Fantasy football is just around the corner with the first week of the NFL coming next week, and by now, everyone’s either drafted or will be soon. That makes this a time to look for deep sleepers in your fantasy league, guys who are going way too late in the draft or who got looked over all together.
Through the last few rounds of a fantasy draft, things can get messy. Players from every of all types and positions are coming off the board as people frantically try to fill out and balance their roster. There are bound to be a few guys lost in the shuffle who just don’t have as much hype as they might deserve. This is your time to pounce on an unknown commodity rather than playing it safe and getting someone mediocre.
Late Round Sleeper Picks
To qualify for this group, players had to be drafted in the seventh round or later, as ranked by ESPN’s tracking of their live draft trends. These are all guys who I think are worth a reach or who could be a great value at the spot they’re being drafted.
Christian Kirk – Jaguars’ WR
Last year, Kirk had nearly 1000 yards while being in an offense that spreads the ball around to a number of talented receivers in Arizona. Now, he comes to Jacksonville, where there are no dominant receivers and he looks to be their most talented. With the big-money contract, he signed last year and sophomore Trevor Lawrence getting to run in an offense run by someone other than Urban Myer, Kirk should see many more targets and touchdowns as well. Currently averaging out as a tenth-round pick, Kirk has solid WR2 potential, if not more.
Rashaad Penny – Seahawks’ RB
Averaging out as the best fantasy running back after week 13 of the season in 2021, Penny emerged and then was quickly buried in perception again by the Seahawks drafting a rookie in the second round. Still, Penny boomed given the chance, and once he was healthy. However, given that the Seahawks favor the run, as they always do, that he ended the season with a work-horse amount of carries, and that rookie Kenneth Walker is coming off of hernia surgery — there’s plenty of hope to justify you taking Penny long before the 12th round where he’s currently being taken. Consider him for the 8-12th rounds depending on your league and as an RB2 with upside until Walker proves he should have more of the Seahawks’ carries.
James Robinson – Jaguars’ RB
Another Jaguar on the list, Robinson is also being overlooked because of a younger running back and as he recovers from an Achilles tear. However, new coach Doug Pederson called Robinson a three-down-back at the end of May and Trevor Lawrence very publicly expressed his dismay with not having Robinson on the field more last year. Even with the historically explosive Travis Etienne chomping at his injured heals, Robinson has produced at too high a level to not at least warrant a split of the backfield carries when he returns. It’s also speculated that in a split backfield, Robinson would take goal line carries. While we can see not going much higher than the 10th round, he’s currently going in the 13th round on average. For someone who could turn into a reliable flex or RB2 at some point in the season, that should be an easy flier to take.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
The highest ranked player on this list, Brown isn’t being treated as the explosive, high-volume wide receiver he was over the last six games of last season. Over those six games, Brown had double-digit targets in each game to go with five touchdowns. While you could point to the possibility of regression for a downturn, you could also argue that as a rookie last season, that’s not as likely, and there appears to have been a clear decision made going into last December’s game against the Vikings to start making Brown a focal point of the offense. Not only that, but the team had all three of their wins last season during that stretch. If the Lions are going to make the improvement everyone thinks they will this year, then it will be with Amon-Ra St. Brown as at least a fringe WR1 in fantasy.
Among a group of young veterans and Brown, Robert Woods is the clear elder statesman. With Woods coming off an injury, turning 30, and being replaced by the Super Bowl winners, his stock is predictably down. However, this seems to forget about all the other factors with his new team — the Titans. A competitive-if-at-times-anemic offense lives in Tennessee, and it is heavily reliant on the run. Well, like a three-point shooter opens up space for the great forwards of the NBA, Robert Woods can do the same for Derrick Henry, and he’s the most reliable option to do so, with the second Titans’ wide receiver being a rookie. Given his play style, he’s an even better option for that than A.J. Brown was. Expect Woods to be back to his 100+ targets and around 1,000 yards this season that he enjoyed during his first three seasons in Los Angeles.
Win Your League Late in the Draft With These Sleepers
Every year, people are very concerned about the top-end guys and perception takes over so that valuable players get lost in the fantasy shuffle. If you want to win your league this year, find value in the back end of the draft. These few players are just a start.
Look for part II of this article tomorrow! Click here to access it on September 3, 2022 or later.