There are plenty of ways to look for sleepers even if an argument can be made that they no longer exist. A month ago I looked at the consensus rankings on Fantasy Pros and gave you the industry was sleeping on. Now that we've started to get more reliable ADP, it's time to take a look at who drafters are sleeping on. For this version I'm using NFFC ADP since July 1.
I should say I used those dates for almost everyone. For Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, I didn't think it would make much sense. I assumed their ADP would skyrocket after news the Melvin Gordon wants a new contract or a trade. I was wrong. In the past week there have been 19 NFFC drafts; Ekeler's ADP is 95th overall, Jackson's is 177th. After what we saw with Le'Veon Bell and James Conner last year, I expected much more of a reaction.
The main difference between Ekeler and Jackson is that Ekeler has value as a PPR flex even if Gordon is in a Chargers' uniform Week 1. Ekeler was one of the most efficient pass-catching running backs in the NFL last year, averaging 7.6 yards per target. He had 958 total yards and scored six touchdowns in 14 games. If Gordon is out? I'd expect Ekeler to be a borderline No. 1 running back with more than 1,200 yards and close to double-digit touchdowns.
The difference between Ekeler and Conner is that Jackson is likely to be involved if Gordon is not in a Chargers' uniform Week 1. In three games Gordon missed last year, Ekeler received 52 touches to Jackson's 21. This will likely be a committee approach, but both backs would be more valuable than their current cost. Jackson should see 8-12 touches per week without Gordon, which should make him a flex or low-end No. 2 depending on his touchdown rate. If Ekeler gets hurt again? Jackson becomes a must-start back, likely top 12 at the position.
With Gordon's current contract situation and past injury history, it's not hard to imagine either of these Chargers running backs providing league-winning upside in 2019.
There are seven players fromwho are being slept on by drafters as well as the industry:
Peyton Barber, RB, TB ADP: 143
Tyrell Williams, WR, OAK ADP: 144
Kalen Ballage, RB, MIA ADP: 151
Jordan Reed, TE, WAS ADP: 162
Jalen Richard, RB, OAK ADP: 187
Marquise Brown, WR, BAL ADP: 189
Albert Wilson WR, MIA ADP: 221
I've also got five more sleepers based on recent ADP:
GB Green Bay • #83
Age: 26 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Since July 1, Valdes-Scantling has an ADP of 114th overall as the 46th wide receiver off the board. If he's the No. 2 wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers, that's not high enough. I anticipate this offense spreading the ball around more with Matt LaFleur calling plays, and Valdes-Scantling was mostly very good when he saw targets last year. In seven games with at least six targets he caught 29 passes for 453 yards. He scored double-digit PPR points in five of seven despite only scoring one touchdown. Aaron Rodgers has raved about how fast his second-year receiver is playing this year and he seems to be soaking in the new offense with enthusiasm. There's top-24 upside here in all formats.
Dion Lewis RB
NYG N.Y. Giants • #33
Age: 30 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Dion Lewis is the type of sleeper running back I look for in the later rounds. Like Ekeler, he has PPR value as a flex even if nothing happens to Derrick Henry. Henry is not a pass catcher and I expect this Titans team to be playing from behind more often than not. Ten of their games are against the Colts, Texans, Chiefs, Chargers, Saints, Falcons, Panthers or Browns. I don't anticipate them slowing down many of those offenses. That should give Lewis a good opportunity to match last year's 59 catches, and I'd expect better touchdown luck as well. He had scored 15 times on 417 touches before reaching the end zone just twice in 2018. Lewis finished as a top-30 back last year without a Henry injury, and in the month of July he's being drafted as the 49th running back off the board at pick 133. Draft him for the value he currently is and know there's huge upside if Henry goes down.
GB Green Bay • #30
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
It's hard to find too much upside at pick 170 in the draft, but any running back for the Green Bay Packers will do. Williams is not as explosive as Aaron Jones, and it's not close. But he's been far more reliable. He enters camp as the clear handcuff to a back who has played just 24 games in his two years in the league. In fact, it sounds like the Packers will go with a committee approach, so Williams is probably more than a handcuff. In back-to-back games against the Bears and Jets, Williams topped 90 total yards and scored a touchdown, reminding fans how profitable this role can be for even an average back. If you really can't get yourself to pull the trigger, you should take rookie Dexter Williams even later in deeper leagues.
Josh Gordon WR
SEA Seattle • #10
Age: 29 • Experience: 5 yrs.
No, we don't have any reason to believe Josh Gordon is playing this season. Unless you count the Patriots tendering him to a one-year offer and Tom Brady training with him this summer. This is a risk/reward equation, and the risk is almost nothing. Gordon is available in the last round of most any redraft league with an ADP outside of the top 200. So what's the reward? He was Tom Brady's most efficient receiver last year, averaging 10.6 yards per target. In his final eight games with the Patriots he caught 31 passes for 596 yards. If you told me Gordon was reinstated tomorrow, I'd rank him as a top-25 receiver. That's definitely worth a pick in the final rounds.
IND Indianapolis • #35
Age: 23 • Experience: 1 year
I had to give you one super deep sleeper. Hopefully by the time we get to Preseason Week 3 we'll have to draft Bruce Anderson before the last round, because I do believe he could win this job. Peyton Barber is the definition of "just a guy," while Ronald Jones just delivered one of the least impressive rookie seasons I can recall. Anderson was signed as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State. He has good chops in the passing game and earned some buzz over the summer. If he doesn't splash this preseason then you'll have a free roster spot for the first waiver run. If he does? You'll have yourself a starting running back in the last round of the draft.