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13 Early Fantasy Football Sleepers

May 30, 2019

Damien Harris boasts nice upside as the cheapest backfield member of New England’s high-powered offense

Rosters are mostly set now that the offseason is winding down. Teams have begun holding their OTA workouts and minicamp will begin within the next week for several clubs. While organizations will still make some low-impact transactions here and there, we mainly know what NFL rosters will look like this season. Mark Ingram, who is the de facto tailback for the Ravens, and Tyler Lockett, Seattle’s top veteran wideout now that Doug Baldwin is gone, are just two of many clear beneficiaries from a very busy offseason that has forever changed the fantasy landscape.

It’s not difficult to figure out which early- and mid-round players have renewed upside thanks to the offseason, but let’s dig a little deeper. Who are some less recognizable sleepers you can grab towards the end of drafts? This question is definitely tougher to answer, so we’ve brought in our featured experts to tackle this topic. They have identified their favorite late-round sleeper candidates below for your benefit.

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

Damien Harris (NE) | Darrell Henderson (LAR)
“Any time you get outside of the top 50 at running back, it’s going to be a handcuff situation, so why not take the guy who’s tied to one of the best offenses in the league? Harris is a rock-solid running back and one who will make coaches very happy. He runs downhill and gets what’s blocked, sometimes more. With Sony Michel dealing with a chronic knee injury, the Patriots likely grabbed Harris as high-priced insurance in the third-round. Another name in this range would be Henderson, who appears to be the clear handcuff to Todd Gurley.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Damien Harris currently sports the coveted title of “cheapest New England running back to draft in fantasy,” and in April’s NFL Draft, he was only picked 17 spots after the Rams’ Darrell Henderson (who no one is sleeping on at this point). The Patriots maximize the skills of their players, so Harris should produce when called upon, as they continue to lean on the run and save Tom Brady for another inevitable playoff run. Remember that Harris beat out Josh Jacobs in college, so expecting the same against Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead in the pros isn’t a stretch, especially considering those veterans’ checkered injury histories.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

James Conner, Phillip Lindsay, and Nick Chubb each were ranked outside the top 50 prior to the season and all three of them finished as top-15 running backs. Backs like these usually enter the season an injury or change of circumstance away from an ideal situation. There are quite a few candidates to be this year’s breakout star, but the one who sticks out to me is Darrell Henderson. The Rams do have one of the best backs in the league in Todd Gurley, but he’s suffering from lingering knee issues that might very well stem from his heavy workload. A Super Bowl contending team generally doesn’t trade up for a player simply as insurance. Henderson should have a role right away and could find himself in RB1 territory if Gurley were to go down.”
– Elisha Twerski (Cheesehead TV)

Chris Thompson (WAS) 
“When you get to this point of the draft, you’re looking for somebody who either has opportunity as the immediate handcuff or a true PPR back. This is why I go straight to Thompson. Over the last four seasons, he has averaged 54.75 targets per year and caught 41 of them. Injuries have derailed him many times, but he can be a difference-maker in PPR leagues if healthy.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Justice Hill (BAL) 
“Darrell Henderson is technically going outside the top 50, but he won’t be in a month. Therefore, I’m going with Hill. The Ravens are going to run the ball north of 30 times per game and Hill is talented enough to take a large portion of those away from Ingram. He’s also a good enough pass catcher to stay on the field for third downs.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

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

Marqise Lee (JAC) 
“Let’s go with former second-round pick Lee. Not many realize that he’s been very good when on the field, though he hasn’t exactly been the picture of perfect health. When on the field, he’s been a WR3 or better in 42 percent of his games (while with Blake Bortles), which is the exact same territory as Kenny Golladay and Sterling Shepard to this point in their careers. He also gets a slight upgrade at quarterback with Nick Foles. While I don’t believe he has top-15 upside like those other guys mentioned, you also don’t have to pay anything in order to take a chance on him.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“I like the value on Marqise Lee. When healthy, he’s the team’s clear cut starting outside WR. The fact that he’s not going to be back until late in the preseason is obviously concerning, but getting a #1 WR this late in the draft is almost unheard of.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

David Moore (SEA) 
Tyler Boyd was the only receiver with an ECR outside the top 60 last season to finish inside the top 30. Breakout receivers of that nature are rare and nearly impossible to predict. A good strategy at the end of the draft is to look for receivers with upside who can also provide you with solid flex production as it stands. One guy who intrigues me a ton is Moore. The 24-year-old produced nicely when Doug Baldwin was limited or unavailable due to injuries, posting 445 yards and five scores on just 53 targets. With Baldwin out of the picture, Moore should be able to benefit from a larger target share.”
– Elisha Twerski (Cheesehead TV)

Equanimeous St. Brown (GB) 
Aaron Rodgers‘ No. 2 receiver is tough to identify at this stage of the offseason, and that makes St. Brown a potentially huge bargain. Marquez Valdes-Scantling clouds the picture in Green Bay’s receiving corps, but ESB actually outproduced MVS in the last six games they played together. Each player had 12 catches, but St. Brown accumulated 46 more receiving yards between Weeks 11 and 16 last year. Both receivers have upside to outplay their rankings, but I prefer taking the draft-day discount and getting extra room for growth with the younger player in St. Brown.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

Donte Moncrief (PIT) 
“I’m copping out here a bit and going with the No. 61 player on the list, Moncrief. I know he has burned many fantasy owners in the past, myself included, but this guy has talent and somebody has to step up to be the No. 2 in Pittsburgh, which is a position that has thrived for many years. I don’t know for sure if it will be Moncrief or James Washington, but at this cost, I’ll take a chance on Moncrief.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

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

Dallas Goedert (PHI) | Noah Fant (DEN)
“If you want a handcuff or someone who can produce top-five numbers with an injury, Goedert would be my pick here. As for my main pick, I’m usually against drafting rookie tight ends, but when we’re talking about taking one outside of the top 20, I can take a chance on a guy like Fant. He wasn’t drafted to be a blocker and was arguably the best receiving tight end in the draft. Joe Flacco has targeted tight ends very heavily throughout his career, and even Drew Lock was able to hook up with his stud tight end at Missouri on a regular basis.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Dallas Goedert barely qualifies given his spot at No. 21 in the consensus rankings, but we can’t afford to be too contrarian with bargain tight ends because the odds of hitting are inherently low. His massive college production was only matched by his massive frame, and the Eagles took notice, drafting him in the second round of the 2018 draft. Goedert wasted no time establishing himself as one of Philadelphia’s preferred targets in the red zone, and with his role set to expand this season, he’s my preferred late-round target at tight end.”
– Greg Smith (TwoQBs)

T.J. Hockenson (DET)
“If I’m taking a tight end in this range, which I’m likely not, I’m going for a pure upside play and taking Hockenson. I know rookie tight ends rarely do anything, but he can be one of the few exceptions as he was exceptional catching the ball for Iowa. The Lions lack short to intermediate pass catchers with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones both having at least a 12.9 aDOT. Hockenson can fill that void left by Golden Tate, who had a 6.5 aDOT last season before being traded.”
– Joe Bond (Fantasy Six Pack)

Tyler Eifert (CIN)
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, I must be taking a flyer on Eifert again. It took Eric Ebron four “this is the year” seasons before he actually broke through in 2018. Unlike Ebron, Eifert has already shown us what he can do. The injury list is as long as a CVS receipt, but many of the injuries Eifert has suffered have been freak injuries. With A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd garnering all of the defense’s attention, Eifert could prove to be a weapon (especially in the red zone) should he stay healthy.”
– Elisha Twerski (Cheesehead TV)

Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI)
“Seals-Jones has the chance to be a post-hype sleeper this season. He disappointed many as a sophomore last year, but the additions of Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury should help turn this offense around. With no real threat behind him, look for ASJ to be a sneaky flier for those who miss out on the stud TEs.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

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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