Early Season ADP Steals (aka Sleepers)
With training camps opening up next week the fantasy football world is buzzing. FanDuel started up their season-long best ball leagues earlier this week and IT HAS BEGUN. Another season of fantasy is here and below are some guys that I think are steals according to their current rankings (FantasyPros Consensus Rankings in brackets). Most of these guys are deeper sleepers that wouldn’t be drafted in standard leagues but have amazing value for deeper leagues and season-long best balls.
Sam Darnold (QB25) – Surrounded by easily the best group of skill position players (McCaffey, Moore, Anderson) in his career, and a talented young play-caller (Joe Brady). Let’s be honest though, getting away from Adam Gase might single-handedly be the biggest addition by subtraction (Does that make sense??) of all. I am very fairly certain former 3rd overall pick Sam Darnold will easily finish as a top 20 QB.
Justin Fields (QB24) – Usually I wouldn’t include a rookie in a sleeper article, but (as mentioned in previous articles) Fields could be a pool winner. I understand that Andy Dalton is going to start, but if/when Justin gets a chance. Look out because Field’s dual-threat ability puts him into the top15 the moment he steps on the field. If you are looking for this year’s Justin Herbert? This is your guy. I’m calling Justin Fields starting by Week 4 (after an 0-3 start) and going on to finish as a top 12 QB (top 8 in PPG)
Carson Wentz (QB19) – Reunited with the coach (Frank Reich) that saw him almost win an MVP in 2017. Playing behind one of the best o-lines in the NFL and playing in the division with (easily) the worst defenses in the league. Everything is lined up for Wentz to be a top15 QB in 2021.
Raheem Mostert (RB28) – injury to Wilson changes everything, and Sermon is going to be a big part too but is still a rookie, and Mostert has been productive when healthy. With Kyle Shanahan calling the plays and running behind one of the top 3 offensive lines in the league. Mostert’s ADP is low based on his inability to stay healthy, but what if he did play 15 games? Seriously, 1400 yards (rushing & receiving) and 8 touchdowns isn’t out of the question… Mostert easily finishes as an RB2 (top24)
Gus Edwards (RB40) – I agree that Dobbins is a more exciting back, but Gus Edwards has been extremely consistent rushing for 700+ the last 3 years while averaging at least 5 yards a carry. Now Mark Ingram is gone. I love having this guy as my 4th RB as he has a nice floor and a very nice upside if Dobbins misses and time. It won’t be fancy but Edwards finishes inside the top 30 RB’s.
Tony Pollard (RB44) – Zeke looked “old” last year. He’s back and in better shape… Could Pollard be the better back at this stage in their careers? Pollard has averaged more yards per carry in both seasons than he and Elliot have played together. And your right maybe I’m drunk, but even if Zeke is the man. Pollard is one injury away from being an RB1. Either way, Tony Pollard is a steal going beyond RB40.
Damien Harris (RB29) – Pats should be much better this year. This means more carries in the 2nd half for Harris who was very good last year averaging 5 yards a carry. If Cam Newton doesn’t steal all the goal-line TD’s (loses starting job to Mac Jones) then Harris could be in line for 10 TD’s in 2021 and that would land him in the top 25.
Laviska Shenault (WR42) – I think WR45 could be the best value of any player on this list. Shenault had 58 catches last year with Jake Luton and Mike Glennon throwing his passes (WOW). Now you have Trevor Lawrence as your QB. Even with the addition of Marvin Jones, Shenault has a chance to be a target hog in the slot and then you through in a few carries (18 last year) per game. If he can find the end zone (5 as a rook) Laviska will finish as an easy WR3 (top 36).
DeVonte Smith (WR40) – This is more of an endorsement for Jalen Hurts (over 850 passing yards in 3 starts) and now he has his former stud teammate to throw too. Look out this could be the beginning of something pretty awesome for fantasy owners. I also am a believer that the Eagles will be bad which will lead to a lot of garbage time yards and fantasy points. The best route runner in the draft is about to open some eyes and Smith will finish as a top 30 WR.
Michael Pittman (WR49) – Another WR that is only going to get better with a year of experience. One of these Colts receivers is going to have a very good season as part of one of the most underrated offenses in the league. Frank Reich is a proven play-caller and Pittman is about to reap the reward. Pittman finishes inside the top40 at the position.
Irv Smith (TE13) – Smith has been on the sleeper watch since he entered the league as a 2nd round pick in 2019. His first two seasons in the league saw him in the backside of a timeshare yet still managed 66 catches and 7 touchdowns with limited opportunity. Now Kyle Rudolph is gone and Smith is going to be given every chance for success. I see 85 targets and watch out if that number is closer to 100 targets. Smith has proven to be a red-zone threat, and at the most unpredictable position in fantasy TD’s matter. Irv Smith will be a locked-in top10 TE.
Anthony Firkster (TE25) – Last year the Titans TE’s (Smith and Firkser) accounted for 118 targets and now Jonnu is gone. I am completely aware that Julio Jones is now in the mix, but even with some target regression, Firkser is looking at 90+ targets. With Tannehill’s efficiency as a passer Firkser is a steal where he is being drafted. Firkser is an easy top20 TE when the season is all said and done.