I love hitting on sleepers. It’s one of the best feelings in fantasy sports when you take a guy who no one was high on, only to watch him tear up the league and bring home all the fantasy points. I would like to give myself a pat on the back for snagging Rishard Matthews in the 11th round last year in one of my drafts. He worked out rather nicely.
But of course for all the sleepers you hit on, there are plenty you miss. I thought Travis Benjamin was going to blow up in a big way once he got with a competent quarterback. Sadly, that didn’t happen.
Now that that riveting introduction is done, here are a few guys who I see having big seasons and outplaying their ADP.
DeAndre Hopkins (3.05 ADP, WR13)
Hopkins isn’t your traditional sleeper. He’s not going to come out of seemingly nowhere to suddenly become a fantasy football superstar. He’s already been a fantasy superstar, who’s just coming off a disappointing season, one I think people are overthinking.
Sure Hopkins wasn’t great and yes, he wasn’t the thousand yard/double digit touchdown receiver we grew to love in 2015. However, I think some of that blame can be placed on his then-quarterback, Brock Osweiler. I won’t pretend that Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson is a huge upgrade from Brock but let’s not forget that Hopkins’ 2015 season came catching balls from the quarterbacks of Patriots past: Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett.
Most of the blame for Hopkins’ fantasy season last year was the decision to not pass to him in the red zone. Last year, Hopkins only received nine total targets from inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. NINE. Please fire whoever thought that was a good idea. For comparison sake, in 2015 Hopkins received 22 targets inside the 20, catching 12 of those for 106 yards and six touchdowns. That’s a touchdown every other catch. I don’t know why the Texans wouldn’t make it their mission this season to increase Hopkins’ red zone targets, which is great for fantasy owners.
Donte Moncrief (7.10 ADP, WR34)
Moncrief suffers from “end of season injury” forgetfulness, in which people forget about you in fantasy drafts because they don’t remember how good you were to start the season. Well I remember.
The fourth year receiver has two things going for him. Firstly, the Colts don’t have many other options in the passing game. Of course T.Y. Hilton is their go-to-guy and Jack Doyle broke out onto the football stage last year. But speedster Phillip Dorsett has yet to live up to his first round billing and the team inexplicably traded tight end Dwayne Allen to the Patriots this offseason. (The inexplicability of this trade being that the Colts would deal a player to an AFC rival, not that they’d trade Allen). If Moncrief can stay healthy for the full season, he’s locked in as the Colts’ number two receiver.
However, the biggest thing Moncrief has going for him is touchdowns. Despite playing nine games last year, Moncrief still led the team in touchdowns with seven. What’s more impressive, is that he finished third in red zone targets, and not by much. Hilton finished with 15 targets, Doyle with 13 and Moncrief, again despite playing seven less games, finished with 10. To me, this reads Andrew Luck has found his go-to-guy in the red zone.
Pierre Garcon (8.02 ADP, WR36)
If Moncrief is suffering from “end of season injury” forgetfulness, Garcon suffers from “playing on what’s sure to be a bad team” forgetfulness. While it’s safe to assume the 49ers will not be great record wise their first year under new head coach Kyle Shanahan, their offense could have a little juice to it. It is what Shanahan is known for.
The last time Garcon and Shanahan worked together, he had the best statistical season of his career. He was targeted 181 times, catching 113 passes for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. You can bet Shanahan brought Garcon to the west coast to try and rekindle some of that 2013 magic.
Tyrell Williams (9.05 ADP, WR42)
Williams’ ADP just blows my mind. Williams was the 14th best fantasy receiver last year in total points. FOURTEENTH. You think that would get him drafted at least in the first six rounds.
Now, I understand that a lot has changed in the Chargers’ offense this offseason. Pro bowl receiver Keenan Allen is back from a torn ACL and the team drafted receiver Mike Williams in the first round. Welp, Williams, Mike looks like he’s going to be missing the entire season with a herniated disc in his back. Welcome back Williams, Tyrell!
Even as a number two receiver in the Chargers offense, Williams has plenty of fantasy relevance. He’s proven that he can play on the outside and can go up against the opponent's best corners. He also brings good size at the position, strong hands and a budding repertoire with Philip Rivers. Can’t underestimate the impact of a budding repertoire especially early in a season. Maybe Williams won’t be able to reproduce his 2016 season but even if he falls more in the WR25-30 range, that’s a big improvement from where he’s currently being drafted.
Cooper Kupp (14.09 ADP, WR70)
You want the sleeper that the sleeping sleepers sleep on? Look no further than Kupp.
It might be ridiculous to think that wide receiver on the Rams could have significant fantasy value but Kupp could prove to be a solid draft-and-stash player in the final few rounds of any draft. Kupp wasn’t a slouch in college; He managed to post at least 93 receptions, 1,400 yards, and 16 TDs in all four season. That’s right, at least 16 touchdowns in EVERY season. You can tell me that’s not impressive.
With no clear number one receiver in LA, the door is open for Kupp to see the majority of targets if he can quickly build chemistry with Jared Goff.