Much is made about the first few rounds of fantasy football drafts, but it is when things hit double-digits that leagues are won. By taking a look at the latest ADP (average draft position), we can identify players that are being undervalued based on their potential production.
While I have outlined five players who should be targets in fantasy drafts, there are a few ways that you can identify even more players who you can steal from your league mates. Players coming off a significant injury are almost always undervalued. Football is a violent sport and you would be hardpressed to find a player that has not missed time with an injury over the course of their career.
One example is Devonta Freeman who is perceived by many fantasy owners to be injury-prone. The reality is 2018 marked the first time the Falcons running back missed significant time. Freeman appears to be fully healthy, and Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers during free agency.
Player movement is another thing to watch as departures often open up new opportunities for existing players. The Steelers are a prime example with Antonio Brown now with the Raiders. Those massive targets have to go somewhere and there are opportunities to snag a Pittsburgh wide receiver towards the end of your draft. ADP data referenced below comes courtesy of Fantasy Pros.
Here’s a look at five fantasy football sleepers that can help you win your draft.
No. 1 WR Curtis Samuel, Panthers
While the Panthers have added weapons over the past few drafts, there is still not a lot of competition for targets in Charlotte. Curtis Samuel found his footing late last season, and all indications are he has had a stellar offseason. Samuel was used all over the field at both running back and wide receiver during his time at Ohio State.
With uncertainty surrounding the majority of the team, the Panthers would be wise to make use of Samuel’s playmaking abilities to lessen the burden on Cam Newton. The Panthers coaching staff have praised Samuel’s progression including offensive coordinator Norv Turner calling the former Buckeye an “outstanding route runner.” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera noted Samuel “lightyears” ahead of where he was when he first entered the NFL, per ESPN’s David Newton.
Christian McCaffrey says Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel has rare speed. Coach Ron Rivera says the former Ohio State Star is light years ahead of where he was when he entered the league. For Samuel it’s all about staying healthy and getting reps.
Samuel has a current ADP of 112 making him the 45th wide receiver off the board. The Panthers wideout has WR2 potential and is available in the double-digit rounds in many fantasy drafts.
No. 2 RB Kalen Ballage, Dolphins
Starting running backs are hard to come by in drafts, especially those that can be found in the double-digit rounds. There is growing buzz coming out of Miami surrounding Kalen Ballage. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe reported that Ballage has a “real chance” to win the starting job.
“One notable takeaway from first 2 days of Dolphins camp: Kalen Ballage has a real chance to win starting RB job. Brian Flores said he’s done a ‘great job’ this offseason & he’s got a lot of run with the 1s. I mentioned it in May but I don’t expect full Kenyan Drake show in 2019,” Wolfe tweeted.
Ballage averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the limited touches he received his rookie season. Ballage had an up-and-down college tenure at Arizona State, but has always had the physical tools needed to succeed at the position. Wolfe also reported that Ballage has had a good deal of work with the first-team.
A lot will be made over who will be the Dolphins starter — and make no mistake, Ballage has a real chance to earn that role. He has run with the starters more than Drake through four days of training camp, which depending on who you ask holds somewhere between no significance and a little significance…
An early timeshare prediction could be 45/40/15 touch split for Drake, Ballage and the Dolphins secondary backs (Mark Walton, Myles Gaskin, Chandler Cox and Kenneth Farrow), respectively.
No. 3 RB Jaylen Samuels, Steelers
The Steelers offense is unlikely to operate the same way as we saw when they had workhorse Le’Veon Bell. Pittsburgh has so much talent in their running back room that they are likely to spread the love around. Jaylen Samuels’ versatility gives him even more of a chance to be fantasy relevant even if James Conner receives the majority of the carries.
Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner appears to have found new ways to use Samuels just like NC State used him in a hybrid role. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly detailed Samuels’ usage in training camp.
Samuels is like Randy Fichtner’s Christmas toy that he didn’t learn to play with until the following year…This year, he’s been a significant part of their offense, whether it’s been the backup running back or, more importantly, that jack-of-all-trades offensive weapon that can line up just about everywhere.
Samuels has an ADP of just 141 as the 52nd running back off the board. One added bonus is that some fantasy sites give Samuels multiple designations with some combination of running back, wide receiver and tight end. I feel comfortable looking at Samuels beginning in round nine in 12-team leagues.
No. 4 WR Donte Moncrief, Steelers
Another Steeler makes the list as a player who is sure to rise from his 157th ADP with the latest news indicating Donte Moncrief has a firm grasp on Pittsburgh’s WR2 role. The Steelers offense has a long history of having two to three wide receivers that produce in fantasy.
Moncrief is being criminally under-drafted for a player that is just 26 years old. This is by far the best offense Moncrief has had the opportunity to play in during his NFL career.
No. 5 WR Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
There are far sexier names in fantasy football than Emmanuel Sanders, but the veteran wideout has limited competition for targets. Denver has a number of young receivers who could emerge soon, but fans can expect Joe Flacco to rely on the receiver with experience as he looks to hold off rookie Drew Lock.
Sanders comes with injury risk as he returns from an Achilles injury, but you can take the chance on a guy that is being drafted at No. 108. For those in win-now mode in dynasty leagues, Sanders can likely be had for next to nothing compared to his potential production for the next two to three seasons.