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While researching this deep sleeper rookies piece, I kept thinking of the very end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (I’m not sure this is necessary for a movie more than 20 years old, but consider this your spoiler alert.). I was reminded of when the elder Dr. Jones says to Indiana Jones, “She thought she found a prize”. Indiana then responds to him, “And what did you find, Dad?”. Jones Sr. then replies “Illumination.”

That’s how I feel. I was looking for little “buried treasures” that could bring you or me the prize of a league championship. However, what I found instead was some illuminating takeaways that I did not expect.

Ok, they were not all surprises. I suspected there would not be any deep rookie sleeper TEs and I was right. The number of QBs that were deep rookie sleepers were about what I expected as well.

But what I found illuminating is this: the deep sleeper rookie at RBs were nearly non-existent, while there was still an abundance of  deep sleeper rookies at WR. Those of you looking for rookie RBs in the 180-250 ADP range? Like Belloq, you are digging in the wrong place! Meanwhile, despite all the Sterling Shepard-type-golden statutes that registered an ADP too high for our crusade, there were still plenty of deep sleeper rookie WRs to be found without needing the diary notes of Dr. Jones Sr.

My suspicion is that it has something to do with the preponderance of the zero-RB theory, whether that is wrong or right. But rather than dissect theories, I will give you some deep sleeper rookies I would not consider, so you don’t end up “drinking from the false grail.” Let’s start with a deep sleeper rookie who might leave you in the Temple of Doom…..

Deep Sleeper Rookies

RB Deep Sleeper Rookies to Bypass

Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears


There are plenty of reasons to downgrade Jeremy Langford and expect Howard to be the Chicago RB you want. Two quick reasons are that Langford was seen at camp sporting a walking boot last week and his yards per carry last year was middling. However, both of those are but a snippet. What we do have substantial evidence of is that rookie RBs do not flourish under John Fox.

Consider the multiple years of data:

In 2006, the Panthers drafted DeAngelo Williams and under Fox, he failed to crack RB3 territory. He did have a huge season two years later of course in 2008, when DeShaun Foster was gone and Jonathan Stewart was a rookie who played second fiddle. Stewart then saw his carries top 200 the following year in 2009, smashing through the 1,000 yard barrier. Of course, before Stewart rampaged during his second year, the Panthers drafted another rookie RB (Mike Goodson), who got all of 22 carries. Let’s skip to Fox’s next stop in Denver.

In 2012, when Willis McGahee got injured, Fox turned to veteran Knowshon Moreno instead of rookie Ronnie Hillman. In 2013, Fox and the Broncos drafted Montee Ball. Ball owners are still trying to heal. ‘Nuff said about Denver, let’s move onto Chicago.

In the first half of the season with Matt Forte healthy, Langford saw only 17% of the snaps. If Langford is healthy, expecting Jordan Howard to suddenly buck the rookie RBs under Fox trend  is asking for your Fantasy Football aspirations to get burned like Toht’s hand when he grabs the medallion in Raiders of the Lost Ark. 


RB Deep Sleeper Rookie?

If you really want a RB deep sleeper rookie in our range, consider Keith Marshall, who I have discussed before, but a mild preseason has tempered my expectations. That piece includes a clip comparing Marshall to Will Fuller, which is interesting given that Fuller is my top….


WR Deep Sleeper Rookie to Bypass

Will Fuller, Houston Texans

Even though I have predicted DeAndre Hopkins to see a drop in targets, he will still see the lion’s share of them. That leaves Fuller to compete with fellow rookie Braxton Miller, veteran Cecil Shorts who still saw 74 targets last year, and second-year player Jaelen Strong who has been making a serious push this offseason and has looked good this preseason….

So instead of Fuller, consider one of these:

WR Deep Sleeper Rookies

Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals


Brandon LaFell is still technically in the way of Tyler Boyd starting. However, in Lafell’s best year, he still failed to catch 75 balls or 1,000 yards receiving and that was with Tom Brady. Let’s just say that Andy Dalton is no Tom Brady. Meanwhile, Boyd has been everything the Bengals were expecting when he made them their second pick. Marvin Lewis has said that Boyd has “exceeded expectations.” All he has done this preseason so far is score a touchdown in every one of the Bengals games. Meanwhile, we know Tyler Eifert is out to start the season. Expect the same talent that helped Boyd break Larry Fitzgerald’s records at Pitt carry over to the pros.


Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans

With the trade of Dorial Green-Beckham, Sharpe is probably going to start rising up draft boards. However, Sharp has already cleared one hurdle a rookie receiver often faces—earning their QB’s trust.

But it’s not just the intangibles. Sharpe has looked good this preseason as well, snagging all six of his targets for 68 yards. The DGB trade is proof that Sharpe’s place atop the depth chart is legit. Let’s just hope his draft price can stay low.


Pharoh Cooper, Los Angeles Rams

Drafting Cooper might require you to take a leap of faith similar to the one Indy takes when he steps off the ledge. And that counts on Cooper surpassing Brian Quick, who I have already gone on record saying I like this year as a deep pick too. But both Cooper and Quick have one thing in common—questionable starters ahead of them on the depth chart. Despite 10 years between them, neither Tavon Austin nor Kenny Britt has ever caught even 55 passes or had 800 yards receiving. I’m not too concerned about either of them. Meanwhile, the Rams are very high on Cooper, including GM Les Snead saying this:

Cooper has already begun showing he has a place on the Rams, as evidenced by his touchdown in the Rams latest preseason game. I was tempted to make an archaeology and Pharoh joke, but instead let’s talk about another deep sleeper rookie that might disappoint…


QB Deep Sleeper Rookie to Bypass

Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles


I will say this upfront—I’m talking to those of you in redraft leagues. In dynasty leagues, Wentz has the “it” factor and I do expect good things from him long-term. But whether you like it or not, Sam Bradford is the starter in Philly this year. Even if Bradford gets injured, Chase Daniel will get the start. Okay, yes, after Thanksgiving if Bradford is injured, Wentz will get his shot. But are you really going to draft a guy who might give you four weeks? Instead, draft…


QB Deep Sleeper Rookies

Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

Goff has far less talent in front of him on the depth chart. Yes, Jeff Fisher seems to enjoy murdering your Fantasy team more than Indiana Jones encounters snakes. But sooner or later Fisher (or his replacement coach) is going to realize that Case Keenum really should not be your starting quarterback. Goff needs to get better, but just as he looked more and more comfortable during the Rams second preseason game, expect him to be more and more ready as the season progresses. I would not be surprised if Goff is starting after the Rams bye and shows the talent that helped him toss nearly a hundred touchdowns during his three year college career at Cal.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys


Both head honcho David Gonos and myself went on record weeks ago saying we both liked Prescott. And that was before he looked like Roger Staubach this preaseason. And that was before Prescott had four passing TDs and 338 passing yards in two preseason games. It’s not as if this production has come out of nowhere either. Prescott threw 56 TDs during last two years at Mississippi State (with only 16 INTs) as well as running in another 24 on the ground. Tony Romo  is less fragile than people think—he played 15 or more games in each of the four years before last year but the fact remains that Romo is a 36-year old QB coming off a season in which he only played four games. Prescott might not be such a deep sleeper anymore, but he’s still not even cracking the Top 40 QBs and that screams opportunity.

Still on a crusade to find more sleepers? Check out SCFE’s draft kit……

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