2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: One last round of sleepers to target
Jamey Eisenberg gives you his final list of sleeper players for the 2018 season.
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Note: We're republishing Jamey Eisenbergh's Sleepers, Breakouts, and Busts before this final weekend of the Draft season, just in case you missed them.
We hit you with a lot of sleepers over the course of the offseason, including the guys I liked in February for preseason game, is the final list.and again in June for . Now, heading into the third
For Sleepers 3.0, I'm looking at guys who have an Average Draft Position of 100 overall or higher. These are players you can take toward the back end of your draft, but I expect them to be difference makers in 2018.
Some of these guys might end up as starters for your team and help you win your league. Others could be cut early in the season if they struggle.
For the most part, these guys carry little risk with plenty of reward. I'm targeting these guys in the majority of my leagues, and I recommend you do the same. You should be happy with the end result.
Ryan, who has an ADP of No. 101 overall, has tremendous bounce-back ability after he was a bust in 2017. That came after his MVP campaign from the year before. You could say he overachieved in 2016 or just never meshed with new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Ryan was the No. 15 Fantasy quarterback last year after he was No. 2 in 2016, and a fair expectation this season is for him to finish somewhere close to No. 10 if things go right. He has a good track record in his second year with a new offensive coordinator -- he improved by six touchdowns in his second season with Mike Mularkey in 2009 and had his MVP season in his second year with Kyle Shanahan in 2016 -- and hopefully the same thing happens with Sarkisian. And the Falcons gave Ryan a new weapon with first-round pick Calvin Ridley, who joins Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and quality pass catchers out of the backfield to form a formidable receiving corps. Ryan is one of the best quarterbacks to wait for on Draft Day.
Rivers has an ADP of No. 105 overall, and he's the No. 15 quarterback off the board. As usual, he will likely outperform his draft value, and he's the perfect quarterback to wait for on Draft Day in the majority of leagues.While he doesn't have Hunter Henry (ACL), he still has a quality receiving corps led by Keenan Allen, and that group should be enhanced with rookie bust Mike Williams expected to rebound in his sophomore campaign. Rivers also could get tight end Antonio Gates back prior to the season, and hopefully Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler contribute in a big way. Rivers also has an improved offensive line, and he's averaged 4,500 passing yards and 30 touchdowns over the past three seasons. It's amazing that you can draft that kind of production in Round 9 or later.
Mariota should benefit with a new system under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, and hopefully Corey Davis will be healthy and have a breakout season. Manning has averaged 4,291 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions during the past three healthy seasons with Odell Beckham. And Winston has the chance to be a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback once his three-game suspension is over to start the season.
Carson's ADP is on the rise, and he's at No. 106 overall heading into the third preseason game. He is expected to open the season as the starter in Seattle with Rashaad Penny (finger) hurt, but his long-term outlook is what you're concerned about. I'm not buying that Carson will be the best running back for the Seahawks all year. That should be Penny, once he's healthy. But it's clear Carson will have a big role, and he's worth drafting as one of your top reserve running backs. You can even take the approach of pairing Carson and Penny together, and hopefully one will emerge as a featured option. Carson looked good as a rookie in 2017 before suffering a broken leg in Week 4 against the Colts, ending his season. In two games before that, he scored 19 combined Fantasy points in a non-PPR league, and he was Seattle's best running back last year. Maybe the same thing happens again in 2018, but hopefully Carson stays healthy for 16 games. If Penny continues to struggle, Carson could be a steal on Draft Day.
Sony Michel (knee) is hurt and will miss the entire preseason, and Rex Burkhead is expected to play with a "slight tear" in his knee this year. Should both miss any time during the season, we could see White in a prominent role. And even if Michel and Burkhead are fine for Week 1, don't be surprised if White is even more of a factor in the passing game early in the year with Julian Edelman (four-game suspension) out. It's doubtful the Patriots give White a hefty workload since he has never had more than 43 carries in any of his four years in the NFL, but he does have two seasons with at least 56 catches. His ADP is No. 113 overall, and that's a good spot to target him in non-PPR leagues. In PPR, however, if you can get him in Round 10, it might be a steal, especially if Michel and Burkhead continue to battle injuries.
Clement is dealing with a lower body injury that kept him out of the second preseason game against the Patriots, but he's expected to be fine for Week 1. In the first preseason game, Clement had five carries for 30 yards and caught two passes for 2 yards. He will open the season behind starter Jay Ajayi, but Clement should have a prominent role. Darren Sproles will also be part of the mix, especially on passing downs, but Clement was a star out of the backfield in Super Bowl LII against New England with four catches for 100 yards and a touchdown on five targets. If Ajayi were to miss any time due to injury, Clement would be a potential starter in all leagues, and he's a lottery ticket to target with a late-round pick. His ADP is at No. 125 overall, and he's a great stash candidate in all formats.
Jamaal Williams is the Packers running back to target on Draft Day, and his ADP is at No. 89 overall. Jones is at No. 130 overall, and I plan to draft both Green Bay running backs in as many leagues as possible. Before his two-game suspension, Jones was expected to compete with Williams for the starting job, with Ty Montgomery likely playing on passing downs. Jones played well in 2017 as a rookie when he got an extended look, and he had four games with double digits in carries. He scored at least 10 Fantasy points in a non-PPR league in three of those outings, and he led all the Packers running backs in yards per carry, with Williams at 3.6 and Montgomery at 3.8. If Williams struggles while Jones is out or suffers an injury at any point during the season, we could see Jones in a prominent role in what should be an explosive offense now that Aaron Rodgers is healthy again.
Barber is absolutely going to see his ADP rise from No. 137 overall now that he's trending toward a starting job for the Buccaneers with rookie Ronald Jones struggling in the preseason. I still expect Jones to be a factor this year, but it's hard to trust him after a disappointing first two preseason games. Barber, on the other hand, has looked good with 10 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown, and hopefully he will finish the preseason strong heading into the start of the year. And last year, Barber had five games with double digits in carries, and he scored double digits in Fantasy points in a non-PPR league in two of them. Like Carson and Penny, I would try and get both Barber and Jones and see what develops early in the season. But Barber is trending up and could be a potential flex option or low-end starter in deeper leagues, especially if Jones continues to struggle based on what we've seen in the preseason.
Another backfield you might want to lock up is the Colts, and Marlon Mack actually falls in this range based on his ADP at No. 101 overall. I left him off this list because I expect his ADP to rise, and he's more of a breakout candidate since he should be the lead running back for Indianapolis. His ADP is just down because of his hamstring injury. Wilkins is at No. 151 overall, and I like him as the No. 2 running back behind Mack. It's still a crowded backfield, for now, with Mack, Wilkins, Nyheim Hines, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson all competing for a role, but Mack and Wilkins have the most upside. Wilkins should prove to be the "big back" for the Colts, and he's one of my favorite late-round fliers in all leagues this season.
Other sleeper running backs to target: Nick Chubb (ADP at No. 126 overall), Bilal Powell (ADP at No. 134 overall), Giovani Bernard (ADP at No. 141 overall), Austin Ekeler (ADP at No. 142 overall), Jonathan Williams (no ADP)
Chubb will open the season behind Carlos Hyde, but Hyde has played 16 games just once in his career. Powell is expected to share playing time with Isaiah Crowell, but Powell started the first two preseason games for the Jets and will benefit with Elijah McGuire (foot) out. Bernard is behind Joe Mixon on the depth chart, but he would be a must-start Fantasy option if Mixon got hurt. Ekeler is worth a look in PPR leagues since he could be a factor on passing downs for the Chargers. And Williams will likely replace Mark Ingram (four-game suspension) to open the season and is a good candidate to target if you use a Zero-RB approach.
Jarvis Landry is gone as a free agent, and DeVante Parker (finger) is hurt. Danny Amendola should be the slot receiver in Miami, and Albert Wilson's role could depend on Parker. Stills, on the other hand, is the No. 1 receiver for the Dolphins, and he's a steal at No. 128 overall. Stills has scored 15 touchdowns in two seasons with Miami, and he's had two years in his career with at least 840 receiving yards, This should be his first 1,000-yard campaign, and the Dolphins have to replace Landry's production from 2017 of 160 targets for 112 catches, 987 yards and nine touchdowns. Having a healthy Ryan Tannehill (knee) for 16 games should help Stills, and I view him as a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues. It would not be a surprise to see him finish as starting Fantasy option this season.
In the Lions' second preseason game against the Giants, Golladay was playing in two wide receiver sets opposite Marvin Jones and ahead of Golden Tate. Now, don't expect that to be the norm, and Tate obviously excels in the slot. But Detroit wants to get Golladay on the field as much as possible.Golladay showed flashes of his upside last year when he had four catches for 69 yards and two touchdowns on seven targets against the Cardinals in Week 1, and he had two catches for 80 yards and a touchdown on three targets against Green Bay in Week 17. Unfortunately, there were nine other games for Golladay where he had six Fantasy points or less in a non-PPR league, and he missed five games with a hamstring injury. We hope he'll stay healthy in 2018 and play at a more consistent level. But he's definitely someone to gamble on at his current ADP of No. 136 overall.
The Panthers needed someone who could be their No. 1 receiver, and Moore has the chance to fill that role. He was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft at No. 24 overall from Maryland, and he should be the best rookie receiver from this draft class based on his opportunity. His first preseason game against Buffalo was impressive with four catches for 75 yards on six targets, and I love his ADP at No. 137 overall. His main competition for targets will come from Devin Funchess, Greg Olsen, Christian McCaffrey and Torrey Smith, but Moore should develop into a main target for Cam Newton. And new Carolina offensive coordinator Norv Turner should find creative ways to get the ball in Moore's hands. He's worth drafting as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver, but he could easily emerge as a weekly starter early in the season. It will likely come down to Newton and how much he relies on Moore, but I'm confident he will easily outperform his ADP in his rookie campaign.
Williams, who has an ADP at No. 138 overall, had one of the best plays of the preseason so far. In the second game against Seattle, Williams caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith where he out-jumped Seahawks cornerback Akeem King for the ball. Hopefully, that's a sign of things to come. We still need to see him play more with Rivers, but he should be the second-best receiver for the Chargers behind Allen. He has the chance to be a big-time red-zone threat at 6-foot-4, and the Chargers are hoping to get return on their investment after selecting Williams at No. 7 overall in last year's NFL Draft. Fantasy owners have high expectations as well, and Williams could end up as a steal at his current ADP.
Gallup is one of my favorite rookies this season, and he's my favorite Cowboys receiver this year. Dallas has to replace 132 catches for 1,398 yards and 11 touchdowns on 240 targets with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten gone, and Gallup should be in line for a big year. He will compete with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin and Terrance Williams for targets and playing time, but Gallup already gave us a glimpse of his upside with a 30-yard touchdown catch in the first preseason game against San Francisco from Dak Prescott. I expect Prescott to spread the ball around to this receiving corps, and I like Beasley as a sleeper in PPR. But give me all the shares of Gallup I can get in the majority of leagues at his current ADP of No. 145 overall.
Miller, along with Moore, Gallup and Calvin Ridley, are four rookies who could be difference makers for Fantasy owners this season. And Miller has the lowest ADP of the group at No. 151 overall. You might not find a better bargain at receiver this year given his upside for the Bears. Hopefully he'll develop a quick rapport with second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and even though Chicago has plenty of mouths to feed with Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, don't be surprised if Miller stands out among the group. He looked good in the second preseason game against the Broncos with three catches for 33 yards on four targets, and he should be a consistent factor all season. The best thing about Miller right now is his price tag, and he's a steal if his ADP stays this low.
Surprisingly, none of these receivers have an ADP yet on CBS Sports, but that will change soon once more drafts take place over the next two weeks. All of these receivers are expected to play prominent roles in their offenses, and these are some of my favorite late-round fliers. Cole could end up as the best receiver for the Jaguars this season, and Godwin and Taylor are expected to be sophomore sensations. If Brown is healthy, he could challenge Michael Crabtree as the best receiver in Baltimore, and Allison is a potential third-year breakout as the No. 3 receiver for the Packers behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Of this group, Godwin is my favorite.
Kittle led the 49ers in red-zone targets last year with 16, and he should have the chance to be a significant factor for San Francisco this season. We hope his shoulder injury is fine for Week 1, which is the report after he was hurt in the first preseason game against Dallas. And he will hopefully pick up where he left off last season with Jimmy Garoppolo. In his final three games of 2017, with Garoppolo under center, Kittle had 14 targets for 11 catches, 194 yards and one touchdown. He had double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in two of those outings and scored at least nine points in PPR in all three games. I love Kittle as a low-end starting option this year, and he's a tremendous value at No. 133 overall. If he's healthy as expected, Kittle is headed for a big year.
Watson will hopefully play like he did the last time he was in New Orleans in 2015 when he had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns on 109 targets. Seals-Jones should benefit with Jermaine Gresham (Achilles) out, and Arizona doesn't have a primary No. 2 receiver opposite Larry Fitzgerald. And Gesicki is a rookie tight end in a great spot with the Dolphins.
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