I've gotta admit it: I didn't see the release of Cam Newton coming. I was under the impression Newton was going to remain the Patriots starter, but it wasn't a surprise to see rookie Mac Jones named the starter. But the Patriots outright releasing Newton -- and Brian Hoyer? I guess I just didn't have the imagination for that one.

And it takes imagination to come up with a good list of sleepers for Fantasy Football, because we're talking about things that aren't necessarily all that likely to happen, like late-round picks turning into starters or solid starters turning into superstars. These things happen every year, of course, but being the person who sees it coming takes the ability to see something few others can.

As we head into the final week of Draft Prep season -- games start a week from tomorrow, folks -- it's time to finalize our sleeper picks. Adam Aizer, Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, and Heath Cummings talked about their final sleeper picks on Monday's episode of the Fantasy Football Today podcast, and you can find the rest of Jamey's picks here, while Heath's full list is here. And my final sleepers list will be right here in this newsletter!

But first, I have to remind you one last time about the Fantasy Football Today Draft-A-Thon, coming up tonight at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports HQ and the FFT YouTube page. We're going to be live for six hours, answering hundreds of your questions live on the air and hanging out with some of our best friends from around the Fantasy industry. We're looking to help you all get ready for your drafts, and we're also raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital all night long. We've got a bunch of special items and unique experiences up for auction right now, and here's a sampling of what you can get involved with: 

And we'll have much more throughout the night. We want to help you win your league, and we want you to help us raise money for a great cause. We'll see you at 6!

And now, here are my favorite sleepers for the 2021 season!

15 Sleeper picks

How do you define sleepers? How do I define sleepers? Who cares! There's an "I know it when I see it" quality to the thing, and whether you simply mean players past a certain point in the draft, players who are being overlooked, or players who almost nobody knows about, the point is, we all know what the term means, even if we don't all agree on the same definition. 


My favorite sleepers

  • Rondale Moore, WR, Cardinals -- I'm interested to see what Moore's usage looks like early in the season, because it's entirely possible he's the No. 4 WR in Week 1. Which wouldn't be ideal, even on a team that will probably run more four-WR sets than any other in the NFL. But here's the thing: Playing time is the only concern I have with Moore, because I think his skill set is a perfect fit for what Kliff Kingsbury wants to do. We saw that in the preseason, as Kingsbury schemed up nine touches for Moore in pretty limited snaps over the two preseason games, using him as a receiver as well as a rusher. I've referred to Moore as the skeleton key that could open everything else up for this offense thanks to his brilliance with the ball in his hands, and I think he'll be a starting-caliber Fantasy WR by October. 
  • Marquez Callaway, WR, Saints -- Callaways' unimpressive college resume led to him going undrafted last year, and his rookie season production (21 catches for 213 yards and zero touchdowns) certainly didn't suggest stardom in his future. So, maybe this is all just an overreaction to Callaway's performance in one half of football with Jameis Winston in the team's second preseason game. Maybe, but count me among the believers in Callaway. He never caught more than 37 passes in a season in college, but he did average 17.9 yards per reception, and if you want to thrive with Winston at QB, having a knack for making big plays is how you want to do it. Callaway has, by all accounts, established himself as the No. 1 receiver with Michael Thomas out during training camp, and he's worth a flier inside of the top 100 in drafts. Buy the hype. 
  • Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Bills -- Sleepers lists are always loaded with first or second-year players and this one is no different, but I always like to throw in a veteran to highlight the fact that, in our obsession with shiny, new toys, productive older players tend to be overlooked. Sanders has averaged 8.9 yards per target in three seasons since turning 31, and he showed last season he can still thrive as a focal point when Michael Thomas went down. He quickly carved out a healthy role in Buffalo, and if you want a cheap piece of this passing game, he's my favorite option. That being said, Gabriel Davis is also a very enticing sleeper option here. 
  • Jonnu Smith, TE, Patriots -- With Jones in at QB, the Patriots pass volume projection is pointing up, and Smith figures to be a key part of that. I originally had Hunter Henry ranked higher than Smith, but with Henry dealing with a shoulder injury, I'm back on Team Smith -- though I do rank both as top-12 TE now. Smith's playmaking abilities with the ball in his hands make him a threat to turn even a short throw into a big gain, and it's not out of the question he could earn 100 targets as the No. 2 option on this offense. 
  • Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Eagles -- I was hopeful Miles Sanders would be able to put his drop issues behind him and re-emerge as a force in the passing game, but by all accounts, it has continued to be an issue for him. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni recently told reporters, "This is no secret, we really are going to use our running backs in the pass game," and if Sanders isn't getting the job done, they're going to look elsewhere. Boston Scott is probably No. 2 on the depth chart, but Gainwell had 51 catches for 610 yards in 2019 at Memphis and profiles as a potential difference maker in that facet of the game. Day Three picks rarely hit, especially at running back, but if you're going to bet on one, Gainwell makes more sense to me in the late rounds than Michael Carter in the middle rounds, for one. 

Five more sleepers I like

I'm happy if I end up with any of these guys in the late rounds or on early waivers. 

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Packers -- It's been hard to ignore the steady drumbeat surrounding Valdes-Scantling this preseason. He appears to have established himself as the clear No. 2 option in Green Bay's passing game, and we've already seen he can be a dangerous big-play receiver. If he can be more consistent -- and just, you know, catch the ball -- Valdes-Scantling could emerge as a viable boom-or-bust flex play.
  • Darrynton Evans, RB, Titans -- Injuries derailed Evans' rookie season, but the Titans have continued to talk about him as if he's going to have a role even when Derrick Henry is healthy. That's to help keep Henry fresh after two monster usage seasons, but it's also because Evans brings quickness and pass-catching chops to the table that they haven't had. I don't expect Evans to have much value as long as Henry is healthy, but if anything happens to him, Evans could be a must-start player. 
  • Nico Collins, WR, Texans -- With Anthony Miller dealing with a shoulder injury and Keke Coutee released Tuesday, Collins seems to be in line for a significant early-season role. We've heard nothing but good things about him from Texans camp, and he scored an impressive touchdown in the final preseason game. Collins didn't produce a ton in college, but he was a big-play magnet who tested very well ahead of the draft, and there's very little settled on this team outside of Brandin Cooks' role as the No. 1. Collins could very easily be No. 2.
  • Tony Jones, RB, Saints -- The Saints ended up hanging on to Latavius Murray despite some whispers that he might be on the roster bubble, which makes it a bit harder to see how Jones finds the field early. But he clearly impressed in the preseason and that it's even a question as to whether he'll push Murray for that No. 2 role says something about how he's played. Murray's role is a pretty valuable one -- he's a low-end flex fill-in option with huge upside if anything happens to Alvin Kamara -- and if Jones can take it over, he'll be a must-roster player. 
  • Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins -- Maybe the Dolphins will trade for Deshaun Watson -- and the fact that there is so much smoke there despite the fact that he is currently under investigation for accusations of sexual misconduct doesn't suggest the Dolphins may not be totally sold on Tagovailoa. Well, I'm pretty sold. I think he's a future star with excellent weapons around, and I think Miami's offense could take a huge leap forward. 

Five really deep sleepers

Some names to know for your deeper leagues.

  • Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Browns -- Based on his performance in training camp, Peoples-Jones may just make Odell Beckham irrelevant after this season. And with Beckham looking at a likely limited role in September, Peoples-Jones could have an opportunity to step up early on. 
  • Mike Strachan, WR, Colts -- The Colts really think they've found maybe the steal of the draft in Strachan, a massive, athletic WR from a small school who they snagged in the seventh round. He may not have much of a guaranteed role, but he's forced his way into first-team reps in camp and could climb the depth chart quickly, especially with T.Y. Hilton dealing with an injury that has him without a timetable right now. 
  • Jacob Harris, TE, Rams -- Harris is a converted WR who the Rams snagged last in the 2021 draft, and he's very much a developmental project. He may not even be active this season. But they love his potential, and if he does see the field, he's got playmaking potential.
  • Chris Evans, RB, Bengals -- The Bengals seemingly plan to use Joe Mixon more as a pass-catcher than ever before, but you also very much get the sense they've been surprised by how good Evans has been at that in camp, too. If anything happens to Mixon, Evans could emerge as a useful contributor. 
  • Tyrod Taylor, QB, Texans -- I've written a decent amount about Taylor, who has become both a journeyman and respected placeholder QB. His rushing ability always gives him intriguing Fantasy potential, especially in an offense that is probably going to need to throw plenty to try and stay competitive. 

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.