This is the fourth year in a row that I will be providing our ever-popular late round targets and deep sleepers. The temptation is to do something different. But why mess with success? Every year I dive deep but have come back with at least a few treasures. Doug Baldwin in 2015, Davante Adams in 2016, and Marqise Lee in 2017 are just some of the jewels I’ve brought to the surface. But before I provide the 2018 late round targets and deep sleepers, let’s review some of the parameters.
I try to gear this article toward my deep league brethren. So all of these players are players whose ADP is at least double-digit rounds of a 16-team league draft, or about the 16th round of a standard 12-team draft.
Furthermore, there’s a very high chance many of these players are available even much later, making them quite affordable. But like the aforementioned players above, that doesn’t mean they won’t produce a robust ROI.
Also, please note that I will be excluding rookies and most “seasoned veterans”. Too many rookies and this becomes a dynasty league/rookie piece. I’ve done that elsewhere. And while I like the 35-year old Frank Gore as the 174th pick overall, everyone in your leagues knows exactly who he is. He’s not exactly a “sleeper”.
Finally, this is a very subjective measure, but I will try to avoid some of the “deep sleepers” I feel being mentioned everywhere like Geronimo Allison or Mitch Trubisky.
Everybody clear? Get your scuba equipment on, because we’re going deep diving!
2018 Late Round Targets and Deep Sleepers
So who are my 2018 late round targets and deep sleepers? We’ll break this down by position, but let’s start with a player who is not making his first appearance in this annual piece.
2018 Late Round Targets and Deep Sleepers at Quarterback
Sam Bradford, Arizona Cardinals
I believe Josh Rosen is going to be a very good quarterback. But not until 2019 or even later. Assuming Bradford stays healthy. And yes, given Bradford’s injury history, that is huge if. But let’s assume he does.
Do you remember how sharp Bradford looked last year before he was injured? The Saints, despite finishing as a top ten defense, were absolutely carved up by Bradford in the opener. He completed an astonishing 84% of his passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. We had every reason to believe Bradford would surpass 3700 passing yards like he had each of the previous two seasons.
I am not sure why, but I think Bradford still carries the stain of the Jeff Fisher years back when Bradford was a Ram. I am not saying Bradford should be your QB1. But he makes for a perfectly fine second option in a 2-QB league and is far better than the 31st QB on the board, which is where he is currently being selected.
I know this is not the first time I’ve hyped Bradford. But he’s worth hyping. However, we will shift away to a player I don’t believe I have ever hyped. Yet like Bradford, I just can’t seem to quit him.
2018 Late Round Targets and Deep Sleepers at Running Back
Christine Michael, Indianapolis Colts
Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me. And burn me four times, and you suddenly become my favorite post-post-post hype sleeper!
Obviously Michael has not just planted seeds of doubt, but an entire orchard of reasons not to even consider him. Michael’s ADP (351) is deeper than any player included here (or probably any sleeper article this season). That deep though, what do you have to lose? Meanwhile, what you have to gain is a player with potential to finish as a Top 20 RB.
Yup. Hear me out.
Do you realize it’s been a dozen years since the Colts handed the keys to a rookie RB with any success? Joseph Addai was the last rookie RB that the Colts had to eclipse 1,000 yards. I don’t think Jordan Wilkins or Nyheim Hines are going to suddenly end that streak.
For starters, the latter has failed spectacularly with blocking schemes and has shown fumbling issues. The former is sleeper worthy. However, Wilkins strengths don’t dovetail with how Colts coach Frank Reich is likely to run the Colt offense.
A healthy Andrew Luck can pick apart single coverage easily. Therefore, Reich is likely to prefer to have a lateral attack in the backfield. That lateral attack will force defenders to cover the field sideline-to-sideline, thus thinning out the ability to double-team and blanket coverage vertically. My guess is that the Colts backfield is a committee all year. But let’s assume Michael, who has shown a nose for the end-zone this preseason, becomes the Colts primary running back. We might be seeing a lot more of this:
And this is not the first time Michael has shown a tendency to get the ball over the stripe. In 2016, he scored seven times despite less than 150 carries. In the three seasons prior to that, he averaged over four-and-a-half yards per carry. Michael, who had a SPARQ score in the 99th percentile, has often been compared to Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is expected to rebound this year. Don’t be surprised if Michael suddenly finds himself atop the boards as well.
James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
After diving that deep, let’s go a lot shallower and go with the obvious Leveon Bell handcuff, James Conner. Bell has not played a full season in four years. Every time that Bell has been out, the Steelers have not been afraid to give his back-up a healthy dose of carries. Connor is unquestionably his backup and has absolutely sparkled this preseason. I can’t understand how Conner is currently being drafted behind the aforementioned Hines, the injured Donta Foreman, and the likes of Samaje Perine. Given that things are still a bit murky with the Bell situation….
don’t believe the fake news, I never said anything to no one…
— Le’Veon Bell (@LeVeonBell) August 28, 2018
I would grab Conner without hesitation. And while we are talking about murky situations in week 1, let’s take a quick dip over to New Orleans.
Jonathan Williams, New Orleans Saints
Unlike the Bell situation, we know Mark Ingram will not be playing in September. Alvin Kamara is a heck of a running back, but he’s not a 25-carry player. But the Saints wisely signed Jonathan Williams, a 6’0 223-pound bruiser who has notched a solid 5.2 YPC this preseason while rushing 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown.
2018 Late Round Targets and Deep Sleepers at Wide Receiver
Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins
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I probably recall better than you, but yes, I am aware that I featured Richardson last year in this space. All he did was finish as the 38th best fantasy WR last year. That’s ahead of three players that were all being drafted ahead of him like Sterling Shepard, Sammy Watkins, and Danny Amendola.
So let’s return to this year, and what do you know, Amendola is right behind Richardson yet Watkins and Shepard are still being drafted ahead of Richardson. I guess people are stupid.
Everything I said about Richardson last year is still true, except he now has an additional 700+ yards and six touchdowns added to his resume. And unlike last year he is the clear cut WR2 on his team. With Jamison Crowder likely to snag a lot of the short and intermediate targets, expect Richardson to give Washington the deep threat they’ve lacked recently.
Richardson is a deep ball threat, unlike one of the receivers he replaced in Washington. But that player too is worthy of our attention.
Ryan Grant, Indianappolis Colts
Grant is not a WR1 in any fashion. He might have the lowest ceiling of anyone featured here. However, with an ADP close to 190, he doesn’t need a high ceiling. Grant has always been a coaches favorite and is now a starter. With TY Hilton opposite of him drawing any potential double-team, Grant is a great bet to exceed last year’s 45-catch 4-touchdown nearly 600 yard season. Consider that his floor. Let’s suppose you draft him and he only catches one more pass a game and increases his touchdowns and yards by only 25%. You know what? You got a WR3 at a cost of a WR6. That’s a strong move in a shallow league. That’s a championship winning move in a deep league.
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
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Yet Grant is not the only the starting WR you can get late at a super discounted rate. Enunwa is not on a lot of owner’s radar due to the lack of stats from last year spent on the IR. But how quickly we forget about the year he had previously when he grabbed nearly 60 passes for 900 yards. With a better-than-you-think Jets team around him now, Enunwa should easily cross the century mark for yards. And if Robby Anderson’s legal issues prove to be a bigger issue, Enunwa should see the lions share of rookie phenom Sam Darnold’s passes.
2018 Late Round Targets and Deep Sleepers at Tight End
Last year I wrote an entire piece on tight end sleepers, but don’t have that luxury to reference this year. However, I have previously mentioned that if I can’t secure a top TE, I will gladly take Ricky Seals-Jones, who has an ADP past the two bills range. And that hasn’t changed. I still like RSJ if I can’t get a top tier TE. He is definitely one of the 2018 late round targets and deep sleepers to consider. However, I’m seeing him go as a late TE2 usually in the last few rounds. But if you’re in a league that requires three tight ends, you’d be asinine not to consider Jake Butt.
Jake Butt, Denver Broncos
Okay, I promise no more posterior puns or jokes here about Butt. And you need to take Butt seriously. The Broncos thought they had grabbed their tight end of the future in last year’s draft only to see him tear his ACL before the season even started. So it really should be no surprise that the Broncos let Virgil Green go to division rival San Diego. Which leaves only Jeff Heuerman for Butt to beat. Advantage Butt.
Broncos quarterback Case Keenum has already said he likes what Butt brings to the offense. Since we lack NFL stats to back up Keenum’s opinion, maybe just take a look yourself at what Butt can do.
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