2019 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Finding upside with Sleepers 3.0
Jamey Eisenberg reveals his third and final list of sleepers for the 2019 Fantasy Football season.
This is going to be one of the strangest sentences I've ever written: Tom Brady should be considered a sleeper for 2019.
It's a recent development because of Josh Gordon being reinstated, but Brady now has quality weapons to boost his Fantasy appeal with Gordon, Julian Edelman and James White leading the way. Prior to Gordon's return, Brady was going undrafted in many leagues.
Now, this isn't to suggest Brady is a top-10 Fantasy quarterback or even a No. 1 option. I have him ranked No. 15 at the time of writing this story. He's just become more attractive on Draft Day if you want to wait for a quarterback with a late-round pick.
We all know what Brady is at this point in his career. He's 42, and he's not going to be a statistical monster. In 2018, he averaged 21.1 Fantasy points per game, which was his lowest total since 2014. He only had nine games with more than 20 Fantasy points, including three in his final six outings.
But I still expect Brady to be successful enough to be a useful Fantasy quarterback if Gordon stays on the field. And he could get even more help if young receivers like N'Keal Harry and potentially Jakobi Meyers help Edelman, Gordon and White, as well as tight ends Matt LaCosse and Benjamin Watson.
This is an old Brady and not the Brady of old, especially with Rob Gronkowski retired. But getting Gordon back improves his Fantasy outlook, and I'll take a flier on Brady with a late-round pick if I wait for a quarterback on Draft Day.
He's one of several sleepers you should consider in 2019 -- as strange as that may sound. Here are some others.
Jump to ...
BAL Baltimore • #8
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Jackson's ADP on CBS Sports is on the rise, and he's up to the No. 17 quarterback off the board. But that's still too low. I consider him a top-12 quarterback this year, and he easily has top-10 potential. While he obviously needs to improve as a passer, his rushing production is the thing Fantasy managers should covet. He scored at least 21 Fantasy points in three of his final six outings last season, and he led all quarterbacks in rushing yards with 695 on 147 attempts. If healthy, Jackson could rush for 1,000 yards this year, and he should pass for at least 3,000 yards if things go according to plan. I'm excited to see Jackson in Year 2, and he's one of my favorite players to target with a late-round pick, regardless of position.
NO New Orleans • #28
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Murray is a mid-round sleeper, and his ADP puts him in Round 8. I would consider him as early as Round 6 given his role as the No. 2 running back for the Saints behind Alvin Kamara. He's replacing Mark Ingram, who averaged 13.3 total touches per game last season in New Orleans. Murray has 15 games over the past two seasons in Minnesota with at least 14 total touches, and he's scored at least 12 PPR points in 11 of them. He also has averaged 14.1 PPR points over that span. Now, it's no guarantee he'll be that successful with the Saints — or that he will get the same amount of touches that Ingram got. But he's worth the gamble as a No. 3 running back or flex option. And he's a lottery ticket. Should something happen to Kamara during the season, Murray would be the featured running back in New Orleans, which would be awesome. I have plenty of stock in Murray this year.
PIT Pittsburgh • #38
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
It's going to be fun to see how the Steelers use Samuels this year, and I hope he plays more than just sparingly as a backup to James Conner. Samuels, who played running back, fullback, wide receiver and tight end at N.C. State, can help Pittsburgh in the passing game as a weapon to replace the departed Antonio Brown and Jesse James. His value is slightly higher in PPR, and should something happen to Conner like we saw last season, Samuels could be a star Fantasy option. In 2018, Samuels closed the season with at least 11 PPR points in five games in a row. He had three games with double digits in carries over that span and averaged 16.3 PPR points. He also had two games in those five outings with seven receptions. I love drafting Samuels at his current ADP in Round 11, but I would consider selecting him as early as Round 9.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #22
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Austin Ekeler is the Chargers running back to target if Melvin Gordon's holdout lasts into the regular season, but Jackson is a close second. The difference is Ekeler's ADP is Round 7, while Jackson's ADP is Round 12 and rising. And that's fantastic given his upside. But the longer Gordon stays away from the team, the more likely it is that Jackson is drafted as a top-100 overall pick. In two of the three games that Gordon missed in 2018 because of a knee injury, Jackson had at least 14 PPR points. It's doubtful he'll be a dynamo in the passing game, but he did have seven catches against Baltimore in Week 16. It's tricky to invest heavily in Jackson because when Gordon is back, Jackson will return to a reserve role. Ekeler, however, will play in tandem with Gordon. But should Gordon miss extended time, which is what appears will happen, then Jackson has the chance to be a surprise star.
KC Kansas City • #34
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Following the NFL Draft in April, I had Thompson as one of my favorite rookies this season. The reason was his landing spot with the Chiefs and Andy Reid. Damien Williams should be the lead back in Kansas City, but he's unproven and already dealt with a hamstring injury in training camp. Should he miss any time this season, we could see Thompson in a prominent role, especially if Carlos Hyde doesn't make the team, which is a possibility. Thompson is a sixth-round pick out of Utah State, and he runs bigger than his 5-foot-8, 200-pound frame. He had 153 carries for 1,044 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and 14 touchdowns, as well as 23 catches for 351 yards and two touchdowns last season in college. We'll see how he does if Reid ever gives him the chance at a featured role. I'll gladly draft Thompson at his current ADP in Round 12 — if he makes it that far.
Justice Hill RB
BAL Baltimore • #43
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
It might seem like Hill is buried on the depth chart for the Ravens behind Ingram, Kenneth Dixon and Gus Edwards now, but Hill is the second running back to target for this offense after Ingram. And he could be a difference maker for Fantasy managers in 2019. I could also see the Ravens using Ingram and Hill in tandem, with Hill playing on passing downs and as a change-of-pace option. At Oklahoma State, Hill amassed 632 carries for 3,539 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 30 touchdowns, as well as 49 catches for 304 yards and one touchdown over three seasons. He ran a 4.4 second 40-yard dash, and he should benefit from playing in a run heavy offense in Baltimore. Should Ingram, 30 in December, get hurt, then Hill could become a Fantasy star. He showed his upside in the second preseason game against Green Bay with 10 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown, and he's basically free on Draft Day based on his ADP in Round 13.
GB Green Bay • #83
Age: 25 • Experience: 2 yrs.
I'm curious to see how the Packers are going to use Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison this season as the secondary receivers behind Davante Adams, and both have the chance to be sleepers in 2019. I'm leaning Valdes-Scantling over Allison coming into the year after my colleague, Pete Prisco, spent time in Green Bay during training camp, and people in the organization told him that Valdes-Scantling is the one to target. As a rookie in 2018, Valdes-Scantling had eight games with at least five targets, and he scored at least 10 PPR points in six of them, while averaging 11.4 PPR points over that span. The majority of that production came with Allison out with a groin injury, but Allison should play in the slot, with Valdes-Scantling on the outside. Again, both players are worth drafting — the ADP is Round 11 for both guys, with Allison being selected first — but I like Valdes-Scantling with a slight nod on Draft Day prior to the year.
DEN Denver • #10
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
I was blown away watching Sanders in Denver's third preseason game against San Francisco. His recovery from last year's Achilles injury, which happened in early December, is remarkable. Against the 49ers, Sanders was only credited with a 5-yard reception and a 19-yard end-around. But he also had a 45-yard reception wiped out because of a holding call, and he definitely passed the eye test. I still like Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton as late-round fliers, but Sanders is the Broncos receiver to target this season. And for me, he goes from a late-round pick to someone I would draft as early as Round 8. Last year, before getting hurt, Sanders had at least 13 PPR points in seven of 12 games, and he should benefit with Joe Flacco as the new quarterback in Denver. As long as he stays healthy, Sanders should be a potential Fantasy starter in most leagues.
John Brown WR
BUF Buffalo • #15
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Brown should be the No. 1 receiver for the Bills this season, and he's worth drafting before his ADP in Round 13, which is just silly. I'm looking for Brown as early as Round 10. I'd also put Cole Beasley in this category as a sleeper, especially in PPR, and he currently doesn't have an ADP on CBS Sports. The Bills revamped their receiving corps by adding Brown and Beasley, and I expect Brown to benefit playing with Josh Allen this season. If you go back to 2018 when Brown played with Flacco in Baltimore, he was having a breakout campaign. He scored at least 13 PPR points in five of his first seven games with Flacco before the Ravens switched quarterbacks and went with Jackson. In seven games with Jackson, Brown had only eight catches for 114 yards and one touchdown. Throw that out because Baltimore didn't throw much with Jackson, and buy back into Brown this season with Allen. He's a great late-round pick in all leagues.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #82
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
One reason why I like Sam Darnold this season is that I like his receiving corps. I expect Robby Anderson to have a breakout campaign, Chris Herndon is still worth investing in even with his four-game suspension and Crowder should do well as the primary slot receiver. Crowder has been good at times in his career with Washington, but he's struggled to post consistent production, as well as stay healthy. But I like the pairing of Crowder with coach Adam Gase, who has done well with slot receivers in the past, especially during his time in Miami. According to ESPN, the Dolphins ranked first in receiving yards (3,472) from slot receivers and second in catches (276) during Gase's three seasons there, and a big reason why was Jarvis Landry for most of that production. I'm not expecting Crowder to be Landry, but at his ADP in Round 13, it's an easy investment to make in Gase's new toy in the slot.
TEN Tennessee • #82
Age: 35 • Experience: 14 yrs.
It's great to have Walker back at 100 percent after last year's ankle injury that cost him 15 games. I plan to draft Walker as a top-10 Fantasy tight end this season, and he's worth the price of his ADP in Round 10. The quarterback situation in Tennessee isn't ideal with Marcus Mariota as a shaky starter, but having Ryan Tannehill in reserve is better than what the Titans have had in previous seasons. But even Mariota has helped Walker produce at a quality level with four consecutive years of at least 65 catches and 800 yards from 2014-2017. He also has two seasons over that span with at least six touchdowns. Tennessee has a revamped receiving corps this season with Adam Humphries and A.J. Brown joining Corey Davis, but Walker should still be the primary target for the Titans in 2019. And he's a good tight end to wait for in all leagues on Draft Day.
So what Fantasy Football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which RB2 can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get 2019 Fantasy Football cheat sheets from the model that called Andrew Luck's huge 2018, and find out.
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