Now that we’re back into fantasy football draft season, there will be a lot of buzz around late round fantasy sleepers. But what’s as important as which sleepers to buy, we should also look at the players who might not live up to the hype.
The Average Draft Position (ADP) is listed next to each player’s name based on Fantasy Football Calculator.
Buy Eli Manning 151.1 / Fade Case Keenum
Eli Manning is coming off an abysmal season where he threw 19 TDs against 13 INTs. He even suffered the indignity of having his consecutive game streak crushed with a benching by then-coach, Ben McAdoo.
Case Keenum, however, enters the season as the hero who threw a walk-off TD to advance the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship game. This topped off a year where he achieved far beyond expectations with 3,547 passing yards and a 22/7 TD to INT ratio. He now starts for the Denver Broncos and inherits a receiving corps bereft of a quarterback since Peyton Manning retired.
When chasing value in the later rounds for QB, take Eli over Case. Eli is a much more experienced vet who not only gains his primary receiving weapon in Odell Beckham Jr. but a new head coach, Pat Shurmur, with a history of putting up numbers. Keenum, on the other hand, is still unproven and has no established chemistry with his veteran playmakers. Why take the risk?
Buy Derek Carr 132.6/ Fade Jared Goff 122.0
Derek Carr definitely did not meet expectations put on him after receiving his big contract extension. But he battled serious health issues including a back injury that could have cost him the season. This will be Carr’s fifth year as the Raiders’ starting QB and with retread running backs Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin and an underachieving defense, Carr should at the very least provide enough volume to justify a roster spot.
Jared Goff led a Rams squad to a surprising turnaround in 2017 and the offense is built for him to succeed. Along with star running back, Todd Gurley, and a receiving corps of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp, many expect even more great things for Goff in 2018.
For the value, the best bet is to pass on Goff and take Carr who should put up comparable stats unless Carr tops him in fantasy points altogether. The Los Angeles Rams have a great defense and could rely on their dominant run game to a point where responsibility could be taken off of Goff’s shoulders. The Raiders, on the other hand, should be scrapping to the bitter end to keep pace in the AFC West.
Buy Corey Clement 114.4/ Fade Chris Thompson 107.4
Corey Clement is in a seemingly crowded backfield with Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood, and the soon-to-be retired, Darren Sproles. None of his competition has solidified roles in the Eagles offense and Clement not only has the body of a feature back but the skills as a receiver that could fend off would-be third-down and passing-down specialists.
Chris Thompson is a special playmaker out of the backfield and can rack up tons of fantasy points on a single play. But he is situational and forfeits potential points by not being a feature between-the-tackles runner. He’s coming off of a season-ending leg injury and while he is back on the field, the Redskins may do more to protect their weapon.
Take Clement over Thompson at the same value. Clement has the potential to unseat all of his competition and become an offensive asset regardless of the score; an opportunity Thompson doesn’t have with Derrius Guice the presumed first and second down back in Washington.
Buy Matt Breida 146.7/ Fade Nyheim Hines 138.2
Matt Breida is a second-year undrafted player who flashed in limited opportunities behind Carlos Hyde in 2017. Slightly undersized, he figures to have a role behind newly signed free agent Jerick McKinnon.
Nyheim Hines is a rookie running back for the Indianapolis Colts who some see as a Darren Sproles type receiving back. Playing alongside one-year vet, Marlon Mack, and fellow rookie, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim, for now, has no apparent competition in his skillset.
Take Breida over Hines for now until the Colts show more of his role in the offense. Breida is contending with McKinnon for touches but as head coach, Kyle Shannahan, has proven; there is enough to go around for two backs especially in the passing game. McKinnon has never shouldered the load alone before and even lost touches to Latavius Murray when starting RB, Dalvin Cook ended his season early with a torn ACL.
Buy Bilal Powell 159.9/ Fade Kalen Ballage 161.3
Bilal Powell has always been the other guy in the Jets offense. Seen more as a pass-catching specialist, Powell has put up huge weeks in fantasy when given the chance. He’s not a “sexy” pick on draft day but with his only competition for backfield touches being Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls, Powell can once again be a fantasy factor at an almost free price.
Kalen Ballage is a rookie and only one of two additions to the Miami backfield after the departures of Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams. Frank Gore is 35-years old and current lead back, Kenyan Drake, may not be seen as trustworthy by either fans or the coaching staff making Ballage a trendy late-round pick.
Don’t get fancy and take Powell over Ballage. Too many people try to become heroes with their sleeper picks but the rub with Ballage is that he’s the player most likely to be dropped if he doesn’t show potential in the early weeks of the season. Powell may be thought of as boring but he has a track record and worth rostering late.
Buy Robert Woods 96.7/ Fade Devin Funchess 85.3
Robert Woods signed with the Los Angeles Rams after a forgettable tenure in Buffalo. Woods was a key contributor on offense never being targeted fewer than 5 times but exploded in the second half of the season with 29 receptions, 400 yards, and 4 touchdowns before being injured.
Devin Funchess became the de facto number one receiver in Carolina after TE Greg Olsen left with a foot injury and WR Kelvin Benjamin was traded to the Buffalo Bills. With little competition for targets, Funchess still only managed 840 yards but scored a respectable 8 TDs.
Draft Woods over Funchess. Woods may be in a crowded WR corps but has proven to be the playmaker while competing with Sammy Watkins, Cooper Cupp, and Todd Gurley for touches. Woods has a good mix of Cupp’s sure hands and Brandon Cooks’ speed making him useful in any passing situation. Funchess, on the other hand, couldn’t separate himself from a depleted WR group and now has to contend with Greg Olsen, Christian McCaffrey, rookie D.J. Moore, and second-year receiver Curtis Samuel for looks.
Buy Dede Westbrook 159.7 / Fade Anthony Miller 159.3
Dede Westbrook is a second-year receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Westbrook’s rookie season was forgettable managing only 339 yards and one receiving TD in three games before ending his season early due to injury.
Anthony Miller was drafted 51st overall by the Chicago Bears this May. Miller enters the league following a productive college career at Memphis and joins Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel as new additions to the Bears’ revamped WR group.
Draft Westbrook over Miller. Westbrook is entering the second year of his career at Jacksonville without Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns as competition. Remaining on the roster is a group of average WRs including the underachieving Donte Moncrief and underrated Marquis Lee. Westbrook’s should be monitored during the preseason. Miller is a popular late-round flier but his production may be capped by the play of Mitchell Trubisky. Rookies are gambles in seasonal leagues so unless you play in a dynasty, pass on the risk.
Buy Robby Anderson 97.8/Fade Randall Cobb 92.1
Robby Anderson is the number one receiver for the New York Jets. Anderson broke out in 2017 to the tune of 941 yards and seven TDs in 14 games. The low opinion of the New York Jets overall as well as a lingering potential suspension may have depressed his value near 100 overall.
Randall Cobb is the presumed number two receiver in Green Bay after the departure of Jordy Nelson. Cobb enters his eighth season with the Packers but since his huge 1,287-yard and 12 TD season in 2014, he’s yet to live up to expectations even as his competition has yielded opportunities either by injury or leaving the team.
Take Anderson over Cobb. Anderson is the top guy for the Jets and even with rookie QB Sam Darnold possibly under center for 2018, the passing yards have to go somewhere and Anderson can make the most out of very little. Outside of a single big season, Cobb has been below average. He now faces competition from Geronimo Allison as well as two rookie WRs who could emerge during preseason. Simply put: Cobb’s fantasy value is capped by his circumstances and isn’t worth the risk even this late.
Buy Eric Ebron undrafted/ Fade Jack Doyle 141.7
Eric Ebron arrives in Indianapolis after being released by the Detroit Lions. Never living up to his hype or draft selection, Ebron finished the 2017 season strong with 21 receptions, 219 yards, and two touchdowns in his final four games.
Jack Doyle is the incumbent tight end with the Colts. Going into his sixth season, Doyle has put together two consecutive years of decent fantasy production posting 690 yards on 80 targets and four touchdowns.
Draft Ebron over Doyle (or fade TE altogether by this point). Jack Doyle is going off the boards as the 13th TE. It’s arguably a waste of a roster spot to hold a second TE but if going that route, just wait to grab Eric Ebron in the last round. Andrew Luck targets both tight ends in his offense and can support both Ebron and Doyle with similar production. But with an ADP of 141, taking fliers on Matt Breida, Geronimo Allison, or Josh Doctson.
Buy Titans 165.3/ Fade Jacksonville 92.6 & Rams 99.0 & Vikings 107.0
Every year, owners overdraft defenses based on the previous season or name recognition. The Jags were picked up off waivers in 2017 if drafted at all and the Vikings took backseats to the Broncos and Seahawks. The Titans more than likely won’t be this year’s Jaguars but for the price, resist the urge to spend a 9th round pick on a defense.