It’s time for everybody’s favorite category, Players I’m Sly On. That’s right, get your domino masks and striped shirts ready, it’s time to talk steals. These are players that are being largely overlooked or disregarded by a lot of fantasy owners who may be kicking themselves in a few months for passing up these future studs or reliable veterans. There’s always a lot of bright, shiny new prospects in fantasy sports, but the diamonds in the rough are the ones who will win you championship titles.
Now, be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting for sleepers.
Grassy’s Fantasy Football Draft Guide 2018 (Sly On)
Matthew Stafford, QB (Det)
I know, you’re underwhelmed. I can almost hear you rolling your eyes from here but just bear with me. As I mentioned in my “Dry On” segment, the QB pool this year is very deep—like, Mariana Trench deep. So deep that even Aaron Rodgers is going in the 3rd-5thround of most mock drafts, some even later!
The point is, the smart money is on waiting to draft a signal-caller since high-risk, high-reward guys like Jimmy Garoppolo, Patrick Mahomes, and Andrew Luck will be available really late. But if you’re taking a gamble on one of those high-upside guys, you’re going to want to balance them out with a nice, boring, reliable Average Joe like Stafford.
In all likelihood, your adversaries will be avoiding Stafford and you’ll be able to snatch him up super late while everyone else is thinking about kickers and team defense. Oh, and lest you doubt me, Stafford has quietly racked up more than 26 touchdowns and over 4,200 yards each of the last three seasons, with an upward trend the last two—he hasn’t missed a single start during that span either.
Dez Bryant, WR (TBD)
You want flashy? Stick this in your draft pipe and smoke it. Frankly, I hope Bryant continues to mull his options over until after the season opener, because if you don’t think that some team is going to sign him, you’re underestimating his highlight reel. It’s inevitable that Dez has likely lost a step, maybe even two, but he’s a red zone freak with some of the best hands anywhere. His stock will shoot up the very minute that he touches pen to paper, so you’d better have the foresight to draft him before he commits.
Can you imagine the look on your friends’ faces when you draft a top-5 wide receiver (arguably the shallowest pool for elite options this season) with the last non-kicker spot on your team? I’d say there’s a greater chance of Dez eclipsing a thousand yards this season than remaining with the TBD Unknowns beyond week two.
Lamar Miller, RB (Hou)
So Miller hasn’t quite matched the success he enjoyed in Miami since his move to Houston and his production has been streaky at best. None of that changes his freakish skills or his superb vision. He’s another year more secure in the Texans’ system and if Deshaun Watson stays healthy, his running ability will force teams to keep a linebacker or safety inside to spy, opening up opportunities for Miller around the edge. Couple that with his roughneck, between the tackles prowess and Miller looks like the best red zone option not named DeAndre Hopkins. Considering that there are at least three rookies and six sophomores ranked ahead of him at his position, I like Miller’s experience to outshine more than a few of those youngsters.
Carlos Hyde, RB (Cle)
Hyde has been an absolute beast between the tackles for the 49ers since he was drafted in the second round in 2014, so I doubt that he came cheap for the new-look Browns. In spite of an outstanding offseason, most prognosticators are projecting Hyde to run as a distant backup to Duke Johnson—in spite of the fact that this goes against both of their strengths.
Johnson does his best work catching the ball out of the backfield, coming in as a change of pace back or lining up as a slot receiver, while Hyde has built his reputation as an every-down, grind-it-out, three yards and a cloud of dust, back. If the guy who drafted Johnson thinks of Hyde as some mere handcuff, you can snatch him out from under that fool and laugh all the way to the bank when Hyde out-produces Johnson in touches and touchdowns alike.
That’s it for my sly picks this year. Keep your friends close and your sleepers closer.