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THE WALKING DEAD: Deep Fantasy Sleepers in 2019

There isn’t a more overused word in fantasy football than “sleeper.” The summer will be choked with articles (including more than a few here at Fantasy Sharks) proclaiming this player and that a must-have sleeper in 2019.

That’s fine—there’s a reason that the word gets so much run. It’s one that both casual fantasy players and veterans alike recognize and can identify with. It’s a word that draws eyeballs, and writing articles like this is a lot more productive if people actually read them. In this industry just like any other, you gotta pitch the product.

OK, maybe not exactly like that.

However, in more cases than not, “sleepers” are simply players who are undervalued—guys who (for whatever reason) are going later on draft day than the author believes they should. And again, that’s fine. I’ll write any number of articles like that this summer, and there’s absolutely value in knowing where potential draft values are.

But this article is different. These players aren’t just undervalued—they’re off the radar altogether. The players included here are either being drafted very late (and even then, only in deeper leagues) or not at all.

They’re fantasy football zombies.

Again, maybe not exactly like that.

Does their inclusion here mean that you should burn a late pick on them when your draft rolls around? Not necessarily—it depends on how your league is configured and how the draft progresses.

But at the very least you should keep these guys in mind as potential waiver adds as Week 1 nears. And if you do decide to use one of your last couple of picks on them, you may find yourself receiving a nice little return on that minimal investment.

Average Draft Position Data Courtesy of MyFantasyLeague

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP: QB29)

There’s a new, offensive-minded head coach in Cincinnati in Zac Taylor, and as Geoff Hobson wrote for the team’s website, Cincinnati’s ninth-year quarterback likes what he’s seen from the team’s new offense.

“I think guys feel like there’s a difference around here and it starts with the guy in front of the room,” Dalton said. “And Zac’s done a good job getting exactly how he wants it and guys have responded getting it. I feel like we have a very good grasp of what we’re doing (offensively). I don’t think we have everything in that we’ll have, but we’ve got most of it in. Guys have picked it up well, guys are responding, playing fast. It’s been good.”

Dalton’s been relegated to the fantasy scrap heap after finishing last year well outside the Top-20 in fantasy points. In addition to that, new head coach Dalton has an improved offensive line and no shortage of skill-position weaponry in tailback Joe Mixon, wideouts A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd and tight end Tyler Eifert. As recently as 2016, Dalton was a Top-10 fantasy quarterback, and in 2013 he ranked inside the top-five.

T.J. Yeldon, RB, Buffalo Bills (ADP: RB64)

Yeldon’s ‘s 901 total yards last year for the Jacksonville Jaguars was his most since his rookie season, but as Justin Carter wrote for Rotoballer in an offseason that included the additions of veteran Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary in addition to Yeldon, the latter’s become something of the forgotten man in the Buffalo backfield.

“Yeldon ended up signing with the Bills this offseason, a team where the opportunities will be hard to come by,” he said. “There’s veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who has seen his efficiency decrease but should still see the bulk of the team’s carries. There’s rookie Devin Singletary, who’s coming off a strong collegiate career and should factor into things. And there’s veteran Frank Gore, whose ability to pound out yards should help him be a short yardage option for the team. Factor in that quarterback Josh Allen is also a running threat, and it’s hard to see Yeldon making much of an impact in 2019. He might be the team’s best receiving back, but just getting on the field will be an uphill struggle.”

Carter has a point. But McCoy’s the wrong side of 30 and coming off the worst season of his career. Gore is 36 years old, which is approximately 107 in running back years. And while Singletary was a very productive back in college, his athletic limitations could be a real problem in the pros. Last year’s PPR RB22 (Yep, that’s right—Yeldon finished in RB2 territory in 2018) may surprise. Yeldon could wind up with a larger role in the Buffalo offense than many expect..

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an eight-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last three years. He won the honor in 2017. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.