Now that the 2018 NFL draft is over, we can highlight 7 deep sleeper rookies.
Keep searching elsewhere, however, if you are looking for general rookie coverage. We will not be discussing Saquon Barkley and many of the other 2018 first round rookie picks. Unless you are in a shallow league with owners that might score single digits on a Wonderlic test, those first round players are rookies, not rookies sleepers.
Many other rookies are sleepers. Those receivers selected by Pittsburgh or RBs taken by Tampa Bay in the second round are often sleepers. There are also a bunch of players selected in the third round of the 2018 Draft, including Royce Freeman or Michael Gallup, that I like as rookie sleepers.
But notice I said 2018 deep sleeper rookies. So we’re going deeper than the third round. We’ll focus on players that were drafted on Day 3 of the 2018 draft.
Many of the players selected during the first two days are likely to be starters by opening kick-off. While I expect the players below to make their team’s roster, they are likely going to need an injury to become worthwhile starters this year. These are not just sleeper rookies, but deep sleeper rookies.
These are players you can probably skip right by in standard redraft leagues. But dynasty leagues, keeper leagues, and even deep redraft league owners should be aware of these guys. I have listed 7 deep sleeper rookies in draft pick order for your convenience.
7 Deep Sleeper Rookies
Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants (pick 4.8)
Many thought that the Giants had an excellent draft and you can include me in that group. I’m not really impressed by what you do with the #2 pick overall, but what really spiked my draft grade for the Giants for me was this pick.
Lauletta is a quick learner. He had four different offensive coordinators during his time as a Richmond Spider. Yet he was effective regardless of the coordinator, finishing as the school’s all-time passing leader with over 10K yards. He is also one of the most accurate quarterbacks in this draft class. Richmond receivers often failed to get much separation, forcing Lauletta to throw into tighter windows.
Given that one of the biggest knocks on Eli Manning is his accuracy (David Tyree does not have to make the “Helmet Catch” above his head if Manning throws it a little better), Lauletta might be exactly what Giant fans want.
Keep expectations low for Lauletta this year. Last year was the first year in over a dozen years that the 37-old Manning did not play 16 games (he played 15). However, once Eli joins big brother Peyton on the retirement couch or is too injured to play, Lauletta presents immediate value.
Jaleel Scott, WR, Baltimore Ravens (4.32)
I’ll admit, this guy was not on my radar before the draft. And I don’t know why, because he should have been. Perhaps it was the fact that Scott did very little most of his college career. It wasn’t until his senior year that he broke out for 1,042 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. While those are impressive numbers, it is still less than Cortland Sutton’s final year numbers, plus many of the other dozen or so receivers who were selected before Scott.
Yet Scott has the speed, leaping ability, body control, concentration, and strong hands I like to see in a receiver. He might have had the best catch in all of college football last year:
Scott has a lot of bodies he’ll have to surpass on the Ravens restocked WR corps to be a regular weapon this year. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes an immediate red zone threat for John Harbaugh and the Ravens.
The Ravens were not the only team remaking their WR unit this offseason; the Colts were too.
Daurice Fountain, WR, Indianapolis Colts (5.22)
T.Y. Hilton is still the Colts top receiver, but with Donte Moncrief and a few others now gone, do you know who the Colts WR2 is?
Still thinking, right? I don’t think anyone would blame you if didn’t know that the answer is Chester Rogers. Rogers has all of 42 receptions and one touchdown through his first two years in the league. Some might also say Ryan Grant is actually the WR2. Let’s spare the argument over whom is playing the slot versus the outside. During the four years that he has been in the league, Grant has six touchdowns and not even 1,000 yards combined.
The point is that Fountain definitely has an opportunity. Fountain broke out in his senior year for 66 receptions, 943 yards, and 12 touchdowns. With a 40-inch vertical and 133-inch broad jump, Fountain is a natural athlete capable of huge plays. Even if Fountain fails to snag a starting wide receiver slot, he should see time as a returner. If your league rewards return yards, he needs to be on a short list of late round receivers.
Deon Cain, WR, Indianapolis Colts (6.11)
Of course the Colts then picked Deon Cain, which certainly diminished the shine of the Fountain pick. I like both of these picks a lot, I just wish they hadn’t been by the same team. The knock on Cain is his small hands, often leading to drops. However, his length and speed are great attributes that helped him leave Clemson as the fourth highest in receiving touchdowns. I don’t see Cain having much significance this year, but he needs to at least be considered in every dynasty league.
Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers (6.33)
I still can’t believe how far St. Brown plummeted. I am nearly hesitant to include him here because I am wondering what NFL GMs know about him that I don’t. But I still included him in my likely Day 2 picks piece, so I need to include him here. And as I have said before, the Pack have a tendency to pick well at WR. Keep your eyes open for St. Brown.
Javon Wims, WR, Chicago Bears (7.6)
The Giants and Bears got my highest grades for the draft. The fact that the Bears grabbed Wims this late was absolutely larceny. The biggest knock on Wims is his speed. His 40-time was in the bottom half of all Combine WR participants. However, what Wims offers is the most important ability in a wide receiver: catching the ball. He was 18th in deep pass receptions and 15th in the country in deep pass catch percentage. Add in his ability to shake off tacklers with his size, this seventh-round pick is exactly the type of sleeper that your dynasty leaguemates will be ignoring. And should not.
But there’s at least one more player I also want to include.
2018 Deep Sleeper Rookies: Running Back
Bo Scarbrough, RB, Dallas Cowboys (7.18)
Unlike St. Brown, I do understand the plummet here. As I read somewhere, Scarbrough is entering the NFL about a decade too late. He’s a big strong back but offers little else. And being behind Zeke, and possibly Rod Smith and Tavon Austin, I don’t see a lot of consistent Fantasy production coming Scarbrough’s way.
However, those of you in deep TD-only leagues, pay attention. I could definitely see Scarbrough having some Fantasy value this year in those leagues. Scarbrough is currently my top choice to be the “late career Jerome Bettis.” Scarbrough is not going to see a lot of carries, but could easily see double figure carries at the goal line.
A player winding down his career like Bettis was probably happy to be in the unique situation to have more touchdowns than yards per game. Don’t think Scarbrough will be happy. However, happiness does not dictate Fantasy success. And Scarbrough will be one of a few 2018 deep sleeper rookies worthy of being on your radar.
Latest posts by Mark Strausberg (see all)
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