Fantasy football leagues aren’t won at the draft, but finding late round breakout talent sure does help. Here is a list of 5 sleepers who I’ll be drafting past the tenth round in all my leagues (assumptions – 12 team full ppr):
1. Tyler Higbee, ADP: 11th round (135)
Higbee saw all of the hype at the TE position heading into the 2020 season. Needless to say, he didn’t live up to expectations. This upcoming season however, the Los Angeles Rams have made a huge change to their offense through the addition of Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. While in Detroit, TEs saw a 21% target share over the past 5 seasons with Stafford under center. Additionally, Gerald Everett’s off-season departure will result in 62 vacant targets at the TE position. With a potential increase in targets and a vastly improved QB, Higbee is poised for a breakout season.
2. Darnell Mooney, ADP: 12th round (144)
Mooney was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Despite being a late round pick, Mooney ranked 6th among rookie WRs in targets with 98. The 2020 season saw Mooney finish with 61 REC / 631 YDS / 4 TDS and he did all of this with Mitchell Trubisky at QB. This past offseason, the Bears moved on from Trubisky and traded up in the draft to grab Justin Fields at 11. Furthermore, the Bears saw the departure of WR, Anthony Miller, leaving 76 vacated targets and Mooney as the clear cut WR2. Historically in fantasy football, WRs have a greater potential of breaking out in their sophomore season and I expect Mooney to follow suit.
3. Trey Lance, ADP: 13th round (148)
The San Francisco 49ers traded up to the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. Although he faced lesser competition, Lance was a phenom in college throwing for 2,786 passing yards with a 28/0 TD/INT ratio on a 67% completion rate in 2019. The real upside of Lance is on the ground. In his 2019 college season, the rookie ran for 1,100 yards and 14 TDs on 6.5 YPC. Although Jimmy Garoppolo is the current starter at QB, I expect Lance to take over the job by midseason. As a late round flier, Lance’s huge rushing upside has the potential to be a difference maker late in the fantasy season/playoffs.
4. Russell Gage, ADP: 14th round (164)
Russell Gage was already fantasy relevant last season in games without Julio Jones. Gage ended the season with a statline of 72/786/4 on 109 targets. In the offseason Julio Jones was traded to the Tennessee Titans leaving 68 vacated targets for the Falcons. We saw how effective Calvin Ridley was as WR2 on the team and I expect Gage to step up and fill that role this year. I should also note the new arrivals of Mike Davis and rookie Kyle Pitts; however, I believe Matt Ryan and the negative game scripts the Falcons will experience throughout the year can be enough to provide value for Gage.
5. Marquez Callaway, ADP: 15th round (180)
I’ve seen sophomore New Orleans Saints WR Marquez Callaway go undrafted in most leagues. This will likely change after his monster first quarter statline of 5 REC, 104 YDS, and 2 TDs in just the first quarter of the last week’s preseason game. The second year wideout’s stock is rising quickly (and for good reason) with him being compared to former all-pro WR Victor Cruz. Additionally, with the departures of Jared Cook (60), Emmanuel Sanders (82), and the injury of Michael Thomas (55) there are a grand total of 197 vacated targets from last year. I understand that Drew Brees retired, but with Callaway slowly winning the WR1 spot from TreQuan Smith there’s certainly value. Not to mention, in 2019 Jameis Winston supported two top 15 WRs in ppr format.
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