Fantasy football drafts are coming and if you are already in a dynasty league that has drafted or not it’s never too early or too late to talk about some deep sleepers in the draft or in free agency that you should target.
QB Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants
The Giants drafted the talented Richmond QB in the fourth round surprisingly even after all the buzz he had coming straight off his Senior Bowl dominance. Lauletta threw three touchdown passes and was named player of the game in a one-sided blowout. The Giants have 37-year old Eli Manning who is nearing the end of his career, the team did draft Davis Webb in the third round last year but he’s shown next to nothing as far as improvement is concerned. Lauletta likely wasn’t taken in your draft and likely won’t be taken in your draft unless it’s extremely deep. However, the former Richmond star is the heir to the Manning throne. He’s also going to inherit everything that comes with it which includes WR’s Odell Beckham Jr. (who is expected to sign a long-term extension very soon), second-round pick Sterling Shepard, first-round pick TE Evan Engram and superstar prospect RB Saquon Barkley who just went no.2 overall in the most recent draft. Lauletta obviously has to step up to the plate and do his part but the weapons are there and if his film showed anything at Richmond and if his limited film in preseason has shown anything…He’s a confident QB with pocket presence, mobility and accuracy. He may not be the big-time prospect but the Giants may have their future franchise QB in Lauletta and you do not want to miss out on an opportunity to scoop him up now for nothing.
QB Kyle Sloter, Minnesota Vikings
Why would you target a third-string QB that has only played snaps in preseason? I did mention this about being a deep sleeper pool of players, didn’t I? Kyle Sloter is an impressively mobile, accurate and tall QB that teams drool over. Sloter has been one of the best QB’s when it comes to preseason for the last two years. He may not have a chance of starting with the Vikings unless an unforeseen injury to Kirk Cousins arises but this is someone that could be a prime trade candidate for a team like the New England Patriots as far as a team that has shown interest in Sloter before and a team that has a 41-year old QB with nothing long-term behind him besides Danny Etling who was extremely unproductive at LSU. Sloter is more of a projection here than Lauletta, who likely is the option long-term for the Giants. Sloter is going to need a couple of breaks but the Vikings did trade for Trevor Siemian and so they could definitely decide to trade Sloter and give him a shot to play elsewhere. If this happens, look out for number one.
RB Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins
Right now, the Miami Dolphins offense will use a dual backfield led by last year’s leading rusher Kenyan Drake and the ageless wonder Frank Gore. That, however, did not stop the team from drafting the Arizona State standout RB Kalen Ballage in the fourth round. Ballage is a rare back in his size and speed combination. He had quite the Senior Bowl showing during the week but somehow he fell into the fourth round. Ballage is likely going to replace Gore at some point this season but as far as the future goes Ballage has legit starting RB potential. Factor that in with his receiving ability and you are looking at quite the intriguing fantasy option.
RB Trenton Cannon, New York Jets
The overlooked RB out of Virginia State has fallen into a great situation out in New York. Make no mistake, picking him up would be as a long-term investment. The Jets do have Isaiah Crowell, Elijah McGuire and Bilal Powell. They do not have much use for Cannon at the moment but he was drafted and should have a role in the future.
RB John Kelly, Los Angeles Rams
I don’t know who is still sleeping on John Kelly but I do know that there are plenty of teams kicking themselves that they let Kelly slip into the sixth round and into the Rams grasp. The team that already has a superstar RB in Todd Gurley got even richer with Kelly who has torn up preseason. Kelly is a deep sleeper though because he is still not expected to get a big load due to the fact that Gurley is such a versatile workhorse back that does it all. Kelly as a long-term option makes sense because as he continues to develop the Rams may expand his role more. His ability to run downhill and makes plays in the receiving game just adds to his value. Definitely, someone to stash and you should really have him anyway if you have Todd Gurley. If Gurley goes down you will need to have his handcuff which I would put my money on Kelly to be.
RB Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell still has not reported to the Steelers and Pittsburgh can rescind his franchise tag at any time if he does not report. The Steelers went out and made an investment on NC State running back Jaylen Samuels. Samuels plays a lot like Bell, he’s patient, he’s bigger and an impressive receiving back option out of the backfield. The Steelers do have James Conner who they also drafted but it seems like either one is a fantasy stash at this point but Samuels might have more upside as crazy as that sounds.
RB Bo Scarbrough, Dallas Cowboys
Big Bo Scarbrough is joining a team that has one of the best offensive lines in football. Ezekiel Elliott has yet to show the ability to stay out of off-field trouble and so if that persists and even if it doesn’t Scarbrough is going to be on this roster for a while. If Bo gets the keys to the big time car he won’t crash it because in this case, it’s a car that automatically drives itself and can’t crash. Bo would be running behind an offensive line of Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin and La’El Collins which is incredible. Definitely, someone you want to have just in case.
RB Ito Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Sure, the Falcons did say that Ito Smith was not Tevin Coleman insurance but let’s not kid ourselves…he is. The Falcons are not going to come out and say they do not plan on re-signing their stud RB. However, without saying anything they are telling you that they are preparing for the future without Coleman. A lot of this move happened because he was the best available on their board and they did need to replace Terron Ward but you don’t pick a RB in the fourth round unless you have big plans for him. Smith was another one that shined at the Senior Bowl. He’s likely going to split carries with Devonta Freeman down the road so Ito is definitely worth a roster stash as a deeper sleeper.
RB Roc Thomas, Minnesota Vikings
It’s tough here because Roc Thomas joined a backfield that you would imagine is set at starter long-term with Dalvin Cook. However, Thomas has always shown his worth in the passing game and he proved that in preseason. Thomas had a pair of touchdowns earlier in preseason for over 100 yards and displayed the long speed to become a home run threat in the NFL. Thomas right now has to battle out players like Latavius Murray for reps but Thomas as a long-term option in the third-down change-of-pace role is something to bank on.
RB Ralph Webb, New England Patriots
The former Vanderbilt product has already broken out in some capacity during preseason for the Patriots. A couple of touchdowns will get you noticed. However, there is a cautionary tale here, remember Jonas Gray? He had four touchdowns in a game and then was never really heard from again. The same could be said for Mike Gillislee who looked unbelievable to start his campaign with the Patriots and now he’s out fighting for a roster spot. For the same token, Webb has produced and the Patriots seem to like him. The team did select Sony Michel in the back end of the first round but with their indecision to stick to one back the money should be on Webb to eventually become the James White that emerges “out of nowhere” so do not be surprised.
WR Marcell Ateman, Oakland Raiders
Ateman has monster size for the position and with Michael Crabtree moving onto the Baltimore Ravens and recently signed Jordy Nelson not getting any younger, Marcell Ateman has a chance to become a starter. He formed a wicked duo with fellow 2018 draft class member James Washington. Ateman is a big-time target at 6-foot-4 and over 200 pounds. A move to scoop him up may not pay dividends immediately but Ateman is likely a long-term option at WR because of his ability to really do it all.
WR Braxton Berrios, New England Patriots
At first one would think Braxton Berrios is just one of those college slot receivers that seemingly makes plays at will and flakes out in the NFL like Daniel Braverman or Connor Vernon. Berrios, however, fell into a perfect situation in New England. The Patriots have their top WR Julian Edelman facing a four-game suspension, they traded away star WR Brandin Cooks and they cut WR Kenny Britt. Berrios can fill the slot rule with ease and displayed some ability at the Senior Bowl. One issue with Berrios is his judgment. He wants every pass, every play and will often times sacrifice his body to make the big catch. It’s worrisome at his small size if he will be able to continue to play with such reckless abandonment.
WR Deontay Burnett, Tennessee Titans
The former USC star is one of the youngest wideouts in this class. Burnett is a silky smooth runner with the ability to stretch the field at will. One would have to imagine Burnett is already fourth or fifth receiver on the roster. He has a chance to be a long-term stud in the slot or the outside for the Titans. With the big-play ability of Burnett and how much overall potential he has left, it’s a no-brainer to roster Burnett in deeper leagues.
WR Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
The former Texas Tech speedster has had some setbacks early on in his young career but Keke Coutee is likely to start alongside the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller with QB Deshaun Watson throwing him the football. Coutee that this point would have the arrow pointing down due to the fact he has yet to suit up but long-term in a deep league that doesn’t matter. Roster him.
WR Daurice Fountain, Indianapolis Colts
The East-West Shrine Game standout Daurice Fountain is someone that can really find himself logging a lot of playing time this season and beyond. With the injury to Deon Cain, Fountain’s opportunities just increased and his experience will be much larger this season. Fountain has adequate size for the position and runs fairly well as a route runner. Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett are the QB’s, both like to go deep down the field and Fountain is going to be someone the Colts use.
WR KhaDarel Hodge, Los Angeles Rams
This is perhaps the biggest wild card of them all and it really shouldn’t be. The Prairie View A&M product has turned heads since joining the Los Angeles Rams. He’s looked like the best preaseason wideout on the Rams roster and has all of the sudden made the WR room an uncertain controversy in trying to decide who to keep. KhaDarel Hodge is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues for the simple reason that he could be a player on the Rams and shoot himself to fourth on the depth chart or he could be claimed by another team and actually have an opportunity to start or at least start down the road.
WR Richie James, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco took the YAC king near the end of the draft out of Middle Tennessee State, Richie James. James may have been an unclear option for the 49ers but as people are starting to notice James is here to stay and solidify himself as a useful weapon for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The Niners do have Trent Taylor, Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon but it appears Garcon is nearing the end of his career and so James, Goodwin and Taylor seem like the long-term solution.
WR Jaleel Scott, Baltimore Ravens
The big 6-foot-6 wideout from New Mexico State has had an intriguing camp with the Baltimore Ravens. Jaleel Scott’s overall size is freakish but teams do not like his lack of speed which is to be expected. The way it should be seen is, you have a talented big receiver that can use his size to box out his defenders in the secondary. He might be extremely raw as an overall receiver but he should be able to force opportunities based on his size and how he uses that size to play the ball.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay Packers
ESB remains entirely likely to become a superstar with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the football. He has it all as far as massive size, awareness, vision, route running and speed. St. Brown could have stayed in college but came out and so he fell further than he anticipated. The Packers picked Missouri WR J’Mon Moore first but ESB seems to be the one with the highest upside. St. Brown has reportedly caught everything in camp and seems to be on the fast track to win the third receiver job. Even if it’s this year or not Davante Adams is signed and Randall Cobb is figured to be traded or moved on from in some capacity sooner than later.
WR Trent Sherfield, Arizona Cardinals
The UDFA out of Vanderbilt has been putting on an impressive display this camp season and the coaches are noticing. It’s hard when you spent a second-round pick on Christian Kirk and previously spent a third-round pick on Chad Williams. Sherfield is definitely someone that will have to be monitored. With John Brown, Michael Floyd and likely Larry Fitzgerald leaving, the Cardinals will need weapons to emerge and Sherfield hopes to end up as one.
WR Ryan Switzer, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers just swung a deal to bring in Ryan Switzer, the former UNC slot receiver and return specialist onto his third team in his young career. Pittsburgh gets their slot guy and return man which will open up even more opportunities. If the Steelers ran a more conservative offensive approach Switzer may not have as much value but Ben Roethlisberger likes to spread the ball around and one can figure with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
WR Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The former Penn University star has the size and the speed to make it in the NFL but he’s also very intelligent and a solid route runner. He was a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster but he did stand out during the week of the practices. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being loaded at the position with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, Justin Watson appears more as a long-term beneficiary in this offense. He can play out wide or in the slot and will be a guy to definitely roster in the later rounds.
TE Jordan Akins, Houston Texans
The people that don’t understand the hype for Jordan Akins either didn’t watch his film at UCF, Senior Bowl practice or still think former Houston Texans TE C.J. Fiedorowicz is still on the roster. Fiedorowicz retired due to concussions and it’s clear that Stephen Anderson has fallen a bit on the depth chart as Akins is now listed as the number two guy behind only Ryan Griffin. Akins is already 26 years old and has much more big-play ability than Griffin. Expect Deshaun Watson to force Akins into one of the most under-the-radar steals of this draft. He’s a long-term help to your roster but he’s someone that will likely end up finishing near the top 10 in fantasy points, if not inside the top 10.
TE Chris Herndon IV, New York Jets
The Jets surprisingly lost resurgent TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins to the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. That has since opened the door to draft Miami TE Chris Herndon IV. It has also opened the door for Jordan Leggett, the former Clemson starting TE but overall you have to like the upside and the long-term ability of Herndon over Leggett. For one, Herndon has looked better than Leggett, for another Herndon is a higher pick than Leggett was and for the last portion of all of this, Herndon is expected to be named the starter. Now, factor in the potential of Sam Darnold starting opening day and you have a rookie QB that is going to lean heavily on his security blanket aka his tight end which would be Herndon. Factor in the fact they both have developed chemistry in coming out of the same draft class and you have a lot of optimism Herndon could be a key contributor for the Jets through this year and beyond.
TE Ian Thomas, Carolina Panthers
Besides the obvious talent that the former Indiana Hoosier possesses it was a little uncertain coming in if someone who was considered a tad raw would be able to compete for a role right away. The fourth-round pick is not only competing, he’s turning heads and has been doing it all off-season alongside fellow draft class member, first-round selection D.J. Moore. Ian Thomas is in a great spot being behind Greg Olsen who is the definition of a pro’s pro. Thomas is going to learn under Olsen and with Olsen on the back nine of his career, Thomas will be able to swoop right in and become the go-to TE for Carolina. Factor in the fact that Cam Newton and Thomas already have developed some serious chemistry in the off-season and you have a long-term dynasty league option at TE just like the others previously mentioned.
Anyone we missed? Let us know down below! Who will you be adding to your roster this season?