With the offseason upon us, we are going to have a lot of moving parts. There are plenty of big names on the free agent market. The upcoming draft is also loaded with strong offensive prospects. Joe Burrow is headed to Cincinnati, and then we have a ton of strong wide receivers ready to make an impact. With so much time ahead of us and moves to be made, I will revisit this article often to update based on moves and ADP. The term sleeper continues to linger into 2020, although with a smarter fantasy community, nobody is really a sleeper anymore. We want to identify later round targets who can exceed expectations, and there are quite a few names to look at. As always, you can find our fantasy football rankings updated throughout the week during the season.
Derrius Guice – RB – Washington Redskins
Derrius Guice has had a bad injury history since coming into the league, and that will certainly knock down his ADP. The positive for this injury is that he did not tear anything. He had a sprained MCL which ended his season over the last few weeks. Guice played just five games, rushing for 245 yards, and 5.8 yards per carry. He also flashed some big plays in the receiving game. I can understand why you would stay away, given he had an ACL tear and meniscus tear since being drafted. Guice has all the talent in the world, dating back to his days at LSU. He dominated at the college level, and a few games in 2019 he flashed that same burst. That was needed for me to feel comfortable at least taking another shot on him.
The hiring of Ron Rivera is also a plus for the Washington backfield, although they are going to need to invest in their offensive line heavily. Running backs under Rivera have had success even dating back to his Chargers days. While he has also been blessed with above average backs on his team, Guice is certainly capable of a big year if he can stay healthy. Chris Thompson is headed for free agency, and Adrian Peterson is under a team option that they should accept. Bryce Love missed the season due to injury, which would give them a third back. As long as everyone stays healthy, Guice should be in line for a solid workload with Peterson taking a backup role.
Justin Jackson – RB – Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon is an unrestricted free agent, and Austin Ekeler is a restricted free agent. There is a chance neither are on the Chargers next season, leaving a lot of touches up for grabs. Gordon seems to be the more likely of the two gone, and even if the Chargers bring back Ekeler, it would be a split role between him and Justin Jackson, barring anyone else coming in. Los Angeles was perfectly satisfied with Ekeler and Jackson in 2019, not biting on Gordon’s holdout. Jackson will be 25 next season and we have only seen 79 rushing attempts over the first two seasons since being drafted. He has rushed for 406 yards on 79 carries, with 5.1 yards per carry. He has also caught 24 of 30 targets for 157 yards.
Jackson isn’t going to flash breakaway speed, but has good agility and burst. He was a workhorse back in college at Northwestern, where he rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his four years there, and piled on 41 touchdowns. I love his potential even with a split workload behind an offense that should get back to running a bit more in 2020. A poor defense and a banged up offensive line contributed to that.
Jamaal Williams – RB – Green Bay Packers
The Packers offense was a bit pedestrian this season given the lack of options, and they relied quite a bit on the running backs in the passing game. Jamaal Williams got a lot of praise from the Packers this season, and I would expect the similar role. In addition to being a great handcuff, he had some standalone value. Williams played 14 games this season, putting up 146 PPR points, which was RB35 on the year. Green Bay certainly needs to upgrade their offensive weapons for the last few years of Aaron Rodgers. Williams serves better in PPR formats, with 91 receptions over the last three seasons and seven receiving touchdowns. He is an average runner, but is utilized well in this system.
Williams is a name who could end up seeing decreased volume next season if the Packers upgrade their tight end and add a viable wide receiver. Between him and Allen Lazard below, we are banking on them leaning on these names more in the future as they address other needs. The Packers also boasted one of the better offensive lines for the rushing attack, which is an overlooked aspect of fantasy success for running backs.
Preston Williams – WR – Miami Dolphins
If you scroll through my 2019 waiver wire articles, Preston Williams is in a majority of them. He did not get enough recognition, and when he finally did, he goes down with a season ending injury. Any time we are are thinking of drafting a player coming off a major knee surgery there is some risk, but towards the end of your fantasy drafts you can start taking that risk. Williams didn’t come into the league as a tremendous athlete. He posted below average combine numbers, and eventually went undrafted. Williams played two years at Tennessee before transferring to Colorado State where he saw more playing time. He finished with a 96-1345-14 before heading into the draft. Williams was largely looked at as a big red zone target, sitting at 6’5 and 218lb.
Williams will be just 23 years old heading into next season, and this is going to be a big offseason for the Dolphins, who are loaded with draft picks. Davante Parker finally emerged in a fully healthy season and clicked with Ryan Fitzpatrick. While they can still use more help offensively, Williams and Parker should emerge as the main target contenders next season. Williams saw 60 targets in eight games this season, posting a 32-428-3 line. Most of his success came with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, which was when the offense took off anyway. As long as he returns in full health, he should be back in the mix next year.
Andy Isabella – WR – Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals will be in the market for a big time wide receiver from this draft, as we are likely looking at Larry Fitzgerald retiring or at least moving on from the Cardinals. Fitzgerald is coming off of a 109 target season, and would unleash a ton of targets to be had for the remaining wideouts. Christian Kirk is going to get a major bump this next season, but Andy Isabella is a name to keep an eye on. He is an absolute burner, and we saw that during the home meeting against San Francisco where he had an 88-yard strike against one of the top defenses in the league. The Cardinals had a very up and down defense, which was to be expected. Looking into next year, there could be a lot of weapons at Kyler Murray’s disposal, and Isabella should be one of them.
Isabella played four years in college, finishing his last two seasons over 1,000 yards. He had 3,526 yards in his four year career, although his freshman year he didn’t see the field much. Isabella finished with 32 total touchdowns over the final three seasons, and Arizona was praised for grabbing him in the draft. His speed makes him a strong threat, but he also caught 102 balls in his senior season.
Hunter Renfrow – WR – Las Vegas Raiders
The Oakland Raiders will move on down to Las Vegas next year, although I am not expecting the offense to bring the same flair. Derek Carr and company had a dink and dunk offense, which was due to Carr’s presence, but a lack of options around him. Hunter Renfrow ended up with 71 targets in 13 games, finishing the season with a 49-605-4 line. In PPR formats, which is where his value lies, he finished as WR54 with 133.5 fantasy points. This ended up being more than Brandin Cooks and JuJu Smith-Schuster. With only Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams as the primary receiving options, Oakland will likely look to the draft to add another, but Renfrow should continue to benefit from Carr under center.
Renfrow battled some injuries this season, missing four weeks of the year. He had 5.5 targets per game, but saw 18 in the final two weeks of the season. While the 69% catch rate isn’t nice in a fantasy format, I would expect a higher rate next season. Oakland actually averaged 363 yards per game last season, and were not a bad fantasy offense to target.
James Washington – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
Both James Washington and Diontae Johnson are intriguing second year players to look at later in drafts. The Pittsburgh Steelers offense dropped an absolute dud this year in fantasy, but we can easily chalk this one up to injuries. Having Mason Rudolph and the Duck Man throwing to you isn’t exactly promising for upside. Washington finished the season with 735 yards and three touchdowns, which was good for WR52 in PPR leagues. He saw 79 targets, catching 44 of them, and efficiency wasn’t going to be a strong suit given the quarterback play. The Steelers quarterback play is still in a limbo given Ben Roethlisberger is turning 38 this year, and we have seen quite a few big named quarterbacks see that age sneak up on them. However Roethlisberger with one arm would be an upgrade from last season.
Washington came out of Oklahoma State, and is smaller wideout at 5’11 but is extremely athletic. He was used as a down field threat, as his average target distance was 14.9, which ranked 11th in the league. Washington didn’t see a ton of quality targets, and 2020 should bring some change in that department. I loved his upside coming into the NFL, where he dominated in college. Falling to the Steelers, who have developed wide receivers well over the last decade and a half, this is a strong spot for success.
Diontae Johnson – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers
Diontae Johnson had the most successful season out of Pittsburgh wide receivers, and saw 90 targets, competing 63% of them for 57 receptions. He had 19% of the targets in a wonky year for the Steelers given the injuries. This team has done well drafting wide receivers and they have looked to hit on Johnson and Washington. He had five touchdowns on the year, and finished as WR40 on the season in PPR formats. Yards after the catch was a big aspect of Johnson’s game this year, finishing 24th in the league. Johnson came out of Toledo, and was a three year wideout who did miss a year. He finished with 21 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Johnson got terrific separation from opposing defenders, averaging 2.39 yards. At such a young age this is a big number to get. He isn’t the fastest wideout out there, but excels in route running. I expect the Steelers offense to be more fantasy friendly this upcoming season, of course they remain healthy.
Corey Davis – WR – Tennessee Titans
It was A.J. Brown who broke out this season, and Corey Davis took a back seat in the offense. With Marcus Mariota not starting anymore, this passing attack is actually fantasy viable. Davis was a buy low candidate this year, and those candidates tend to drop off in ADP the year following after disappointment. Davis is certainly the WR2 in town, and there isn’t a lot of competition behind him. Davis has been in the league for a few years now, and after a successful college career, Davis has had an up and down start to the season. He has yet to crack a 1,000 yard season, and has six touchdowns in three seasons. While the targets dropped off from the year prior, his catch rate was the highest of his career, and his yards per reception were also up to the highest of his career. Tennessee is likely to resign Ryan Tannehill, which was a big plus for the offense. Play calling was also an improvement from years prior.
Davis will be 25 this season, and the Titans improved offense will put him in a key spot to produce. The former 5th overall pick is going to need to pick up his play over the next season or two. He still saw over 15% of the targets this past season. The downside to Davis is that he doesn’t get a ton of red zone targets, and while the touchdowns may not be at the same rate as others, a 1,000+ yard season is in the work.
Parris Campbell – WR – Indianapolis Colts
I expect the Colts to revamp their passing game this offseason. Jacoby Brissett didn’t look great, especially for fantasy. The receiving core was banged up this offseason, including T.Y. Hilton. Parris Campbell played in just seven games this season, and didn’t have a huge impact on the field. He saw just 24 targets in those seven games, catching 18 of them for 127 yards and one touchdown. Campbell was a highly touted pick, and called one of the steals in the draft. He was a burner running a 4.3, and incredibly fast. It was a bit odd to see Frank Reich struggling to use him, given the creativity he has as a play-caller.
There were some positives to take away where he caught most thrown his way. The injury concern is downside here, where he had three surgeries in 2019, and a hamstring strain in preseason. With Hilton showing his age, the Colts are desperate for someone to step up. I would expect another wideout to come in here, but that doesn’t exactly knock down the Colts receiving options. I would look for a successful year in year two given the talent and likely change in the offense.
Jonnu Smith – TE – Tennessee Titans
We are going to see a changing in the guard at a few tight end spots around the league. Delanie Walker is up in age, and struggling to stay healthy. It is time for Jonnu Smith to take over, who is a fast tight end, running a 4.6 40, and has one of the better catch radiuses of tight ends. He had 277 yards after the catch this season, which ranked 8th, and he averaged 9.8 yards per target, and 12.5 yards per reception. His 78% catch rate ranks fourth overall, and he gets a ton of separation. As mentioned with Corey Davis, adding in Ryan Tannehill was a big plus for the offense. There is going to be a gap between the top tier tight ends of course and then the rest of the options. Smith is going to go later, and that upside is there. He finished as TE19 this season and it was in a limited fashion. He has a chance to be a top 10-15 tight end next season.
Ian Thomas – TE – Carolina Panthers
Much like Jonnu Smith, Ian Thomas is going to take over for the aging Greg Olsen. He is expected to retire or join another team. Thomas is a 6’4 tight end and very athletic, and like Smith he is on the younger side. We tend to see tight ends have a slower start to having fantasy production in the NFL in comparison to other positions. Thomas filled in for a few games this season, and will see more targets next year. Carolina’s passing attack was up and down this season, and next year they will be in a limbo at the position. Thomas should be relied upon with a solid catch rate in shorter routes, but can also stretch the field a bit. This is great for either Cam Newton to return, or go a younger route where Thomas becomes a check down option or a reliable option in the middle of the field. With three other pass-catching options like Moore, Samuel, and McCaffrey, Thomas will fight for some targets, but it keeps his ADP fairly low.
Eric Ebron – TE – Free Agent
The Colts are expected to move on from Eric Ebron, who had a disappointing season after a strong start. He had 750 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first year at Indy, seeing 110 targets. This past season he saw just 52 targets in 11 games, hauling in 31 for 375 and three scores. With quite a few teams in need of a tight end, Ebron should rebound and land in a spot where he can certainly see better targets. Seattle and Green Bay are a few places that stand out already, but Arizona is a team that could make a push for Ebron. Still just 27 years old, Ebron is in a point in his career where he can be fantasy viable for a few seasons before trailing off. Ebron was a first round pick by Detroit, who failed to really pan out there. His drops are still an issue, but you will have to live with it. It hurts Jared Cook as well, but they are similar tight ends and in the way they produce fantasy points.
Jack Doyle – TE – Indianapolis Colts
This one ties into the name above, as Jack Doyle will get a bump with Eric Ebron heading out of town. The Colts are going to need to address some offensive needs, but Doyle’s role is still fairly safe. He saw 13 red zone targets last season, which was tied for the most on the team and that was 18% of the red zone targets. With the injuries in Indy, Doyle also led the team in targets, and caught 63% of the targets thrown his way (72). Doyle isn’t the most athletic name out there, nor is he going to have long chunk plays. However he can rack up receptions as we have seen, and in PPR formats he will go a bit higher than standard formats. He has a chance to post a 70-600-5 type of line this year, which would put him around the top ten mark in scoring if things duplicate. Despite a poor year from the Colts offense, and sharing targets with Ebron for half the year, Doyle finished as TE15. I like him quite a bit this year, and expect his ADP to rise closer to the season.
Noah Fant – TE – Denver Broncos
Two second year tight ends standout as they have a chance to regroup after an average start to their careers. Noah Fant wasn’t bad, but was in and out of the offense at times. With Drew Lock under center, I love the upside of the pass-catching options moving forward. Noah Fant was the other Iowa tight end from the draft, and resembled some of the top tight ends over the last decade. He graded out extremely well coming into the year, and is a monster athlete. He saw 67 targets this season, and ranked 11th in deep targets. He also had 300 yards after the catch, but wasn’t a factor in the red zone or touchdown department. Then again, neither was Denver as a whole. His efficiency was strong, averaging 14.1 yards per reception, and he had a 7.9 average target distance, and got plenty of separation in coverage. Fant saw the the second most targets on the team, and finished TE14 in PPR leagues. This is a good start to his career as the offense should get better moving forward.
T.J. Hockenson – TE – Detroit Lions
This was a more disappointing season for the rookie tight end, but overall Detroit battled injuries all year, and T.J. Hockenson was included. He is an extremely athletic tight end, who drew comparisons to Rob Gronkowski out of the draft. He went 8th overall to the Lions, who needed a tight end desperately. As long as Matthew Stafford can be healthy, the upside is there for Hockenson moving forward. However he needs to stay healthy as well. The Lions averaged 38 pass plays per game, which was a talking point given they wanted to be a heavy run offense. He ranked 15th in deep targets when on the field, and was looked at in the red zone when healthy. Outside of the Week 1 game against Arizona, where he posted a 6-131-1 line, he failed to top more than 50 yards in all but one game for the rest of the year. He also had just one touchdown. It was disappointing because it was a great fantasy schedule for him, but health hurt him in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
A fantasy football sleeper is considered to be a player that is being overlooked by the fantasy football community and will go later in drafts. They are also expected to outperform their average draft position to give you a bargain.
Usually, sleepers will be drafted after about five or six rounds, however, a fourth-round player might be expected to outperform his ADP. Most sleepers do tend to go in deeper rounds because you are expecting them to outperform their ADP.
A post-hype sleeper refers to a player who was a bust in the year prior after being labeled a potential breakout fantasy player. Their average draft position will usually dip down after a disappointing season resulting in a chance to buy low on them.
Matthew Stafford and Teddy Bridgewater are two 2020 sleeper quarterbacks. Both have strong receiving cores to throw to and the Panthers and Lions both have bad defenses that will keep the offense trying to move the ball with some urgency.
Justin Jackson for the Los Angeles Chargers will see consistent touches this season with Melvin Gordon out of town. David Johnson is going towards the 9th round and is going to be a featured back in Houston. Don’t sleep on Johnson.
With a lot of targets up for grabs in Houston, Brandin Cooks and Kenny Stills are in a prime position to catch a lot of balls and don’t have high ADPs. Anthony Miller, Preston Williams, and Parris Campbell are a few others.
Pairing up a player with Stafford, look at TJ Hockenson coming off a down rookie season. The Detroit Lions tight end is a prime bounce-back candidate and sleeper. Hayden Hurst and Jack Doyle are two other names to keep an eye on.
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