Last Call for Sleepers | Draft Sharks

DS Sleepers

Last Call for Sleepers

By Kevin English and Jared Smola 8:08am EDT 8/29/17

We highlighted 13 Fantasy Football Sleepers about a week ago. But 1 week — in August— is an eternity in NFL time. So, we’ve got 7 more sleepers that you need to know about as we enter the homestretch of draft season.

Note: Each of these guys are going in the double digit rounds of drafts, per My Fantasy League ADP.

Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

Despite only 4 QBs attempting more passes, Wentz ranked 22nd in fantasy points last year.

It’s tough to harshly grade a rookie from North Dakota State, though — especially one who fractured his ribs last August and was thrust into a starting job following the trade of Sam Bradford.

2017 has been a complete 180. Healthy and experienced, Wentz now works with a true #1 WR in Alshon Jeffery. The Eagles added deep threats in veteran Torrey Smith and UNC rookie Mack Hollins.

We can’t forget about Zach Ertz, either. Wentz recently discussed his relationship with the big TE, saying the two have a “natural connection that people don’t always see,” per CSN Philly.

The chemistry certainly showed on the stat sheet, as Ertz caught 73.5% of his 2016 targets. And that was without much relief from the WRs.

Wentz passed the test in Week 3 of this preseason, connecting with Zach Ertz multiple times and hitting Jeffery and Smith for scores. In total, he finished 6-of-10 for 129 yards vs. Miami — adding 1 pick on a tipped ball at the line. The positives were in line with Wentz’s play in training camp, plus Week 1 and Week 2 of the preseason.

Given Philly’s still-unsettled backfield, the 24-year-old looks poised for another season with ~600 attempts. Combine that high-end volume with an upgraded supporting cast and you have a clear QB1 candidate.

DeShone Kizer, QB, Browns

A rookie QB? On the Browns?

Times have certainly changed.

Announced the starter on August 27, Kizer wasn’t spectacular this preseason. He posted 7.16 yards per attempt, a 52% completion rate and 1 TD vs. 1 INT.

But remember we’re talking sleepers here, and of course a young passer will have some flaws. Yet despite them, HC Hue Jackson handed Kizer the reins right away.

The Notre Dame standout inherits a sneaky-deep offense with Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman at the forefront. He’s also granted 1 of the league’s best O-lines, headlined by LT Joe Thomas.

Rushing ability provides another avenue to fantasy relevance. Kizer tallied 47 rushing yards and 1 score on 8 preseason attempts. This play provides a glimpse of his athleticism (although his sliding skills remain a work in progress).

Kizer flashed advanced passing talent as well, particularly with this pocket-climbing dime to Coleman.

With game flow likely to boost Kizer’s volume, the rookie makes for an intriguing pick in 2-QB or best-ball formats.

Shane Vereen, RB, Giants

If non-PPR is your thing, feel free to skip ahead. With a career-high of 96 carries (New England, 2014), Vereen won’t provide much assistance.

But in PPR settings, this former Pat has proven capable of providing a jolt. In 2015 — his first year with the Giants — Vereen posted 59 grabs in 16 games. He averaged a strong 8.4 yards per catch and scored 4 times.

His 2016 was ruined by a twice-torn biceps, but the good news is he’s back to full health now. The 28-year-old returns as the club’s primary receiving threat. Meanwhile, Paul Perkins has yet to prove he’s a worthy workhorse.

What’s also promising is a further emphasis on short throws, as ESPN’s Jordan Raanan described the Giants offense as “checkdown central” at training camp. While Vereen caught just 1 ball this preseason, the Giants have nothing to gain by giving him extended run.

Ultimately, quick throws from Eli Manning make a lot of sense — he’ll drop back behind a still- suspect O-line.

Now, Vereen’s unlikely to become a league-winning asset, not with the Giants boasting Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. But the Giants have ranked 12th and 10th in pass rate over the last 2 seasons, a number that could rise if the run game remains shaky.

Essentially free in fantasy drafts with an ADP of Round 19, Vereen’s a no-risk dart throw in PPR.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears

Cohen looked like a fun dynasty stash back in the spring. A 5’6, 179-pounder with a little Darren Sproles to his game.

But over the last month, Cohen as emerged as a redraft sleeper. A strong training camp has seemingly vaulted him to #2 on Chicago’s depth chart.

With Jordan Howard sidelined for the 2nd preseason game, Cohen drew the start and ripped off 77 yards on 11 carries. Howard returned to his perch for exhibition #3, but Cohen drew a carry on the very 1st possession of the game.

The rookie won’t challenge for Howard’s starting job, but he could take on a significant change-of-pace role — especially in the passing game. Cohen racked up 98 catches over 4 seasons at North Carolina A&T, including 37 in 2016. Howard, meanwhile, finished his college career with just 24 catches and tallied a mediocre 29 last year.

And while a Howard injury wouldn’t turn Cohen into a 20-carry workhorse, he’d be a good bet to see enough action to be a weekly fantasy starter.

Kevin White, WR, Bears

White’s less of a sleeper following Cameron Meredith’s season-ending injury. But he’s worth highlighting for the upcoming boost in volume.

Meredith leaves 97 targets (14 games) behind from 2016. Chicago added Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz in free agency, but Wright’s the only other Bears WR we’d consider drafting.

Quite simply, none of the other WRs can match White’s raw athleticism. At the 2015 Combine, he blazed a 4.35 forty-time at 6’3, 215 pounds. He proved impressive all around, leading to a SPARQ (athleticism) score in the 98th percentile.

The question is whether White can perform like he did at West Virginia, when he erupted for 109-1,447-10 in 2014. He missed all of his rookie year following a stress fracture in his left leg. Then, in 2016, White went down in Week 4 with a fractured left tibia and a sprained ankle.

So, we’ve seen less than 4 full games from him thus far.

Fortunately, he’s stayed setback-free over the summer. Even if he’s not the player we saw pre-injury, the upside to see 120+ targets puts him in a great spot to at least reach WR4 value.

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns

Coleman’s progress hinges largely on the development of DeShone Kizer. So far, the duo seems to have a budding rapport.

Just check out these highlights from Week 3 of the preseason: a diving grab, a slant in traffic, a full-extension sideline grab and a beautiful back-shoulder pitch and catch. Kizer also showed a willingness to give Coleman shots to make plays deep downfield.

And why not? Beyond Kenny Britt and Duke Johnson, this unit lacks proven targets. Coleman clearly has that upside as a 5’11 speedster who averaged 17.4 yards per catch at Baylor. He showed elite explosion and burst at the Combine with a 40.5-inch vertical and a 129-inch broad jump.

Now healthy entering his 2nd pro season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coleman enter high-end WR3 range.

Marvin Jones, WR, Lions

Let’s revisit how dominant Jones was early last season.

Over the first 7 weeks, he ranked 8th in PPR points. He notched outings with 85, 94, 118 and 205 yards, making the type of impact the team hoped after handing him a 5-year, $40 million deal.

Of course, he declined in the 2nd half, exceeding 67 yards just once over his final 9 games (in Week 17, no less). He didn’t score once over that stretch.

But it’s been an offseason full of optimism for Jones, who’s shifted his momentum into preseason games with 8 grabs, 106 yards and 2 TDs. Rookie Kenny Golladay once posed a threat to Jones’ role, though he’s cooled of late and doesn’t project as an instant asset. Beat writer Dave Birkett actually expects an emphasis on 2-TE sets.

We know that position is headlined by Eric Ebron, a DS favorite because of his ability to pose mismatches. While he could limit Jones’ target ceiling, injury concerns point to another possibility.

Regardless, Matt Stafford’s efficient ways bode well for everyone in Detroit. He’s posted the 2 best completion rates of his career since the start of 2015 (67.2% and 65.3%). OC Jim Bob Cooter deserves credit as the offensive architect for most of that stretch.

If Jones, a big-play threat, can hover around the 100-target mark, he’ll stand a great shot at returning value in Round 10.

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