Finding the best fantasy football sleepers is one of the quickest ways to fast-track rosters to get into the playoffs. Every year everyone yells to the sky about how they found the next greatest sleeper, and every year there are a few players that are exactly that. Last year there were players like Justin Jefferson, Diontae Johnson and James Robinson who greatly outperformed their average draft position (ADP). The biggest question that comes with the word “sleeper” is what a sleeper actually is. The way a sleeper will be described in this article is, a player going late in drafts that will overperform their ADP.
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2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers
Mike Williams – WR – LAC
Williams’ name has been thrown around as a sleeper for years now, and he has yet to have that complete season. In 2018 Williams had 664 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns, and in 2019 he had 1,001 yards receiving and just two touchdowns. The hope is that in 2021 Mike Williams will be able to put those two higher numbers together and put up over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Recently reports have surfaced that Williams will be in the X role with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. That X receiver was the spot that Michael Thomas held for the Saints when Lombardi was the quarterback coach in New Orleans.
Zack Moss – RB – BUF
Looking for a running back late in drafts based on trends of the past years tends to not work out. But when there is the opportunity to draft what could be the lead back for a fantastic offense, those chances cannot slip by. Moss fits that exact mold. He is in a backfield with a running back in Devin Singletary who could easily lose his job. Singletary was given the opportunity in 2019 and 2020 with little success, and given last year’s small sample size for Moss, there is potential for a breakout. He finished top 10 in juke rate and yards created per touch, and he is on a team that had the second-best game script for a running back. The hope is that the coaching staff realizes that Singletary is not the guy they need leading the team in touches.
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Irv Smith Jr. – TE – MIN
Right now is the cheapest price for Smith this offseason. With Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer announcing last month that Smith would not have a bigger role in the team’s offense, people started to get nervous. Luckily, offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak declared that Smith will be getting more opportunities this season. Smith’s 2020 numbers look like those from a backup tight end, but with Kyle Rudolph going to the Giants, a huge hole is open in this offense. Last year, with Rudolph in Smith only averaged 2.88 targets and 1.88 receptions per game. But without Rudolph Smith had five targets and 3.75 receptions per game. This led to an increase in yards and touchdowns per game, going from 22.75 yards and 0.25 touchdowns to 45.75 and 0.75 touchdowns. These stats should give a clear idea of the upside that Smith presents as a late-round dart.
Marvin Jones – WR – JAX
Jacksonville does not have a locked-and-loaded No. 1 receiver. D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault and Marvin Jones are the key names on the team. Trying to decipher which wide receiver will be leading the team in targets this season is basically an unknown until there are reports out of training camp. But looking at it from today’s standpoint, it would appear that it is an open competition that Jones has a solid shot at winning. With how far Jones continues to fall at this point, it would be foolish to not attempt to snag a chunk of potential Trevor Lawrence target towards the end of the draft, especially considering Jones has been a 100-target player in half of his eight seasons.
Gus Edwards – RB – BAL
With the offseason exit of Mark Ingram, Edwards is second in the depth chart behind J.K. Dobbins. While being the RB2 on a team is not super enticing, what is enticing about the situation is the offense that he is in. The Ravens led the NFL in team running play percentage in 2019 and 2020. In 2018 they ranked third in that category, so it is safe to say that this is a team that will be running a lot again this season. Lamar Jackson factors into that, but in such a run-heavy system Edwards is bound to get touches. He has Flex potential in plus matchups, something that most backup running backs do not have.
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