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9 Early Post-Hype Sleeper (Fantasy Football)

Apr 9, 2021

As with every year, once the incoming class of rookies get drafted, and rosters begin to take shape, the hype trains start leaving the station. Unfortunately, those trains don’t always make it to their destination and fantasy managers are left stranded with their shiny hyped-up player collecting dust. Also with every offseason though, is a fresh start. We asked a group of industry experts which running backs and wide receivers that were once being fought for in drafts should have that shiny appeal once again. Here are their answers.

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Q1. What RB who was overhyped as a sleeper in past seasons, and has fallen in draft rankings this season, are you targeting the most and why?

Zack Moss (RB – BUF): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 82, RB33
“I won’t go so far as to say that I’m actually gonna specifically target Zack Moss in 2021 drafts, but it won’t surprise me if I’m (again) higher on him than most. In my view, the only thing that was disappointing about Moss’ rookie season was his usage near the goal-line. He was plenty effective as a ball-carrier, he caught 14 of his 18 targets and, according to PFF, he generated as many missed tackles (21) as Cam Akers on far fewer touches. I’m happy to take a flier on a talented back in an upper-tier offense.”
– Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Sports)

Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 120, RB46
“In late rounds I am targeting Penny. Last year was a lost season, but by the start of 2021, he will be 100% recovered from his injury. Chris Carson returns, but we know that Seattle uses quite a lot of complement RBs as it has happened in recent years with Carlos Hyde, DeeJay Dallas, Mike Davis, and Penny himself. Now Hyde is gone and I envision Penny is going to be the one who inherits that role completely. Carson has never played a full season and that makes Penny a good option to stash.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB – SF): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 117, RB45
“As Ray Garvin astutely pointed out on the FantasyPros Dynasty Podcast, Jeff WIlson Jr. battled his way through multiple guys ahead of him on the depth chart and difficult circumstances, yet found playing time. When given 20+ carries in Week 16 & 17 last year, he finished as an RB3 and RB7 those weeks. He was also playing against two opponents ‘playing for something’, so it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Wilson also finished as RB1 Week 7 vs. the Patriots. Raheem Mostert on the other hand, had just one top 10 finish and missed 8 games last year. Wilson is a viable, undervalued commodity heading into 2021.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Tarik Cohen (RB – CHI): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 102, RB38
“I won’t necessarily be targeting this player in every single draft that I’m in, but I do think that his price tag has fallen to the point that I’m comfortable scooping him up as a depth piece on my fantasy roster. That player is Tarik Cohen from Chicago. Cohen’s proven that he can be a very valuable fantasy RB in the past and he was injured early on last season, which means that it’s been a while since we’ve seen him on the field. But with Andy Dalton at QB, he’s going to be more willing to check the ball down and Cohen could soak up targets in this offense next season.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Joe Mixon (RB – CIN): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 27, RB15
“Mixon was a (late) first-round pick in 2020 and he’s currently going off the board in the middle of Round 3 (3.06, RB18) in early FFC half-PPR mocks. A foot injury sidelined him from Week 7-17, but Mixon led all running backs in touches (140) through Week 6 with 19-plus touches in all six games in which he appeared. Not only did he rank top 10 among running backs in targets (26) over that span as well, but the team recently released Giovani Bernard, who had 20 targets over that same stretch. Especially if the team uses the No. 5 pick on Penei Sewell, Mixon is set up well to vastly outperform his mid-Round 3 ADP in 2021.”
– Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

Q2. What WR who was overhyped as a sleeper in past seasons, and has fallen in draft rankings this season, are you targeting the most and why?

Mecole Hardman (KC): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 149, WR58
“Hardman’s career in Kansas City has been underwhelming and has not lived up to expectations. I am willing to give him one last chance. Hardman has gone from 41 to 62 targets from his first to his second season and now Sammy Watkins leaves 55 vacant targets. He has the speed and talent to play opposite from Tyreek Hill and finally establish himself as a constant contributor on this prolific offense. Take a chance on him with a late-round pick, it may be worth it.”
– Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

“Failing to deliver the breakout some fantasy managers had expected in 2020 (41/560/4), Mecole Hardman is being selected roughly four rounds later in 2021 Half-PPR mocks (13th round, WR64) on FFC than he was in 2020 (9th round, WR40). While he played roughly the same amount of offensive snaps (45%) in both of his seasons, there was a small year-over-year uptick in targets — 62 (9.84%) in 2020 vs. 41 (7.12%) in 2019. Barring the Chiefs using a high pick on a receiver in this year’s draft, the 2019 second-rounder should continue to expand his offensive role, especially with Sammy Watkins now in Baltimore. Hardman’s game-breaking speed, Kansas City’s high-powered offense, and the more economical draft-day cost make his upside worth the risk of a late-round dart throw.”
– Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

Parris Campbell (IND): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 165, WR64
“Campbell hasn’t been able to remain on the field over his first two seasons, but he’s flashed legit talent whenever he happens to play. He opened his season with a 6-catch, 71-yard performance last year, and was clearly going to be a key piece of the Colts’ passing game. It’s certainly possible that Indy will target receivers in this year’s draft – the team isn’t exactly loaded with elite pass-catchers – but Campbell is still likely to remain a big part of the offense. He won’t cost a thing at the draft table, yet he has a path to a significant reception total.”
– Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Sports)

Bryan Edwards (LVR): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 198, WR76
“It’s a little early on to say that Edwards was classified as a sleeper last season, but he did have some buzz throughout the season. He wasn’t heavily involved in this offense last season as he got adjusted to the NFL game, but Edwards absolutely has the talent to be a factor for fantasy football and Las Vegas may have to end up throwing the ball more than they would like with all the departures on their offensive line. You won’t have to spend more than a 14th-round pick on Edwards, but simply keep him in mind when you’re on the clock late in your draft.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

D.J. Chark (JAC): Half-PPR Overall Rank: 76, WR31
“Chark battled injuries last season and, let’s face it, terrible QB play. He’s upgrading from a Ford Pinto to a Lamborghini with Trevor Lawrence. Although everyone is buzzing about Laviska Shenault and the addition of veteran Marvin Jones, Chark is becoming a forgotten man and still has the skills to be a solid WR3 with upside. He’s only a year removed from a 73 REC 1,008 YDS 8 TD season in 2019. And that was with Gardner Minshew. Imagine the possibilities Trevor Lawrence can open up for DJ.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for naming their post-hype sleepers for the upcoming season. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, check out our latest podcast below for your fantasy football fill.

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