Albert Wilson (MIA)
“Wilson will likely be my most owned wide receiver in 2018. Wilson is set to take over in the slot for the Miami Dolphins, hand picked to replace Jarvis Landry. While no one is expecting Wilson to replicate Landry’s production, I do expect Ryan Tannehill to continue to target the slot receiver heavily, especially when trailing, something the Dolphins will be doing often in 2018. A lack of historical production has Wilson going very late in early drafts, but his underwhelming numbers have more to do with being the fourth or fifth option in a conservative Kansas City offense than a lack of ability. An absence of playmakers in Miami will provide Wilson with the opportunity to showcase his talent for the first time in his young career. ”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

Tyrell Williams (LAC)
“Williams got a shot in the arm with the injury of Hunter Henry, though he may not have even needed it after finishing as the 39th receiver in standard scoring in 2017 when compared to his 12th place finish in 2016. Currently ranked as the 70th wide receiver and carrying and ADP point expectation of just 63.7 standard points, Williams should blow by that easily. The Henry injury does give some added upside as his “slash” line goes from 3.36 receptions on 5.68 targets for 56.44 yards and 0.28 TDs with him in the lineup over the last two years, to four catches on 6.57 targets for 53.71 yards and 0.57 TDs without. ”
– Anthony Staggs (Pyromaniac)

Chris Godwin (TB)
“It feels dirty to use Chris Godwin here because his current (#68) ranking is going to soar over the next few months. The Bucs threw for over 4,600 yards last season and are likely to repeat that with Jameis Winston maturing another year. Godwin, who had 9.5 yards/targets last season, should see an extra 60 to 70 targets now that he has been moved into the starting lineup.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Donte Moncrief (JAC)
“Moncrief intrigues me as a post-hype sleeper. 2015 feels like a lifetime ago, but in that year Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns combined for 2,400 receiving yards in Jacksonville and Blake Bortles made significant strides last year. The team has committed to him at QB and put big-time money in Moncrief’s pocket. He has the build and the skill set to make an impact and the change of scenery can’t hurt after failing to live up to expectations amid overall offensive issues in Indianapolis.”
– Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)

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

Vance McDonald (PIT)
“It’s got to be Vance McDonald for me, as he was traded to the Steelers right before the start of last season, which didn’t give him ample time to learn the offense, similar to Sammy Watkins in Los Angeles last year. Over the offseason, the Steelers have done nothing but compliment McDonald and say that he’s going to be much more involved in the offense. It’d be wise, as he’s one of the more athletic tight ends in football, as he totaled 16.3 yards per reception in the 2016 season prior to coming to the Steelers. If Jesse James can produce in that offense, you have room for real potential with McDonald. ”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI)
“Seals-Jones exploded onto the scene last year in his first two starts as an undrafted rookie. General Manager Steve Keim has said that he believes the Cardinals have indeed found their pass-catching, verticle-threat tight end that they have been looking for over the previous years. Add in the rarely-reported Week 17 torn Achilles to Jermaine Gresham that could likely keep him away from starting the season, and Seals-Jones has a path to fantasy success. ”
– Jason Moore (The Fantasy Footballers)

“Seals-Jones is the perfect late-round tight end. He is young, still learning the position (played wide receiver at Texas A&M), athletic, and could potentially be the number three option in the passing game behind superstars Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. With the amount of uncertainty plaguing the tight end position, it is not out of the question that Seals-Jones finishes the season as a low-end TE1.”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)

“Seals-Jones is a prime breakout candidate at the position. A former highly recruited wide receiver prospect who attended Texas A&M, Seals-Jones provided a spark late in the season with Blaine Gabbert. From Weeks 11-15, RSJ averaged five targets a game, caught 2.4 passes for 40.2 yards, and scored three total touchdowns. A seam-stretcher at tight end, RSJ had an aDOT of 11.4 last season and could be a big piece for a team lacking proven receiving depth behind Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson. ”
– Anthony Staggs (Pyromaniac)

Rico Gathers (DAL)
“We saw flashes last pre-season of Rico Gathers’ immense athleticism. That isn’t to say it will translate to Sundays, nor that he is a lock to replace Jason Witten, but he certainly has potential worth paying attention to. If the former basketball player can stay healthy and win the job, he may morph into a TE1 by the end of the season since Dallas doesn’t have many options to throw the ball to.”
– Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

Luke Willson (DET)
“Willson has a legitimate shot to start in Detroit, which would lead to a major increase in opportunity. The former Seahawk played just 35.4% of the team’s offensive snaps last year but has shown an ability to make plays when given the chance. Last year, the Lions threw 86 balls in Eric Ebron’s direction, and that’s considering that he lost some snaps and opportunities to Darren Fells. If Willson does indeed earn starter’s status, he could easily provide value on his TE27 ranking.”
– Jon Collins (Fantasy Sports LR)

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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