Late-Round Sleepers for Keeper & Dynasty Leagues | 2018 Fantasy Football

by Nick Ercolano May 23, 2018

Late-Round Sleepers for Keeper & Dynasty Leagues | 2018 Fantasy Football

In this article we're going to look at the looking at late-round sleepers for keeper & dynasty leagues for 2018 fantasy football, and for 2019 fantasy football, because these are guys who are either likely to retire after the 2018 szn, or have contracts coming to an end and what it means for the players on their teams now, and why it might be worth taking them a round earlier, or two, in keeper and dynasty leagues because their situation could be $$$$ next year.

2019 FA WRs

Larry Fitzgerald - ARZ

  • Fitz returns, just 91 catches away from tying Tony Gonzalez (1,325) for 2nd most catches ever.
  • In my opinion, the play here is Christian Kirk. He is a true slot receiver, as Fitz has been for the last few years. The 2nd round, 47th overall pick was All-SEC in each of his past two seasons - He'll get to develop a chemistry with Josh Rosen as the two will become eventual starters next in 2018. He struggled at the combine, but was a monster producer in college at Oklahoma but showed really good (4.47) straight line speed, and a college dominator/breakout age per PP.
  • Other guys to keep an eye on, on the Arizona roster are Chad Williams, a rookie last year gained some pre-szn buzz that didn't amount to much, but he's a combine freak (99th %) and Fitz went as far as saying his strong hands reminded him of Anquan Boldin. He did next to nothing last year, so I'll let that do more of the talking. J.J Nelson will also be a FA after this szn, but they brought in Brice Butler on a two-year deal, who I already know is going to get too much hype, after people loved to say how Dallas should've played him more, maybe that's the case, but guys take a step byke and think about this logically. Butler is 28, this is his 3rd team in his 6 year career, last year he set a career-high with 317 receiving yards, his 21 catches, 4 years ago was a career-high. Dallas, literally had nothing at WR, they knew they were letting Dez go, still let Butler walk, that should say more than anything.
  • Christian Kirk is the play here. I think he'll get a lot of play this year, but if they line him up outside, there's a good chance he struggles.

Randall Cobb - GB

  • With Nelson already gone, Randall Cobb set to become a free agent, there's gold to mine for some lucky WR out there that's going to get to play with Aaron Rodgers.
  • A few guys come to mind. First is Geronimo Allison who may be the first one to get his shit in 2018, but he's also set to be a FA after this year, so more of a redraft flier than keeper/dynasty.
  • The Packers drafted 3 WRs this year. In order it was:
  • J'Mon Moore - 4th Round Pick 133. 6-3, 205 out of Missouri. He's a pretty good prospect, who measured really well at the combine, produced in college and is a field stretcher. 93rd % SPARQ, 71st Burst, 97th agility and 98th & catch radius.
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling - 5th Round 174. 6-4, 206. Another tall WR from USF. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash, 97% weight-adjusted. He's a little older as a prospect, he'll turn 24 in October. I think on this one GB saw the combine and jumped, he's just a one-trick pony as a big, deep threat. Rotoworld compared him to Devery Henderson which is a fair assessment.
  • Equanimeous St. Brown - This will be the one that people are ready to pounce at. 6th round pick, 207. He went into the draft as a high-upside pick, some people projected him going in round 3. Easily, and by far and away the biggest takeaway here, is not only that he fell to round 6, every team passed on him 5 times, but the Packers literally just took two WRs ahead of him. Guys, he was the 25th WR off the board in the draft... People will overlook that because of the name, the hype and his size/speed. He's big 6'5, 215 and ran a 4.47 40, putting him in the 93rd % for weight-adjusted.
  • So overall, keep an eye out for camp buzz to get a better gauge on the situation. Allison is my favorite WR3, followed by J'Mon Moore who is the most complete prospect of the rookies. ESB > Valdes, but still hold your horses on that one. It was infinitely harder to succeed than it is to fail as a 6th round pick. 

Golden Tate & TJ Jones - DET

  • Both guys are set to be free agents. The Lions and Tate are in extension talks so that will probably get done sooner rather than later, but I like TJ Jones being out of the way for Kenny Golladay who played really and flashed a bunch during his rookie year despite playing on limited snaps.
  • It sucks that Marvin Jones is there and played really well last year, because Golladay would have MAJOR breakout appeal this year. He ranked 6th in the entire NFL in YPT (9.9), 13th in FPPT and 15th in QB Rating when targeted.
  • For those of you who don't really know Golladay. He's 6'4, about 220, 4.5 40 (92nd%) and 84th % SPARQ. Very good in traffic, very good in the EZ, not too many flaws to his game as a bigger WR. Babytron is the real deal, he just needs the opportunity. Really another reason to love Stafford.
  • He should automatically be the WR3 in 2018, but if he can start pushing MJ for more snaps, 2019 could solidify him as the WR1 in Detroit.

Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt & Jordan Matthews - NE

  • The team declined Dorsett's 5th year option, so it's possible he doesn't even make it through camp.
  • If they don't resign Hogan, all that would leave them with next year is pretty much a 33-year old Edelman & Gronk who was already contemplating retirement. Both Jordan Matthews & Kenny Britt are FAs in 2019.
  • Maybe now is the time you want to draft Malcolm Mitchell late. He's pretty much the only guy on the roster signed through 2019. The hype has exceed reality for Mitchell each season, but he's flashed now and then, he's worthy of a late-round stash and keeping an eye on.

Devin Funchess - CAR

  • Funchess is playing on the last year of his rookie deal in 2018. I think D.J. Moore winds up in the perfect spot here for his development. He doesn't have to completely take over the WR1 role in 2018, but if Funchess walks, he can do so in 2019. I think this would help move Moore up my draft boards for keeper/dynasty leagues no doubt, even if you are like me, not in favor of his redraft value for 2018. 

2019 FA RBs

Le'Veon Bell - Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Chicken tendered again. Given the way the RB market is, it's very possible that PIT doesn't sign Bell to a long-term deal.
  • James Conner, last year's 3rd round pick out of PITT is Bell's backup. He's a big back 6-1, 233, not a phenomenal athlete, more of a bruiser. He only had 32 carries in 14 games last year, but had 4.5 ypc. What's a bit concerning was he was placed on the I.R. for surgery on his MCL to close out 2017. He also tore his MCL in college. He just turned 23 so he's young, but I'm not sure he'd be the featured back even with Bell out of the way.

Tevin Coleman - ATL

  • Coleman will be one of the more intriguing free agents next year, and he's someone that I suggest everyone in a keeper or dynasty league draft a round or two earlier than normal.
  • This is the last year of his rookie deal, they gave Freeman a big contract, they drafted high-profile back Ito Smith in the 4th this year who would be able to step into Coleman's role without skipping a beat.
  • It's almost a certainty that Coleman is gone, and it wouldn't surprise me given his success in the league already and being just 25 years old, he'll probably land somewhere that will give him a shot to be the top dawg in the backfield.

Marshawn Lynch/Doug Martin - Oakland Raiders

  • I honestly have no idea what to make of the Raiders backfield for redraft, but both Lynch and Martin have just a year left on their contract. 
  • Jalen Richard will be a restricted FA, DeAndre Washington is the only one that's under contract for 2019. I think we know they don't plan on using either one of these guys as feature backs.

Mark Ingram - NO Saints

  • On a contract year, given the suspension for Ingram, there's a case to be made for Kamara as a top-3 dynasty running back pick.
  • Keep in mind Brees is there for 2 more years (most likely) before he gallops off into the sunset, then who knows who the QB is going to be in NO.
  • Given their depth chart, it's hard to break this down any further than Kamara. They have Jonathan Williams, who was a 5th round pick by Buffalo out of Arkansas, who was slated to backup Shady but was randomly cut then wasn't claimed on waivers. Lot of red flags, then you're looking at this guy Boston Scott, who I joked about not knowing in the Ingram suspension video, but naturally I had to dive deeper. So, Scott is this kid out of Louisiana Tech. He's 5-6, 5-7, so a little guy, but he's around 200lbs so he packs a punch. He looks like he's shot out of a cannon when you watch some film. He's got very good straight line speed, tested very well at LT's pro day, 85th % or higher in 40-time, burst score, agility, and SPARQ score. The Saints took him in the 6th round so not great draft capital, but if they need a compliment, if they expect Kamara to play in between the tackles and get a heavy workload, it's possible Scott is the Kamara to 2017's Ingram/Kamara duo.

Bilal Powell - NYJ

  • Elijah McGuire (23) showed promise in his rookie year, going for nearly 500 total yards and a couple scores while mixing in with Powell & Forte. 
  • They did bring in Crowell. Maybe they right the ship and Crowell looks good again, still young (25), had good szns in CLV, back-to-back 1,000 yard szns. He's an average athlete, but he's shown he can play on all 3 downs, if they get a real QB and win a bunch of games, who knows, Crowell could be here for the long term, he's signed for 3 years.
  • Just a situation to monitor, I'm definitely not investing big capital in Crowell.

Ameer Abdullah/LeGarrette Blount/Zach Zenner - DET

  • I feel like Theo Riddick dead ass on a lifetime contract with the Lions.
  • Nah for real, he's signed through next year, will be a FA 2020.
  • The Lions traded up to get Kerryon Johnson in the 2nd round this year, that's big capital for a running back. He should get a big load this year, but it's still a questionable situation in terms of passing downs and goal-line carries.
  • They've been making it a focus to improve their offensive line which should pay off by next year, if not now.
  • Next year though, he should have a huge workload. KJ is a guy I'm definitely willing to jump up a round or two in dynasty/keeper leagues to ensure I get him. 

    Duke Johnson - CLV

    • Duke & CLV are in contract extension talks, so it's likely they get something done. They gave Hyde 3 years $15 million just to spend money, then grabbed Nick Chubb in the early 2nd round.
    • Like I said in my rookie video, I'm not very high on Chubb in redraft this year. Sure, he might show up at the end of the szn, but I'm not looking to invest heavy draft capital in him. 
    • But, by next year, if Chubb outplays Hyde, there's no doubt he'll be the grinder there going forward, the money won't matter.
    • So I really like Chubb in dynasty, not so much in PPR though so be careful with that because Chubb is not a pass-catcher, he had a total of 13 receptions in the past 3 szns at Georgia. And while he might be fully capable, he's in a situation where he'll basically never get to show it with Duke there.

    Frank Gore - MIA

    • The Dolphins backfield is a confusing one to wrap your head around. They sign Gore to a one-year deal. They drafted Kalen Ballage in the 4th round. Now Ballage is a guy that people are probably either going to love or hate. I find myself in the former. And it's because of his upright running style - very similar to that of Latavius Murray, same build, very big (6-3, 230), strong, lean muscular. Straight line speed and good athleticism, but just not a great runner. He is, however, very very very good in the receiving game. 

    • Kenyan Drake is, of course, the RB1 in Miami right now after a mini-breakout in 2017 but he's completely unproven in depth of success, and it's possible Ballage eats into his workload. KD, the only KD I acknowledge, is signed through 2019. So, while I don't necessarily love Ballage as a player, I think worst case scenario is getting a big chunk of the receiving game. Should be interesting to see how this backfield plays out. What are your guys thoughts on Drake in 2018? I can't seem to get a handle on it. 

    Alex Collins - BLT

    • The Ravens went ahead and resigned Collins to a one year deal through 2018 and he's headed into camp with the starting job to his name.
    • Racking up 1,160 total yards and 6 tuddies on 235 touches, Collins has earned the nod. BALT didn't address the position whatsoever in the offszn, so that leaves just Suck Allen and Kenneth Dixon to compete.
    • Collins is just 23, turns 24 in August. Allen sucks, signed through 2018, but he offers little besides receiving ability. 
    • The obvious elephant in the room is Kenneth Dixon, who's torn meniscus last summer cost him the whole 2017 szn, along with a 6-game suspension that he served during his injury. It's possible Dixon is on his last string with the team, he's also just 24 years old, which I'm surprised they held on to him this long considering he was only a 4th round pick in 2016. 
    • Dixon isn't a lock for a big role this year, this is a battle certainly worth monitoring throughout the offszn. Any sane person would tell you Collins should be the horse here, but there's no guaranteeing anything in this backfield. 

    Jay Ajayi - PHI

    • Have to love the yong god CC. Corey Clement. I've mentioned him multiple times already this summer as a big-time sleeper. You could imagine how hard my nipples got when the Eagles didn't touch the running back position in free agency or in the draft.
    • Now, the only man lying ahead of Clement is Jay Ajayi, who will be a free agent after this szn. Clement, who became a big asset down the stretch, is excellent on 3rd downs as both a pass-catcher and pass-blocker (13th RB per PFF) which will get him plenty of opportunities and open the door for even more early down work. Clement has the size (5-10, 220) to handle a big workload if something happens to Ajayi.
    • The team sports one of the best O-lines in football and has an offense that should thrive, as well as a defense that should give them beautiful field position frequently. 
    • They did resign Sproles this summer to a one year deal, but it's likely for depth and veteran presence. Sproles is coming off a torn ACL, turning 35 in June, it's much harder for players at this age to recover fully from serious injuries like this one. 

    2019 FA TEs

    Delanie Walker - TEN

    • Jonnu Smith - one of the more savvier picks in dynasty/keeper leagues. With Walker becoming a FA in 2019, Smith is next in line for the starting TE role. 
    • Smith is an absolute specimen for the position. He's 6'3 - 250, running a 4.62 40 which is 82 % WA SS. Burst Score 94th %, 80th% catch radius, 92nd % SPARQ athlete. Just 22 years old, he is suppppper athletic. He suffered a torn ACL in the divisional playoff round last year, but he made 13 starts as a 3rd round rookie last year which is an incredible experience for a 22-year old, getting to learn behind Delanie Walker before taking on a serious pass-catching role. 
    • I think Walker is still a fine player and will be good in 2018, but I doubt they'll extend him past 2018 already 35 years old. 

    Jake Butt - DEN

    • He redshirted his entire rookie year coming off of multiple ACL tears in college at Michigan. Butt dropped to the 5th round in the draft because of his ACL tear in the Citrus bowl vs. FSU, but was widely considered a 1st round prospect. 
    • He won the Big 10 TE of the year in both his junior & senior szns.
    • As of right now, and has been the case for the past few years, the TE position is completely up for grabs and Butt being the most talented guy on the roster is almost a definite. He's not Gronk, or Kelce, but he can certainly be a less athletic version of the two, like a Zach Ertz or Hunter Henry, with rock solid hands.

    ROOKIES

        Courtland Sutton/Carlos Henderson/DaeSean Hamilton - WR (DEN)

        • So, the Broncos have made some heavy investment into the WR position over the last 2 drafts, after making almost no change to the DT, ESanders dynamic. Sanders will be 32 next szn, DT, 31, with little-to-no guaranteed money on their contract for 2019, so the Broncos could be showing their cards with these picks.
        • Last year, they took Carlos Henderson, a draft twitter favorite, in the 3rd round out of Louisiana Tech. He's just under 6 feet, just under 200 lbs, but moves extremely well after the catch, a dynamic slot receiver, which is where he probably would've played had he not missed his entire rookie szn with a torn ligament in his thumb. Missing your rookie szn is a major setback for your long-term outlook.
        • In this year's draft, they took Courtland Sutton (6-2, 218, SMU) in the 2nd before grabbing DaeSean Hamilton (6-1, 203, Louisiana Tech - shoutout LOU Tech, they staying putting players in the League man) in the 4th round. 
        • The easiest way to put this is Sutton is the big, possession receiver, and would replace DT. I'm not a fan of Sutton tbh, his routes are lackluster, and it kind of feels like he's moving in slow motion, like he has a lot of trouble separating from defensive backs. But that's film. From a measurable/metric standpoint, he did great. That's why he's being compared to DT and Alshon Jeffery - 4.54 speed at his size is 84th %, great agility (97th %) and catch radius (90%), SPARQ (84th). The routes are something he badly needs to improve on, but so did DT coming into the league so I wouldn't write him off. He's the highest draft capital this team spent on a WR so, you can't write that off either.
        • Rotoworld summed up DaeSean Hamilton really well so I'm just going to quote them on their blurb, "Hamilton (6’1/203) was a rare four-year starting wideout for the Nittany Lions, graduating as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (214), second in receiving yards (2,842), and fourth in receiving TDs (18). PFF College credited Hamilton with a nation-best 73.3% catch rate when targeted 20-plus yards downfield in 2017. Hamilton tested as a studly 78th-percentile SPARQ athlete before the draft with 4.52 wheels and an impressive 6.84 three-cone time. Hamilton isn’t particularly big or straight-line fast, but he is a ball-skills technician with underrated upside". He could basically be the Emmanuel Sanders to Courtland Sutton's Demaryius Thomas, while Carlos Henderson mans the slot. 
        • There is a lot of upside to be had with these guys, so do some research on your own, who you like and how you think they fit. Will Denver definitely get rid of DT and Sanders? Who knows.

        Tre'Quan Smith - WR (NO)

        • It kills me that Smith went to the Saints, for redraft. But he's going to be a great pick for dynasty for those that have patience and dig deep.
        • On the surface, you see Michael Thomas, Teddy Ginn, Cameron Meredith, Brandon Coleman, the RBs that catch the ball.
        • But, the only guy I would say is a lock to be better than Tre'Quan is Michael Thomas. 
        • Quan was a 3rd round pick, MT was a 2nd. Smith is a guy that checks all of the boxes when you look at what he offers. Only 21 years old, 6-2, 210 really good size. 4.49 40-yard dash, really good speed - 82nd % WASS. 85% burst, really long athletic arms and hands, 37.5" vertical. But more than the measurables, he dominated in college, for the REAL national champs, UCF Knights. 19.8 YPR in 2017, 142.9 QB Rating when targeted, highest in the NFL. An insane 71% catch rate on passes 20+ yards downfield, and what's more impressive is a 69% overall catch rate, with a YPR of 19.8. 59-1,171-13. He improved his receptions, yards, yards per reception, touchdowns every single season, and doing so at such a young age is key. 
        • A lot of guys I follow and have respect for in the industry love him as well.
        • Looking at the situation.
        • So you have Meredith, who will turn 26 in September. He was stolen from the Bears for a 2-year contract with the Saints, with $5.4M GTD, which is nothing to laugh at, but he is coming off the torn ACL/MCL last summer, after a mini-breakout in 2016. Tons of upside, tons of downside IMO for Meredith.
        • Then we have Ted Ginn, who is 100% still a big piece of this passing offense.. for now, I would argue that if given the opportunity, Quan could produce as much if not more than Ginn would. Ginn was a 64% snap guy last year, but he'll be 34 next season, with only $2.5M to his contract, not sure if that's even guaranteed so.
        • Lastly, we have Brandon Coleman, who actually played nearly an identical snap % to Ginn in 2017, but Coleman (6'6, 225), has been nothing more than a big guy, and they play him in the slot, idk. This is his fourth year in the league and he's shown almost nothing to say he's worth playing time.
        • So, while it looks messy, I think Quan isn't just someone you should write off just because.

          Mark Walton - RB (CIN)

          • Gio's contract can be cut without barely any money after 2018 - Walton's best comparison is probably Gio.
          • He's a smaller back, who really operated as a full workhorse at the U, but his career is sprinkled with injuries. 
          • Not someone I love,  he has a low ceiling with Mixon here, but should have a good floor next year with Gio probably on the move.
          • And speaking of Gio, he's proven that he's a very capable NFL back. Would love to see him in a role like Duke Johnson has in Cleveland, where he's getting the opportunity to catch 60-70 balls a year, I think he could thrive but we'll have to see. 


            Nick Ercolano
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