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Consensus Fantasy Football Sleepers from 70+ Experts (2021)

Aug 18, 2021


 
Sleepers are always the buzziest topic of discussion in fantasy circles. If you take a chance on one and the decision pays off, it could be the jolt that pushes you into the postseason or even wins you a title. All sleepers have this in common — they are highly underrated and have a relatively good chance of producing far above their average draft position (ADP). The larger the discrepancy between their draft cost and their season-long production is, the better off your squad is for selecting them.

Identifying those with sleeper potential isn’t the hardest task. What is difficult, though, is knowing which sleeper candidates are ahead of the herd and have the absolute best chance of being solid fantasy contributors. Last season we brought 58 analysts together to vote on the top sleepers and standouts like Jonnu SmithAntonio GibsonJ.K. Dobbins, and CeeDee Lamb were among the top vote-getters.

We’ve upped the ante this year and have polled 73 experts on who the best sleepers are at every position in half-PPR heading into the new season. Check out who they chose down below.

Want to see all the votes? Click here to view which experts participated and who they voted for.

Note: All ADP and ECR values are as of August 16

Check out more Fantasy Football Sleepers >>

Top Consensus Sleepers

PLAYER POS TEAM VOTES ECR ADP
Trey Lance QB SF 22 QB25 QB24
Adam Trautman TE NO 22 TE18 TE20
Justin Fields QB CHI 19 QB22 QB19
Trey Sermon RB SF 14 RB34 RB36
Jonnu Smith TE NE 11 TE14 TE14
Gerald Everett TE SEA 11 TE21 TE21
Michael Carter RB NYJ 10 RB32 RB34
Antonio Brown WR TB 9 WR39 WR38
Sam Darnold QB CAR 8 QB24 QB30
Zack Moss RB BUF 8 RB38 RB37

Click here to view which experts participated and who they voted for.

Running Backs

PLAYER TEAM VOTES ECR ADP
Trey Sermon SF 14 RB34 RB36
Michael Carter NYJ 10 RB32 RB34
Zack Moss BUF 8 RB38 RB37
A.J. Dillon GB 5 RB40 RB38
Javonte Williams DEN 4 RB27 RB28
Ronald Jones TB 4 RB33 RB30
James Robinson JAC 4 RB30 RB23
Xavier Jones LAR 3 RB74 RB53

Running backs who received votes were: James Conner (2), David Johnson (2), Jamaal Williams (2), Phillip Lindsay (2), Giovani Bernard (2), Rhamondre Stevenson (1), Javian Hawkins (1), Wayne Gallman (1), Boston Scott (1), Devin Singletary (1), Kenneth Gainwell (1), Damien Williams (1), Latavius Murray (1), Gus Edwards (1), Tony Pollard (1), J.D. McKissic (1) 

Wide Receivers

PLAYER TEAM VOTES ECR ADP
Antonio Brown TB 9 WR39 WR38
Laviska Shenault JAC 7 WR42 WR43
Mike Williams LAC 7 WR43 WR45
Elijah Moore NYJ 7 WR60 WR56
Darnell Mooney CHI 6 WR51 WR52
Jaylen Waddle MIA 5 WR52 WR44
Mecole Hardman KC 4 WR54 WR53
Michael Gallup DAL 4 WR44 WR48
Marvin Jones JAC 3 WR48 WR55
Bryan Edwards LV 3 WR75 WR71

Wide receivers who received votes were: Gabriel Davis (2), Corey Davis (2), Jakobi Meyers (2), Henry Ruggs (1), Nico Collins (1), Terrace Marshall (1), Marquez Callaway (1), Denzel Mims (1), DeVante Parker (1), Rashod Bateman (1), Curtis Samuel (1), Rondale Moore (1), Cole Beasley (1), Jalen Reagor (1), Amon-Ra St. Brown (1)

Quarterbacks

PLAYER TEAM VOTES ECR ADP
Trey Lance QB 22 QB25 QB24
Justin Fields CHI 19 QB22 QB19
Sam Darnold CAR 8 QB24 QB30
Daniel Jones NYG 6 QB21 QB32
Cam Newton NE 5 QB29 QB27
Derek Carr LV 3 QB23 QB25
Zach Wilson NYJ 2 QB26 QB26
Jared Goff DET 2 QB28 QB28
Taysom Hill NO 2 QB31 QB23

Quarterbacks who received one vote were: Deshaun Watson, Tua Tagovailoa, Jameis Winston, Carson Wentz

Tight Ends

PLAYER TEAM VOTES ECR ADP
Adam Trautman NO 22 TE18 TE20
Jonnu Smith NE 11 TE14 TE17
Gerald Everett LAR 11 TE21 TE21
Dan Arnold CAR 4 TE30 TE30
Jared Cook LAC 4 TE22 TE19
Blake Jarwin DAL 4 TE19 TE24
Cole Kmet CHI 3 TE20 TE32
Austin Hooper CLE 2 TE23 TE33
Hayden Hurst ATL 2 TE27 TE29
Rob Gronkowski TB 2 TE16 TE10

Tight ends who received one vote: Donald Parham, O.J. Howard, Evan Engram, Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry, Anthony Firkser, Dalton Schultz, Irv Smith

Q. Who is the player you expect to be this year’s biggest fantasy sleeper and why?

Running Backs

Trey Sermon (SF) 
“Sermon is not guaranteed anything, but there is so much working in his favor that it would be surprising if he doesn’t blow his current RB34 ECR out of the water. He studied the 49ers’ offense LAST summer when preparing to play for Ohio State in summer 2020 because of the similarities of the schemes and he exploded down the stretch once he got comfortable in the offense. It is almost always a good idea to pay attention to the running backs in a Kyle Shanahan offense and Sermon appears to be the clear next man in line behind — if not a true committee partner with — Raheem Mostert, who is now 29 years old and has struggled to stay healthy despite never handling more than 151 touches in a season. The main reason I want Sermon is that I want the running back who I think will be getting the most work in a Shanahan offense at the end of the year when the 49ers wrap up the fantasy season against the Bengals, Falcons, Titans, and Texans.”
– Doug Orth (FFToday)

“The San Francisco 49ers were second in fantasy points scored by running backs in 2019 and third in 2020. It is one of the most running back-friendly offenses in the league. The combination of the 49ers using a third-round pick on Trey Sermon and no established star with a massive contract should open the door for him to see touches early in the season. Sermon has a ton of upside in this offense and if he can seize the lead role, he has a chance to be one of the biggest sleepers in fantasy football this season.”
– Derek Lofland (FantasyPros)

“Mike and Kyle Shanahan’s zone running scheme has worked year after year, turning ordinary talents such as Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns, and Alfred Morris into immensely valuable fantasy assets, if only for a year or two. When true studs (Terrell Davis, Clinton Portis) were plugged into the scheme, it was pure magic. Sure, the 49ers’ backfield is messy, but Trey Sermon’s talents fit the zone scheme, and the 49ers traded up to get him. If you draft Sermon at his current ADP and the 49ers use a multi-pronged approach at running back, fine: You’ve paid a committee-back price for a committee back. But if Sermon seizes control of the backfield and turns out to be another Terrell Davis, you’ve just rolled Yahtzee with a seventh- or eighth-round pick.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (The Football Girl)

Javonte Williams (DEN) 
“Williams may not begin the season as the starting running back in Denver but he will end up as their top RB by season’s end. Melvin Gordon is heading toward free agency next year and the team has his replacement ready. Much like Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins last year, it may be a slow start, but Williams will pay off when it matters most — fantasy playoff time. A late-season schedule featuring the Lions, Bengals, Raiders, and Chargers in Weeks 14-17, all bottom-half and three bottom-10 run defenses in 2020, is icing on the cake.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Ronald Jones (TB) 
“Prior to the Week 13 bye, Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones was simply electric for fantasy. A 162-carry, 820-rushing yard, six total TD stat line to that point was upended by injury, an impressive stretch run into the playoffs from fellow back Leonard Fournette followed suit. If those two factors didn’t play out as they had, we would most likely not be as hesitant on Jones as we currently are. Fantasy managers should take advantage of the best RB option outside the top 30 in ECR, which is Jones.”
– Matthew McCarthy (Gridiron Ratings)

James Robinson (JAC) 
“Robinson, last year’s biggest fantasy surprise, becomes this year’s biggest fantasy sleeper. Last season he rushed for 1,040 yards and seven touchdowns on 240 carries. Travis Etienne will likely be heavily involved in the passing game, but I don’t expect Robinson to go away quietly on the ground. He could be touchdown dependent but the upside at his ADP is something I can’t pass on.”
– Elvin Ryan (The Pregame HQ)

Wide Receivers

Darnell Mooney (CHI) 
“The sleeper that I am targeting in all of my drafts is Chicago Bears WR Darnell Mooney. He is preparing for this second season after setting a franchise record for most receptions by a rookie wide receiver with 61 while producing 631 yards and four touchdowns last season. Mooney finished 11th overall with 23 deep targets and averaged 6.9 targets over the final eight games last season. Unfortunately, he only caught 62% of his total targets due to poor and erratic quarterback play. With the Bears trading Anthony Miller to the Texans, Mooney is expected to own the WR2 role. He also welcomes a significant upgrade at quarterback, whether it’s the veteran, Andy Dalton, or the rookie, Justin Fields. Mooney and Dalton have already connected on several deep passes in practice. However, the expectation is that Fields will take over at some point this season. He is a talented deep passer, and he should light up the scoreboard with Mooney on several deep targets this season. Mooney has enormous upside and a high ceiling with a quarterback who can deliver the ball on target, something he didn’t see last season, which cost Mooney several scores. With a current ADP of WR52, he should exceed where he finished last season. In 2021, the former Tulane standout will finish as a solid flex option and a top-35 WR for fantasy managers.”
– Dennis Sosic (Fantasy Six Pack)

“Chicago’s Darnell Mooney was productive as a fifth-round rookie selection in 2020. On limited snaps, he produced 631 yards and four touchdowns on 61 receptions. He now projects as an every-snap player following Anthony Miller’s trade to Houston, which only increases his potential productivity in his sophomore year. While quarterback may remain an issue, Mooney’s skill set in combination with his speed-agility dynamic should find him in open space at all levels with the added bonus of being able to take stack defensive backs for the occasional long touchdown. While Mooney is starting to gain some ‘buzz’ in drafts, he’s still largely undervalued.”
– Jeff Haverlack (Dynasty League Football)

Darnell Mooney is one of those players where the fantasy sleeper interest arises primarily from an eye-test review of his 2020 film. The target disparity in 2020 between himself and Allen Robinson shows a 98 versus 151 gap. Despite the overall sub-par quarterbacking from the Bears last season, the 631 yards Mooney put up still ranked fifth among the rookie receivers. With the arm talent of Justin FIelds and veteran Andy Dalton, it is not unreasonable to anticipate an extra 20% ceiling for Darnell Mooney in 2021.”
– Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Darnell Mooney tallied 61-631-4 as a fifth-round rookie alongside Mitchell Trubisky (nine starts) and Nick Foles (seven starts). QB issues played a huge role in Mooney catching just four out of 23 targets of 20+ air yards, per Pro Football Focus. That ranked 63rd among 70 WRs with 10+ deep targets. An eventual move to Justin Fields provides optimism, while Andy Dalton should supply an upgrade in the short term.”
– Kevin English (Draft Sharks)

Antonio Brown (TB) 
“In 2020, Brown was WR22 in the eight games he played during Weeks 9 through 17. Those games included ones in which he had to get up to speed with the offense. His on- and off-the-field rapport with Tom Brady is very real. Brown had two games where he collected 13 and 15 targets, whereas teammates Mike Evans and Chris Godwin saw no such amount of targets in a game.”
– Lawrence Jackson (Fantasy Football Lord)

“I don’t understand how Antonio Brown is being drafted outside of the top-40 WRs. His 16-game pace last season would have been 90-966-8 on 122 targets. Brown and Tom Brady are going into the season with an offseason to work together and an opportunity to continue to master the notoriously difficult Bruce Arians offense. Brown will be an every-week WR2 option.”
– Jason Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

“The previous fantasy darling, Antonio Brown, fell off the face of the earth after his legal troubles. However, after reuniting with Tom Brady in Tampa, Brown averaged 11.8 points per game in 2020. Now with an entire offseason to prepare and playing for another contract, Brown could well produce to a similar level of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans for half the price.”
– Richard Cooling (5 Yard Rush)

Mike Williams (LAC) 
“Williams is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and showed massive touchdown upside in his second season with 10 touchdowns on just 43 catches. Since he has suffered the biggest shortfall in touchdowns (seven) versus opportunity-adjusted touchdowns (13.3). Expect regression to help him in 2021 and Williams should also benefit from Justin Herbert entering his second season when quarterbacks traditionally make the biggest efficiency improvements of their careers.”
– Scott Spratt (Football Outsiders)

“I am drinking the Mike Williams Kool-Aid, again. I love the Chargers’ passing attack as a whole this year while turning a blind eye to a Justin Herbert sophomore slump. There are those who have forgotten that he has already tallied a 1,000-yard campaign and a double-digit touchdown season. If good health is maintained, then WR2 status is attainable.”
– Zach Greubel (Gridiron Experts)

“In general, every top quarterback has at least two pass catchers that are fantasy studs. Who’s Justin Herbert got? Keenan Allen, sure. And? A former first-round pick who has had seasons of 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns — Mike Williams. He will put it all together in year two of the Herbert era.”
– Dave McKay (The Fantasy Sports Brain)

Laviska Shenault (JAC) 
“With an ECR of WR43, second-year pro Laviska Shenault has the versatile toolset to provide a solid return for fantasy managers. He finished last season with a 73% catch rate, despite a myriad of poor quarterback play. Of his total 76 opportunities, 51% resulted in a first down. Reports out of camp are glowing and he appears primed to break out in a big way.”
– John Hesterman (Dynasty League Football)

Elijah Moore (NYJ) 
“Moore enters the NFL with an elite prospect profile. He led the nation with 10.8 catches and 149 receiving yards per game as a junior at Ole Miss last year. Then he blazed a 4.35-second 40 time at his pro day. Therefore, it’s no surprise that multiple Jets beat writers have called the rookie the team’s best player in training camp. Moore looks set to immediately become a top option in what should be a much-improved Jets passing game.”
– Jared Smola (Draft Sharks)

Quarterbacks

Trey Lance (SF) | Justin Fields (CHI) 
“I expect at least one, and quite possibly both, of Trey Lance and Justin Fields to win leagues in 2021. Sure, neither may start on Opening Day. Yet, both drip in that ‘Konami Code’ upside us fantasy managers crave. Fields trails only Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson, and Robert Griffin III in QB 40 time (4.43), while Lance is a punishing north-south runner who posted 1,100 rushing yards his last time on the field. Of the two, I lean Lance because of his explosive cast of YAC-monsters, Kyle Shanahan’s creativity, and the 49ers’ cake-walk fantasy playoff schedule (Bengals, Falcons, Titans, Texans in Weeks 14-17).”
– Wolf of Roto Street (Roto Street Journal)

“As training camp moves along, I find myself wanting — no, needing — Trey Lance in every draft I participate in. Beat writers are reporting that Lance is thoroughly outplaying Jimmy Garoppolo, which gives us reason to believe that he’ll be starting sooner rather than later, perhaps even as early as Week 1. San Francisco’s rookie signal-caller put up a 169-1,100-14 rushing line in his final collegiate campaign, which will equate to oodles of fantasy production once he gets on the field. Additionally, it must be noted that the 49ers have one of the softest schedules in the NFL, particularly come fantasy playoff time. They’ll face CIN, ATL, TEN, and HOU in Weeks 14-17. Talent maximizer Kyle Shanahan aggressively traded up to secure Lance in this year’s NFL Draft. Fantasy players should target him with the same conviction his coach did.”
– Brendan Tuma (FantasyPros)

“Rookie quarterback Trey Lance gets the benefit of playing in an offense that aided Jimmy Garoppolo (8.3) and even Nick Mullens (7.9) to finishes of first and sixth, respectively, in passing yards per attempt since 2017. His extra elements as an elite rusher and downfield thrower will make him virtually unstoppable as a fantasy quarterback. He has an 11.5 college career aDOT and 118.8 passer rating on 30-plus yard throws. In his lone full season as a starter in 2019 at North Dakota State, Lance rushed for 1,150 yards and a whopping 14 rushing touchdowns.”
– Andrew Erickson (Pro Football Focus)

Justin Fields is a quarterback I want on all my fantasy teams. The 22-year-old keeps making highlight-reel throws in training camp while showing off his incredible athletic ability. He may not start right away, but the rookie has the size (6’3″, 227 lbs) and speed (4.46 40-yard dash) to not only succeed at the next level, but provide top-notch fantasy numbers, especially considering the surrounding talent in Chicago. The Ohio State product will have plenty of chances to prove he’s the answer at quarterback this preseason, but even if the dual-threat QB starts the season off on the bench, it’s only a matter of time before he takes over for Andy Dalton.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (New Life Fantasy)

Sam Darnold (CAR) 
“Darnold is going from having no weapons at all in New York (unless you count Jamison Crowder) to possibly having the most stacked arsenal in the league (Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall, Chuba Hubbard, etc.). Last season, Teddy Bridgewater was QB10 during Weeks 1-10, averaging 18.4 PPG. The Panthers didn’t hesitate to let him walk in favor of Darnold, which should tell you how they feel about their new QB1. As an upgrade to Bridgewater, it is reasonable to expect Darnold to make a huge leap with his new squad and wildly outperform expectations as well as Bridgewater’s 2020 numbers.”
– Tim Brosnan (Tim’s Fantasy Tips)

Sam Darnold gets a fresh start with the Panthers, getting a chance to serve as their franchise quarterback. He moves to a much better situation, surrounded by a lot of talent. Teddy Bridgewater was 20th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring in this offense. Darnold is a lot more talented than Bridgewater, so expect some big things from him this year. He can take his game to a new level in this offense.”
– Jeff Paur (RTSports)

Cam Newton (NE) 
“It’s a toss-up between Cam Newton and Kenneth Gainwell, but I lean Newton here because he’s being so undervalued. In his first year in a new system (a Belichick system, no less) and while dealing with the effects of COVID-19, Newton had plenty of struggles, throwing for just 2,657 yards, eight TDs, and 10 INTs. Despite those hiccups, he rushed for 12 TDs, most among QBs and the second most of his career. In 2021, Newton will have a full year of Patriots experience under his belt, a clean bill of health, a vastly improved receiving corps, and the same rushing upside. He’s got QB1 potential, but is ranked as a QB3. If that ain’t the definition of a sleeper, I don’t know what is!”
– Zachary Hanshew (FantasyPros)

Cam Newton is a fantastic sleeper for 2021 if you’re waiting at quarterback. This guy changed teams last year, had no offseason work, got COVID-19 midseason, missed a game, and had virtually no offensive weapons, but still managed to finish as the QB16. He now has the best tight-end duo in the NFL, improvements at the wide receiver position, and a full training camp with his team. A top-12 quarterback finish is not out of the cards for Newton.”
– Robby Jeffries (The Fantasy Authority)

Tight Ends

Adam Trautman (NO) 
“Trautman has the potential to be a top-eight TE at the end of the season. 152 targets are available (10.2 targets per game) thanks to the departure of Jared Cook, Emmanuel Sanders, and Josh Hill. Plus, let’s add the injury to Michael Thomas on top of that, and suddenly Trautman is in a prime position to increase his target volume with little competition on the team and a lot of vacated targets.”
– Adrian Alpanseque (Estadio Fantasy)

Adam Trautman has significant upside this season based on where he’s currently being drafted. At ADP TE20 and ECR TE18, he is one of the better ‘late-round fliers’ that you can take at tight end. He’s in a similar realm as Gerald Everett, Jared Cook, Hunter Henry, Rob Gronkowski, and Blake Jarwin. The main difference is that Trautman will have significantly less competition for targets than the other mentioned names. He isn’t an unknown name in the fantasy football community, but he’s being drafted like he is. Beyond Alvin Kamara, Trautman’s largest competition for targets is Marquez Callaway. At this price, Trautman is worth the shot.”
– Justin Dodds (SleeperWire)

 Jared Cook (LAC) 
“The Chargers targeted tight ends 141 times leading to 88 catches, 1,001 yards, and eight touchdowns last season. They lost three of their top four tight ends and only replaced them with Cook. Before last season’s downswing with Taysom Hill eating into his workload, Cook was a top-seven tight end in both 2018 and 2019. I think he clears 100 targets easily, which is almost guaranteed to return TE1 production with your last draft pick.”
– Michael Tomlin (Fantasy Six Pack)

Gerald Everett (SEA) 
“Everett is an elite talent who struggled to put it all together in LA. Rejoining Shane Waldron in Seattle, he no longer has any competition for tight-end targets. Everett is the clear pass-catching tight end option in an offense that should lean on that position a lot. When you consider how weak the Seahawks’ running backs are receiving out of the backfield, there’s a massive opportunity for the 27-year-old to finally perform like a second-round draft selection. Expect him to slot in as the clear third receiving option in an offense that will lean on Russell Wilson’s arm more consistently this season. Everett is almost free at the back end of drafts.”
– Ben Wasley (The Fantasy First Down)

Jonnu Smith (NE) 
“After the Patriots signed Smith and Hunter Henry, most fantasy gamers considered both tight ends to be lost causes for the 2021 season. However, New England did not add much at WR and those they signed aren’t bonafide alphas. This leaves a considerable share of the passing offense open and with Cam Newton and Mac Jones under center, it is highly conceivable that the Patriots run a conservative passing attack with a focus on short and intermediate passes. Belichick also has a history of favoring TEs in his offensive scheme.”
– Nicholas You (The Undroppables)


Thank you to all the experts for naming their consensus sleepers. You can view each expert’s picks above and be sure to give them a follow on Twitter for more great advice. Also, please check out our latest podcast episode below.


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