Not Another Fantasy Football Sleepers & Breakouts List

OK! let’s reset….

I’ve shared in Part I some of my overall strategies heading into drafts: things to keep in mind, some Do’s & Don’ts, and a few pointers to give you a little edge over your less-informed, non-Dr. Reis article reading league mates.

Click here to read Part One of the Four Part Trilogy

Part II then looked at my Top 60 (PPR scoring), a rankings list of the first five rounds of a 12-team league that I will try to use to build the foundation of each team I draft. These first two articles hopefully give ya a little look inside what I do to be competitive in every league I sign up for.

Click here to read Part Two, Attack of the Doctor

So you got a good outlook on your team & league and five good guys to lead your squad. Now it’s time to look through literally over a hundred rough players to find those diamonds.

This article will be my “Sleepers & Breakouts” list:

  • Guys outside of my Top 60 that will build upon those awesome studs you drafted in the first five rounds
  • Guys that will be stable & steady performers week-to-week
  • Guys that may just help you hoist that trophy

Some names will spark interest, some names will make ya cringe, some names will make you say, “Hey Doc, your medical degree was an email attachment wasn’t it?” These are the players I’m targeting as mid to late round picks and will give them overall rankings to help put them into perspective, especially for folks who aren’t in twelve team leagues. Let’s begin….

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Javonte Williams (68th Overall): Yes I have Melvin Gordon up way higher than most experts… maybe I think the old dog may have some life left in him… maybe I feel he’s way undervalued for what seems to be a starter on what was last year the 12th most run-heavy team in the NFL….

But Williams will figure into that mix as well, and I have a hunch the Broncos traded up to get him in the early second round for a reason… by season’s end he might just be the starter which would make him a great value pick… Williams is a bigger back that shows flashes of finesse to go along with his power… and he’s shown some things in preseason that he’s honing his craft (i.e. pass-blocking) that may get this guy on the field sooner than later.

Jerry Jeudy (72nd): A frustrating rookie for sure last season… only 52 catches on 113 targets is, well, less than ideal especially when you take into account the injury to the Broncos number 1 WR Courtland Sutton that should have opened the door for Jeudy to shine… 14 dropped passes (2nd most among all NFL players) and only 3 TD’s in 16 games (14 starts) would make any fantasy drafter wary….

But a deeper look tells you this guy has rebound breakout potential… first, let’s talk about targets: 113 (21st in the NFL) on, as previously stated, a run-heavy team means they were looking… and as many experts have noted he’s one of the top 5 best route-running WR’s in the game already with agility and athleticism that can’t be overlooked… considering Drew Lock’s awful year and one whole game without any QB’s (COVID hit their entire QB room in Week 12) maybe some of those drops can be cleaned up… furthermore doubling his TD total form 3 to 6 wouldn’t be entirely out of line….

Yes, Courtland Sutton should be back but I think it’s only a matter of time before Jeudy takes over as WR1 for Denver… which makes him a great WR3 or flex guy for the price.

Michael Carter, Jr (76th): A below average sized RB who wasn’t even the lead back of his college team would typically scare me away a little… however this situation has to be the most ideal of any rookie RB from this draft class other than Najee Harris at Pittsburgh… a quick rundown of the rest of the RB room for the New York Jets reveals no one special: Tevin Coleman (who’s probably the only NFL starter worthy guy and that might be a stretch), Lamical Perine (who?), Ty Johnson, Josh Adams (again, who?)….

The path to meaningful playing time is right there and I’m going under the assumption he’ll take over by Week 4… then you have a starter in what’s hopefully an improved Jets offense who can play all three downs and you got him just outside my Top 75.

James Conner (77th): Here’s another player I think folks are totally sleeping on… I don’t know if I’m just fondly remembering his 2018 campaign filling in when Leveon Bell sat out the season where he generated over 1400 total yards and 13 TD’s, or maybe the fact his 3-year average (factoring in games he missed) is around 90 yards and almost a TD per game…

Or maybe that I’m not all that high on Chase Edmonds, his competition for the Cardinals starting job, who’s only started 4 games in his whole career… if I can get close to Conner’s expected production where I have him in my rankings, I’ll take it, especially if I’ve loaded up with WR’s early on.

Brandin Cooks (80th): Speaking of overlooked, here’s a guy who’s averaged 105 targets, almost 1000 yards, and a little under 6 TD’s per season in his career… now granted he’ll be playing on most likely the worst offense in the NFL, but let’s look at some if’s….

IF DeShaun Watson plays even half a season (and that’s probably the second half when you are making your playoff run) and IF he leads the team in targets (by a lot from the looks Houston’s WR room) and IF the Texans are playing from behind in 80% of their games, Cooks could wind up having close to an average year based on past performance….

Lots of “if’s” but the value is there if you dare.

Curtis Samuel (85th): Here’s a guy almost certainly benefitting from a change of scenery… Fitzmagic isn’t an elite fantasy QB but has his moments and the rest of the Washington Football Team offense has some pretty good weapons… Samuel will get his chances through the air and on the ground (200 yards rushing last year!!!)….

If they use him as this all-purpose Swiss army knife player as the Panthers did last year, he will surely get the stats that will merit a look starting around the 80th pick of your draft.

Jaylen Waddle (88th): Similar to Myles Gaskin from my last article, this may hinge on Tua taking a step forward for the Dolphins… reunited and it feels so good with his former college QB, it isn’t so hard to make the leap that Waddle could have a rookie breakout season even in the crowded WR room in Miami….

The connection with Tua is already there and the fact that his talented yet injury-prone receiver mates Will Fuller and DeVante Parker have played only one full season between them out of a combined 11 career years gives him breakout potential in what should be an improved offense…. even with all three healthy, he could garner close to 800 yards and 5 TD’s or so and although I have him higher than lots of experts the risk of overdrafting is smaller compared to the upside for me.

Jamaal Williams (95th): For a backup RB (or at the very most an RB1-B) for the LIONS… I repeat… The LIONS, there’s no way I should have him up this high… in fact, as I peruse other experts’ rankings I actually have him a tick lower than some others…

But he’s a guy that:

  • Has been talked up by the coaching staff
  • Is playing behind a slightly injured 2nd year RB that had similar stats in 2020
  • Even as a backup RB will be the third or fourth best player on this pitiful offense

I think I’ll take a chance that even if D’Andre Swift gets the Lion’s share (pun extremely intended) of the touches, Williams could see north of 800 total yards and 4-6 TD’s which would make him a great spot starter/bye week fill-in player with the potential for more.

Kenyon Drake (100th): Coming in at number 100 on my list, the 14th highest paid RB in the league… that’s right folks, the Raiders (who already have a semi-star RB in Josh Jacobs on the roster) went out and spent a ton on this guy, who I quite frankly believe fits their offense much more than Jacobs… Drake is coming off a nearly 1100 total yard, 10 TD season and is being drafted even lower than this by most sites’ current ADP (Average Draft Position) lists…

Something tells me he gets used more creatively in this offense: some rushing work but lots of passing downs playing time… and there’s a small chance he actually outperforms Jacobs – going into the 2020 season as the starter for the Cardinals he was being drafted only about a half a round later than him…

Too much upside here not to grab him after you’ve got all your RB & WR starters, along with a decent QB and a few other upper tier guys for your bench.

Well, that’s it for Part Three. Be sure to check back for the fourth and final pre-fantasy draft installment, as I’ll give you some deeper names to put on your watchlists, some guys I’m avoiding (at least at their current ADP’s), and more last minute strategies as you prepare for draft season. 

Oh! And WagerLife will be sponsoring a fun fantasy football league to compete against our staff! It will be a PPR league with pretty basic scoring on the sleeper app. It’s free to enter, probably drafting on Labor Day weekend, and we’re hoping for 10 or 12 teams.

Look for announcements on Twitter from me (@dallasgambles) or my bosses @parlaydoc & @wagerdotlife for more details! Thanks again for stopping by & see ya’ soon!