Fantasy football sleepers are players who many believe will produce better statistical results than those with a similar average draft position (ADP). The goal of this article is to tell you about five sleepers readily available in the double-digit rounds that will help win your league this season.
Fantasy Football Sleepers | Quarterback
Can this rookie QB greatly outperform his ADP and be a fantasy football sleeper in 2021?
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Justin Fields has had a phenomenal training camp and preseason and has outperformed Bears’ free-agent addition, Andy Dalton. The former Cowboys quarterback signed a one-year deal worth $10 million. The deal could reportedly be worth up to $13 million with incentives. However, it’s unlikely Dalton will have a chance to earn those incentives with how Fields has looked on the field.
The 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft completed 30 of 49 passes for 276 yards and 2 touchdowns during the preseason. Fields also rushed for 92 yards and another score. Nevertheless, Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace are adamant that Dalton is their starter for Week 1. This stubbornness has dumbfounded the fantasy community when you consider Fields’ collegiate body of work and preseason.
Fields was a statistical dynamo in just 22 games as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. He stockpiled 5,373 passing yards and 867 rushing yards. He also threw 63 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions during that time frame. His dual-threat ability is highly coveted among fantasy managers.
Still, the rookie will take over as the starter in Chicago sooner rather than later. With the offensive skill position players the Bears have, Fields has the potential to be a fantasy football sleeper that could be a league-winner.
Fantasy Football Sleepers | Running Backs
Which running backs are fantasy managers potentially sleeping on?
Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions
Lions head coach Dan Campbell is concerned about running back D’Andre Swift’s availability for Week 1. The second-year back has battled a groin injury on and off throughout training camp. The Lions do have a contingency plan, however, in free-agent RB Jamaal Williams.
The former Packers back signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract back in March. Earlier this year, the Lions discussed using Swift and Williams as a one-two punch. Detroit has 243 unaccounted rushing attempts entering this season. Williams is in a prime position to inherit some of that, but he could see even more given Swift’s inability to stay healthy.
As a reminder, Swift only averaged 13.2 opportunities (rushing attempts and targets) per game last season. Meanwhile, Williams has thrived in a complementary role.
Williams was the first player in Packers’ history to finish with 450+ rushing yards and 200+ receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. He also finished as an RB3 or better in 69% of his career games in PPR formats, including 11 RB1 finishes. New Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has publicly said he will ride the hot hand at RB. There may be enough opportunities for both backs.
Lynn schemed 26% of passes and 41% of touches to running backs during his four years with the Chargers. Williams could have standalone value as an RB3 even with Swift in the lineup. Moreover, he’d firmly be on the RB1 radar if Swift misses significant time.
Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank believes that Kenneth Gainwell has carved out a “significant role for himself” this season. Teammate Miles Sanders continues to have issues with drops, limiting his effectiveness as a receiver out of the backfield. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has publicly stated that they plan to use their running backs in the passing game. This is an area Gainwell can make an immediate contribution.
Gainwell opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Regardless, he led the Memphis Tigers in rushing (1,459) and was second in receptions (51) during the 2019 season. Sirianni shared some hints months ago that the Eagles could use Gainwell similarly to how he used Nyheim Hines during his three seasons with the Colts. Hines averaged 9.2 opportunities and 44.2 total yards per game over that time frame. Since 2018, he’s finished as a fantasy RB3 or better in 77% of his games.
The rookie is readily available in the later rounds. Gainwell is someone you shouldn’t leave your fantasy draft without. Back in 2019, he ranked sixth nationally behind Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins. Gainwell is another 2021 fantasy football sleeper who has the potential to greatly exceed your expectations.
Who are the potential wide receiver fantasy football sleepers?
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Surprisingly, Michael Gallup ended last season with the most receiving air yards (1,234) amongst the Cowboys’ receivers. Dallas’ offense struggled mightily once Dak Prescott was out for the season. As a result, Gallup was inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but he still had some WR1 weeks.
In Gallup’s three WR1 outings last year, he averaged 26 PPR fantasy points per game. He saw increased target volume after the Cowboys’ Week 10 bye with Dalton under center.
Gallup will open the 2021 season as the No. 3 receiver for the Cowboys. Dallas’ offense was a juggernaut with Prescott under center prior to his injury. In the four games he finished, Prescott averaged 422.5 passing yards per game.
Gallup is in a position to see 100+ targets this season. He’ll have favorable cornerback matchups, considering the defensive attention Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb will command. Gallup is one fantasy football sleeper you should prioritize early in the double-digit rounds.
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots
Multiple reports have mentioned that Jakobi Meyers has been the Patriots’ most reliable and consistent receiver in training camp, picking up right where he left off last season. Meyers led New England in targets (81), receptions (59), and receiving yards (729). He also had the second-most receiving air yards (826).
Meyers will now be catching passes from rookie quarterback Mac Jones. This bodes well for his 2021 fantasy outlook, as the two had great chemistry together in the preseason.
Jones backed up Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts his first three seasons (including redshirting as a freshman) at Alabama. He entered his 2020 junior campaign as the starter and led the Crimson Tide to a national championship. Last season, Jones was Alabama’s all-time single-season passing yardage leader (4,500).
Other fantasy football sleepers to keep on your radar
If you have any additional questions about fantasy football sleepers or your roster, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter. Until next time!
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