Your first round pick is important in fantasy success, but finding those breakout players during the season is what wins championships. Think about it, the person you draft first is expected to do well. That is exactly why you picked them right away, thus it is almost impossible for your first player to be a good value pick. That is why finding this season’s Jordan Howard or Terrelle Pryor Sr. is so important. You get a high-value guy for next to nothing, then you can rub it in the faces of your leaguemates. Here, I am sharing five sleepers (QB, RB, WR, TE, Flex) that could punch your ticket to fantasy glory. Once you’re finished reading/watching this, make sure to go check out my PPR top-120 rankings. It’s draft season, the time is now!
QB– Andy Dalton, CIN
I know, it’s Andy Dalton. I understand the negativity and laughing that comes with mentioning Dalton as a target for your fantasy team, but that is exactly what he is. Dalton is currently going as the 17th quarterback in drafts, which might be a little low, but the biggest reason for his value is his draft position, at about 128th overall. Think about it: you’re getting last season’s 12th-best quarterback in the 13th round. 12th-best doesn’t blow you away, but he did this while having A.J. Green for only ten games and Tyler Eifert for eight games. If both of these guys stay healthy this season, along with the rest of the underrated receiving group, Dalton could be top-10. In 2015, Dalton finished the fantasy season as the eighth-best quarterback in fantasy points per game, and he could easily do it again this year.
RB– Paul Perkins, NYG
Perkins is currently going behind Ingram, Peterson, Coleman, and even Martin, who will miss the first four games of the season. Many thought the Giants would bring in another veteran running back this offseason, but not doing so speaks to their confidence in Perkins. Yes, his upside as a receiving back is hindered by the presence of Shane Vereen, but Perkins will also be used a bit more on passing downs now that Eli has a little more confidence in him in pass protection. This helps Perkins inch closer to becoming the every down back that we would like as fantasy owners. With his current ADP of 74.8, Perkins seems set to be a draft steal. In his final four games of last season, he averaged about 68 rushing yards per game, but was rarely used in the passing game and had no touchdowns. With the offense prepared to be much better, I expect Perkins to continue with his success running the ball and be in scoring position much more. He has solid RB2 upside.
WR– Mike Wallace, BAL
I really don’t understand why Mike Wallace is currently going as the 50th wide receiver in drafts. Seriously…why? He has finished as a top-30 wide receiver in seven of the eight seasons in the league, and he plays on an offense that has lead the NFL in passing attempts in each of the past two seasons. Yes, Jeremy Maclin is now on the team, but you know who isn’t? Dennis Pitta, Kamar Aiken, and Steve Smith Sr. There are a ton of targets to go around, and Wallace will surely get his share. He finished last season as WR22, and I expect him to finish about 25-35 this year. Clearly, he should not be the 50th wide receiver off the board.
TE– Austin Hooper, ATL
There aren’t many tight end sleepers than can be big impacts for your fantasy team, but Austin Hooper is the one that stands out to me. He is currently going 133rd overall, so he is essentially free. That is incredible value for the the starting tight end on a high-powered offense. He previously shared snaps with the veteran Jacob Tamme, but he is now gone. Hooper has also been growing much closer to his quarterback, Matt Ryan, this offseason after catching a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He went to California to work out with Ryan and work on their chemistry. After his Super Bowl touchdown, it is clear that Matt Ryan trusts him. If these two are on the same page this season, he could be Ryan’s go-to guy in the red zone.
Flex– Paul Richardson, SEA
Here is a guy that you can get for free who has the potential to win you a championship. Richardson goes undrafted in almost every league format, and he is actually selected on average after Josh Gordon, whose reinstatement isn’t even under consideration. He is the exact definition of why I say not to draft a kicker, if your league allows it. He gave us a flash of serious fantasy potential at the end of last season, yet nobody is talking about this guy. Richardson finished last season with only 21 catches for 288 yards and a touchdown, but eight catches for 82 yards and a touchdown came in the final two weeks. He also had seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in his two playoff games. He will be the WR2 opposite of Doug Baldwin this season, so he should see plenty of looks with the weaker coverage. Paul Richardson is a fantasy lottery ticket. He is worth taking a shot on since there is no risk involved, only upside. Tremendous upside.