You’ve probably already read our offensive sleepers article that also hit the site today, so now I’ll tell you a secret …
There are no offensive sleepers. Not really. We all know those guys. Some dude on some fantasy football site/podcast/Twitter feed is championing him somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty of value in Jared’s list. But if you really want players who will surprise your league mates, leaving them saying “where the hell did you find that guy?” by November, then this is your article.
You still can’t find meaningful ADP data on IDPs. And even if you check the “expert” consensus rankings over on Fantasy Pros, you’ll find wide variation on a number of players.
I’m surprised every year when I check that list to find players I like difficult to locate or even left out of the rankings altogether.
So I used that set of rankings to help create this list of 15 sleepers. We don’t have every 1 of these guys projected way ahead of where the rest of the industry does. That’s true of some, but others just present upside well beyond where we rank them. They might be the players you reach for as fantasy backups after you’ve locked down reliable starters.
Leonard Williams, DE, Jets
When you post 3 sacks as a rookie, you’re either prime sleeper material the following year or a potential bust. Williams looks like the former.
First of all, he performed better as a pass rusher than his sack total would indicate. Williams tallied 21 total QB hits, which tied for 13th in the league. He might never be a big sack guy, but we’d bet on Williams converting more of those into sacks in year 2. He posted 8, 5 and 7 sacks in his 3 seasons at USC, with at least 9.5 tackles for loss each year (and 2 campaigns of 12.5 or more).
Any improvement in his sack numbers will join already-stellar run play. Williams tallied 56 total tackles in run defense alone last year, which tied for 5th among all linemen.
The 2nd-year man has reportedly looked dominant in camp so far, while rumors have the Jets questioning Sheldon Richardson’s future with the team.
Vinny Curry, DE, Eagles
Remember 2 years ago when many expected the Vikings to sign DE Michael Johnson from Cincinnati in free agency, but they opted instead to pay Everson Griffen -- who had spent his 1st 4 seasons with them as a part-timer?
That’s Curry with these Eagles, who made him the 5th highest-paid 4-3 DE in the league this offseason -- the same offseason in which they threw a $100 million contract at DT Fletcher Cox.
Curry actually enters this season -- his 5th -- more accomplished than Griffen in 2014. Curry’s 2 years removed from a 9-sack performance. Last year, he ranked 3rd on the team with 15 QB hits despite ranking 16th in defensive snaps played (35.3%).
Curry’s now set to start under DC Jim Schwartz, whose “wide 9” approach sets the DEs outside the OTs and tells them to attack the QB. Philly’s solid rotation at the position will also help to keep Curry fresh in his 1st turn as a full-time starter.
With that 9-sack season behind him, it’s not hard to see double-digit sack potential for the 28-year-old -- especially starting next to the pocket collapser that is Cox.