There isn't a greater feeling that being the guy or gal in your Fantasy league that uncovers a reliable starter with a late-round pick. It's something everyone strives for, but few manage to attain. Doing so gives a huge advantage when setting lineups, not to mention bragging rights both when the player is a verified stud and when a league title is won.
Not every sleeper is a late-round pick, either. Don't worry, you'll see a bunch of those, but some sleepers are names you know in single-digit rounds. Ultimately, everyone on this list is a candidate to outperform their late-July ADP. That's what matters.
Adam Trautman, TE, Saints
If you know me, you know I love sleeper tight ends. Trautman is an easy call -- he's a 6-foot-5, 255-pound monster with good agility and strength. You won't see him win many races, but he's got the mismatch potential Sean Payton has loved utilizing in his tight ends. He moves swiftly in his routes and is also difficult to bring down. Obviously, any target in the Saints passing game will get early-season Fantasy attention because of Michael Thomas' absence, but it should be noted that Saints tight ends have scored 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons, tied for the third-most. Trautman could make a big splash early and maintain a sizable role in the Saints offense all season. It would especially help him if Jameis Winston landed the starting gig -- 32% of Winston's career touchdowns have gone to tight ends.
Late July NFC ADP: 152.94
I'd take him: 113th overall in PPR
Trey Lance, QB, 49ers
With experience playing in a pro-style offense and taking snaps under center, Lance proved to have a strong arm with good touch and anticipation on his throws. He also moved around the pocket well and knew when to take off and gain ground with his striding rushing style. The downside is that all of his experience came against FCS-level competition, so jumping from that to the NFL isn't exactly ideal. But it has been done, most recently by Carson Wentz, who wasn't great for Fantasy as a rookie but wasn't the runner Lance is. Those rushing stats figure to propel Lance into Fantasy stud territory even if his passing efficiency isn't up to par. There's also the matter of when Lance will play. About the only way Lance won't play is if Jimmy Garoppolo has the training camp of his life and begins the 2021 season red-hot. Anything short of that should open the door for Lance to start sooner than later, rewarding those Fantasy managers who patiently wait. Lastly, Kyle Shanahan was one of the architects of the offense that turned Robert Griffin III into a Fantasy rookie sensation -- he'll have the chance to do it again with a bigger, stronger player.
Late July NFC ADP: 144.53
I'd take him: 134th overall
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins
Miami did little to boost its run game but added two playmakers in the passing game and bolstered its offensive line. That's pretty good news for Tagovailoa, who must improve his intermediate accuracy if he's going to help the Dolphins rack up some wins and maximize his numbers. Getting Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle will not only do that, but their after-catch abilities should help pad Tagovailoa's numbers. Speaking of padded numbers, Tagovailoa ran for three touchdowns in 10 games last year; if he matches that pace over 17 games, we're talking about five or six extra scores on top of what he does through the air. A favorable schedule helps Tagovailoa's outlook just a little bit more. And unlike Lance, we'll see whether or not the Dolphins passing game has improved immediately, making Tagovailoa a sleeper you won't have to be patient with rostering. And you can't beat the price of a late-round pick in one-QB leagues and Round 7 in two-QB leagues.
Late July NFC ADP: 163.99
I'd take him: 153rd overall
Dillon checks all the boxes for back-half-of-draft running backs. Is he a lottery ticket? Absolutely -- the physical, hard-charging back would see a slew of carries if Aaron Jones were to miss time. Is he also someone with stand-alone value? Probably so -- Dillon's powerful style could make him the Packers' preferred choice near the goal line. It's also worth noting that Jones played just five games with more than 65% of the snaps in 2020, so there should be room for Dillon to do damage on perhaps seven or eight touches per game when Jones is healthy. Is he a good player? No one can guarantee it, but the sneak preview he gave us in that wild game against the Titans late last year (124 yards and two scores on 21 carries) offers up optimism. Dillon is one of my favorite players to draft whether I take Jones early or not.
Late July NFC ADP: 105.13
I'd take him: 103rd overall in PPR, 99th overall in non-PPR
David Johnson, RB, Texans
What's more depressing: That Johnson has become a Fantasy afterthought, or that we're seriously considering drafting him at all? Fact is, it's Johnson's ADP that makes him even remotely interesting. Yes, he's a declining player (even with a 4.7-yard rushing average in 2020). And yes, the Texans are not going to be a competitive team in 2021 (even if Deshaun Watson is playing for them). But the truth is Houston's running backs ran the ball at a historically low-level last season -- 15.8 times per game. That's the lowest average over the past 15 years. Even this year's Texans squad should run the ball more. In his 12 games, Johnson averaged 12.3 carries and 2.8 receptions per game, barely putting him over the 15 touch-per-game threshold. Yet he still managed to pick up 14.1 PPR points and 11.3 non-PPR points per game. The Texans' backfield figures to be deep, but Johnson, even at age 29, profiles as the best of the bunch if only for his physicality and versatility. It wouldn't be a surprise if he compiled his way into the top-24 rushers in Fantasy points per game. That makes him, as a pick in Round 8 or later, not horrible.
Late July NFC ADP: 103.44
I'd take him: 91st overall in PPR
Last season, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones combined for 64 catches, 398 yards, one receiving score, 10 drops (five each), 70 pass block snaps and eight pressures on the quarterback. Clearly, Tom Brady needed an upgrade. Bernard has graded out as a good pass blocker for years (just four pressured allowed over 72 pass pro snaps in 2020), and he's also been solid as a pass-catcher and serviceable as a plain ol' running back. Bernard's addition to the Bucs roster all but guarantees him to play in obvious passing down situations and the two-minute offense. But if Fournette and Jones mess up this year like they each did last year, Arians has a third option in Bernard to give additional rushing work to. Start with Bernard on your Fantasy bench to begin the year, but be open to the possibility of him contributing modest numbers as fall turns to winter. He's an easy pick to gravitate toward after Round 11.
Late July NFC ADP: 169.14
I'd take him: 137th overall in PPR
Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
Boyd's value is too good to ignore. In 10 games with Joe Burrow last season, he averaged 8.7 targets, 6.9 receptions and 71.0 yards per game. It resulted in 15-plus PPR points in six outings. Keep in mind, this is in the same span where A.J. Green was sucking up 7.7 targets per game and Tee Higgins saw 7.1 per game. The 2021 Bengals will have three high-volume receivers again this year with rookie Ja'Marr Chase replacing Green. However, if Boyd sticks to the slot-heavy role he's had his entire career (77.6% of his career snaps have been there), he's an easy short-area option for Burrow to hit. Boyd will especially come in handy when the Bengals' barely-improved offensive line forces Burrow to get rid of the ball quickly. Expect a lot of that, along with a lot of passing from the Bengals. Triple-digit catches is in play for Boyd.
Late July NFC ADP: 85.07
I'd take him: 62nd overall in PPR
Antonio Brown, WR, Buccaneers
Brown shapes up as a No. 3 receiver who has upside to finish as a top-24 option. In 11 games with Tom Brady (including the playoffs), he averaged 6.7 targets per game, which wasn't far off from Mike Evans (7.0) or Chris Godwin (7.1) in the same span. But that includes a 15-target, 11-138-2 party in Week 17 when Evans missed time -- take that out and Brown's target average slid to 5.9. Guess what? For a No. 3 receiver with big-play ability, that's not so bad. Brown amassed 12 PPR points in seven of those 11 and could be right where he lands on a per-game basis in 2020. That is if the Buccaneers' receiving corps stays healthy -- we already know what the upside is in games Brown would play without Evans or Godwin.
Late July NFC ADP: 101.02
I'd take him: 87th overall in PPR
Marvin Jones, WR, Jaguars & T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts
Continuing with the old-is-still-gold theme, Jones and Hilton have realistic chances to remain top-targets on their respective teams. Jones follows offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to Jacksonville, where he's the old man in the receiver room but still capable of piecing together good Fantasy numbers. He's finished no worse than 29th in PPR points per game among receivers each of the past four seasons. Hilton needed a lot of time to get in a rhythm with Philip Rivers in 2020, but once he did he went off for 13-plus PPR points in four of his final six games. With Carson Wentz taking over in Indy, Hilton should be able to develop some rapport this summer and hit the ground running a lot sooner.
Late July NFC ADP: Jones 134.84, Hilton 137.31
I'd take them: Jones 100th, Hilton 104th overall in PPR
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.