The definition of a “sleeper” varies, but I view the following players undervalued compared to the market, with some of these suggestions geared for deeper leagues more than others.
I’m a believer in Kenyan Drake having a big season, but part of that is because of Arizona’s system, and Drake has never topped 170 carries during his career and was recently in a walking boot (albeit just precautionary). Edmonds is a plenty capable replacement who would rack up catches if Drake were to go down, giving him top-10 RB upside in PPR leagues. Andy Isabella and Dan Arnold are deeper sleepers.
It appears Hill has the edge over the Judge (Ito Smith) for Atlanta backup RB duties, which could prove huge given Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee condition. Gurley supposedly looks good entering 2020 but also reportedly had a noticeable limp not long ago, as he remains a long shot to stay healthy throughout 2020. The Falcons’ offense could be strong getting two 2019 first-round O-linemen back from injury.
He’s 6-4, 220 pounds with elite workout metrics who should emerge as Baltimore’s No. 2 wide receiver in an offense that has a QB who just won MVP while recording a 130.0 Passer Rating and a 24:1 TD:INT ratio over the second half of last season. I’m all in on Marquise Brown, but he’s admittedly an injury risk at his weight and with past Lisfranc surgery, and it’s almost certain the Ravens will have a higher pass rate this year. Boykin has impressed throughout training camp and is simply one of the best late-round fliers among wide receivers.
Devin Singletary proved he was a better football player than his mediocre workout metrics may suggest last year as a rookie, but Moss is the far superior receiver and also the clear favorite for goal-line work being 20 pounds heavier (when Josh Allen isn’t running it in, that is). Moss has opened eyes throughout camp, while Singletary has had fumbling issues. This is actually a stretch calling Moss a sleeper, as I have him ranked well ahead of Singletary given the quality of their projected touches.
Bridgewater has come a long way since his horrific injury in 2016, and he’s set up for sneaky fantasy success in 2020. With the Panthers likely having one of the league’s worst defenses, Bridgewater could be among the league leaders in pass attempts, with CMC, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, and Ian Thomas a real nice group to throw to. With a top-five fantasy QB schedule as well, Bridgewater is a sleeper. Samuel is also undervalued after ranking ninth in air yards last season (ahead of DeAndre Hopkins!) and is now seeing a big upgrade at quarterback. It appears Mike Davis has emerged as Christian McCaffrey’s insurance policy.
Cordarrelle Patterson is a deep sleeper with David Montgomery expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks with a groin injury, and Foles will go undrafted in most fantasy leagues after Mitch Trubisky has been named the Week 1 starter. Still, it would be surprising if Foles isn’t Chicago’s best QB this season, and his setup isn’t the worst with a declining defense, the thinnest backfield in football (but also with pass-catcher Tarik Cohen) and with Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller as a strong WR duo, making him a deep sleeper in Superflex leagues.
I expect Joe Burrow essentially to be a star right away, and while the Bengals have arguably the deepest WR group in the NFL with Tate the lowest on the depth chart, A.J. Green and John Ross carry as much injury risk as possible, while Tee Higgins was dealing with a hamstring issue in camp (and Tyler Boyd sticks mostly to the slot). Meanwhile, Tate has been called the team’s offensive MVP at camp and could be a red-zone force. C.J. Uzomah is also a sleeper at a tight end position that’s never been deeper.
Cleveland Browns: Defense/Special Teams
Cleveland’s defense is better than perceived and will likely be widely available after going mostly undrafted as big underdogs in Baltimore in Week 1. The whole defense should benefit from fresher legs with the new coaching staff ostensibly becoming run-heavy (and less incompetent in general). Myles Garrett is going to win Defensive Player of the Year at some point.
Dallas Cowboys: Blake Jarwin
Jarwin replaces Jason Witten’s 83 targets and is a huge upgrade as the starter for a team that led the NFL in yards per play and averaged 440+ yards per game last season — and then added CeeDee Lamb in the draft. Maybe calling Jarwin a sleeper is too “Captain Obvious” because he’s a top-10 tight end on my board.
Denver Broncos: Noah Fant
Volume is a question on a team with Courtland Sutton (#5 in WOPR last year) that also added Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in the first two rounds of the draft and pass-catching back Melvin Gordon in free agency, but Fant sports metrics in the 96th percentile or above in the 40, Speed Score, Burst Score, Agility Score, and Catch Radius while dominating in college and breaking out before age 20. He had the second-most yards per catch among tight ends last year when he also forced as many missed tackles as Zach Ertz on 48 fewer receptions while finishing with one of the five best yards per target marks by a rookie TE since 2007.
Detroit Lions: Quintez Cephus
The Lions should have a prolific passing attack, and if something were to happen to Kenny Golladay or Marvin Jones (I love him this year, but Jones is both injury prone and also a legit trade candidate if the Lions’ season doesn’t unfold quite like I predict, Cephus would immediately become one of the most popular waiver wire adds. Cephus isn’t a burner, but the rookie likely would’ve been drafted higher if not for off-field concerns, and he’s drawn rave reviews throughout camp. Don’t forget Matthew Stafford was playing like an MVP in this offense before going down last season.
Green Bay Packers: Jamaal Williams
While rookie AJ Dillon appears never to skip leg day and has moved up fantasy draft boards as a result, Williams quietly remains the #2 back in Green Bay, and he’s the clear favorite to lead the group in catches (Aaron Jones had just 15 receptions over the final eight games last year). The Packers clearly want to run the ball, and Jones’ injury history isn’t nothing. This appears to be a true committee, but at least Williams has the cheapest ADP. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is much healthier this year and has a better chance of beating Allen Lazard for GB’s WR2 role than their ADPs suggest.
Houston Texans: Jordan Akins
The Texans quietly finished among the league leaders in touchdown catches by tight ends (nine) last season despite pedestrian Darren Fells leading the way, and they dealt DeAndre Hopkins (#2 in the NFL in target share last season) to Arizona. Kahale Warring may be the more interesting dynasty stash than 28-year-old Akins, but the latter was drafted in the third round, could take over Houston’s H-back role in 2020, and is an intriguing deep sleeper available at the end of drafts.
Kenny Stills is a clever way to fade Will Fuller and/or Brandin Cooks in a situation with upside.
Indianapolis Colts: Parris Campbell
Rivers targets his running backs like no other QB, so Nyheim Hines can be an RB3 in PPR leagues.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Gardner Minshew
He had the second-highest scramble rate (a sticky stat) last year, as Minshew is a great example of real-life value not translating to fantasy. Jacksonville is doing some version of tanking this season, and they have no reason not to let Minshew play 16 games, as the only question as to who’s starting at QB next year in Jacksonville is whether it’s Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields.
With the Jaguars having arguably the league’s worst defense, a thin RB group with Leonard Fournette getting released, and sneaky good receiving options in D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Chris Thompson (Chris Conley is no slouch either), this is a fantasy recipe for success with Jacksonville playing a lot of garbage time. Minshew won’t help Jax win many games (although he was the only QB to finish ahead of Patrick Mahomes in Deep Passing Rating last season), but I have him ranked almost evenly with Josh Allen among fantasy QBs.
Kansas City Chiefs: Darrel Williams
While it was first assumed DeAndre Washington would become KC’s backup RB, Williams enters 2020 as the team’s clear #2 behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Williams has apparently taken the rookie under his wing, both being LSU alumni and most importantly he appears to have the coaching staff’s trust. In arguably the league’s best offense, Williams would become a huge fantasy factor should something happen to the team’s rookie back.
Las Vegas Raiders: Bryan Edwards
Henry Ruggs was the first receiver taken in the draft, but he hasn’t been his own team’s best rookie receiver in camp, as Edwards looks like a future star. Edwards’ arrow was already pointing up before Tyrell Williams suffered a torn labrum, which opened up a starting role. The Raiders now play indoors and will be underdogs early and often in 2020, so hopefully, Las Vegas is forced to throw deeper this season as well. Hunter Renfrow is a PPR sleeper, but Edwards is the Raiders player with the most fantasy upside not named Josh Jacobs.
Los Angeles Chargers: Joshua Kelley
Reports already had Kelley emerging as LA’s #2 back, and the rookie’s path became easier with Justin Jackson leaving Sunday’s practice injured. Austin Ekeler has a low BMI and has yet to reach 135 carries in a season, and Melvin Gordon is gone, so Kelley has serious upside.
Los Angeles Rams: Van Jefferson
The Rams have a declining defense and just lost the NFL’s TD leader over the last three seasons, and while they have plenty of options in LA, Robert Woods is ignored in the red zone, Josh Reynolds isn’t any good, and Jefferson has been the talk of the team’s camp. LA runs one of the league’s fastest paces, should be in a bunch of high-scoring games in the NFC West, and has an innovative offensive mind at head coach, so Jefferson can make an impact right away. If Cooper Kupp gets hurt again, watch out.
Miami Dolphins: Preston Williams
I have Mike Gesicki as the #8 tight end on my board so I can’t in good conscience call him a sleeper, but Williams is easy to overlook being undrafted and coming off a torn ACL. But he was playing extremely well before going down last season and looks fully recovered in camp. Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns both opted out of playing this season, and Miami should be forced to throw a ton with its defense, so there are targets to go around.
Minnesota Vikings: Mike Boone
The Vikings are one of the league’s most run-heavy teams with one of the more injury-prone lead backs in Dalvin Cook, and while most treat Alexander Mattison as one of fantasy’s premier stash RBs, he earned few targets last year and graded negatively as a rusher in DVOA. Grab Boone at the very end of drafts instead.
New England Patriots: Damien Harris
After being one of fantasy's biggest risers this summer, Harris' ADP is falling thanks to undergoing finger surgery and Sony Michel returning. Harris is going to go later in drafts now with his Week 1 status in question, but he had been opening eyes throughout camp, is Alabama's all-time leader in YPC, and Michel is not good. Harris will reward patient fantasy managers.
New Orleans Saints: Latavius Murray
If Alvin Kamara were to go down, Murray would become a top-10 fantasy RB as a capable three-down back in New Orleans’ system (although Ty Montgomery has emerged to take some touches away). During two games in which Kamara was sidelined last year, Murray put up 307 yards from scrimmage with 14 catches (18 targets) and four touchdowns against two defenses that finished top-13 in run defense DVOA (including outdoors in Chicago). Murray had more carries (eight) inside the 10-yard line during those two games than David Johnson and Raheem Mostert had all season. The Saints have one of the league’s best offensive lines and a QB who posted a 22:1 TD:INT ratio over the second half of last season, so here’s your proverbial “league-winner” for 2020.
Tre’Quan Smith is a deep sleeper.
New York Giants: Golden Tate
It’s a crowded situation in New York, and Sterling Shepard has reportedly emerged as the team’s clear #1 in camp, but the Giants should be throwing a lot in 2020, and Tate has the team’s most affordable ADP despite averaging more yards per game than both Shepard and Darius Slayton last year. In fact, Daniel Jones targeted Tate 8.44 times per game last season, compared to 8.38 to Shepard and 6.0 to Slayton (Evan Engram, it should be noted, received a team-high 8.57 targets from Danny Dimes).
New York Jets: Chris Herndon
While it’s not ideal having Adam Gase as his coach, Herndon was the rare rookie tight end who topped 500 receiving yards, finishing seventh in yards per target (9.0) and first in True Catch Rate. Now back healthy and reportedly impressing throughout camp, Herndon screams future star who also happens to be in a terrific situation (Gase aside, Ryan Griffin became a viable fantasy TE in this offense last year) that features an extremely thin wide receiver group (especially with Breshad Perriman’s knee swelling), a shaky backfield that suddenly has a 37-year-old looking like the best option and a quarterback who’s still just 23 years old and ready to make a big leap now healthy (I’ll predict Sam Darnold finishes as a top-15 fantasy QB in 2020). Herndon should be treated as a top-12 option at a loaded tight end position.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts
I liked Hurts as a deep sleeper in Superflex leagues even before Carson Wentz left practice with a soft tissue injury. Wentz has an extensive injury history (including suffering a concussion the last time we saw him), and Hurts should quickly pass Nate Sudfield as the team’s next option. Hurts is underrated as a passer, but he’s super interesting in fantasy terms because of the incredible rushing ability that included him leading college football in red-zone TD rushes last year while averaging 101.6 rushing yards per game. The Eagles have a smart and innovative coaching staff, so Hurts is an intriguing sleeper.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Benny Snell
Mike Tomlin prefers workhorse backs, and Snell has earned the clear backup role in Pittsburgh in camp, which could prove huge given James Conner’s extensive injury history and the upside that comes with Pittsburgh. Snell is an injury away from being the feature back on a team with one of the best rosters in football, so he’s one of the biggest sleepers in 2020.
James Washington, who finished top-30 in air yards last season, is another sleeper in Pittsburgh, especially with Diontae Johnson banged up.
Seattle Seahawks: Greg Olsen
Russell Wilson loves throwing to tight ends and is perennially among the league leaders in end-zone targets, so Olsen should benefit greatly as Seattle’s projected starter. Olsen is 35 years old, but Will Dissly is less than a year removed from Achilles surgery, and reports suggest Olsen will be the third most targeted receiver from one of the league’s best players of all time.
San Francisco 49ers: Jordan Reed
Reed missed last season with his seventh reported concussion and remains one of the league’s biggest injury risks, but the 49ers have lost their top-three wide receivers this preseason (for various timeframes), and George Kittle is banged up as well. Reed has shown good rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo in practice, and he’ll be lined up in the slot and used heavily in the red zone during the regular season as long as health cooperates. The 49ers scored the second-most ppg in the NFL last year and project to throw more in 2020.
Given all the wide receivers going down in San Francisco(*), Jerick McKinnon and Trent Taylor are PPR sleepers as well.
* For those keeping track, San Francisco drafted Jalen Hurd ahead of Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel ahead of A.J. Brown and essentially chose Brandon Aiyuk instead of CeeDee Lamb, which might not age well.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard
It’s tough finding a sleeper in Tampa Bay with fantasy managers drafting each of their skill position players as elite options and with its backfield a complete stay away after the Leonard Fournette signing, but Howard is a deep one. He was a huge bust last year but still has the same talent that warranted an early fantasy pick, has reportedly looked strong in camp (he may play more snaps than Gronk) and is a sneaky flier at the end of drafts.
Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill
He’ll regress some, but that’s what has to happen when you get 10.1 YPA in the second half like Tannehill did last season, when he was #2 in fantasy points per dropback (what a player comp!) and finished with the second-highest YPA in the modern era (only Kurt Warner’s was higher in 2000). Tannehill also runs, and A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith are still both getting better. There’s zero reasons to draft a quarterback early when one who checks all the boxes like Tannehill isn’t being drafted as a top-20 option. Tannehill is more likely to finish as a top-five fantasy QB than outside the top-20 this season.
Washington Football Team: Logan Thomas
Dwayne Haskins is likely to take a real step forward in Year Two, and after Terry McLaurin (who’s my WR8), Washington’s targets are wide open, with Thomas the favorite for looks in the red zone. The tight end has been receiving a ton of hype throughout camp, and both his talent (a four-star QB recruit out of high school with these workout metrics) and situation (could be #2 in targets) make him a great sleeper and easy to overlook at a tight position filled with intriguing options. Steven Sims is a nice PPR sleeper as well.