2019 Fantasy Football Sleepers


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Quarterbacks

Mitchell Trubisky | Chicago Bears | ADP: 13:07 | Sleeper

Year 2 in Matt Nagy’s complex offense will come much easier to the third-year pro. Trubisky flashed signs of “getting it” in 2018, and Chicago still boasts a strong offensive line. The backfield was upgraded in the draft with David Montgomery. Second-year receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) could be poised for a strong year, and Allen Robinson is on track to improve. Never discredit the chunk gains by Tarik Cohen. This offense is loaded with outlets.

Trubisky finished QB15 in 2018 and is being ignored by gamers more comfortable choosing established names. The pool of quarterbacks looks deep, once again, but gamers need to realize someone is going to fall off of the map when we have so many guys north of 35 being drafted ahead of him. At any rate, consistency must improve for Trubisky to ascend into the QB1 conversation. Going for 135 yards and a TD one week, followed by 355-3-0 the next and then 165-1-2 isn’t going to cut it. Six-TD weeks are nice and all, but gamers should want more showings of 280-3-0 instead. If Trubisky gets there, look out!

Derek Carr | Oakland Raiders | ADP: 14:03 | Undervalued

Update: His ADP has risen three spots in the last week.

It may take time to build chemistry with his revamped receiving corps, but even in a down year, Carr was good for 4,049 yards, 20 total TDs and only 10 picks. He went 10 straight appearances without an interception! Oakland majorly improved its offensive line. More important, WR Antonio Brown is in the mix. Tyrell Williams joins him as an up-and-comer, while speed in J.J. Nelson, and the chain-moving traits of Ryan Grant cannot be ignored. Tight end Darren Waller brings an underrated skill set to replace the older Jared Cook. Rookie Josh Jacobs provides backfield stability.

Carr doesn’t need to be all that much better to get into the weekly starting conversation. He’s no worse than a matchup play, and gamers shouldn’t be drafting him behind Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyler Murray and Tom Brady, for example. Being QB23 in ADP is insane after he finished QB18 last year in fantasy points and was gifted wholesale upgrades in the offseason.

Jameis Winston | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 10:04 | Undervalued

Update: His ADP has risen three spots in the last week.

Winston should be much more stable in 2019. He won’t have Ryan Fitzpatrick lurking over his shoulder, and vertical-minded head coach Bruce Arians will get the most out of Winston’s skills. There’s also the contract year factor to consider. This offense could chuck it nearly 700 times, so there will be some bad with the good, but the volume might be off the charts. Having Mike Evans and the blossoming Chris Godwin could result in a pair of 1,000-yard, 10-TD guys. Lofty, but doable. Toss in one of the best young TEs in the game and former first-round pick Breshad Perriman’s speed … the losses of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson doesn’t seem to matter as much.

Winston is currently going as QB13, which is fair on the surface. That’s what he is — a fringe QB1. However, a deeper dive suggests he could be several spots behind his potential. Ahead of him, gamers will find Carson Wentz (major health concerns), Cam Newton (bum throwing shoulder), Kyler Murray (still a rookie), Jared Goff (debatable but understandable) and Russell Wilson (suspect cast of WRs) … the point being, Winston realistically could be the eighth quarterback off of the board without much of an argument.

Running backs

Darrell Henderson | Los Angeles Rams | ADP: 6:09 | Sleeper

Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee could make Henderson a fantasy star in 2019. Not to detract from Gurley’s elite skill set, but this system can make just about anyone look like a star. C.J. Anderson was a fantasy savior in 2018’s home stretch, and Henderson is a more talented player. Plus, he adds a dynamic element to the passing game, even if Gurley is on the field.

It’s safe to presume Gurley’s workload will be restricted, and he may be forced to see his touches reduced in the passing attack. Henderson’s draft stock will rise throughout the summer months. Draft him as a no-brainer handcuff, and he’s an RB3 in his own right, mostly due to PPR flex playability.

Royce Freeman | Denver Broncos | ADP: 8:08 | Sleeper

This one isn’t necessarily the strongest endorsement, so be judicious in how much faith you put into his situation. The Broncos should be better upfront, and the upgrade at quarterback cannot be understated. Phillip Lindsay stole the show in 2018, but a broken wrist could be a harbinger of possible durability issues. Freeman was a fantasy darling entering 2018 drafts and left a sour taste behind. After scoring three times in his first four NFL games, he’d go on to tally two more over the next 10 appearances and miss a pair of games.

Take Freeman’s inclusion as a reminder to not give up on a player so soon — after just one year, it’s too early to write him off as a failure. His ADP is plenty fair to take a shot, but be strategic, particularly in PPR formats. He’s just not going to be a dynamic asset if Lindsay remains healthy; treat Freeman as a fine opportunity to buy insurance and as a nice speculative addition for non-Lindsay owners.

Peyton Barber | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 11:10 | Undervalued

Update: His ADP has risen four spots in the last week.

Unless you’re jumping on the Ronald Jones bandwagon, Barber has a mostly obstacle-free path to significant playing time. The offense likes to check down to running backs, and while he’s not an elite receiver, Barber can hold his own. The Bucs’ passing game can open running lanes, and this line isn’t terrible by any stretch, especially with improved coaching.

Barber has experienced a declining yards-per-carry average in consecutive years, which is reason to question his ceiling. He’s not going to be an explosive player, but we’ve seen plenty of try-hard types do well through the years as an RB3. Don’t expect much more, but at the price of RB50 drafted right now, there’s just too much meat on the bone to not take a bite.

Justice Hill | Baltimore Ravens | ADP: 12:12 | Flier

We don’t need a crystal ball to know the Ravens will emphasize the run to protect Lamar Jackson and limit his passing attempts. He’s still too raw as a quarterback. It also affords them the ability to get him involved in designed misdirectional runs. Mark Ingram comes over as the primary handler. At 29, can he survive more than 230 or so carries? Behind him, Gus Edwards is just a dude, and Kenneth Dixon has remained a reserve for a reason. Hill is downright explosive and brings an Alvin Kamara-like element to the offense. He can catch out of the backfield and has the speed Ingram doesn’t offer.

Hill could be called a true sleeper in deeper leagues. For most gamers, he’s a No. 4 or even a fifth due to his upside. At a minimum, monitor his offseason and reassess as draft time approaches in the late summer.

Darwin Thompson | Kansas City Chiefs | ADP: 14:01 | Flier

Update: His ADP has fallen 11 spots in the last week.

Purely a flier, as indicated, Thompson brings a nifty skill set to the backfield and could be asked to spell on third downs. He still stands behind veteran Carlos Hyde, which prevents Thompson from entering the true sleeper category. Hyde is a capable back in his own right, but he’s on his fourth team in 18 months — that can mess with a player’s mind. At any rate, Thompson is a gamble late in drafts, and many gamers in casual formats will ignore him entirely. Take a chance on him in an offense that has produced elite fantasy numbers for backs almost every year of its existence.

Ryquell Armstead | Jacksonville Jaguars | ADP: 14:10 | Flier

It’s a power-running mentality through a West Coast system. The backfield boasts Leonard Fournette, but after his lengthy injury history and a tumultuous past few months of red-flag incidents, just how much confidence can fantasy owners place in him? Armstead will enter behind veteran Alfred Blue — a plodder with no upside to his name. He ran 150 times in Houston last year and mustered a long of 17 yards. In five NFL seasons, Blue has topped 3.8 yards per carry just once. Opportunity matters, especially at this position. Rather than fight the slog of the waiver wire, adding Armstead in the final few rounds of your draft is a fine way to seek an edge.

Wide receivers

Dante Pettis | San Francisco 49ers | ADP: 7:01 | Sleeper

The second-year receiver is the de facto WR1 of this substandard lot. Targets should be there for a respectable showing in fantasy, and his athleticism can do the rest. The 49ers have been singing his praises, whether it be from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or head coach Kyle Shanahan. Pettis has drawn endorsements for his fluidity in and out of breaks, and also for his mental gains on the field.

It won’t take much for the 2018 second-rounder to stand out from this crowd, but that is not to be confused with him all of a sudden becoming a star in fantasy. He has upside, no question, but there are obstacles that cannot be accurately forecasted: How will he handle the pressure? Can he overcome double coverage? Is Garoppolo ready to advance his career? A No. 3 wide receiver in fake football is a good baseline for Pettis’ outlook. He has potential to ascend into the weak WR2 territory, although consistency make be an issue.

Christian Kirk | Arizona Cardinals | ADP: 7:06 | Sleeper

Kyler Murray will be an upgrade at quarterback, even in his first season, and Arizona’s culture should be much more conducive to success. Experienced in this offense from his collegiate days, Kirk caught more than 63 percent of his targets as a rookie, and that number jumps to 89.6 percent when uncatchable balls are factored. He is effective on the outside as well as in the slot (21.5 percent of his 2018 usage).

With a trio of rookie receivers, plus Chad Williams and Kevin White filling out the primary competition, Kirk is the logical choice for the second-highest target share behind Larry Fitzgerald among wideouts. And at Fitz’s age, nothing is a guarantee in terms of his health. Kirk is not a lock, given all of the change in his world requiring acclimation. This offense will throw and throw some more, and his ability in space should lead to plenty of screen plays — look for a moderate volume of catches with decent yardage but somewhat depressed TD results.

N’Keal Harry | New England Patriots | ADP: 9:05 | Sleeper

Update: His ADP has fallen nine spots in the last week.

Already picking up the offense well, Harry enters as one of the most polished rookie receivers of the class. He fills an obvious need within the Patriots offense, and having even a 42-year-old Tom Brady throwing it to him is a huge advantage out of the gates. No Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and presumably Josh Gordon means someone will have to pick up the slack. Be assured the Patriots will do everything humanly possible to have the ASU rookie ready for Week 1.

Rookie receivers can be a fickle business, but NE isolating what works and using him to his strength (goal line, possession plays) will make Harry an early contributor in fantasy. There may be no better situation for him than this one, and few teams are as adept at game planning as the Pats. It would be great if the price tag was a little less, but don’t complain if he lives up to the hype.

Geronimo Allison | Green Bay Packers | ADP: 8:11 | Sleeper

We’ve seen a little bit of everything from Allison in his three pro seasons. Last year, the consistent theme was his inability to stay on the field. He was on the verge of a breakout season before missing 11 games due to a concussion (one), hamstring strain (three) and a core injury that required surgery. He’s ready to go now, and Allison has to prove himself to a new coaching staff against a handful of younger receivers with nearly as much on-field experience.

Allison has the upside of being a fourth-year veteran, which means the game will be about as slow is it will ever get mentally, and it never hurts having Aaron Rodgers slinging the rock his way. Davante Adams also helps by drawing coverage, and Randall Cobb is now a Cowboy. There is no fair way to extrapolate his 2018 data … for whatever it is worth, Allison was on his way to a 76-catch, 1,155-yard, 7-TD season using the first four weeks of production. It wasn’t likely to finish that way, but you can at least see the potential. The presumed slot guy a sneaky WR4 and an acceptable No. 3 in 14-team leagues. Bank on there being enough looks to go around to buoy no worse than flex consideration from the 6-foot-3 Allison.

Dede Westbrook | Jacksonville Jaguars: ADP: 9:09 | Sleeper

Update: His ADP has risen five spots in the last week.

Nick Foles is a definite upgrade at quarterback over Blake Bortles, and the journeyman passer has done well for himself when targeting slot receivers. Westbrook played 73.9 percent of his 2018 snaps from the inside receiver position. Entering his third year, Westbrook has only 23 games worth of NFL experience, however, so a major step forward is possibly another year away. He’s a more capable big-play type than his stats indicate, and this receiving corps lacks a go-to weapon.

Drafting a potential breakout player in Round 9 is a low-risk venture. Reaching for him isn’t recommended. There’s a good chance he’ll fall well past his ADP in more casual setups, but his rising ADP suggests people in all types of leagues are catching on. Westbrook is a possibly strong WR3 at a discount price.

Donte Moncrief | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 11:04 | Undervalued

Update: His ADP has risen six spots in the last week.

The veteran wideout spent time in the offseason with Ben Roethlisberger to in an attempt to build chemistry. The presumption is the 25-year-old Moncrief will settle in as the opening No. 2 in the generic pecking order behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’ll see summer competition for action from a trimmed down James Washington and rookie Diontae Johnson. Eli Rogers will be worked in, as well. Following a promising second year with the Colts, Moncrief battled injuries in 2016 and ’17. He managed to play in every contest last year but was mired in the mishap that was Jacksonville’s season.

Greener pastures, with a bona fide quarterback again throwing his way, Moncrief going at the tail end of drafts is just the situation gamers look back at in six months and wonder how he wasn’t drafted earlier. Don’t get caught up on the past — he’s talented, healthy, and in a great situation in what will be only his age-26 season as a sixth-year vet. There’s tremendous ground to be made up with the trade of Antonio Brown, so looks shouldn’t be an issue. Moncrief is a roster-filler at this price point and legitimately could emerge as a WR2 some weeks.

Anthony Miller | Chicago Bears | ADP: 12:04 | Undervalued

Miller didn’t get a great deal of chances as a rookie, seeing only 54 looks in 14 games played. His value (finished as WR61) was due to scoring seven touchdowns on 33 grabs. Expecting such a low-volume, high-output ratio this year is unrealistic. Miller has a reasonably good chance at doubling his catches in Year 2, and he’s a better fit for the system than Allen Robinson as the de facto WR1 of this lot.

A shoulder surgery in January has Miller on track to return for training camp. Chicago’s offensive design under Matt Nagy isn’t particularly easy to digest, especially for a rookie, so natural maturation should be expected. While on the mend, Miller has followed Nagy around the sidelines like a puppy dog, trying to absorb anything and everything to improve mentally. Watch his progress before investing more than his ADP suggests. He likely will climb as the summer comes to a close, barring any setbacks. That’s a small price to pay for a weekly flex option.

Robert Foster | Buffalo Bills | ADP: 14:08 | Flier

Update: His ADP has risen three spots in the last week.

The second-year Foster, 25, will be overlooked in many leagues, particularly the casual circles. He’s a big-play threat, as evidenced by averaging 20.1 yards a grab in 2018. Having Josh Allen’s field-stretching arm strength makes Foster all that much more dangerous. The Alabama product scored a trio of TDs on just 26 snags, and he really didn’t see meaningful action until Week 10. Five of his seven outings resulted in double-digit fantasy points.

The Bills made wholesale changes at wideout in the offseason, and the offense enters its second year in Brian Daboll’s system — with Allen being a sophomore on the rise. Players of Foster’s profile tend to be streaky, and he’ll compete with John Brown’s 4.3 speed for the bulk of Buffalo’s downfield action.

Dontrelle Inman | New England Patriots | ADP: N/A | Flier

His best year to date was in 2016 with the Chargers, going for 58-810-4. Inman’s last 18 games with Chicago and Indy have produced a line of 53-647-4. He came on strong to close out 2018, finding the end zone three times in the last four games (including playoffs) and even showed capable of playing out the slot. New England can use every bit of help it can get from the position, and while N’Keal Harry is included in this space as a sleeper, there is plenty of room for Inman to make noteworthy contributions, too.

In the final round or two of drafts, gamers could do much worse than testing the waters with a gamble pick on Inman finding a worthwhile role in the New England offense. There’s only upside at play here.

Tight ends

Evan Engram | New York Giants | ADP: 6:04 | Undervalued

Is he truly undervalued? Debatable. Round 6 is about when I start thinking about the position. It’s a top-heavy year, so if you don’t get a Kelce, Ertz or Kittle, then it becomes a little dicey. Engram has proven he can do it when healthy, and there will be a ton of looks open with Odell Beckham now a Brown. Say Eli Manning starts every game … we know they have chemistry. If Daniel Jones is the guy at some point this year, rookies tend to rely heavily on tight ends. Engram’s biggest enemy will be Saquon Barkley scarfing short-area passes.

Don’t hesitate to snag Engram, despite the team being cautious and holding him out of practice, if your aim is to avoid playing the matchup game at the position. We’ve seen what his capabilities, when healthy, and if this early-summer break helps keep him on the field into December, no one will remember the fret. He’s in the argument to be the third tight end drafted.

Jimmy Graham | Green Bay Packers | ADP: 13:09 | Undervalued

The 2018 season was Graham’s worst since his rookie campaign, and gamers have taken notice. Don’t be one of those gamers. Graham caught a respectable 55 balls for 636 yards — improving his average by 2.5 yards a catch over the previous season. The biggest issue came in the way of only two touchdowns scored in an offense that wasn’t known for the position being a substantial factor. It is in the new Green Bay system, and it’s almost laughable to think he will score only twice again.

Graham is still just 32 years old, and Green Bay doesn’t have much in the way of proven pass-catchers behind Davante Adams. Graham finished as the 12th-best TE in PPR last year in an off-year and is going as the 15th chosen in 2019’s early drafts. Think about it this way: The No. 7 PPR TE last year (Kyle Rudolph) caught 11 more passes for two fewer yards and scored just two more times than Graham. Grabbing 11 more balls seems like a stretch, but scoring three more four more times isn’t out of the question at all.

UPDATED: Chris Herndon | New York Jets | ADP: 14:02 | Flier

Update: His ADP will tumble to undrafted after being suspended.

Surprisingly, Herndon will serve a four-contest suspension after a DUI last summer. It was expected to be a two-gamer. He goes from being a worthy sleeper pick to merely a flier with the suspension. In casual leagues, Herndon doesn’t warrant a stash until he returns. Put his name in the memory bank for the waiver wire.

Once he returns, Herndon’s athleticism allows him to play down the field and flex out wide. As a rookie in 2018, he quietly finished with 502 yards and four scores on 39 catches in 14 games. Herndon and Sam Darnold have had time to build chemistry. The entire offense should be improved, mainly due to RB Le’Veon Bell, OG Kelechi Osemele and coach Adam Gase.

Hayden Hurst | Baltimore Ravens | ADP: N/A | Flier

A 2018 first-round investment, Hurst missed most of his rookie year with a stress fracture in his foot. He’s being rested for a hamstring strain and will be ready to roll for training camp. He bulked up with a whopping 20 pounds of muscle, which one has to question whether that is good for the foot or hammy, but he says it’s fine. Hurst believes the added strength makes him more functional and helps avoid injuries. We’re looking at an offense that will run a ton of two-tight end sets. Expect Lamar Jackson to show a reliance on Hurst’s position as the young quarterback feels his way through the NFL. Given the volatility of the position, take a TE2 flier on Hurst late in drafts.

Geoff Swaim | Jacksonville Jaguars | ADP: N/A | Flier

This one is just based on the fact Jacksonville has almost no one of note to catch passes. Dede Westbrook has been included above, and rightfully so. However, at tight end, Swaim is the most logical choice to start, even with rookie Josh Oliver applying pressure. The offense is conducive to success at the position, and Nick Foles has found gains working with the position in the past. In what figures to be one of the rockiest positions after the top three names, Swaim is a late-round TE2 stab for gamers in deep leagues.

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