Joe Z.’s 2018 Fantasy Football Sleepers

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By Joe Zollo

You have by now seen Club Fantasy’s A Look Inside each team in the league. You haven’t? Shame on you. It’s cool though. I have you covered with a compilation of my sleepers from every team as your fantasy football drafts rapidly approach. Some of these selections have been updated from our previews as some of the players I highlighted may have been cut, suffered an injury, or were traded. Don’t be afraid to take fliers on these guys!

JeremyHill

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s not Dion Lewis!” You’re right, it’s not. Former Bengals RB Jeremy Hill is currently 5th on the depth chart. Will he make the team? What role will he play if he does? What we do know is he can run the ball and score TDs. (Photo from www.pressherald.com)

AFC East

New England PatriotsJeremy Hill spent his first four seasons in Cincinnati and was plagued by an injury in 2017. He had to compete with Giovanni Bernard and Joe Mixon last year and now has to compete with Rex Burkhead, Sony Michel, James White, and Mike Gillislee this year. Hill has shown the ability to take a workload of over 220 carries, rush for double digit touchdowns, and produce over 1,000 yards in a season. He has never had a heavy workload through the air but has shown the ability to catch in the flat and make people miss. The New England backfield has always been a fantasy nightmare but Hill has the ability to rise to the top of the depth chart and make his mark in New England. Find him late in drafts as a bench warmer for now with upside to become your flex.

Buffalo Bills – After strong deliberation between an awful receiving corps and LeSean McCoy not being a sleeper, A.J McCarron has emerged as a strong sleeper for Buffalo. An even smaller sample size than Jimmy Garoppolo, I feel McCarron should have been the starter in Cincinnati over Andy Dalton. The only thing that makes it a bit scary is that Nick Saban has never coached a QB that has been successful at the professional level. His most successful product in college though was McCarron. I have faith that McCarron can be a serviceable backup fantasy QB but his pass catching options are limited, even with the addition of Corey Coleman. Aside from LeSean McCoy, your fantasy choices in Buffalo are limited.

Miami Dolphins – With Jarvis Landry gone, former New Orleans Saint Kenny Stills should be on your radar this upcoming season. With Ryan Tannehill back from his injury, Stills will have a viable QB in 2018. Last season, Stills was targeted 105 times and started all 16 games for the second year in a row and ranked just outside of the top 25 at his position at 26. Not a household name, but a guy who can be a solid flex option and has high WR2 upside with Devante Parker as the only one who looks to steal targets from him in Miami.

New York JetsQuincy Enunwa was M.I.A last season with a neck injury that sidelined him the entire season so you may have forgotten about him. You also likely forgot he posted 58 receptions for 857 yards in 2016. Enunwa returns and now slates in at the number 1 WR position on the left side. At only 25, Enunwa could look to be a high WR3 in fantasy this season and even make his way to a weekly starter on your team.

JamesWashington

The best deep ball receiver in college last year is primed to replace the production of new Raiders WR Martavis Bryant. Rookie James Washington should rise to 3rd on the depth chart with ease but he doesn’t seem to be rising on draft boards. Better for you! (Photo from www.post-gazette.com)

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers – He had better stats every single season at Oklahoma State. He played in every single game, every single year in college and now he even has his college QB sitting right behind Big Ben waiting to come into the game. James Washington is the Steelers next big WR. They have seemed to not miss on drafting WR’s, in terms of talent, the past few years with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant so I have trust that James Washington will turn out alright. He will line up in the third WR spot for Pittsburgh and produce WR4 numbers for your fantasy team by the end of the season.

Baltimore Ravens – If there is one thing we know Joe Flacco can do, it’s throw the football miles down the field. And if there is one thing we know John Brown can do, it’s get down the field as a deep threat. As long as Brown can stay healthy, he will be one of Flacco’s favorite targets because he can get down field in a hurry. Mike Wallace’s first year in Baltimore was a resurrection of his career because he could get down field and that resulted in his first 1,000 yard season in 5 years. Wallace and Brown run almost identical 40 times at 4.33 and 4.34. Brown is 5’11″ and Wallace is 6’0″. Both were late third round picks. Get John Brown as a WR4 because he is injury prone but has absolutely tremendous upside to be your every week flex player.

Cincinnati BengalsTyler Eifert has been non-existent since 2015 when he posted an incredible 13 touchdowns and ranked 6th overall at the tight end position in fantasy football. That non-existence comes from injuries he has suffered since 2016. Eifert is back now on a one-year deal in Cincinnati and is looking to prove he can still be effective after his injuries. Target Eifert as your backup TE as he has a tremendous upside to move into your every week starter role, even with Andy Dalton as the QB.

Cleveland Browns – I hate his off the field issues but the skill that Antonio Callaway brings to the field is incredible. Reminds you of another Cleveland Brown, doesn’t it? His 4.41 speed jumps off the page and if he didn’t have off the field issues he would have been one of the most looked at talents in the draft. He will slot at the WR3 position on Cleveland’s depth chart but he just has to make sure he says no to drugs. He is definitely a gamble in late rounds and a worthy gamble if he can keep his head on straight.

PatrickMahomes

The Chiefs believe so much in Patrick Mahomes, they dealt their starting QB after a dream season. If the Chiefs believe in Mahomes, there’s no reason we shouldn’t. (photo from clutchpoints.com)

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs – If Alex Smith can do it, then so can Patrick Mahomes. After sitting a full year and watching Alex Smith have arguably the best season of his career, it is Mahomes’ turn to take the spotlight in Kansas City. The team has enough trust in him that they traded Alex Smith to the Redskins. I am also putting that same amount of confidence in him. Now, don’t take what I said so literally because he is not a QB1 just yet. He has the ability to be a viable QB2 and the upside to become a guy who you consider starting week-to-week. He has good targets in Kelce, Hunt, Hill, and newly acquired Sammy Watkins and they will help him become successful in his first true NFL season.

Los Angeles Chargers – The 7th overall pick in 2017, WR from Clemson, Mike Williams comes off a disappointing, unhealthy rookie season. Playing in only 10 games his rookie season he hauled in just 11 receptions for only 95 yards. Williams had been battling a back issue from his first offseason programs into the first five weeks of the season and never seemed to be at 100% but look for him this season. His 6’4″, 220 pound frame is unlike most receivers in the NFL and he has the vertical ability to be a scary red zone threat. Williams has a solid WR4 look with the upside to be rivaling Keenan Allen for targets in the Chargers offense.

Oakland Raiders – Traded for the 79th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Martavis Bryant packed his bag and went west to join the bad boys of the Bay Area. If Bryant can screw his head on straight, he will be the best WR3 in the NFL. He falls behind Amari Cooper and newly acquired Jordy Nelson but should compete with Jordy for that WR2 role. Bryant has shown flashes at being a consistent deep threat and a red zone threat as well. Look to snag him in the mid rounds of your draft as your WR3 who has high WR2 upside.

Denver BroncosCourtland Sutton has not played a single snap in the NFL, but he is the sleeper on Denver’s roster. Drafted 40th overall, he is put in a great position behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Both of these guys will attract the attention, letting Sutton receive one-on-one coverage against the 3rd DB. He won’t burn NFL secondaries but has the size at 6’3” to battle in the air both downfield and in the red zone.

DonteMoncrief

Staying in the AFC South, former Colts WR Donte Moncrief looks to put his injury concerns behind him and start fresh in Jacksonville. (Photo from www.baltimorebeatdown.com)

AFC South

Jacksonville JaguarsDonte Moncrief makes his way down to the Sunshine State and could become a solid fantasy option on your team. As of right now, Marquise Lee is the number one guy in Jacksonville and he is prone to injury. Behind Moncrief is rookie D.J Chark, Rashad Greene, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook so it is Moncrief’s job to lose. He was never a consistent threat in Indianapolis but T.Y Hilton was the main reason that receiving core was relevant. Without Hilton, Moncrief gets to show his real talent this year and I think he can be a WR4 on your team.

Tennessee Titans – The name Dion Lewis doesn’t sound like someone who would be a sleeper but based on his average draft position (ADP) he truly is one this season. After averaging over 5 YPC last season in New England, Lewis now lands in Nashville and will share a backfield with Derrick Henry. Henry’s size makes him incredibly scary but he is unproven in the league. Lewis is much more versatile in both the running game and passing game and him being taken as the 28th overall RB after guys like Sony Michel and Joe Mixon is mind-boggling. Lewis is scary and has the potential to be the best running back you draft this season.

Houston TexansD’Onta Foreman had his rookie season derailed by an Achilles injury that forced him to leave Houston’s matchup against Arizona. Don’t let that scare you off from taking him as a late round RB though. He averaged 4.2 YPC last season while being able to bring in 75% of his targets. Foreman is number 2 on the depth chart behind Lamar Miller, who is coming off yet another underwhelming season. Look for Foreman to take a bulk of the goal line carries and be more of an option in 2018.

Indianapolis ColtsRyan Grant was supposed to be a Baltimore Raven this season but a failed physical led him to the Indianapolis Colts. Don’t let that scare you though, as he played in every single game in his first four seasons with the Washington Redskins. He was never a true starter in Washington but started the most games in his career last season with 7. He now heads to Indy who gets Andrew Luck back and slates him at the number 2 position behind T.Y Hilton. This takes pressure off Hilton to get open and gives Grant yet another good, young QB.

CoreyClement

After his big time Super Bowl performance, people now know Corey Clement’s name. He’ll have competition for touches in Philly this year, but Clement should challenge incumbent Jay Ajayi for starer’s touches this season. (Photo from www.cbssports.com)

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles – He didn’t start a single game last season but dazzled in the Super Bowl. He played his college ball at Wisconsin and now Corey Clement will work his way into a starting role with the Eagles. Jay Ajayi runs like he is hauling an anchor and has never been known for his pass catching ability. Darren Sproles is 35 and coming off a major injury and Donnel Pumphrey is no threat to Clement. Look for Clement to be someone you can stash on your bench until he takes off and proves he will be the number one option in the backfield for the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Dallas Cowboys – Coming off his most games started in a season, most receptions, and most receiving yards, former Buffalo Bills WR Deonte Thompson showed flashes of being effective last season. He ranked in the top 70 among receivers last season and now goes into a system in Dallas where there is no true #1 receiver. He will team up with the likes of Cowboy veterans Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, along with new Cowboys Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, and rookie Michael Gallup from Colorado State. Thompson has a legit chance at becoming one of the most targeted receivers on this team and could be part of your fantasy team in a bench role to start the season with upside at becoming a viable flex option week-to-week.

Washington Redskins – The third year man out of Texas Christian University, WR Josh Doctson has shown flashes of greatness in his short time in the NFL. Plagued by injuries his rookie season in 2016, Doctson played in all 16 Redskins games in 2017 and started 14 of them. New QB Alex Smith has been known to throw the ball deep this past year and Doctson has the size and speed to get down the field. A red zone threat who should be targeted as your WR3 or WR4.

CodyLatimer

Former Broncos WR Cody Latimer finds a new home in New York this year where he should be in line for better production. The Giants boast some quality weapons at WR but with injury concerns surrounding OBJ and Sterling Shepard, Latimer should get a few looks. (Photo from www.bigblueview.com)

New York GiantsCody Latimer played his first four seasons as a Denver Bronco and now joins Big Blue as their number three WR. He has played behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in Denver and will continue to play behind bigger names, like OBJ and Sterling Shepard. Last year was Latimer’s career high in every single category and he should be a WR to look at with his 6’2″ frame and athletic ability to create separation, especially against smaller defenders.

NFC North

Minnesota Vikings – Five years in Nashville and one lone year in the Windy City, Kendall Wright keeps his talents in the NFC North to play with the Minnesota Vikings. He has never started a full season in the NFL but has shown he has talent in all areas of the field. He will compete for the third spot on the depth chart with Laquon Treadwell and very well could beat him out considering Treadwell has been nothing but a disappointment. Wright has never had an established QB throwing him the football, but he now has Kirk Cousins behind center. Wright is a deep sleeper as this Minnesota team is already very established but look for him to be a solid bench guy who has the skills to fill in if necessary.

Detroit Lions – Playing in only 11 games, former Northern Illinois WR Kenny Golladay managed to rack up 477 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season. He proved he can be a viable 3rd receiver in the Detroit offense and with his 6’4″ frame, he can be a scary red zone threat as well. Golladay can be a low WR3, high WR4 on your fantasy team with the ability to become an every week starter. The Lions are a dark horse for the Super Bowl and Golladay is a dark horse to help you get there in your league.

GeronimoAllison

Geronimo Allison slots into the WR2 role in Green Bay after the departure of Jordy Nelson. Randall Cobb doesn’t scare anyone and Allison has the ability to shine much like Davante Adams did a couple of years ago. (Photo from www.sbnation.com)

Green Bay PackersGeronimo Allison, 3rd year man out of Illinois, looks to take advantage of Jordy Nelson leaving and move up the depth chart. He slides in behind Davante Adams and Randall Cobb as the number 3 option for Aaron Rodgers at the WR position. He is tall at 6’3″ and can be a viable red zone option since most of the attention will be put on newly acquired TE Jimmy Graham. Look for Allison to be your WR4 or WR5 with the upside to be a weekly flex play.

Chicago Bears – What if I told you he has 1 completion… for 1 yard… and 1 touchdown… would you know who I am talking about? Well, Trey Burton served up the Philly Special in Super Bowl 52 and that’s all he really did in that game; and for the playoffs. 4 targets, 1 reception, for 12 yards was his 2018 playoff stat line. So why do I like him so much? He is now in the windy city playing with a young QB surrounded by good young talent. His regular season numbers last season weren’t his best but 5 of his 6 career receiving touchdowns came last season. Burton replaces Zach Miller, who was used a lot in this offense and I expect he will be used the same amount as Miller was.

NFC West

Los Angeles Rams – The second year man out of Eastern Washington Cooper Kupp started only 6 games in his rookie year. It is his time to shine as Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods will hog all the coverage, leaving Kupp with the third best DB. He played well last season, managing 869 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns and is poised for a 1,000 yard season in 2018. He will play in the slot and give Goff a safety blanket with no strong TE on this roster. People know his name but they don’t know just how good he can be. He can be your FLEX option or WR3.

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Tyler Lockett has the speed to be a serious threat at WR in Seattle. Does he have the consistency to provide you with an every week starter? (Photo from http://www.ftw.usatoday.com)

Seattle Seahawks – In his fourth year, Tyler Lockett looks to make a bigger impression on the NFL on the offensive side of the football. During his rookie season, he racked up six touchdowns but has caught only three the past two seasons. He will be slotted behind Doug Baldwin and the newly acquired Brandon Marshall, which will allow him to play against lesser skilled DBs and become a deep threat in Seattle’s offense. Look for Lockett to be a Ted Ginn type player. Sit him on your bench with the potential to be a FLEX at points throughout the season.

Arizona Cardinals – In his first two years in Oakland and the last three in Dallas, Brice Butler has shown flashes of being a deep threat in the NFL. His numbers are not off the charts but as the 4th string receiver in Dallas, he finished in the top 80 at his position in fantasy last season. Going into an offense with Larry Fitzgerald as the only true option, Butler can make a name for himself this upcoming year at 28 years old. Find Brice Butler as a late round option to be your WR5 on your team with high upside to be a flex during some weeks. We all need that benchwarmer who we can put in with high upside and Brice Butler is that guy for your team.

San Francisco 49ersPierre Garçon was injured for half of 2017 and never played a single snap with Jimmy Garoppolo. He totaled 40 receptions for 500 yards with C.J Bethard and Brian Hoyer as his QB’s. Now imagine a healthy Pierre Garçon with Jimmy G… go ahead. I’ll wait… looks pretty good right? The last time Garçon had a viable QB (2016 in Washington with Kirk Cousins) he posted a 1,000-yard season and the highest catch percentage of his career at 69.3%. Even at 31 years old, Garçon can still make a huge impact on your fantasy team as a WR3 and can be a viable flex position week-to-week.

NFC South

New Orleans Saints – So what if he is 37, has been on four different teams, and was the last pick in the 1st round in 2004. After two years in Baltimore, Ben Watson’s back in the Big Easy and looking to give Drew Brees his first resemblance of a serviceable tight end since Jimmy Graham left. In 2015 with the Saints, he had a career high in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, and tied a career high for touchdowns with six. With the emergence of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram as the best RB duo in the league, it will open up space for Watson to find gaps in the zone and create chaos in the NFC South.

TorreySmith

Torrey Smith finds himself in Carolina now to be the main deep threat for Cam Newton and the Panthers. Can he be for them what Ted Ginn Jr. once was? (Photo from http://www.rotostreetjournal.com)

Carolina Panthers – It pains me to say this, but Torrey Smith might actually do well in this offense. Here are his quarterbacks throughout his time in the NFL: Joe Flacco (deep ball passer), Colin Kaepernick (strong arm), Blaine Gabbert (backup), and Carson Wentz (balanced). His last season over 90 targets was 2014 with the Ravens and he averaged over 100 targets per year in Baltimore. He now joins Cam Newton in Carolina who also has a strong arm and can throw the ball deep. It sure looks like Torrey Smith can succeed in Carolina, right? Smith is a proven one trick pony and that one trick is being a deep threat. Don’t draft him in a PPR league but if you are in the late rounds of a traditional league, Torrey Smith could give you a boost when he has a good matchup.

Atlanta Falcons – Another team where it is tough to pick out a sleeper who could give your team a boost in the late rounds of drafts, so let’s go with the rookie who played in Mercedes-Benz stadium this past January — Calvin Ridley. Ridley is by far the most polished route runner in the entire 2018 draft class and that is a crucial aspect to being an effective rookie. Yes, it is true that there has not been a successful rookie WR for several years but Ridley is in a good spot to succeed. He has no pressure to take the #1 or #2 role from Julio Jones or Mohamed Sanu, respectively, and he has a decent QB in Matt Ryan with a solid run game in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Not much attention will be given to Ridley and that will allow him to use his route running skills on lesser skilled DBs and offer some help during bye weeks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A second year guy from Penn State, Chris Godwin has the opportunity to turn heads this season in Tampa. He managed 34 receptions for 525 yards in his rookie year but that was him starting just two games. Adam Humphries may prevent him from having huge production but Godwin has the skills and big play ability to knock Humphries down the depth chart. Godwin is taller and faster than Humphries and may even see time being played over DeSean Jackson who struggled last year to find a connection with Jameis Winston. Look for Godwin to be a benchwarmer who can get you valuable points against weak secondaries.