The art of identifying sleepers is one of the most challenging aspects of fantasy football. NFL.com scribe Chris Wesseling once told me “Neil, never name drop.” He also said that back in the day, if you were prepared to read you could gain a great advantage over your league mates when it came to draft day. Now, with fantasy football a cottage industry, its actually very difficult for a semi committed owner to bury his head in the sand and never hear about a certain player.
Instead of offering you a sleeper for each team in the NFL, I’m going to adopt the more negative mindset, and offer you one player from each of the 32 squads that I would not touch with my last pick (which will be a kicker anyway). I will present sound reasons of course, as I’m sure articles based on “Don’t draft him, he plays wide receiver and wears 14” are lacking in informative content (but I am looking straight at you, Sammy Watkins. 14 is probably the worst number a wide receiver can wear). We shall start with the NFC East.
(Note – any Average Draft Position data is courtesy of FantasyPros.com)
Dallas Cowboys – Terrance Williams, WR
If you are taking a Cowboys pass catcher not called Dez Bryant or Jason Witten, please come and play in my league. Williams has teased us with the threat of breaking out for the last two years, but the truth is he is at best the third receiving option on a team that wants to run the ball an awful lot. When Dez missed time in 2015, Williams was able to elevate his game slightly, averaging seven targets a game (as opposed to the less than five he enjoyed when Dez was fit), but he is a classic crawlspace player (his floor and his ceiling are close together). Most fantasy owners have already got the memo this year, with 64 wide receivers being taken ahead of him according to current ADP. These include players like Josh Gordon (suspended), James Jones and Anquan Boldin (free agents).
New York Giants – Andre Williams, RB
This guy is really bad at football. Its hard to be more polite than that. He is the most tenured back up to Rashad Jennings, given Shane Vereen’s skillset lending itself more to receiving work, but he should have no chance of making the roster behind Jennings, Vereen and rookie Paul Perkins. He has failed to average more than 3.5 yards per carry in his two NFL seasons, and last year his limited workload saw him come in at a depressing 2.92 yards per clip. This guy is not a sleeper, he’s asleep. Soundly. Best leave him to snooze.
Philadelphia Eagles – Rueben Randle, WR
Despite career highs in touchdown catches (8) and catch rate (63.3%), the Giants were in no hurry to retain Randle when his rookie deal expired. He has a history of being lazy in his route running, and was often the intended target on some of Eli Mannings more recent interceptions (we can’t blame all of them on Randle, he’s only played since 2012). On paper, he should see extended action with the Eagles, with leading wide receiver Jordan Matthews seemingly set to remain in the slot. Nelson Agholor and Randle are pencilled in at the X and Z receiver spots, but head coach Doug Pederson is coming from a Kansas City system that can only really support one wide out and a tight end for fantasy purposes. Even the odd red zone target can not be guaranteed, given Matthews superior scoring record inside the opposition 20 yard lines. In his four seasons, Randle has eight red zone scores, whereas Matthews has eight through two seasons. Randle’s ADP is a worthy WR79.
Washington Redskins – Pierre Garcon, WR
After averaging seven receptions a game for the Redskins back in 2013, Garcon has seen his totals drop to 4.3 and 4.5 in the last two seasons. He did tie his career high with six touchdown grabs last season, and his 111 targets were second on the team. But Washington should have DeSean Jackson fully fit for the start of the season, rookie Josh Doctson is expected to eat more than his share of touchdowns and the unheralded Jamison Crowder is another year into the system, Garcon would appear to be the odd man out. Given that this is a contract year, a combination of a poor camp by him and a strong one by everyone else could see him fail to make the roster.
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