As a veteran sadsack fantasy football participant, I've seen enough unheralded players come out of nowhere to deliver value that I'm constantly sniffing around for them. Like all of you, I've had a mixed track record of success in actually landing those players, but I'm hoping I have a pretty good sense of who might deliver as a sleeper pick this year.
You've had your fantasy draft by now, but if you're looking to target players other owners don't value or you're simply scouring the waiver wire to try to find value, I'm hopeful this will be of value to you. Here's my guide to sleepers. I'd welcome your own fantasy advice (and perhaps ridicule) in the comments.
QB Teddy Bridgewater
I think people appreciate that Bridgewater is a good quarterback, but he's going quite late in the average fantasy league, and he went entirely undrafted in one QB, 14 team league I drafted in a week ago. That's crazy, because Bridgewater has a strong ground game at his disposal, a few quality weapons including breakout candidate Charles Johnson at wide receiver, and an accurate arm and genuine ability. He's not going to be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback, I'm sure, but I think he'll be Top 15 and surprise many people. If you didn't snap up one of the top options in the league, get him.
WR Leonard Hankerson
Local media (including The Falcoholic) have been pumping up Hankerson for months now, and while you have to worry about injury, we have every reason to believe he'll be productive with Matt Ryan throwing him the ball and Julio Jones taking attention away from him. I've picked him up as a WR5 in multiple leagues because he's lasting forever, but I fully expect him to produce at a higher level than his buzz would warrant.
RB Brandon Bolden
Someone has to emerge out of the Patriots' muddled backfield, right? Bolden is sitting on the wire in a couple of leagues I'm in, and there's a chance he's either on yours or on the back end of someone's roster. I don't trust LaGarette Blount, he's out for the first week regardless, and Bolden is a well-rounded back who should find plenty of work this year. He's not someone to target in keeper leagues, I'd say, but a good choice for re-draft formats.
TE Kyle Rudolph
Generally, you should be skeptical of the "he's gonna break out!" noise around tight ends. Zach Ertz, Tyler Eifert, Rudolph, and Austin Sefarian-Jenkins are some of the more common choices cited this year, and out of that group, I think ASJ and Rudolph have the best chances to actually deliver. Rudolph will have a full season of the accurate Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and should be able to put together the strongest campaign of his career without much effort. In deep leagues, he's at least worth a look as a TE2, and I think he could deliver much more at a week position.
K Travis Coons
Kickers are afterthoughts in most leagues, I recognize, but in the weirdo scoring only formats I often play, they have considerable value. Coons locked up the Browns' kicking job with a strong summer, should be sitting on the wire, and is playing for an offense that should be good enough to push into the red zone but mediocre enough to settle for field goals. He's a strong choice, whether you need a starting kicker or a one week pickup.
DEF Jacksonville Jaguars
This team has quietly built a solid foundation, and they were among the best teams in the league in terms of pass rushing efficiency a year ago. It's not an ideal defense, but I'm very willing to bet it's sitting out on the waiver wire as we speak, and that it will provide enough sacks and turnovers to function as a top 15 unit.
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