Just like there are many different ways to build a Fantasy Football team, there are plenty of ways to define a "sleeper." You can target players being drafted outside of a certain range, you can target players "no one is talking about," you can even go so far down the depth chart that you're actually touting players the average fan hasn't even heard of. That's fun when something like James Robinson happens, but the hit rate is astronomically low.
What I prefer this time of year it to look at how the industry views players, because that's a pretty good indication of how they'll be drafted. For this article, I'm using the consensus rankings at Fantasy Pros and my definition, today, of a sleeper is a guy it seems the industry is sleeping on. And it appears Ryan Tannehill once again is a poster boy.
Tannehill's resurgence in Tennessee has been remarkable in its efficiency. Since the start of the 2019 season he leads all quarterbacks in Y/A (8.55) and AY/A (9.23). He's second in passer rating (110.6) and touchdown rate (7.2%). Only Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson have scored more Fantasy points than him since he became the starter in Week 7 of the 2019 season. And he did all that without Julio Jones, who joined the team via trade this offseason.
With that type of resume, you would think Tannehill would be a surefire top-five Fantasy option in the consensus rankings. Instead, he comes in at 11th. In fact, not one of the experts included in the consensus has Tannehill ranked higher than seventh, which is where I have him. The benefit of this is the fact that even with the emergence of a truly elite quarterback tier, you can confidently wait until the later rounds knowing it's likely Tannehill will be there. And once again, he'll likely be a great value.
Here are nine more players the industry is too low as of early July:
TB Tampa Bay • #81
Age: 33 • Experience: 11 year
Antonio Brown actually led the Buccaneers in targets and receptions per game last year. He was the No. 22 receiver in PPR from Week 9 (when he joined Tampa Bay) through Week 17. There's simply no reason Mike Evans and Chris Godwin should be ranked 25 to 30 spots higher than Brown.
T.Y. Hilton WR
IND Indianapolis • #13
Age: 31 • Experience: 10 yrs.
I understand why Hilton is this low. He's 31 years old and he wasn't very good last year. But the Colts feel like Carson Wentz fits Hilton's skillset better and they really haven't added anyone who should take targets away from him. If everything goes right Hilton could be a No. 2 receiver available in the double-digit rounds. But he doesn't need everything to go right to finish much better than his consensus ranking.
BUF Buffalo • #26
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Last year Devin Singletary was better in nearly every measurable way than Zack Moss. As of July 1, Moss is the No. 36 back by consensus rankings and Singletary is at No. 42. The disparity in their ADP is even larger. This is essentially based in a four-game sample size at the end of last season -- a stretch in which Moss did receive more work than Singletary, but he wasn't particularly successful. Both of these backs probably need an injury to the other to be a Fantasy starter, but only Singletary is priced like it.
DET Detroit • #30
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
No coach has been more consistent in designing plays to get the ball to his running backs than new Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn. That's why I can comfortably call Williams a sleeper and D'Andre Swift a breakout. I expect a 60-40 split, but at 30 running back touches per game that's enough for both backs to be useful in Fantasy. Williams will have standalone flex appeal if Swift stays healthy and he's an instant starter if Swift goes down again.
Blake Jarwin TE
DAL Dallas • #89
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
We were all pretty excited about Blake Jarwin heading into 2020 but a torn ACL in Week 1 ended his season. Now he's reportedly healthy and ready to take the starting job back from Dalton Schultz. This is an offense that has dedicated 116 targets per season to tight ends over the past two seasons and figures to be amongst the league leaders in both pass attempts and scoring. That's a great combination for a late-round tight end.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #23
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I get why everyone is more excited about Michael Carter. He'll probably be the better option when all is said and done. But Coleman was brought in by his former coaches and already has familiarity with the system. It shouldn't surprise anyone if Coleman leads the team in carries in Week 1 and Carter's profile as a part-time back should keep Coleman involved for as long as he stays healthy.
KC Kansas City • #17
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Expect a lot of "fool me once" responses to Hardman as a sleeper. Maybe that's why he's WR60 in the consensus rankings. And while my ranking isn't a lot higher, Hardman's upside is considerably higher. If he could just absorb Sammy Watkins' targets from last year, he'd be in the 120-range over a full season and his efficiency has been near elite every season. If you're going to bet on a breakout from a receiver this late, it might as well be one catching passes from Patrick Mahomes.
O.J. Howard TE
TB Tampa Bay • #80
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
There are definitely too many mouths to feed in Tampa Bay, but Howard was outproducing Rob Gronkowski before his injury and has been one of the most efficient tight ends in NFL history. Even five targets per game would make him a borderline starter and any injury in the receiving corps would open up additional volume.
Trey Lance QB
SF San Francisco • #5
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
I would put Justin Fields in this same category; his consensus ranking is just higher. Both of these rookie quarterbacks have enormous upside because of what they can do with their legs. Lance has the added benefit of playing in an offense led by Kyle Shanahan. These are draft-and-stash guys, because it might take a month or longer for them to get on the field, but they'll have top-five upside if they hit.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.