Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Leave these five sleepers with the fishes
We've been talking about sleepers all day, but Ben Gretch is here to name five you should keep sleeping on.
Tuesday's a day to talk about sleepers. Heath and Jamey have brought you great lists of players to target, and our guys are talking about them on the Fantasy Football Today podcast and CBS Sports HQ.
But everyone's a sleeper.
With the amount of Fantasy analysis out there, there are cases being made for nearly everyone who gets drafted late as having sleeper potential. So let's throw some cold water here on some players who get mentioned in those terms.
You probably don't see these types of articles often, because this is frankly a futile endeavor for an analyst. If these players don't break out, they aren't busts; if they do, a claim they weren't worth drafting looks shockingly dumb.
What I'm saying is that just by writing this article, I'm kind of a hero. Maybe not the one you want, but definitely also not the one you need. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, there are only so many double-digit round picks in your draft, and you need to make actual decisions about which sleepers are worth those precious roster spots. So here are five players getting some buzz this offseason I would rather bypass to keep that roster spot, and some alternatives with similar Average Draft Positions to target instead.
Look, I get the appeal. He has a monster arm, is mobile, and now has upgraded weapons around him. But he's also the poster boy for why you can't just look at Fantasy point totals from the prior year to get the full picture of how someone played.
Allen was an unquestioned Fantasy star late in 2018, but he got there scoring 43.6% of his total Fantasy points on the ground. His 16-game rushing pace from that epic six-game late-season run comes in over 1,250 yards and 13 touchdowns, which would be record-breaking for a quarterback.
As a passer, he had serious accuracy issues that showed up with a 52.8% completion percentage and more interceptions than touchdowns. He didn't hit 250 passing yards in any game. We should probably expect a step forward as a passer in year two, but without serious rushing production, he'll have a weekly single-digit floor along with the ceiling games everyone is drafting him for. Quarterback is too deep for me to target that.
A speed score marvel, Ballage was also a late fourth-round pick who earned just 45 touches in his rookie season. Despite some solid receiving numbers in college, he was targeted just 11 times, owing to the reality that he's working behind a very accomplished pass-catcher in Kenyan Drake. Because of the small rushing sample, a 75-yard touchdown run in Week 15 masks what was an otherwise pretty underwhelming rushing line; he averaged 3.3 yards per carry on his other 35 rush attempts.
Now throw in that the Dolphins drafted another back in seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin, picked up Kenneth Farrow from the AAF, and brought in Bengals' castoff Mark Walton, a flurry of moves that don't exactly speak to as much confidence in the depth chart Fantasy players are expecting. Oh, and also the reality that the Dolphins just aren't a very good offense, so even if, say, Drake misses time and Ballage earns a lion's share of the work, the upside might not even be that high.
Similar, better options: Matt Breida, Alexander Mattison
There is a lot of available opportunity in the Steelers' passing game, and Moncrief looks like he'll get the first crack at it. My issues here are twofold: first, the Steelers have a long history of rotating receivers and not really having two productive Fantasy options, a cycle JuJu Smith-Schuster broke; second, I'm not sure Moncrief is even that good.
I'm all in on Smith-Schuster being a top three wide receiver in 2019, so I expect the passing game opportunity to shake out similar to how it did with Antonio Brown leading things. And before Smith-Schuster emerged, that meant fewer than 100 targets for the WR2 in every season dating back to 2013. Vance McDonald and James Washington are both going to play enough that I don't think the volume will be there for Moncrief.
The one guy who found Fantasy relevance with under 100 targets in this offense was Martavis Bryant, but his efficiency was through the roof for a time. Moncrief is a very good athlete; could something similar occur? I'm not buying it. Moncrief went over 75 yards four times last year in Jacksonville, which brought him to… nine times in his career. In 72 games. He had some spike touchdown seasons working with Andrew Luck, and maybe that hits here in Pittsburgh, but I'd much rather take a shot on a young player than one with a track record that suggests he just might not be very good.
If I'm not a fan of Allen, you can imagine I'm not really buying Foster. And look, Foster was exciting last year. I want to like him. But we're talking about a boom-or-bust profile for a guy who just had a small sample efficiency spike, and is still tied to an inaccurate quarterback. Now add in that his team signed perhaps the highest-profile similarly-skilled receiver in this free agent class in John Brown.
We know Allen is going to chuck it around the yard, so Foster will still get his deep looks. But Brown will almost certainly cut into the number Foster sees, so even if Foster can maintain the efficiency there may not be enough volume to go around. Zay Jones is the forgotten man here, but he led the Bills in every volume receiving statistic last year. With Brown, Jones, and Cole Beasley, Foster starts the year as a fourth receiver on a bad passing offense.
We can rope Ian Thomas in here, too. There's very little justification for taking a team's No. 2 tight end in Fantasy. While Goedert and Thomas have great skill sets and could possibly carry high touchdown rates, simply looking at routes run is one of the best predictors of Fantasy production at the position.
If you opt for a super late tight end, these are not guys you'll want to start on a weekly basis because they simply won't be out on enough routes. If you're taking them as a backup and viewing it as something of a tight end handcuff, you're probably better off using that roster spot on a player at a different position.
There are several better options that could also post high touchdown rates, but have the potential to run a fuller share of routes.
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