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“There are no such thing as sleepers!”
The old man yelled from the street corner, waving a spliff in my face. A sign around his neck read: “The End is Nigh. Draft Nyheim Hines.”
You will have heard of every player on this fantasy football sleepers list. I’m good at yelling, and I can tell you, I’ll yell really loudly for all these guys. To get here, I used Fantasy Football Calculator 12-team PPR scoring to generate ADPs (Average Draft Positions) to rate these fantasy football sleepers.
And so, here are actionable sleepers for fantasy football season. The top 30—and where to target them.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
I know all the numbers were the result of a couple of plays. But when it was happening it was as if it would last forever. Like love. Or war. And it was beautiful in all its wonder and folly. And we have a chance to grab it again, at about the same price as last year, and you’re saying you won’t do it? The more important question I must ask you is, “Why do you hate yourself?”
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The experts want high ceilings. This shit is a mansion without a roof.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Settled into the offense. Still only 25. L.A. weed is amazing. There’s too much to like and not enough time to explain it. If you don’t like him, think of it this way: Kenny Golladay, going in about the same range, has a catch rate of 58%, which is the same percentage I received on several French papers in college. All Fs.
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O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I’m not saying it’s wrong to get a WR-TE duo. I just don’t do it that often. I could see how you might, which would make Howard’s teammate Chris Godwin a prized investment a round or so earlier. Both are primed for a staggering amount of work. But I’m not wishing upon Jameis Winston’s star, which is just a gaseous form of rotten crabs and interceptions—so just stick with Howard, the safest value in Tampa Bay’s new-look mystery offense and a check-down reception machine. Automatic.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears
What has changed from a year ago, when he caught 71-725-5? The supporting cast is a year older. A new RB in David Montgomery who checks all the right boxes would help his cause. Even if he only catches 60, this is a win.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
His ADP will almost certainly skyrocket if Melvin Gordon continues to sit out. He only caught 39 balls last year, but I’d pound the over on that this season. Both Lamar Miller, who has Duke Johnson breathing down his neck, or Kenyan Drake, who all coaches hate, are being taken before him. The world is an illogical place. Be a voice of reason.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
I can see the apprehension. But he’s fully healthy (hopefully). Theoretically, Mitch Trubisky should make a jump. But theories fizzle out all the time. Whatever happened to the theory of a static universe? No one talks about it anymore because it was busted. Yes, that’s right, the universe is expanding as we speak. Your existence is utterly fleeting and probably pointless. Now, with a clear head, ask yourself, do you think Robinson outperforms his ADP? You know the answer.
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Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
If the price holds, the first four rounds go as expected, and Penny falls, I’d grab Carson and Penny. But even without this option, Penny offers standalone value because Seattle ran on 53% of downs last season, the highest percentage in the NFL. (Green Bay ran just 33%, by comparison, for the league’s lowest). Also, this dude runs more violently than Pete Carroll chews gum.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Everyone on Twitter is in love with the guy. I’m on board, but only if this seventh-round ADP holds. With a rookie QB, David Johnson being perennially underwhelming, and a brand new offense, I’m approaching this with skepticism. I don’t even believe myself anymore.
Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans Saints
People are hesitant and his ADP has been stagnant. But the seventh round, for a tight end that has historically been startable, is a reasonable price. What a sentence. Wild times, people. Also, he’ll have Drew Brees throwing to him. If you want true, hardcore analysis, that’s a QB upgrade for him.
David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
If you waited on TE until the eighth round, this seems like a good place to dive in. He was slow out of the blocks and inconsistent last season, and there are lots of mouths to feed at this breakfast buffet, but I hear the Baker is dynamite. I hate it as much as you, but the puns will continue until morale improves.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
He got over 100 targets last year and now he’s getting an upgrade at QB (maybe). On an offense desperate for playmakers, Dede offers the best upside. Like Robinson, who was a former Jaguar himself, this could be a WR1 for zero risk.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
Let go. Enjoy the ride.
Jaylen Samuels, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Did you know he played tight end in college?
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams
This is like reaching in your pocket and finding 20 bucks. Go to the bar and have a beer. Leave the change to the bartender and tell him to buy a stranger a beer on you, keeping the remainder as a tip. The stranger who ends up drinking the beer? It’s Jared Goff. And guess what? He’s winking at you.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
At this point, I’d like my tight end position filled. But, as I’ve always told my wife, you could do much worse.
Kalen Ballage, RB, Miami Dolphins
You can talk yourself into almost anything this time of year.
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore are a combined age of 67. They are the old guy at Walmart in black shoes and knee-high white socks, glasses weighing down their mushroom nose, with the impatient line behind them waiting for them to finish telling the cashier a story about caterpillars.
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Say it with me: “His lack of passing volume does not matter.” He’s gonna get out of the pocket and it’s gonna be fun. Do you hate fun? Mark Ingram is a big get for this offense and should aid in Jackson’s early development. That almost felt like I knew what I was talking about.
Duke Johnson, RB, Houston Texans
With Keke Coutee ailing, wild card Will Fuller, and the perennial demise of Lamar Miller, this is shaping up to cost you a lot more very soon.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
New reports are saying both Zeke and Melvin will sign. But right now, this is theft that only John Dillinger or the IRS could appreciate.
Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers
On a per-touch basis last year, Breida was magnificent. Google it. I ain’t here to lie to you. I don’t have that kind of energy.
Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
The beat reporters are beside themselves. It reminds me of 2013 when I read a beat reporter gush about Julius Thomas. Dream big.
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
A 58-catch RB in the 13th? You’ll be happy to have him when the three backs you took in the first four rounds are hurt.
Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Zeke isn’t signed yet. That’s all you need to know.
Darwin Thompson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Damien Williams has a hammy problem and sat out until recently. Darwin is a lottery ticket, especially since Carlos Hyde is healthy. But this is a juicy situation nonetheless.
Randall Cobb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Cole Beasley’s 65 receptions are hanging there. If Cobb’s healthy, he’s better than Two Cole Beasleys, which sounds like the worst villain ever.
Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills
Much like Jackson, this lunatic wrangler gets out of the pocket and shit gets real in a hurry. I want a ticket to the fucking rodeo. And I wanna sit in the front row.
Malcolm Brown, RB, Los Angeles Rams
It’s almost like he’s been forgotten. I get the Darrell Henderson love. But every rookie in August is Gale Sayers. And don’t forget that play last year when Malcolm went and Philippe Petit’d his way into my heart.
Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
Maybe it’s finally time for the Jets to be good again. It costs you nothing to be kind. And it costs you even less to have hope.
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Ken Griggs is an author, literary snob, and beloved fantasy football Twitter dude. Follow him: @dexters_library