By Joe Zollo
You know who to pick. You know who to avoid. But do you know who is hiding behind your back? The top sleepers of the 2017 season are ready to wake up and help you win a championship. In no particular order, let’s take a look at the top sleepers for the 2017 fantasy football season.
Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers: A receiver at the start of the season last year, Montgomery converted to running back when the rest of the Green Bay backfield went down with injuries. Before getting the call to be the starting running back in week 14, Montgomery had one standout game with 22 points. After the position change Montgomery averaged almost 16 PPG over four weeks. With FB Aaron Ripkowski being the biggest threat to steal carries from him, Ty Montgomery is a great sleeper.
Dwayne Allen, TE, New England Patriots: Gronkowski is injury prone and Allen is next in line to replace Gronk when he goes down. Big Marty B backed up Gronk last season and ended up as one of Brady’s most trusted targets. Allen could enjoy similar success if Gronkowski gets injured. He’s a fantastic pass catcher with tremendous upside and, as we all know, Tom Brady makes everyone around him better. With so many targets in that offense, Allen will see one-on-one coverage a lot. Even though he may see fewer targets because of the many weapons the Patriots have, Brady loves throwing to his big targets.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets: Matt Forte is now a shadow of himself and that leaves Bilal Powell waiting on the sideline to come kick him out of New York. Powell has shown he can be a productive running back who effectively runs between the tackles and catches passes as well. With the Jets recruiting Brucie for their starting QB role, Powell should be a good screen and check down target and should take a bulk of the carries away from Forte, eventually phasing the veteran out.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR New Orleans Saints: I put Ted Ginn on this list. He is a very deep sleeper – like stage 5 REM sleep – but he is well worth a very late draft pick (emphasis on very late). Drew Brees loves to throw the ball deep and that is basically the only thing Ted Ginn is good for. With Fleener not panning out and only Michael Thomas and Willie Snead to beat for a spot, Ginn could show up for some touchdowns and put your team over the top.
Seth Roberts, WR, Oakland Raiders: The big names on Oakland are Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and the newly un-retired Marshawn Lynch. But have you heard about the young Seth Roberts? He’s a reliable slot receiver who Carr has shown to love over the past year and that trust will only grow more. With Cooper and Crabtree receiving all the attention from DBs, it will allow Roberts to sneak around and ruin your opponent’s day.
Pierre Garçon, WR, San Francisco 49ers: Why does nobody like this guy? In every game but three, Garçon managed double digit points. Yes, he will see a downgrade at the quarterback position, going from Kirk “You like that” Cousins to either the grandpa, Brian Hoyer, or the kid, Matt Barkley. But he also will see an upgrade in position. In Washington, he was the third target behind DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed while now he is the clear number one option in the Bay Area. Expect Garçon to have a lot of receptions this season.
DeShone Kizer, QB, Cleveland Browns: I know what you’re thinking: “He isn’t even starting…” Yes, I’m aware of this. Cody Kessler is a great fill in but the rookie out of Notre Dame is a smart, high IQ kid who will pick up on the offense quickly and find his way into the starting role. It may not be until the second half of the season but he will find his way there and be a solid backup in case your starter goes down. Just remember, he is a free agent sleeper, not a draft sleeper.
Titans, DEF: I bet you’ve never seen a defense on a sleeper list before. Well, I figured since my list includes unique picks like Ted Ginn and DeShone Kizer, why stop there? The Titans went hard this offseason: they stole Logan Ryan from New England, drafted Adoree Jackson, and picked up FS Jonathan Cyprien from the Jaguars. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are nothing to mess with and Jurrell Casey up front with run stuffer Sylvester Williams will make for a solid front seven. Adoree Jackson will also be back returning kicks and punts as well. He had eight touchdowns in his three years at USC, four of which came in his 2016 season.
Keenan Allen, WR, Los Angeles Chargers: I didn’t want to put him on here because of his history of disappointing fantasy owners with his injuries but when he is healthy, he is nasty. Normally a number one receiver doesn’t make the list (see: Pierre Garçon) but many people have forgotten about Allen. I love this guy and I think he is going to make a splash in the new city. Mike Williams could be out for the season with a back injury and that will make Allen the clear number one in the offense, even with Philip Rivers’ favorite target, Antonio Gates, still hanging around.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants: I saved the best (or maybe worst) for last. Engram’s a rookie, so he may very well suck. We do know, though, that he has incredible potential and is in a perfect spot. Dealing with Odell Beckham on defense is hard enough. When you mix in Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard, you have a very dangerous trio of receivers. Eli loves targeting his tight ends as evidenced by Will Tye getting 70 targets last season and he isn’t even that good. Look for Engram to get more targets and haul in a lot of red zone touchdowns with a good amount of receptions.