The post-hype sleeper might be the most elusive of sleepers to find. Sleepers can be found everywhere. Whether they are rookies, “contract year players,” players with a new team/coach/system, they abound. But what makes post-hype sleepers the Loch Ness monster/Big Foot of all sleepers?
For one, just because the hype might have softened, that doesn’t mean Fantasy owners are so quick to forget. Need an example? Matt Jones was a popular and hyped “sleeper pick” last year. He responded with a disappointing season of less than 500 rushing yards and only four combined touchdowns. But he still has a 5th round ADP for example. Of course, should he only have three games that he notches 20 Fantasy points again this year, there is no way he will have a fifth round ADP next year.
Because the post-hype sleeper has to have either really flopped and or disappointed on multiple occasions, such failure can (and quite often should) scare many drafters away. Take for example Michael Crabtree who was an extremely hyped rookie when he came into the league. Fast forward six years later to last year’s preseason when he had multiple disappointing seasons, was going to compete with rookie sensation Amari Cooper for targets, and his paltry career average of 4.5 TDs wasn’t exactly generating positive buzz. What happened? Crabtree doubled that figure last year, scoring nine times and caught 85 passes for 922 yards. Not bad for a player that many had written off.
But the importance of finding these sleepers is key, especially when others are spending valuable draft capital on the hyped players. We can all remember the hype that Ameer Abdullah and Davante Adams (who I didn’t detail below, but probably should have. An ADP past 200? Really?) got going into the season this past year. And we all remember the result. Meanwhile, guys like Devonta Freeman and the aforementioned Michael Crabtree, once highly hyped themselves, finally broke through.
Promise not to scoff, but here are some of the post-hype sleepers I am watching….
Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles
I know, you probably are thinking my head is more cracked than the Liberty Bell. But there’s a reason I think the City of Brotherly Love will embrace Bradford as their quarterback….
Smith has been a serviceable quarterback the last few years, outperforming his annual Fantasy ADP. Smith’s offensive coordinator during his time in KC was Doug Pederson. You know–the same guy that is now the Eagles head coach!
Pederson wants to run a West Coast offense and it seems long ago, but Bradford won the 2010 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award running a West Coast offense. Of course, the Rams hired Josh McDaniels, who does not run a West Coast offense, to be their OC in Bradford’s second year. Almost everything after is probably worth forgetting. Bradford has looked almost All-Pro when distributing the ball quickly and allowing his receivers to rack up YAC. Yes, there are others out there, but the West Coast offense has shined as the system that most fits a quarterback whose strengths include his accuracy and his smarts.
But Alex Smith is what I expect Bradford’s floor to be. If Pederson can get the same size bump in performance from Bradford than he got from Smith, a 4,000 yard, 25-TD season can be had.
Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings
There is no question that Charles Johnson’s first two years have been a disappointment. The fun part of post-hype sleepers is you have to think back, and then you get kind of nostalgic. I remember one of my buddies smiling ear-to-ear when he got Charles Johnson in our auction league and ….well you know how that worked out.
So why is he worthy of our time now? Well first off, what existed a few years ago still exists now: teams overloading to defend the run and Adrian Peterson. Johnson should expect to see a lot of single coverage.
Secondly, reports coming out camp are absolutely glowing. We have been down this road before, but those reports last year were driving up his price. This brings us to the third and most important reason to like Charles Johnson.
His draft price is absolutely ree-donk-u-lous. He’s not even one the Top 100 WRs being drafted! Even Laquon Treadwell, who is behind him on the depth chart….
In #Vikings‘ first-walk through, John Sullivan is the first-team center. Andre Smith at RT, Charles Johnson and Stefon Diggs at WR.
— Ben Goessling (@GoesslingESPN) July 29, 2016
…. has a higher ADP. But Johnson is not the only post-hype sleeper not being drafted in the Top 100 receivers that have my interest piqued. I am also looking at…
Brian Quick, Los Angeles Rams
Brian Quick may turn me into Charlie Brown. I keep holding out hope, but he keeps pulling a Lucy and pulling the ball away at the last minute.
Nonetheless, his size-speed combo is still very tantalizing. His draft comparables were striking: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, and Larry Fitzgerald.
That’s pretty good company. Of course, those were the most optimistic. But one current player jumps out at me who might be considered as the “most comparable”—Allen Robinson. Both are 220 pounds and they are less than an inch apart. Quick, meanwhile, is actually faster and had better workout metrics.
Robinson, like Quick, has battled injuries. However, Robinson remained healthy all of last year. Quick has yet to do so. Should he remain healthy, Quick could see numbers similar to Robinson should Quick secure a starting gig.
I think he will.
Quick does not have a lot of competition within the Rams receiving corps. The two players listed ahead of him are Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt. Austin is a “gadget” receiver, who is a bigger threat on a reverse than he is running a route. He has yet to catch even 500 yards in a season. Britt, meanwhile, hasn’t had much more success either. He’s never caught even 50 passes in his seven year career, and let’s just politely say that he has had some off-field issues.
Finding a post-hype sleeper often requires digging this deep. Hopefully I have not lost you going as deep as I have, so going just a little shallower we find the….
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
Abdullah is going in the middle of the seventh round currently. That’s actually higher than when I took a chance on him last year, but it is far lower than when many took a chance on him in the fourth-fifth rounds last year.
One of the reasons I refused to take him much higher last year was the presence of Joique Bell. Well, guess who is gone now?
But he must have burned a lot of owners last year given that he is the 30th RB coming off the board. Of course, much of that disappointment can be tied to lack of volume. Abdullah had a solid 4.2 yards per carry last year, an impressive 4.7 yards during the Lions’ final 10 games, and despite not being seen as a PPR weapon, still managed to catch 25 passes last year.
Given the presence of Theo Riddick, I understand Abdullah’s ADP. The RB that truly screams value, however, is the guy going just a couple picks earlier….
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
First off, Duke Johnson’s primary competition is Isaiah Crowell. That’s the same player who has had two years to establish himself as a runner behind Cleveland’s well respected line and hasn’t. The same player who only caught 19 passes last year. The same player who had a number of off-field distractions and if there’s one thing that this Cleveland team could use less of, that’s it.
So now that we’ve scared off the Crow competition, let’s talk about what Johnson can do that made him a hyped rookie but now getting little respect.
Johnson was a great weapon for the Miami Hurricanes his junior season, racking up more than 2,000 all purpose yards with a gaudy 6.8 YPC. That is in addition to the impressive 10.4 yards per catch he averaged in college. He left Miami as the team’s all-time rusher atop other notable names like Frank Gore, Willis McGahee and Clinton Portis and was compared to Justin Forsett. Of course, Forsett was never really hyped, but given the MVP-like year he produced his last healthy year, isn’t Johnson a post-hype sleeper you might want to consider?
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