- It's fantasy football draft season, which means everyone is looking for sleepers.
Dr. Roto won the 2011 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Newcomer of the Year award. Since then, he’s won multiple Online Championship leagues hosted by PlayFFWC.com, including his 2017 second-place overall finish, netting him over $5,000 that season. Doc has been a SiriusXM Radio host for many years and can be found on the FNTSY Radio Network five days a week.
Shawn Childs has over $300K in lifetime career earnings in high-stakes contests against the top players in the fantasy world at the Fantasy Football World Championships powered by FullTime Fantasy.
Every fantasy football owner tries to "hit" on a sleeper at the end of his or her draft. There is no greater feeling than finding a late-round player who is so good that he leads your team to a fantasy football championship. My sleeper pick two years ago was Zach Ertz. Last year, my sleeper pick was Patrick Mahomes. Ertz and Mahomes well exceeded expectations and draft value. In both years, I rode them to multiple championships.
Listed below are a few sleepers who might just be difference makers in 2019, along with their Advanced ADP, a tool from FulltimeFantasy.com, explained here.
Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills (ADP 203)
Accuracy issues might plague Allen throughout his career, but he looked rather impressive as a rookie. Not only did Allen throw for over 2,000 yards, he rushed for another 631 and 8 TDs. Those rushing numbers set him apart from most of his competitors. Due to his rushing ability, his floor every week is high, and his ceiling is even higher. The Bills dramatically changed their receiving corps in the offseason, giving Allen more weapons than he had previously. John Brown is the new deep threat, and Cole Beasley will be Allen’s go-to guy in the slot. Add Zay Jones and LeSean McCoy to the mix and Allen has a multitude of weapons surrounding him with talent. The best part about Allen is that he is being drafted around Round 16, making him an outstanding QB2 capable of producing QB1 numbers. —Dr. Roto
Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears (ADP 176)
Trubisky has the tools and explosiveness to produce multiple impact games in 2019. Last year in the daily games on DraftKings and FanDuel, Trubisky helped three owners win a million-dollar check. In my early projections, which I’ll update as we get closer to the season, Trubisky grades out as the third-ranked QB, while he’s ranked around 15 in the high-stakes market. He’s a great value player with his downside being the Bears’ run game when Chicago plays from the lead with their defense shutting down their opponents. —Shawn Childs
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (ADP 207)
Based on receiving options, Cousins should be more respected in 2019 in the high-stakes draft. The Vikings have two wide receivers that will be drafted in the second and third rounds in fantasy leagues. They have an upside running back with pass-catching ability plus a steady tight end and a second tight end that should make some big plays. Last year Cousins ranked ninth at the QB position, but he’s being drafted as the 17th QB in 2019. I expect growth in his second year in Minnesota, which will be helped by a healthy Dalvin Cook. —Shawn Childs
Damien Harris, New England Patriots (ADP 110)
The pathway to playing time looks somewhat dim for Harris, but that is precisely what makes him intriguing as a sleeper. Fantasy owners will flock to Sony Michel and James White, but Harris is the perfect blend of runner/receiver that the Patriots have been lacking. As good as Sony Michel looked last year, there still are numerous questions about his ability to stay healthy for the entire season. Fantasy owners would be wise to realize that Michel is a ticking time bomb and select Harris somewhere around Rounds 9-10. If Harris becomes the full-time starter, his ceiling is incredibly high. —Dr. Roto
Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills (ADP 133)
Singletary’s pathway to playing time is blocked by three different RBs—for now. LeSean McCoy is the Bills’ presumptive starter, but his play has fallen recently, and his contract is the largest of any of the team’s RBs. Frank Gore was signed this offseason, but he is inching closer to retirement. T.J. Yeldon was signed to add depth to the running back corps, but the Bills won’t slow Singletary’s development to give Yeldon snaps. Fantasy owners might not reap the rewards from Singletary from the get-go, but neither did Alvin Kamara owners a few seasons ago. However, Singletary’s ability should shine through at some point early on this season which will allow him to get a significant number of carries for his fantasy owners. —Dr. Roto
Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 113)
The disappointing season by Hyde has him priced as an afterthought in fantasy drafts in June and parts of July (13th round ADP in 12-team PPR leagues). That said, he has started to make a move closer to the ninth round in recent weeks. Hyde came into the NFL with a second-round pedigree while showing workhorse value in a couple of years for the 49ers, while playing in a lousy offense. Damien Williams looked great at the end of 2018, and the Chiefs’ coaching staff stated that Williams would be their lead back this season. If Williams stumbles out of the gate, Hyde has enough talent to be a RB2 in leagues, with upside if he can make more significant plays in both the run and pass game. —Shawn Childs
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (ADP 80)
In 2018, the oft-injured Coutee sat out much of the year, but when he played, he proved to be a dynamic weapon in the Texans’ offense. Coutee provided QB Deshaun Watson with a slot receiver who had enough quickness to beat any CB. With RB Lamar Miller slowing down, the Texans might opt to open up their offense and go with more of a short-range passing attack. This change should benefit Coutee greatly. Also helping Coutee is the fact that opposing defenses must account for WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. Coutee should be able to do a lot of damage in the middle of the field, and it would not surprise me to see him have 80-plus receptions this season. —Dr. Roto
Andy Isabella, Arizona Cardinals (ADP 138)
I am very excited to see how the Cardinals offense plays this season. Kyler Murray has many options to throw to, including second-round speedster Andy Isabella. Isabella has 4.31 speed, but moreover, he has terrific Wes Welker-type hands in the slot. He is a mismatch for most any opposing cornerback and has shown instant chemistry with Murray in training camp. The biggest negative with Isabella might also be his biggest positive. With Larry Fitzgerald, Christian, Kirk, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson, the Cardinals have five talented receivers who can also catch passes and run after the catch. However, all this talent around him will prevent opposing defenses from keying on him, giving him ample opportunities to make huge plays downfield. I would be ecstatic if I could draft Isabella as my WR5 in 2019. —Dr. Roto
D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (ADP 120)
Seattle is going to use Metcalf as a deep threat on the outside in his rookie season, while also trying to get him in space on slants and bubble screens to allow his speed and strength to make big plays. His presence can only be positive for the run game and the rebound value of Russell Wilson. I don’t expect a high catch total in 2019, but Metcalf will have shining moments this year. Possibly 55-plus catches for 800-plus yards and a chance at double-digit TDs if he develops a scoring rhythm with Wilson in the red zone. —Shawn Childs
Matt LaCosse, New England Patriots (ADP 179)
There is a void so big at tight end for the Patriots that it could be considered a black hole. Rob Gronkowski retired this past offseason and newly signed replacement, Ben Watson, will be out for the first four games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Enter LaCosse who had a surprisingly decent season playing for the Broncos in 2018. LaCosse was underutilized by Denver (mostly due to poor QB play), but he finished the season with nine receptions for 76 yards in his final two games. This year he gets to play with Tom Brady, who will find him when he is open. Watson’s absence allows LaCosse to win (and potentially hold) the job for himself. I think he’s up to the challenge and is one of the sneakier late-round TE selections. He either is the Week 1 starter or a fantasy dud you can quickly walk away from in a new direction. —Dr. Roto
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (ADP 178)
Hockenson will try to follow the footsteps of George Kittle who turned his minimal stats (42/604/10) over his junior and senior seasons at Iowa to produce an exciting start to his NFL career. Hockenson flashed more upside in his freshman (24/320/3) and sophomore (49/760/6) seasons at the same school. He’ll bring speed (4.7 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) to the TE position. Hockenson needs to get stronger to help become a better all-around blocker. His route running grades well, which will allow him a winning window over the short areas of the field, plus he has the wheels to test a defense deep. Hockenson looks explosive if given space with the ball in the open field, plus his hands will be assets. At the very least, he’ll be a two-down pass catcher early in his career with more playing time available if he can handle his responsibilities run blocking. —Shawn Childs
The TE position after the top options are off the boards will have opportunities for fantasy owners trying to decide between veteran aging players and young TEs with talent and opportunity. Hockenson should hit the ground running while being a value in the early draft season. With Kerryon Johnson improving and able to catch passes out of the backfield, Theo Riddick waived and signed by the Broncos, and Kenny Golladay expected to be double-teamed, Hockenson should have plenty of room over the middle of the field to catch passes from Stafford. Buy the steady expectations while understanding his potential breakout ability. —Dr. Roto
Noah Fant, Denver Broncos (ADP 221)
Fant is also an Iowa alumnus. In his sophomore season, he outplayed T.J. Hockenson when he caught 30 passes for 494 yards and 11 TDs. The next season, Fant improved his value in catches (39) and yards (519), but he saw his TD total (7) slide. Even with minimal growth, his talent can’t be overlooked due to too much depth at the TE position at his school in college. Fant has plenty of speed (4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL combine) with an edge in strength and short-area quickness.
Last year the Broncos’ TEs caught 68 of 105 targets for 649 yards and three TDs. Joe Flacco consistently looked for the tight end in the Ravens’ system that bodes well for Fant in his rookie season. Expect a possible 60/600/5 type season with more upside. Fantasy owners have him priced as a TE outside the top 20 in the early draft season in the high-stakes market. —Shawn Childs