Some may say if they draft Christian McCaffrey with the first pick they’re an automatic lock to win a Fantasy Football League. They can just step away and let the computer auto draft the rest of the picks.
I say hogwash.
Now give me Russell Gage, Tom Brady, Zack Moss, and Jack Doyle late to go with a first round pick like Austin Ekeler and I’m feeling a heck of a lot more confident in my team.
Fantasy Football drafts take homework and studying, and yes, a little bit of luck. After all, if your best player gets hurt in the first quarter of a game or you play a guy who scores 200+ points in a week, there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
But what you can do is provide the best depth of any team out there and stay on top of the waiver wires every week, starting in the preseason. Many guys who won fantasy football in 2018 did so because they picked up Phillip LIndsay in the late rounds or even on the waiver wire after the draft. He was hardly talked about by experts but if you did your homework, you would have known the Broncos were in love with him during training camp and he was increasingly getting reps with the first team (I know so. Not to brag…okay I will…I picked him up and it was the best move I made that year.).
How about Raheem Mostert? He was a hidden gem that the 49ers coaches loved when they found out Jerrick McKinnon couldn’t play. While he did spend some of 2019 on the bottom of the depth chart, by the end of the season, he worked his way to No. 1 and was putting up 20 to 30-fantasy points a game.
There’s many other stories of Cinderellas that won people their fantasy leagues. Ekeler was a mid-round pick in 2019. If you had him in a PPR league, chances are you were killing it. Did you know Lamar Jackson basically went unpicked in the first 7 or 8 rounds last year? Maybe you did your homework and got Kenny Golladay late in the draft, a favorite target of Matthew Stafford’s. If you had two or maybe all three of these guys, you probably were in it in the end even if you completely flopped on your first pick.
Who are this year’s guys? Well, that’s for you to try and study up on, but I gave you a few that I like above.
Russell Gage is in a pass-happy offense in Atlanta and is the third option behind two guys who have had problems staying healthy the last couple years. A year ago, after the trade of Mohamed Sanu to New England, Gage was targeted 66 times in his final 9 games and totaled 46 catches for 402 yards receiving in those games. He may be my favorite sleeper this year after the homework I’ve done.
Tom Brady is in heaven with the weapons he has, and if you’ve followed news reports from Tampa (I happen to live near there), he is looking as if he’s in his 20s. Having Evans, Godwin, Gronk, Howard, and Brate can make life easy for you.
Have you read the tea leaves out of Buffalo? Zack Moss could be starting over Devin Singletary. He’s their goal-line man this year, and he can catch, too.
I’m all over Jack Doyle with a slice of Trey Burton as well. If you’ve followed the Chargers over the years, Phillip Rivers made a living throwing to Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry. Reports out of Colts camp is that Rivers is going to make tight ends a priority in the passing game there and Doyle seems to be awfully happy in camp with the targets he’s getting.
I won’t go much deeper than that other than to say Kyler Murray, Hayden Hurst, Preston Willams, Blake Jarwin, and Christian Kirk are some mid-to-very late round guys that should be going a heck of a lot lower than their ADP and present great value for you.
But do your own due dilligence. If you google “Fantasy Deep Sleepers” you’ll eventually find that every position player in the NFL is a sleeper according to the writers. You need to dig deeper and read team reports and go with who you like.
So do your homework. Don’t always depend on others to do the homework for you. Build the absolute deepest roster necessary. Take the last few picks as seriously as the first. If you draft a kicker in your league, make sure that’s one of your last picks…don’t be one of those guys drafting Harrison Butker in round 5. And constantly stay up on each team’s news, looking for standouts in the preseason and during the regular season. It can go a long way in winning you a fantasy trophy.