Drafting potential fantasy football sleepers is always a top priority for successful fantasy owners. We know who the top guys are and the price you have to pay to get them. But what about players who you can get on the cheap but can produce like the top guys. That’s where the value is.
I’ve taken it upon myself to instead of just giving you my top 5 sleepers for 2020 or a list of a few names, to give you 32 potential sleepers this year, one from each NFL team. With each player, I’ll give what ranking they’re currently being drafted as according to NFFC ADP.
Now, before we dive into this monstrosity, let me quickly define what I mean by sleeper in this article. These guys won’t all be no name players with breakout potential. Some of these players will be names you most certainly have heard of. My measuring stick for a “sleeper” is do I think this player will likely outperform their current ADP. If I think they will, then I’m counting them as a sleeper. If you don’t like that definition, you can write your own sleeper article.
Let us begin alphabetically.
Arizona Cardinals - Larry Fitzgerald, WR65
I get that Father Time has to eventually come for Larry Fitz but I don’t know if he’s ever going to catch up. Fitzgerald is no longer a top 15 fantasy wide receiver (though he was WR9 just three years ago which is mind blowing to me) but he still has proven to be a productive member of the Cardinals passing attack. He finished the WR42 in non-PPR leagues last year and led the NFL in most targets inside the five yard line. Christian Kirk is another potential Arizona sleeper, but I will always give love to Larry Legend.
Atlanta Falcons - Calvin Ridley, WR19
I’m going to bang my Calvin Ridley drum until it breaks and then I’m going to buy a new one so I can bang it some more. Ridley is a lock to be a top 15 fantasy wide receiver this year in my book which already means you’re getting return on your investment. He also has a real chance to finish a top 10 wide receiver. Yes Julio Jones is still there and will still be Matt Ryan’s favorite target, but Austin Hooper and his 97 targets last year are no longer in Atlanta and it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Ridley has led the Falcons in receiving touchdowns since being drafted.
Baltimore Ravens - Mark Ingram, RB27
The Ravens went out and drafted running back J.K. Dobbins so I understand that there’s worry about how long Ingram will have control of the Ravens’ backfield. That being said, when he’s healthy, Ingram has proven to consistently be a top 15 fantasy back regardless of the team’s situation. He was a top 15 back sharing the backfield with Alvin Kamara with the Saints and he was a top 10 back last year sharing the backfield with Lamar Jackson. I have faith that Ingram again will be a top 15 running back this year.
Buffalo Bills - Cole Beasley, WR64
The addition of Stefon Diggs this offseason will certainly eat into the Bills total targets but I think that’ll impact John Brown’s workload more than Beasley. Beasley was very productive in his first year with Buffalo and quickly became a security blanket for Josh Allen. I would expect Beasley again to fill that role for Allen this year especially as he works to get on the same page with Diggs given this weird offseason. Beasley finished the WR34 in PPR last year catching 67 balls on 107 targets for 778 yards and six touchdowns. I could see another top 40 receiver season from him again this year.
Carolina Panthers - Curtis Samuel, WR59
There was plenty of hype surrounding Samuel heading into last year and while he didn’t quite live up to it, he also didn’t have a terrible year. He finished third on the Panthers in targets, receptions, and yards, and led the team in receiving touchdowns. He also contributed on the ground, rushing for 130 yards on 19 carries. The switch to Teddy Bridgewater and the addition of Robby Anderson has people wondering what this offense will look like but I trust Samuel will have a role crafted especially for him, in the mold of Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill. I’m not saying Samuel will challenge D.J. Moore in terms of fantasy numbers, but I think he’s got plenty more potential than WR59.
Chicago Bears - Anthony Miller, WR52
I have a really hard time wanting any part of this offense but since I set out to pick a sleeper for all 32 teams, I can’t just not do a team. Ugh. Miller’s 2019 season left something to be desired but it’s worth noting that once he consistently became a starter for the Bears (Weeks 13 through 17) he started putting up solid numbers and was actually WR23 in PPR leagues during that time. Hopefully what we saw to close out last year will continue into 2020 and Miller will emerge as a perfect running mate for Allen Robinson.
Cincinnati Bengals - A.J. Green, WR31
I’m telling you right now, at this price, I will be drafting Green in every single one of my leagues this year. At age 31 and coming off a season long ankle injury, there’s good reason to temper one’s expectation for Green in 2020. But I chose to ignore all that and instead live in a world where a top 10 receiver is teaming up with the best quarterback he’s ever played with in an offense that’s coached by a Sean McVay disciple. Sign me the F up.
Cleveland Browns - Kareem Hunt, RB31
Fun fact: From Week 10 onward—when Hunt started playing with the Browns—Hunt was the RB17 in PPR leagues. Nick Chubb was the RB15. Nick Chubb is going as the RB10. Hunt obviously as the RB31. If I’m playing in a PPR league, I’m drafting Hunt over Chubb to be honest. Kareem Hunt could pretty easily be a top 15 PPR back this year.
Dallas Cowboys - Blake Jarwin, TE19
The Cowboys stacked receiver room is getting plenty of attention this offseason and deservedly so. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup is nothing to scoff at. But don’t overlook the fact that Jarwin is stepping to the starting tight end spot, a position in which ex-professional broadcaster Jason Witten managed to rack up 83 targets, 500+ yards and four touchdowns last year. Jarwin has potential to be a coming out of nowhere tight end target this year.
Denver Broncos - Drew Lock, QB21
If you follow me on Twitter or listen to the RB1 Podcast or read most any of my stuff, you know Drew and I have a checkered history. I’m still not entirely sure what he’s done to win all of Denver over, but he did play well in his five starts last year. Now he’s surrounded by weapons and if he truly is the franchise quarterback John Elway claims he is, he should be able to put up stellar fantasy numbers throwing to Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant. Also, at WR39, Jeudy is a sleeper.
Detroit Lions - Marvin Jones Jr., WR42
The amount of disrespect Marvin Jones gets year in and year out never ceases to amaze me. I will agree with you that he’s shown to be injury prone over the last two years but you can’t tell me that when he and Matthew Stafford are healthy, he’s not a top 15 fantasy receiver. You literally can’t tell me that because last year before Jones got injured in Week 14, Jones was the WR12 in non-PPR and WR14 in PPR. HE IS GOING AS THE WR42 RIGHT NOW.
Green Bay Packers - Allen Lazard, WR63
We know Aaron Rodgers loves throwing the ball to Davante Adams, as evidenced by the 127 targets he saw last year, but Rodgers will have to throw the ball to other people this year right? If he does, I’m putting my money on Lazard to be the leading candidate. Not only has he already worked with Rodgers before—giving him a leg up on new-comer Devin Funchess—he’s also earned Rodgers’ praise which is always a good thing to have as a young receiver. Lazard had a couple of strong games last year including a big outing against the Giants in Week 13 where he caught three balls for 103 yards and a touchdown.
Houston Texans - Brandin Cooks, WR40
I’m nothing if not consistent in my brand. Yes there are injury concerns with Cooks but outside of last year and his rookie year, Cooks has played in all 16 games each year. And not only that, he’s played for three different teams in that time and still has been able to finish a top 15 receiver. He’s now yet again on the move, heading to Houston where he’ll be the number one receiver in an offense led by Deshaun Watson. If Brandin Cooks doesn’t finish a top 20 fantasy receiver this year, I’ll do something stupid. (I’m open to suggestions so if you have an idea, tweet it at me @petemrogers.)
Indianapolis Colts - Jack Doyle, TE18
There’s no more Eric Ebron to leach touchdowns and targets away from Doyle and we all know Philip Rivers loves targeting his tight ends. Doyle is top 10 tight end lock for me this year in fantasy. Check please.
I know it’s cool to hate on Fournette and the Jaguars old antiquated offense of pounding the rock, but Fournette is still a very reliable fantasy back who’s due for a bunch of positive regression in the touchdown department. He scored only three times last year and yet still managed to finish RB13 in non-PPR and RB7 in PPR. With six or seven total touchdowns this year, Fournette could be a top 8 running back easily. Personally, I’d much rather have Fournette over Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Kenyan Drake, and even maybe Nick Chubb, all of whom are being taken above him.
Kansas City Chiefs - Mecole Hardman, WR45
I’ve seen people all over the map when it comes to what to expect from Hardman this year. My colleague Paddi Cooper thinks he’ll be a bust. I on the other hand think he should be someone you’re 100% targeting given both the Chiefs offense and how well he performed his rookie year. Hardman was fifth on the team in targets yet still managed to finish fourth in yards and second in receiving touchdowns. I think 2020 will bring less Demarcus Robinson and a lot less Sammy Watkins. I don’t expect Watkins to be the Chiefs’ most targeted receiver this season.
Las Vegas Raiders - Derek Carr, QB27
Here’s something I didn’t know: Derek Carr has never finished below QB20 in his career. Right off the bat, you’re getting a return on your investment if you draft Carr as the QB27 or later. Win. More than that, we’ve seen Carr be a good quarterback before and he can put up numbers if he has the right weapons around him. The Raiders went out and got a whole bunch of young talent to surround Carr with and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him start playing more like 2016 Derek Carr when he finished the QB9 in fantasy.
Los Angeles Chargers - Keenan Allen, WR21
Who knows what the post-Philip Rivers Chargers will look like but I can promise you this: Keenan Allen will be heavily targeted. Allen has finished a top 12 PPR receiver in each of the last three years and while it may not be pretty this year, I don’t see that really changing. Think 2017 Jarvis Landry when he was force fed the football, pissed everyone off to high heaven, and finished WR5 in PPR. That’s my prediction for 2020 Keenan Allen.
Los Angeles Rams - Cam Akers, RB28
Of all the rookie running backs, Akers is the only one to have fallen in a backfield without much competition. With no Todd Gurley and Darrell Henderson clearly not showing enough to lock the job up himself, Akers has a shot at being the lead back in an offense that still can put up points. Todd Gurley and his bum knee were still RB14 last year in PPR. It wouldn’t shock if we see Akers sniffing top 15 territory this year.
Miami Dolphins - Preston Williams, WR55
With the Dolphins drafting Tua Tagovailoa, there’s been plenty of hype surrounding breakout studs DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki. Don’t forget about Williams who flashed plenty of potential last year before tearing his ACL. Despite getting injured in Week 9, Williams still finished the year fourth in targets and third in receiving yards on the Dolphins. He’ll be stepping into the number two receiver alongside Parker which should have plenty of value in Miami’s new offense.
Minnesota Vikings - Justin Jefferson, WR50
With Diggs in Buffalo, there are a TON of targets to go around the Vikings offense. Now while I think most of those will go to Adam Thielen and his league leading receptions, don’t overlook one of the best statistical wide receivers in college football last year. Jefferson was a beast at LSU and steps into an offense that has a gapping hole at their number two receiver spot. It might take some time for Jefferson to get NFL acclimated, but don’t let that deter you from taking a flier on him.
New England Patriots - Mohamed Sanu, WR159
Here’s my theory as to why Bill Belichick traded a second round pick for a veteran wide receiver even when his quarterback at the time had a long history of not being able to get on the same page with receivers midseason: Belichick was looking past the 2019 season. Sanu really wasn’t able to show anything with the Patriots last year as he pretty quickly got injured and dealt with an ankle problem for the rest of the year. Sanu is not a scrub receiver. He was routinely a top 30 wide receiver with the Falcons and he could have an even larger role in New England given how sparse their receiver room is. Sanu is basically free in drafts so taking him offers zero risk and a ton of upside.
New Orleans Saints - Emmanuel Sanders, WR46
The Saints have been dying for a solid number two receiver for a long, long time and Sanders might be the perfect cure. He was great for both the Broncos and 49ers last year and comes into a passing game with really nothing except Michael Thomas and his 185 targets. There is plenty of room in this offense for Sanders to carve out 90 targets all to himself and he’s shown he can still produce.
New York Giants - Golden Tate, WR56
Tate led the Giants in targets (85) despite only playing 11 games last year. Had Tate started the season not on suspension, he was on pace for 124 targets, 71 catches, 983 yards and nine touchdowns. I’m pro Darius Slayton who is also getting plenty of buzz, but don’t let Tate slip through the cracks. He proved to be Daniel Jones’ favorite weapon and I don’t think that’s going to suddenly change in an offseason with no real practicing.
New York Jets - Le’Veon Bell, RB19
I hate Adam Gase as much as the next person and would love not to have any Jets players on my fantasy team, but I think the whole Gase stink is bringing Jets player’s value down to a point where they are really hard to pass on. In his first full year back of football after sitting out, Bell finished the RB15 in PPR leagues, racking up 789 yards on the ground, 461 yards through the air, and only FOUR total touchdowns. In his career, Bell is averaging eight total touchdowns a season. Bell is due for positive regression in the scoring department and that could boost him back into top 10 fantasy back category. I’ll take that in the fourth round.
Philadelphia Eagles - Greg Ward, WR166
I have very little faith in DeSean Jackson staying healthy for a full 16 game season and I have even less faith in Alshon Jeffery being an impactful player for the Eagles in 2020. That leaves a pretty large hole at receiver for just about anyone to step into. Obviously rookie Jalen Reagor is getting plenty of hype which he should be, but if you want a really deep sleeper in Philly, don’t forget about Ward who played in the final six games for the Eagles last year and finished with 40 targets, 28 receptions, 254 yards and a touchdown, and was WR40 in PPR during that time.
Pittsburgh Steelers - James Conner, RB22
Conner is a top 10 back who just can’t seem to stay healthy. Like a few names on this list, health is a factor here and that’s what’s diminishing their value. But if Conner can stay healthy for a full 16 games season—hell, I’ll take just 13 games like he did in 2018—he’s got top 10 potential written all over him. Also don’t forget about Diontae Johnson who looked great last year catching balls from a man literally named Duck and Mason Rudolph. I bet he’ll look even better catching them from Ben Roethlisberger.
San Francisco 49ers - Tevin Coleman, RB43
Buying into the 49ers backfield has proven to be wildly frustrating but hopefully it got a little bit easier with the Niners trading Matt Breida to the Dolphins during the NFL draft (remember when that happened all of two months ago). Now Coleman is just sharing the backfield with Raheem Mostert. With Deebo Samuel out with injury to start the year, Kyle Shanahan very well might start the year pounding the rock and leaning on both Mostert and Coleman heavily.
Seattle Seahawks - Greg Olsen, TE25
The Seahawks know how to turn out fantasy relevant tight ends even if their shelf life proves to be brief. Despite being 34-years-old, Olsen put forward a respectable 500+ yard performance last year with the Panthers and I’d expect his two touchdowns to increase playing with Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB44
The backfield is wide open in Tampa Bay and while the passing game will likely reign supreme with Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Rob Gronkowski, don’t ignore the potential for wide open rushing lanes as defenses worry about defending the pass. Vaughn gets an extra boost here because he’s also a strong pass catcher, something we all know Tom Brady LOVES in his running backs and something he will one hundred percent take advantage of.
Tennessee Titans - Ryan Tannehill, QB18
I have a hard time believing that what we saw out of Tannehill last year is exactly what we’ll get in 2020 but you can’t ignore the fact that after taking the starting job in Week 7, Tannehill was the third best fantasy quarterback from that point onward. That’s nothing to scoff at. Maybe Tannehill and the Titans did catch magic in a bottle and Tannehill and the squad will pick up right where the left off last year, with a dominate ground game and Tannehill picking defenses apart off play action. If so, Tannehill has a chance of being a top 5 fantasy quarterback this year and almost a lock for top 10 production. I’d rather have him than Jared Goff or Ben Roethlisberger who are both going above him.
Washington - Adrian Peterson, RB68
Never doubt Adrian Peterson. Even at 34-years-old last year Peterson ran for 898 yards and 5 touchdowns and finished RB28 in non-PPR and RB33 in PPR. Derrius Guice is the young back that everyone is excited about—myself included—but he has proven he has a hard time staying healthy and on the field. Peterson might not be a sexy pick but I’m willing to bet he somehow manages to finish a top 50 running back this year in fantasy.