It’s the middle of May (did you just sing “It’s gonna be May” in your head? No? Just me? Ahem … moving along) and now is the time to start thinking of players you can get at a low price who have the potential to put up HUGE fantasy numbers. These sleepers are the ones you highlight on your draft board for the later rounds of your redraft or keeper league. That, Sharks, is how you win championships.
Today we will look at two players from each position who fall into the infamous “sleeper” category. I’ll be looking at players currently being drafted in or after Round 9 of a 12-team standard league. Some of these guys may make your stomach queasy, so get the Pepto Bismol ready as you’re going to need it, trust me. Without further ado, here are my way too early 2017 sleepers:
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (average draft position – 136.5)
You’re probably thinking about how awful he was last year, right? He only threw 18 touchdowns on the entire year. How awful! The key here is that he did throw for 4,206 yards last season, and that’s with the injuries to Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green. If those three can stay healthy (don’t forget about the valuable additions of John Ross and Joe Mixon) look for Dalton’s touchdown total to jump. He threw 33 touchdowns in 2013 and was on his way to that number in 2015 before his season was cut short. He’s my favorite late-round quarterback this year.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville (average draft position – 150.4)
Remember when I told you to have the Pepto Bismol ready? Go ahead and take a swig if you haven’t already. Do I think he will return to his 2015 form (37 total TD)? Not exactly, but he could come pretty close. Jacksonville now has the hammer it needed in the running game in Leonard Fournette, which should help keep defenses honest. The team drafted Cam Robinson in the second round of the NFL draft, who was my favorite tackle coming out of college this year. That tells you that the team wants Bortles to succeed, and I think he has a bounce back year. Allen Robinson is still a stud and Allen Hurns is an underrated No. 2 receiver (last year was bad for him due to the multiple injuries he battled throughout the season). By the way, Bortles was still the QB9 last season … just let that sink in.
Terrance West, Baltimore (average draft position – 135.2)
More Pepto! I like Kenneth Dixon as well, but he is suspended the first four games of the season. Baltimore did not draft a running back this year, so guess who gets the start for the first four games this year? Mr. West, who was the RB24 last year (it’s crazy to think he was a RB2). Yes, Danny Woodhead will be involved, but West put up those RB2 numbers splitting with Dixon last year. If West comes out of the gate hot, look for him to lead the committee once Dixon returns. He is the perfect late-round target for the zero-running back zealots out there. If worst comes to worst, you have a starting running back for the first four games of the fantasy season. I’ll take that all day in Round 11 or 12.
Joe Williams, San Francisco average draft position – 152.3)
It may be a cop-out picking a rookie for this, but I am going to do it anyway. Carlos Hyde has never played a full season. We can go ahead and get that out of the way, although I know the Sharks are aware of Hyde and his brittleness. Williams was handpicked by new coach Kyle Shanahan, who supposedly “would be sick if they didn’t get him” in the draft. Williams was a beast at Utah, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. We all know Shanahan loves two-back systems, so look for the rookie to have a set role on Day 1. If (should I say when? seems wrong … ) Hyde gets hurt, Williams has RB1 upside. Take the plunge and grab him earlier than his average draft position. You won’t regret it.
Christine Michael, Free Agent (average draft position – undrafted)
Ha! I kid, I kid. Just admit it, Christine Michael truthers! The ride is over. Although he did visit New England this week … there is still hope! Again, I’m kidding. Michael is not a sleeper or anyone you should draft. Drop him in your dynasty league, please and thank you.