Robby Anderson and J.D. McKissic were two of the biggest surprise sleepers of the 2020 season. Judging by their early ADP in BestBall10s, it will be another surprise if they're good in 2021. Bestball ADP is by no means a perfect correlation with what we'll see once redraft drafts fire up. But in early March, it's a better estimate than just guessing what August ADP will look like. For that reason, I've chosen my 10 sleepers (including McKissic and Anderson) for Sleepers 1.0 based on guys who are being underdrafted in the first month of Bestball drafts.
Of the two, its almost understandable that Fantasy managers expect McKissic to disappear. After all, he's 27 years old and 2020 was the first time he recorded even 500 yards from scrimmage in a given season. It also doesn't help that Alex Smith is expected to be gone, and whoever replaces him will likely be more aggressive down the field than Smith was. But I'm not sure that's justification for him ranking 45th amongst running backs in early ADP.
It's also not totally fair to classify MicKissic entirely as a running back. His 12.3% slot rate was No. 1 amongst running backs last year. He also ranked third amongst running backs in routes run. As of March, McKissic looks like both Washington's second-best running back and their third-best pass catching option. While we all hope Antonio Gibson develops into a more complete role in 2021, that shouldn't preclude McKissic from maintaining value in any format that counts catches.
Last year he finished as the No. 17 running back in full PPR (No. 24 in half-PPR) with 85 carries and 110 targets. I've chopped his targets down by about 20% and he currently projects as a solid No. 3 running back in both formats. Major offseason moves could affect that projection, but this regime brought McKissic in last offseason and then raved about him leading up to the year. I don't anticipate he's completely phased out by anyone they bring in.
While it's easy to understand the lack of interest in McKissic, Anderson is more perplexing to me. Last year was the second time in four years that he finished as a top-20 PPR wide receiver and he would have finished much higher if it wasn't for some rotten touchdown luck. He carried a career 5.2% touchdown rate into 2020 and then scored just three times on 136 targets (2.2%).
While it is true that a full season of Christian McCaffrey could cut into Anderson's targets, it's also true that the departure of impending free agent Curtis Samuel could mitigate that. Like McKissic, Anderson is a guy who was brought in by the current regime, and he had a history with coach Matt Rhule long before that.
Anderson is currently being drafted as the No. 32 wide receiver, which is a dozen spots behind where he finished last year and where I have him projected for 2021. One of my favorite things about Anderson is that he showed us last year what a complete receiver he is. He was an excellent deep threat in New York and he played a completely different role with a 9.7 aDOT in 2020. That type of versatility will make him very difficult to defend in 2021.
Taysom Hill QB
NO New Orleans • #7
Age: 30 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Everyone is excited about Jalen Hurts, and I include myself in that group. But the difference between Hurts and Hill in early ADP is pretty silly. Both quarterbacks carry enormous upside and very little floor. Both showed us enough as rushers that we're willing to overlook their shortcomings as passers. Hill could be a top-5 option if he starts 16 games next year and improves even a little throwing the ball. I suppose it seems more likely to people that Drew Brees or Jameis Winston crash Hill's party as opposed to the Eagles selecting a quarterback in the draft or bringing in competition. I'm not sure that's accurate. At this stage in the game, where Hurts is being drafted seems like a perfect place for both of these quarterbacks. Their Fantasy production was very similar in four starts last year and while Hurts' age is a boost it sure looks like Hill will have far better weapons. At their current ADP, Hill is a far better choice.
HOU Houston • #31
Age: 29 • Experience: 6 yrs.
I can hear the scoffers now, "David Johnson cannot be a sleeper!" Well, when the No. 15 (per game) running back from 2020 is currently No. 33 by ADP, it's quite clear Fantasy managers are sleeping on Johnson. He only had one complete game all year with fewer than 10 Fantasy points and he topped 20 Fantasy points in each of his last three outings. Johnson's age and questions about Deshaun Watson are more than enough reason to keep him out of the top 20, maybe even the top 25. But his current ADP makes him one of the best running back values available.
Nyheim Hines RB
IND Indianapolis • #21
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
While I do expect Jonathan Taylor to take another step forward in 2021, I don't believe that prevents Hines from being a solid PPR flex or better. Last year the Colts led the NFL with 543 running back opportunities (targets plus carries). Even if Taylor tops 300 touches there is still plenty of room for Hines to approach the 153 touches that made him a top-20 back last year. There could be some touchdown regression for Hines, but even with that, he's a great value where he's currently being drafted.
DET Detroit • #30
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Williams' place on this list could be short-lived, but my current best guess is that he ends up back in Green Bay, sharing with AJ Dillon instead of Aaron Jones. That could be a pretty big upgrade for Williams because Jones was fantastic in the passing game but Dillon is still pretty inexperienced in that regard. Matt LaFleur's offense has dedicated 258 targets to the running back position the past two seasons. If it's Dillon and Williams, the latter could approach 100 targets over a full season.
HOU Houston • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I get it now. Everyone is just avoiding the Texans because they look like a potential dumpster fire. You're not wrong. Except you are. Brandin Cooks has at least 1,082 receiving yards in five of his last six seasons. The team is reportedly not franchising Will Fuller, which means Cooks is very likely to match his target total from 2020, if not exceed it. Maybe he won't be a top-16 Fantasy receiver for the sixth time in seven seasons. But he should absolutely be inside your top 25.
NE New England • #16
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I suppose Jakobi Meyers would be a lot more popular if he had even one career touchdown reception. But, to me at least, that's more of a curious fact than anything else. As of early March, he looks like the best receiver on the Patriots roster, especially with reports that Julian Edelman may never be fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered in 2020. I expect the Patriots to upgrade at quarterback, or at least run an offense in 2021 that is less centered around the run. Even if they add a No. 1 receiver, there's room for Meyers to be a value at his current cost. Meyers was on a 1,050-yard pace over the final 11 games of 2020 and that's a reasonable upside in 2021.
O.J. Howard TE
TB Tampa Bay • #80
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Yes, at least part of this has to do with the fact that Rob Gronkowski is still a free agent. The fact that Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are as well doesn't hurt anything. If all three re-sign with Tampa Bay it will be tough for Howard to make an impact. But Howard was a lot better than Gronkowski in the four games they played together last year and he's still just 26 years old. It's still too early to give up on one of the most efficient tight ends of all time, especially if he's ready for the start of training camp.
Will Dissly TE
SEA Seattle • #89
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Like Howard, this is two-pronged. One, Dissly has to stay healthy and two, Seattle cannot add a starting tight end this offseason. Dissly hasn't been quite as efficient as Howard but he has delivered more often than not when targeted by Russell Wilson. He's turned 70 career targets into 55 catches for 669 yards and eight touchdowns. He can't be that efficient if the volume increases, but Wilson does generally produce elite efficiency from his targets. And Dissly is even cheaper than Howard.