Each year it becomes harder and harder to unearth deep sleepers
simply because of the seemingly endless flow of fantasy stats
and commentary from all over the internet. Yet, here we are attempting
to do just that.
This year, as you know, is going to be a very unique NFL season
and if you look at the increased likelihood of players missing
time due to Covid-19, you have to acknowledge the odds are better
for a guy labeled a “deep sleeper” to become a legit
fantasy contributor. Handcuffs, depth, the waiver wire and roster
management may be more important than ever, even more so than
the draft for the first time in a long time. Finding “sleepers”
at this point of the offseason may become more crucial than ever,
as you may not only get an advantage in your drafts, but also
on the waiver wire when scenarios begin to unravel during the
All this being said, the following 5 players are guys that I have
honed in on as very cheap bargains (12th round or later ADP) who
have the potential to make a significant impact on your roster at
some point this season. For reference, the ADP’s are for 12
team PPR leagues.
Armstead was gaining a bit of hype last year as a top handcuff
to Leonard Fournette, who was coming off a season where he missed
over half the games due to injury. In 2019 Fournette proved his
doubters wrong and managed to play in all but one game, rendering
Armstead nearly useless as anything more than a handcuff on your
This offseason the Jags declined Fournette’s 5th year option,
meaning 2020 will likely be his last season in Jacksonville. The
Jags have made it well known they are not in love with Fournette,
with trade rumors flying around and not much public support for
their former highly drafted RB.The only other RB on the depth chart
of concern is soon-to-be 30 year old Chris Thompson who hasn’t
played a full season since 2016 and has never had more than 68 rushing
attempts in any of his seven NFL seasons.
Armstead is a very interesting prospect as a potential future bell-cow
back at 5’11’’ 220 lbs with 4.45 speed, decent
hands, and an impressive college career. He did not get much of
a chance at playing time last season, but did flash, catching 5
balls in two separate games and making a handful of solid runs.
Behind a very young and up and coming offensive line who will return
all five starters, the Jags have the bones of a solid offense, with
speed on the outside to draw the defense away. Whoever is the main
ball carrier for this offense will put up great fantasy numbers,
as Fournette demonstrated last season, and I'd be willing to bet
Armstead will be the man in Jacksonville before 2020 ends.
Whether it be from injury, a trade, or even a straight benching,
Fournette is not long for Jacksonville and Armstead should be given
the first crack at filling his shoes. If you draft Fournette early,
taking Armstead late is a must, but even if you are not a Fournette
owner, Armstead is worth a speculation pick as Jacksonville looks
towards the future.
The only rookie on the list this year was drafted in the 4th round
out of UCLA after two very successful seasons as their lead back.
Kelley is an all-around running back who has power, speed, decent
hands and a downhill running style that could lead to a successful
NFL career. While not really having any elite traits, he probably
isn't capable of carrying an NFL offense on his own, but in a situation
like the Chargers have, he won't have to. The Chargers are looking
like a team that will rely on a great defense and be on the conservative
side on offense, with a revamped and improved offensive line and
veteran Tyrod Taylor starting out the season at QB.
Obviously Austin Ekeler will be the Chargers primary back this season,
but there are nearly 14 vacated runs per game gone with the departure
of Melvin Gordon to Denver. It is unlikely Ekeler will take many
of those, as he is a smaller back (5’10’’, 200lbs)
and a guy that they love to flex out to the slot in a receiving
role as well.
While Kelley will not have a ton of PPR upside as long as Ekeler
stays healthy, I think the Chargers will be among the league leaders
in rushing attempts and I think Kelley will be a big recipient of
that workload. With a mobile QB in Taylor, I think anyone rushing
the ball for the Chargers is going to find success, and efficiency
plus volume is going to mean lots of fantasy points. While you never
want to bet on injury, Kelley’s stock would obviously skyrocket
if Ekeler missed any time and that’s certainly not out of
the question, as Ekeler has never carried a big load for a full
While it is best to treat Kelley as simply a handcuff for drafting
purposes, don’t be surprised if he provides standalone RB3/Flex
consideration within the first few weeks of the season. For Ekeler
owners and zero-RB drafters, Kelley is a fabulous value where
he is being drafted as an RB flying under the radar that could
provide instant dividends.
A quick look at Steven Sims profile would have most fantasy owners
quickly dismissing him. Sims is small (5’9’’,
185lbs), with small hands, zero NFL draft capital, and below average
speed and athleticism for his size (4.61-40). While Sims certainly
does not possess the ideal measurables to be anywhere near an elite
NFL wide receiver, there is often more to the story than what you
see on paper.
Watching Sims play, you get an immediate sense of him having a lot
of “juice”, as he bursts off the line and reaches top
speed rapidly. Sims is shifty and good at finding holes in the defense
and turning upfield quickly when he gets the ball. In short, he
has the requisite skill set to be a very productive NFL slot receiver.
In a lot of ways he reminds me of Julian Edelman in that he doesn’t
look like much but the next thing you know he has 8 catches for
85 yards and a touchdown just by taking a bunch of “easy”
passes and running by the defense.
Sims was used as a runner (9/85/1), returner, and receiver (34/310/4)
last season and while these numbers don’t jump out immediately,
they must be taken in context to get the real picture. First, Sims
was an undrafted rookie, so the fact that he got on the field at
all was impressive. Second, Washington had a rookie QB (Haskins),
who looked overwhelmed at times, as many rookies do. Finally, Sims
came on strongest at the end of the season, catching 20 of his 34
balls and all 4 of his touchdowns in the season’s final four
With a full season now under his belt and one of the thinnest
receiving corps in the entire league, Sims is poised to enjoy
a potentially large target share in an offense that may have to
throw quite a bit. With Terry McLaurin the unquestioned number
one receiver, defenses may choose to let Sims dink and dunk his
way throughout the game, racking up catches and yards, padding
his stats in garbage time as well. Sims is currently going as
the 67th wide receiver off the board in PPR leagues, which is
exactly where he could thrive, making him an amazing value as
a player that could legitimately threaten 80+ receptions this
Very little from Sternberger’s 2019 rookie season screams
“breakout player for 2020” as he was basically non-existent
until the playoffs where he caught 3 balls for 15 yards and a touchdown.
As rookie tight end’s often do, Sternberger found it difficult
to get on the field, especially playing behind established veteran
In a draft class deeper than most in high-end tight end talent (T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, Irv Smith), Sternberger flew under the radar
last season but is actually an excellent prospect in his own right.
In his final season, at Texas A&M, Sternberger was a consensus
All-American and finished top ten in the SEC in receiving yards,
yards per reception, and receiving touchdowns. As a pass-catching
tight end, Sternberger runs smooth routes, has super soft hands
and excellent contested-catch ability. In a normal draft class Sternberger
may very well have been the first tight end drafted and had much
more hype, but this is why he will be such a good value now, especially
after doing nothing his rookie season.
In addition to being an excellent prospect overall, the main
reason I see Sternberger as a great sleeper this year is simply
the opportunity that the Packers passing attack presents. Green
Bay, much to the displeasure and surprise of their fans, did nothing
to address their lack of weapons this offseason, other than letting
an aging Graham walk away. Behind Davante
Adams, the Packers have no proven targets that have shown
any sort of consistency, so there are definitely targets up for
grab in this offense.
While the tight end position did not produce much last year for
the Packers, I attribute most of that to Graham being ineffective
and hobbled, clearly showing signs of a late-career crash. Previous
years have been much more kind to Packers’ tight ends, even
just the year before (2018), when Graham went 55/636/2, and a
few years before that when Richard Rodgers went 58/510/8 on a
team with both Adams and Randall Cobb.
I would venture to say Sternberger is the most talented tight
end the Packers have had in quite some time, and on a team desperate
for playmakers, this could very well be the year he makes his
mark. Graham’s 2018 season is a very realistic benchmark
for Sternberger this season, with a likely 3-4 touchdown increase.
These numbers should place Sternberger just high enough to be
a weekly starter at the position despite being drafted nowhere
near the top 15 at the position. When others in your draft say
“Who?”, you’ll be laughing all the way to the
fantasy tight end bank.
In such a wacky, unprecedented year I wanted to really dive deep
and have fun with a prediction here, and Walker is one of my SUPER
DEEP favorites this season. For those of you that are not familiar
with Walker, he is most known as an XFL standout who went 5-0, leading
the league in passing yards and touchdowns, before the season was
Walker is a dual threat QB with good mobility, vision, and poise
with the ability to make improvisational throws from all sorts of
angles. While Walker does not possess traditional QB size at 6’0’’,
215 pounds, he shows the ability to scramble around enough to extend
plays and avoid big hits.
In Carolina, Walker will be reunited with his college coach, Matt
Rhule, who together rebuilt the Temple football program from bottom
dwellers to a respectable program by the time Walker and Rhule moved
on. While Teddy Bridgewater will be the unquestioned starter going
into the season, Walker should be the number 2 right away, especially
after moving Kyle Allen to Washington earlier this offseason.
Injury and/or COVID risk potential to Bridgewater aside, there are
other paths that could end with Walker as the starter during this
season. First and foremost, the Panthers have a new head coach,
new offensive coordinator, and new QB, all with a very limited offseason/practice
time. While Bridgewater has had some moments of looking like a solid
player, he has started just 34 games in a six-year career with just
one year starting all 16 games. In that lone year Bridgewater didn’t
exactly put up big numbers, throwing just 14 touchdowns along with
The point is, are we sure Bridgewater is even good? To me this situation
is eerily similar to last year in Jacksonville where Nick Foles
came in as a high-priced but mostly unproven veteran and was outplayed
by a little-known rookie in Gardner Minshew. I believe it is very
likely the Panthers do not win many games thanks to their awful
defense and new faces on offense (and coaching) and when teams are
not winning, right or wrong, much of the blame goes to the QB. Unless
Bridgewater is lighting it up I believe there will be a push for
Walker to start games sooner than later and with the incredible
weapons the Panthers have on offense, the likely game script of
having to play from behind, and the familiarity with the head coach
all added to Walker’s dual threat ability, makes him a valuable
weapon for fantasy purposes.
Are you drafting Walker in anything but the deepest 2 QB leagues?
Of course not, but keep tabs on the Panthers the first few weeks
and if things start to go South for Teddy and the team’s
record is bad, be prepared to snatch up Walker before your league
mates do, as he just might be the late-season savior your fantasy