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11 Early Sleepers (Fantasy Football)

Jul 14, 2020

Zack Moss has more upside than many fantasy managers realize

Fantasy managers don’t win titles in the early rounds. Instead, late-rounders who fly under the radar are usually what pushes fake football squads into championship contention. Training camps haven’t started yet, but it’s still not too early to get to work on your preparation for the upcoming season. Our featured pundits have decided to help you out by sharing their thoughts on their favorite sleeper picks this year. Even if situations change between now and the beginning of the 2020 NFL campaign, you should still keep these names in mind on draft day.

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Q1. What RB outside of our half-PPR consensus top 40 should fantasy owners target in their drafts and why?

Zack Moss (BUF): Consensus Rank – 133rd Overall | RB47
“I’ll come out and say it … I think Moss is better than Devin Singletary. Last season, Singletary posted 4.7 yards per target, a mark that 44/48 running backs with at least 25 targets were able to exceed. Moss just so happens to have led the nation in yards per route run last season. So not only is he going to take over the Frank Gore role (early-down carries and all the goal-line work), but he’s going to threaten Singletary for the third-down job too. They should be ranked right next to each other, yet Singletary is the RB25, while Moss is somehow the RB47.”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

“Analysts like to talk about filling the Frank Gore-role whenever Zack Moss enters the fantasy conversation. Yet Moss has his own claim to make in the Buffalo backfield. He loses some marks for injuring himself at the combine, which is always bad optics for fantasy, but Moss still ran the 40 in 4.65 (officially adjusted from 4.72) while favoring a hamstring injury. Devin Singletary holds the 1A “first on the field” spot, but Moss can elevate his role from 2A to 1B much sooner if training camp and some sort of preseason can acclimate him quickly into the pro theater. He demonstrated in Utah his ability to find the hole instinctively and some rank him as the best north-south physical rusher the school ever had. Moss is both an upside cuff and upside stash for standalone value.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Jamaal Williams (GB): Consensus Rank – 183rd Overall | RB55
“‘The Land of Handcuffs and High Hopes’ is where we find ourselves today. Crowded backfields, and/or lack of a depth chart during these strange times, make this like playing pin the tail on the donkey. Williams continues to be the engine that could, despite RB1-level production (finally) from Aaron Jones. Williams has consistently managed an average of 150 touches, 700 total yards, and five total touchdowns for his first three seasons as a pro, finishing around the RB40 mark. He is not a boom, but he shouldn’t be a bust either, and could be a sigh-of-relief fill-in for those one or two weeks you’d need to call his number.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Anthony McFarland (PIT): Consensus Rank – 207th Overall | RB61
“McFarland is a diamond in the rough who’s totally worth considering in later rounds. Yes, the Steelers already said that James Conner should be the workhorse if healthy. But even healthy, there is the possibility that he will give up playing time if he is anywhere close to how inefficient he was in 2019. McFarland is the best rookie running back in yards created (5.89), is very explosive, and can make the most out of limited opportunities. If Conner can’t stay healthy, the upside is sky high.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Latavius Murray (NO): Consensus Rank – 115th Overall | RB44
“It blows my mind that no one views Murray as a top-40 running back. Not only does he offer flex-type value in a pinch, but he’s arguably the best handcuff in fantasy football. When Alvin Kamara missed those two games last year, Murray was the No. 1 running back in fantasy. We also can’t forget that both Mark Ingram and Kamara both finished as top-six running backs just a few years ago (in 2017), so there’s plenty of production to be had in Sean Payton’s offense.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Tony Pollard (DAL): Consensus Rank – 136th Overall | RB49
“Pollard is a player that I’m aiming to walk out of every draft with lately. While you can go after guys in the same range like Nyheim Hines that will give you a safe floor every week, they don’t possess a huge ceiling. In a year that is going to have players potentially miss time with COVID or possibly even a higher rate of injuries with the shortened offseason, it’s a good strategy to target potential league winners later on in your draft. Pollard should have some standalone value on his own, but could easily be a top-10 back if Ezekiel Elliott were to miss time.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Q2. What WR outside of our half-PPR consensus top 50 should fantasy owners target in their drafts and why?

Justin Jefferson (MIN): Consensus Rank – 130th Overall | WR51
“There is a wide enough target gap for Jefferson to easily see 100+ targets following the departure of Stefon Diggs. Most of you know that already and are reacting to the hype of Jefferson’s opportunity in Minnesota with ADP reaching. Yes, he could make his stamp as a rare WR1 in his rookie season, but it is best to temper that lofty assessment with some calm consideration of how the Vikings actually run their offense. Kirk Cousins wasn’t as daring a gunslinger once Dalvin Cook arrived as the lead back in the offense. Cousins’ pass attempts fell well below 500 for the first time since becoming a starter from his Washington days. We well recall the angst of Diggs (and Adam Thielen too) from ‘receiving starvation’ during 2019 and some jagged fantasy production along with it. However, don’t let yesteryear deter you from targeting Jefferson. His upside remains enormous.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Devin Funchess (GB): Consensus Rank – 233rd Overall | WR80
“The wide receiver position feels deeper than ever, so beyond the top 50, I am looking for a ‘boom’ player capable of finishing well above his ADP. I’ll stick in Green Bay and go with the oft-criticized Funchess, who’s looking to make a comeback with a new team and a determined Aaron Rodgers. Still just 26 years old, Funchess is the best second option Rodgers has had since Jordy Nelson was running alongside Davante Adams. Still looking for his first career 1,000-yard season, Funchess can be an imposing red-zone target for the Packers, capable of flirting with double-digit touchdowns. I’m chasing the quarterback, head coach, and motivation with this pick, but with a ranking of WR80, it’s paying pennies on the dollar.”
– Andy Singleton (Expand The Boxscore)

Tee Higgins (CIN): Consensus Rank – 221rd Overall | WR77
“This is going to seem like a wild take, but I actually like taking Higgins in the final round of your draft (I took him in the 19th round of the Scott Fish Bowl, so he’s more of a deeper league target). He was effectively a first-round wide receiver, being taken at 2.01, and I truly believe he’s going to start in Week 1 considering that the Bengals were trying to trade Ross this offseason. Higgins dominated for Clemson last year and his numbers would have been jaw-dropping had they not annihilated every team they played (nearly all of his production was in the first half of games when the score was at least somewhat close). He is an incredible prospect and if he’s out there for the majority of snaps, then he’s got some real upside in this new Joe Burrow-led offense!”
– Nick Zylak (Fantasy Football Advice)

Jalen Reagor (PHI): Consensus Rank – 145th Overall | WR57
“One player I’m continually moving up my draft board this offseason is Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor. There have been nothing but negative reports about Alshon Jeffery, who seems destined to start the year on the PUP list, and then you have DeSean Jackson who may be released due to his off-the-field issues. Reagor is a versatile weapon who can play both inside the slot and on the perimeter and it’s clear the Eagles had a role planned for him when they selected him in the first round. As A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin proved last year, rookie wide receivers can do some damage with opportunity and Reagor is slated to get plenty of it.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

Robby Anderson (CAR): Consensus Rank – 139th Overall | WR54
“Anderson is now in Carolina with his former head coach from college, Matt Rhule. Anderson knows this system and he should be able to slide right in without much of a transition. Additionally, the Panthers are going to be throwing the ball a ton this year, which means that he could be in line for a huge target share. He’ll be third on this team in targets behind Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, but that’s still enough volume for him to drastically outperform his WR54 ranking.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Brandon Aiyuk (SF): Consensus Rank – 162nd Overall | WR62
“If there is a rookie wide receiver who has a chance to produce immediately from day one, it is Brandon Aiyuk. The 49ers traded up for him in the first round, having a plan to use him as a starter right away. But now because of Deebo Samuel’s injury now, Aiyuk has a clear path to be the primary wideout on the team from Week 1. The former Arizona State wide receiver is a yards-after-the-catch monster and should have the opportunity to shine in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their early sleepers. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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