For every sleeper, there’s a player maybe people are overhyping. My list of those players doesn’t mean you should draft them, rather it’s just me making you thinking extra hard about their current projection. It’s not personal fellas, just business.
*ALL rankings are from ESPN
Todd Gurley II 16th PPR/17th Non-PPR
Many are expecting a career renaissance from Gurley now that he’s in Atlanta. Don’t count me as one of those people. Quite frankly, Gurley’s knees are worn down and he’s lost more than just a step, as evident last season. Arthritis is an injury that can’t be fixed with surgery and something that doesn’t go away. Gurley did play in fifteen games a season ago, but played in 80% of the snaps in just three of the fifteen games, whereas in 2018 he reached that milestone eleven times. Some may blame the Rams’ offensive line for his poor play but that was only one part of the pie. Gurley’s going to a Falcons team that isn’t built to run the ball and finished with the fewest attempts in the league in 2019. In fact, Dirk Koetter’s offenses have finished in the bottom ten in team rushing every season since 2016. You might say, well wouldn’t that boost up Gurley’s receptions? Not necessarily. He’s seen his catch percentage (receptions/targets) drop every season and hit a career low of 63% with seven drops in 2019. I still think that Gurley is an option as a low-end RB2/Flex option due to his goal-line ability and possible upside, but I just can’t see him playing a full season. Right now he’s looked at as a high-end RB2 (assuming you’re in a 12 person league) when the risk is just too great for that.
Aaron Jones 8th PPR/ 7th Non-PPR
Jones was a nice breakout fantasy star last year and his 19 touchdowns were the main factor behind that breakout. But, when you take away the touchdowns, you see that he finished 12th in rushing yards and 17th in yards per carry. He reached the 100-yard marker in five games, but when you take away those fives games, he’s only averaging 43 yards a contest. Despite this, he’s ranked as a fringe RB1 in ESPN fantasy. Are they predicting that he’s going to get close to 19 touchdowns again? Not going to happen. The team drafted A.J. Dillon, who weighed in at the combine at 247 pounds, in the second round and I would expect that he gets a lot of short-yardage work. He’s the same weight as Derrick Henry and might become the heaviest running back in the league. The team obviously has a plan for Dillon by drafting him so early and I think that plan includes a lot of work that used to be Jones’s responsibilities. Jones did have 49 receptions, which is an encouraging sign, but only had 15 of those receptions in the final eight games as Jamaal Williams began to take more of the receiving duties out of the backfield. I like Aaron Jones in between RB 12-17 based on him being the top back on a good running team, but buyer beware if you expect him to replicate last season’s results.
Daniel Jones 13th
When I saw ESPN having Daniel Jones ranked at 13, I had to do a double-take. I actually think Jones is going to end up being a halfway decent quarterback, but I don’t see him being too valuable in fantasy in his second year. He led the league in fumbles at 18 (11 lost) in just 12 starts and had 19 in his college career. If you add the 12 interceptions he had a season ago, that’s 23 turnovers which was tied for third in the league. He has been working on cutting down on the fumbles, but I think it’s optimistic to believe that he cuts that down to just 6 lost fumbles, which still would have been near the top a season ago. Add that in with a 61.9% completion percentage, good for 25th in the league, and you’re banking on a lot of improvement to finish 13th in fantasy scoring. Also to note, every 300+ yard passing game he had a season ago came against a bottom half passing defense. For the crowd that says, “well his skill players were hurt”, I say you can’t expect his skill players that routinely get hurt to stay healthy consistently. He’ll have to get used to playing without those guys and that hurts his value. I’m a big Saquon guy, and as long as he’s in the lineup then he’ll be the focal point of the offense and the team will run through him. We can still see some improvement in Jones’s games this year, but this wouldn’t make him a starter in fantasy in my eyes.
Lamar Jackson 1
If you listen to our podcast (which is great by the way, give it a listen), you’ll know I’m a Lamar Jackson skeptic. This time there’s substantial evidence that he’s not going to repeat as the top fantasy quarterback, which makes him slightly overvalued. First off, the last quarterback to finish in the top in back to back years was Drew Brees in 2012-2013. Is it likely that he leads the NFL again in passing touchdowns if he’s not even top 20 in passing attempts or yards? That’s tough to do once, let alone in back to back years. He’s still valuable in fantasy based on rushing yards alone, even though I would expect a decrease in yards as teams get adjusted to the Ravens offense and fewer rushing attempts for Jackson to keep him healthy. Quite simply, there’s never been a quarterback like what Jackson did last season but oddly nobody else is skeptical. There are even some mocks having Jackson go in the first round, but you could get more or at least comparable points from Mahomes, Murray, Watson, or Wilson who you can snag a few rounds later. He’ll still be valuable and still have a good season I don’t want to get that part twisted, but he’s not a ‘must-have’ for your team. Call me a hater, I’ll call myself a realist.
Cortland Sutton 16 PPR/ 12 Non-PPR
Courtland Sutton figures to be a key member in the renaissance of the Broncos offense, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a top 16 WR. The Broncos offense is now not entirely reliant on Sutton as Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler all figure to cut into Sutton’s targets. He saw 125 targets a season ago, yet with all of the new weapons in this offense, people apparently think that’ll increase. Not likely to happen. Fant will become a fantasy beast and I think Jeudy and Hamler see at least 160 targets split between them. A season ago Sutton finished 17th in non-PPR leagues (19th in PPR) and that’s with him being the only receiver after Emmanuel Sanders got traded. While he saw an increase in targets with Lock, he saw a 20 yards per game decrease. It could be a coincidence or could be that teams are taking away his deep routes. He ranked ahead of Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, who missed time with injury, and also ahead of Odell Beckam Jr. and A.J. Brown who I both believe will excel past last year’s production. I don’t expect him to do better than those guys again. Sutton could still get around the same production as he did a season ago as he’s a very talented receiver, but that wouldn’t get him into the top 16 receivers in fantasy.
Adam Thielen 11 PPR/ 10 Non-PPR
I like Thielen to be a nice bounce-back candidate, I don’t like him as a top eleven receiver. As he approaches age 30, it’s tough to envision him as a dependable WR1 that you can count on week in and week out. I think people are really taking the trade of Stefon Diggs and automatically assuming that a lion share of his targets will be going to Thielen. However, looking at how Gary Kubiak’s offense operates, he’s going to try to spread the ball around, particularly to tight ends. I suspect that the team will want to pound the rock and that was shown last year as the Kirk Cousins attempted 162 fewer passes than he did in 2018. Even when he was healthy, Thielen only saw 3.7 receptions a game last season. Also with no Diggs, opposing defenses will be focused on Thielen and he’ll be the one seeing double teams. In 2017 and 2018 without Diggs, Thielen averaged 53 yards a game and 1 total touchdown. It’s only three total games so you have to take that stat with a grain of salt, but it’s still something to look at.
Dalvin Cook 3 PPR/ 4 Non-PPR
I made this list before Cook announcing that he’s not attending any team activities until he has a new contract. Yea, good luck with that one. Don’t get me wrong, Cook was a stud last season and IF he can replicate that, then yes he’s a top-four running back. However, Cook has yet to play a full 16 game season and if this hold out is true, why would the Vikings overpay for him when they have Alexander Mattison, a promising player, waiting in the wings? In the first eight weeks, Cook averaged 102 yards on the ground and 5.1 yards per rush. In the second half of the season, albeit missing two games, he only averaged 52 yards on the ground and 3.1 yards per rush. As you can probably tell by now, he’s way too much of a risk to be taken as early as he’s projected to go. The best ability is availability! Gary Kubiak’s offense will surely be near the top at rushing attempts so the volume should be there for Cook, assuming he can play most of the season. This still makes him an RB1 on your fantasy, but it’s a risk and one that I wouldn’t be willing to take.
James White 30 PPR/ 37 Non-PPR
I saw White’s value tied with Brady. You take Brady out of the equation and White becomes a total wild card that you can’t rely on, even ranked in the 30’s. No one knows how the Patriots offense will look and for a running back that’s sole value is catching passes (never had a 500 yard rushing season), I like a more traditional back like Sony Michel over White or any other option on that team. With the lack of Patriots offensive weapons the past two seasons, White has seen 123 and 95 targets in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Now with two rookie tight ends and N’keal Harry and Mohammad Sanu presumably healthy, even assuming that he gets the playing time he has in the past, he won’t see the same amount of targets. A crowded backfield for any team is a turnoff, but one that’s role is undefined now with a new quarterback makes it tough for me to trust. Maybe take a chance on him in a PPR league as your 3rd/4th running back but if you’re in a non-PPR league he’s worth a late-round flier at best.
Henry Ruggs 50 PPR/ 44 Non-PPR
I’ve written in the past about how I don’t think Ruggs is going to be a viable fantasy option for the upcoming season. Sure, he’s so fast that he can get up to turn the lights off and make it back in bed before it’s dark, but I don’t think the Raiders and Derek Carr will maximize his fantasy potential. Yes, Carr was third in completion percentage on deep throws, but a more telling stat is that Carr finished with the fifth-lowest average completion air yards in 2019 at 4.9 yards. Also to show how the Raiders offense operates, Carr finished second lowest in both QB aggressiveness and average intended yards. The offense relies on quick, high percentage throws and Ruggs will be used in a way that will send him deep to clear more room underneath for Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Sure, Ruggs will get some deep catches because he has no much speed and talent, but the targets won’t be there for the most part. Definitely keep your eye on him if he starts seeing a good amount of targets, but I wouldn’t advise drafting him as a top-four receiver.
Ryan Tannehill 17th
Tannehill turned around his career last season and was rewarded with a new contract that makes him the guy in Tennessee, at least in the short term. So one of the major questions fantasy owners will have this season is, do you buy into the hype or do you go based on what you’ve seen in his career and also the run-first offensive approach the Titans have implemented? He ended up finishing 16th in touchdown passes, but 29th in attempts which gave him a 7.7 touchdown percentage, second in the league. With the team dedicated to feeding Tractorcito aka Derrick Henry, Tannehill’s fantasy value relies on a high touchdown total on a low number of pass attempts. Very similar to Lamar Jackson, but without the running ability. Currently, ESPN has him ranked over Jared Goff, who had double the attempts of Tannehill a season ago and figures to once again have a more attempts once again this upcoming season. Also, looking at Tannehill’s career, you’ll see that he’s only averaged 20 points a game once in his career before last season. It’s just tough for me to buy stock in a quarterback who’s turned around his disappointing career at age 31. Has it happened before? Yes, but not often which is why I’d rather go with a safe, high attempt volume quarterback rather than a guy like Tannehill.
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