Nailing the first few picks of your fantasy football draft is crucially important. However, the best fantasy teams—the ones playing in the playoffs and competing for a championship—are often boosted by undervalued players snagged late in drafts or off the waiver wire. Finding starting-caliber production in an area where other teams are drafting players they’ll eventually cut is one big advantage savvy fantasy managers have over the field.
In other words, can you find the sleeper that helps propel your team to the playoffs and beyond?
Since everyone loves a good fantasy football sleepers article, we here at The Draft Network are more than happy to oblige. Here are five players you should keep a close eye on while drafting because their upside exceeds their ADP. Please be aware that all stats and rankings are for PPR leagues.
TDN Premium members can check out more sleepers by position, as well as deeper rankings and player stat projections by clicking here.
Jamison Crowder, WR, New York Jets
TDN Rank: WR30
Volume. Volume. Volume. That’s what separates Crowder from the WR4 pack and puts him squarely in WR3 territory. In the 13 games Crowder played with Sam Darnold last season, he amassed 108 targets, good for a 24.5% target share. There’s little reason to expect that to change in 2020.
The Jets added Breshad Perriman in free agency, but he’ll replace most of Robby Anderson’s targets. Rookie Denzel Mims is intriguing, but I don’t expect a ton of volume for him right out of the gate. Crowder is Darnold’s safety blanket and, assuming the former USC quarterback plays close to a full season, is in line for about 125 targets in 2020. There’s no reason he can’t give you a stat line of 75-850-6.
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
TDN Rank: QB14
This is one of those times we have to separate real-life football from fantasy. Goff struggled mightily last season and quite frankly hasn’t looked the same since that eleventy-billion point Monday Night Football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in November of 2018. However, like Crowder, he’ll use volume to his fantasy advantage.
Goff led all quarterbacks last season with 626 pass attempts, which allowed him to finish as the QB13 in total points (including Week 17). While I don’t anticipate him throwing quite that much this year, he’ll still flirt with 600 total attempts and has plenty of weapons—Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, etc.—around him. He’ll probably be around 20 total turnovers, but could also finish top-three in passing yards with a touchdown total in the upper 20s.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals
TDN Rank: WR46
The future Hall of Famer is going to quietly ride off into the sunset now that DeAndre Hopkins is in town, right? Not a chance. Fitzgerald didn’t come back for his age-37 season to ride the pine.
Fitzgerald is Arizona’s starting slot receiver in three-receiver sets. Christian Kirk can join him in the second slot position in 10 personnel, but it’s Fitzgerald who’ll get to stay inside more often. He played 78.6% of his snaps from the slot last season—and was the slot receiver on about two-thirds of Arizona’s total offensive passing plays.
No. 11 will lose some of his 109 targets from last season to Hopkins, but he should still see somewhere around 95 in total. A 60-700-4 season is very doable and worth having on your bench as a WR4.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers DST
TDN Rank: DST7
There’s a defensive unit going outside of the top 200 picks that was No. 1 in the NFL against the run, No. 5 in turnovers, No. 8 in sack rate, and finished as a top-10 fantasy defense last season. As you can tell from the subhead, that team is the Buccaneers.
Much maligned for their struggles when it came to pass defense, particularly early in the season, many missed Tampa Bay’s resurgence in the second half of the year. From Week 9 on they were a top-five fantasy DST and ranked No. 1 overall from Weeks 11-17. All the key contributors from 2019 are back in 2020 and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles won’t suddenly become shy and tone them down. Also, Tom Brady is unlikely to put the defense in the same tough positions Jameis Winston did turnover-wise. Plus, they have favorable matchups in seven of their first 10 games. Buy. Buy. Buy.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
TDN Rank: WR42
I get it. Rostering Jeffery in fantasy in 2019 wasn’t fun, but let’s not forget he’s still talented and the top wide receiver on an Eagles team with a great quarterback. He has an abundance of ingredients to a mighty productive pie.
Health is an issue—projecting anything more than 13 games for him in 2020 feels optimistic—but when he’s on the field he’ll get plenty of targets and he’ll put up fantasy points. He’s averaged a touchdown every 15 targets in Philadelphia and is averaging 7.31 targets per game. Do the math.
Considering he’s barely going as a WR5 right now, this is a great investment to make and you can cut him if/when he gets hurt—those who play in best ball leagues should take notice as well. I’d pencil him in for 50-55 catches and a half-dozen touchdowns.
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