Wednesday - Jan 16, 2019

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THE FIRE SALE: Wake Up the Sleepers

It’s sleeper time. Everyone does their sleeper lists differently. I’m a stickler when it comes to sleepers. Allen Hurns isn’t a sleeper this year. Allen Hurns was a sleeper last year.

Obviously, if you follow this column you know I was hyping up Hurns the last two seasons and really pushed him in 2015. I’ve had a lot of people ask me on Twitter, “Who is this year’s Allen Hurns?” I’ll be honest with you, no one. I’m not as high on any player as I was Hurns going into last season.

That doesn’t mean I’m not giddy about my list of sleepers. I love the list. It’s just last year I knew I was right about Hurns. It’s the same feeling I got about Montee Ball. I knew I was right. Oh well, win some, lose some.

My list is made up of real sleepers. These are guys going later in the draft. I do have a couple of players I classify as undervalued and not sleepers but I point that out when necessary. I’m rolling the dice a little bit this year. My top sleeper is a rookie. We’ll see how it turns out but I’m pretty confident. Not quite Allen Hurns confident but close. Certainly not Montee Ball confident. Heck, I was so confident on Ball I still think he’s going to rush for 1,000 yards and 15 TDs when he gets out of prison.

The first two players listed are my top sleepers. After that, the players are listed by position. Enjoy your drafts. I hope this lists helps some of you win a fantasy title.

One quick note: I’ll be giving out both traditional and DFS advice in The Fire Sale this year. If you have any questions or comments hit me up on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy.

Now on with The Fire Sale

Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals – I was watching the NFL Draft with a buddy of mine who is a huge Bengals fan. He was getting nervous because Cincinnati needed a receiver and all the players he wanted them to get kept coming off the board. Corey Coleman, Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson…he couldn’t take it. Then the Bengals came up in Round 2 and it was announced they selected Boyd. I turned to my friend and said, “You just got the Offensive Rookie of the Year.”

I made that bold statement for two reasons. The first was to get him to shut the hell up because he was starting to annoy me. The second was I knew right there the Bengals got one of the top receivers in the draft going into a perfect situation.

I’ve been singing the same song all summer. Boyd has loads of talent. Brandon LaFell is hot garbage. Hot garbage doesn’t keep talented players on the bench. LaFell has one season of more than 49 receptions. Do you know who the two main quarterbacks are LaFell has played with in his career? Cam Newton and Tom Brady. He’s a tomato can.

The Bengals lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the offseason. Tight end Tyler Eifert is likely to miss the start of the regular season while he’s recovering from ankle surgery. LaFell is dealing with a torn ligament in his hand. Have you seen LaFell try to catch when his hands are 100 percent? He better get that surgery now.

I rarely hype up rookies because they’re unpredictable but Boyd is in the perfect talent/opportunity situation to make an immediate fantasy impact. I expect Boyd to start. Even if he doesn’t, LaFell won’t keep him on the bench for long. Talent will always win out over garbage. You can put Boyd down for 60+ receptions and seven scores this season. Not bad for a 12th-round pick.

Chris Hogan, WR New England Patriots – Some players and organizations just fit like a glove. Troy Polamalu and the Steelers. A perfect fit. Michael Irvin and the Cowboys. A perfect fit. Hogan obviously isn’t a Hall a Fame-caliber player like those two but he is a perfect fit for the Patriots offense.

Give Hogan to Rex Ryan and you have a 36-reception receiver. Give Hogan to Bill Belichick and you have a dangerous weapon. I know the media does backflips every time the Patriots sign a player. The reality is they miss just as often as they hit. I feel Hogan will end up being one of New England’s better signings in recent years.

Hogan has already shown to have chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo, so Tom Brady missing four games isn’t a huge concern to me. Sure, Hogan is behind Gronk and Julian Edelman for targets but the good thing about Brady is he doesn’t lock in on one receiver. Multiple players have fantasy relevance in New England’s passing game. Hogan will eat enough to start the year as a valuable reserve in deeper leagues.

Danny Amendola is average and always injured. Edelman is coming back from two foot surgeries since November. Hogan is projected to start in one of the NFL’s top passing offenses and he’s going undrafted in most leagues. You can either draft Hogan now or scramble to get him off the waiver wire early in the season. Your choice. He’s going to make a fantasy impact.

Kirk Cousins, QB Washington Redskins – Cousins isn’t a sleeper but he may be the most undervalued fantasy player I’ve ever seen heading into a season. Cousins is being drafted in the tenth round on average. That’s absolutely insane to me. To put in perspective what kind of value he is right now, Sammie Coates’ ADP is one pick after Cousins. Coates may end up starting the year as the Steelers’ fourth receiver.

Cousins is going to throw the ball a ton. Last year he had 30 or more pass attempts in a game 10 times. You can argue the Redskins running game is worse heading into the season with Matt Jones already injured. Cousins closed out 2015 scoring 22 touchdowns and throwing just two interceptions in his last eight games. The guy has weapons and he’s going to put the ball in the air. Cousins is an absolute steal at his Round 10 ADP.

Let’s put it this way: If Cousins flops, my fantasy teams are going to be in trouble this year.

Jameis Winston, QB Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Like Cousins, Winston isn’t a sleeper, he’s just a great value pick. I almost always wait to draft a quarterback. Occasionally, I’ve taken a quarterback in the first four rounds but it’s rare. This season, I won’t even consider it. Many of the quarterbacks you can get in Round 7 or later will help win a league. Winston is one of those guys.

Currently going in late Round 8/Early Round 9, on average, Winston is a bargain. Winston had a strong rookie season; throwing for 4,042 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also added six rushing touchdowns. Winston is in his second season under Dirk Koetter, so I expect him to improve on his rookie numbers. Vincent Jackson is now 33. I wish Winston had one more weapon to throw to but I’m still confident he’ll reward the owners who draft him with a big fantasy season.

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.