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10 Favorite Sleepers (Fantasy Football)

True sleepers almost don’t exist anymore. Every year or two, you get a James Robinson-type player; one largely unknown athlete who becomes a league-winner. However, the fantasy community has access to so much information now that it’s quite difficult to find guys who are completely under the radar. Before the 2010s, many of the late-round players each year were big unknowns to fantasy managers, so any unheralded high-upside athlete qualified as a true sleeper. But the popularity of fantasy sports and the proliferation of fantasy news coverage throughout the last decade has changed what a sleeper really is.

At this point, a sleeper is essentially any late-round player whose expectations far exceed their draft capital. You know who these athletes are and most of these guys won’t become elite options this year, but some of them will have value as productive weekly starters. Prioritizing sleepers late in your drafts or keeping them on your waiver-wire watch list and acting accordingly is how leagues are won. That’s why our featured experts have come to give you 10 players you should be on the lookout for in the late rounds or in your free agent pool.

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Q. Who is your absolute favorite sleeper for this year and why?

Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE) 
“Here’s the full list of receivers who averaged more yards and targets per route run than Meyers in 2020: Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley, and DeAndre Hopkins. The impressiveness of Meyers’ yard-per-route-run rate is really illuminated by the discrepancy between his rate (2.28) and his WR teammates in New England (1.11). He was over twice as efficient as the other players sharing in the miserable 2020 Patriots offensive environment! Meyers’ per route data suggests that he is really, really good. If the offensive environment around him is more conducive to fantasy scoring in 2021, he will likely end up being the best value at the WR position at his current ADP.”
– Jacob Gibbs (SportsLine)

Marquez Callaway (WR – NO) 
“Maybe Saints wide receiver Marquez Callaway is a trendy pick after his 104-yard, two-touchdown preseason game, but he’s also a smart pick. Michael Thomas will miss several weeks, if not more, and Tre’Quan Smith and Adam Trautman are also banged up to start the season. Callaway stands as the clear WR1 in a Sean Payton offense that has always favored a primary receiver from Thomas all the way back to Marques Colston. The announcement of Jameis Winston as the starting QB cements the fact that Callaway should see a ton of targets in a favorable situation. He could finish the season as a top-25 WR in all fantasy formats.”
– Pierre Camus (RotoBaller)

Cole Beasley (WR – BUF) 
“My favorite sleeper for the 2021 season is someone who shouldn’t be a sleeper. It’s Beasley. He has back-to-back seasons with 100+ targets for the Buffalo Bills. Beasley has been a go-to-guy for Josh Allen and there is no reason for him to drop off as much as he has in fantasy drafts. Beasley was the WR27 in 2020 and is currently going off draft boards as the WR55 (12th round!). Gabriel Davis is definitely trending up, but let’s not be so quick to move on to the shiny new toy. Beasley will return his draft value and more in 2021.”
– Nate Hamilton (The Game Day)

Elijah Moore (WR – NYJ) 
“Moore is going to be a force sooner rather than later and is on almost all of my teams. The only note of caution about him is that he has already suffered an injury, but on the bright side, that depressed his ADP and kept him at an affordable price. Coming out of Ole Miss, Moore looks like he has great hands, he can run any route, has great speed, and put up great numbers his last two years in college. Now, in a Mike LaFleur offense, Moore has the potential to become the No. 2 option (and even No. 1) sooner rather than later. Simply put, when A.J. Brown says that someone is better than himself, you take notice.”
– Jason Petropoulos (BRoto Fantasy)

Laviska Shenault (WR – JAC) 
“Shenault was hyped as a sleeper early in the offseason, but the agreement after the draft was that the selection of Travis Etienne would be a severe blow to his usage. With Etienne out for the season, Shenault has an opportunity to be the engine that runs this Jaguars’ offense. He’s a bully with the ball in his hand and can line up from anywhere on the field. The Urban Meyer offense features an H-back; a role we’ve seen Percy Harvin, Parris Campbell, and Curtis Samuel all find success in. Shenault’s ability as a pass-catcher and a tackle-breaker put him in a position to smash his ADP.”
– Dave Kluge (Footballguys)

Rondale Moore (WR – ARI) 
“It’s got to be Moore for me. We should know early whether this will work out or not, but given Moore’s usage in the preseason, which included snaps out of the slot and rushing attempts, I think there’s a good chance he’ll have a role all season. Moore’s after-the-catch ability fits perfectly with Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, and the slot role vacated by Larry Fitzgerald is highly valuable. If we see after the first few games that Moore isn’t getting the targets and touches, you can move on. But he has the perfect mix of talent and upside that makes him a sleeper target everywhere.”
– Dan Harris (FantasyPros)

Trey Lance (QB – SF) 
“For this answer, we’ve got to go to the QB position and select Lance. I’ve been hyping him up since May of 2020 and he truly has the skill set to be a league-winner for fantasy football. In San Francisco, he’s going to have a dynamic receiving corps, a superb run game, and phenomenal coaching. With his rocket arm, plus his mobility and athleticism, we could be looking at a top-10 fantasy QB right out of the gate. He’s being drafted a little bit later because we don’t know when exactly he’s going to start over Jimmy Garoppolo, but once he gets the job, he’s going to win people leagues.”
– Kyle Yates (FantasyPros)

Josh Palmer (WR – LAC) 
“Brampton Ontario’s Josh Palmer has been turning heads for the Chargers this offseason. The recent release of Tyron Johnson has launched the third-round receiver to fourth on the depth chart. This is behind star receiver Keenan Allen, the fragile Mike Williams, and the undrafted Jalen Guyton. Keep an eye out for this kid as Palmer should be able to take over as the third receiver, making him fantasy relevant with league-winning upside if Williams goes down.”
– Ellis Johnson (True North Fantasy Football)

Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA) 
“‘Sleeper’ is a relative term, but Waddle is being valued in ADP at WR44 and I see no way (barring injury) he doesn’t smash that ranking and crack the top 36. If you build your roster by taking RBs early, Waddle is an essential piece of regaining WR ground in your lineup. He’s worth reaching for in my opinion considering his potential volume and talent to create YAC.”
– Joe Pisapia (FantasyPros)

Antonio Brown (WR – TB) 
“It’s a tough choice between Jakobi Meyers and Antonio Brown, but I give the edge to Brown because of his prior experience and talent. At the end of last season, we saw Tom Brady and Brown develop enough of a real connection that the Bucs prioritized re-signing him this offseason. Brown isn’t the same player he was a few years ago, but he’s still extremely talented and is on a great offense, making him a total steal at WR39.”
– Benjamin Klotz (Touchdown Squad)

Thank you to all the experts for giving their favorite sleepers. 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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