The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019
Many years ago, Bill Barnwell wrote a piece on Grantland highlighting TRULY deep fantasy football sleepers. These were practice squad guys, players who might not even make the 75-man cutdown roster in the preseason. The idea has always stuck with me as an idea. Every year, there are guys who are undrafted or practice squad players or third-stringers who end up being fantasy-relevant by the fantasy football playoffs. In fact, there is literally an article about probably every offensive skill-position player somewhere on the fantasy football internet. However, instead of asking you to drink from the firehouse, I have culled a list of five guys who barely have an ADP that have the chance to impact your fantasy football teams in 2019.
The Deepest Possible Fantasy Football Sleepers In 2019
Dylan Cantrell, Los Angeles Chargers
We have discussed Dylan Cantrell in a wide receiver sleepers article a little bit already this offseason. However, after giving it some more time, I have come to like him even more as a sleeper. Per Bolts From The Blue “At 6’3 and 226 pounds, Cantrell ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.4s as a prospect. He finished in the 90th percentile or better (among wide receivers) in the vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and short shuttle.” While doesn’t have the draft equity that most players his size come installed with, Cantrell does physically look like a real WR1 prospect. Cantrell is mostly vying for playing time against Travis Benjamin (30 years old, 24 targets last season), Artavis Scott (a non-prospect with mediocre workout numbers and no NFL success) and Geremy Davis who is more of a special teams/water bug style player who really is not ever expected to find the field at WR. Cantrell, on the other hand, is legit competition for Benjamin and would be a huge winner in the event of an injury to Mike Williams or Keenan Allen. Both the team and Cantrell expect him to contribute to the passing offense in 2019 and given that it is generally a successful passing offense (six straight years of 4,000+ passing yards), Cantrell’s piece of the pie should be fairly valuable. There is some chance that he just gets glued to the bench for Benjamin but the Chargers know that the upside for their team would like with Cantrell.
Bruce Anderson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It was actually slightly surprising to me when the Buccaneers cut loose Shaun Wilson after keeping him on the roster for all of the last season. The team added only Anderson and Andre Ellington to their disappointing running back stable from last year despite the departure of Jacquizz Rodgers. I will be honest with you: nothing really stands out about Anderson’s prospect profile. He played at North Dakota State in the FCS, didn’t have any impressive workout metrics at his pro day, caught only 12 passes in his final season in college and had only one 1,000 yard season. However, he comes into maybe the least defined backfield in the NFL and we know that #RunningBacksDoNotMatter. We have seen less athletic running backs than Anderson get work for a season and perform fine for fantasy football with it. The path to relevance for Anderson really is not all that fraught. Another disappointing season from Ronald Jones, a Peyton Barber injury or just a weird coaching decision from Bruce Arians could all get Anderson on the field. Anderson’s former college coaches spoke very highly of him to the Buccaneers personnel people and really all he would have to do to add value to this pass-heavy offense is picking up what is blocked for him, don’t let Jameis get killed in pass protection and don’t fumble.
Austin Proehl, Los Angeles Rams
The most recent update on Cooper Kupp’s recovery from ACL surgery is that he is hoping to be back for Week One but may not, in fact, be ready. Right now, the Rams have as many as 12 wide receiver bodies technically on payroll but probably only five or maybe six of them will make the roster come September. Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Kupp and likely Josh Reynolds are all locks to the roster. The battle is between Austin Prohel, BadGood Mike Thomas (from Southern Missippi), KhaDerel Hodge, JoJo Natson, Jalen Greene, Alex Bachman, Jonathan Lloyd, and Nsimba Webster to make up the rest of the WR corps. Reynolds was pretty disappointing as Kupp fill in last season with only 7.4 yards per target which barely beat out Todd Gurley and backup TE Gerald Everett. Proehl is, of course, a skinny white slot wide receiver without plus athleticism. The Turf Show Times breaks down Proehl’s roster fight like this “I love Proehl’s story because he reminds me of former Rams WR Danny Amendola. Like Proehl, Amendola started out as a guy who couldn’t make the final roster despite having tremendous route-running ability and having great hands. Unlike Amendola, however, Proehl hasn’t shown he can be an asset on special teams, which hurts. Proehl was signed to the Rams practice squad last October. That might be where he returns.” I sort of agree with that analysis. Proehl will never be Julio Jones but a Danny Amendola-esque role with high targets and low yards on a team that might actually need someone to fill in that role makes a ton of sense.
Braxton Berrios, New England Patriots
The Patriots fantasy football sleepers dynasty is going to end someday. At some point, every seventh-round pick that they bright on board will not be breathlessly discussed by fantasy football analysts from coast to coast. As long as Brady and Belichick are there, however, every white wide receiver on the roster will be a favorite fantasy football sleepers candidate. Berrios, to be fair, is pretty interesting at this moment in time. Julian Edelman is 33 years old, Josh Gordon is suspended indefinitely, Demaryius Thomas may never recover from his leg injury, Phillip Dorsett is a boundary-only wide receiver, Rob Gronkowski is gone, Chris Hogan is gone. The cupboard is getting empty in New England. Berrios is a young prospect (still not quite 24), was actually drafted by the Patriots which does make a difference when compared to UDFA’s, is very similar athletically to Ryan Switzer (the perfect Patriots prospect) with a 4.49 40 yard dash and very good punt return stats at Miami. Berrios was not an overly productive player at Miami but also never had a good quarterback. Berrios is already a feel fan favorite in New England, because of course, he is. He is short, white and fast; he was born to be a Patriots slot wide receiver. The Pats Pulpit notes “Berrios made some waves for himself following minicamp earlier this month after offering very little last offseason due to injury. Looking at the receiver depth chart, there are a lot of opportunities for hungry players to assert themselves as mainstays in the offense this season. With Julian Edelman and rookie N’Keal Harry solidified as key cogs at the position, Berrios has a great opportunity to step in and fill the slot receiver role. Highly touted for his intelligence and gritty demeanor, if Berrios can stay healthy and build a strong rapport with Tom Brady, he can flourish this season.” It is boring, simplistic analysis to suggest that any slot wide receiver can be successful in the Patriots offense BUT… if Braxton does, in fact, win that job, I would imagine that he is a useful PPR player as soon as this season.
Dontrell Hilliard, Cleveland Browns
With Duke Johnson trying to negotiate his way out of Cleveland, the backup situation for the Browns should be of interest to most fantasy football players. For whatever reason, some backup situations get completely ignored by ADP. Alfred Blue isn’t ever being drafted but Tony Pollard and Justin Jackson are flying off the shelves. Hilliard is in sort of a similar situation where he would likely be the lead back if Nick Chubb were to get injured (similar to how Duke stayed in the same role when Carlos Hyde was traded last season). A big chunk of opportunity came Hilliard’s way when Duke Johnson decided to skip OTA’s. The coaching staff, including Freddie Kitchens, took notice of just how well Hilliard played over the spring and local analysts around the Cleveland team are sort of championing him to take over the role when and/or if Duke Johnson heads out of town. Obviously, Kareem Hunt is on this roster and when he returns from suspension most think he will be gifted the change of pace role. While that is probabilistically true, it is not certainly true. Hunt will have been out of playing tackle football for a year at the point and maybe Hilliard is having the season of his life by the time Hunt is eligible to play again (not probable, but possible). For what it is worth, I just cannot stomach Hunt at current ADP. He has a new legal matter hanging over him, is already suspended, is going to be a backup with perhaps three other running backs getting play time and let me reiterate, can only play in a MAX of eight games this week. Hilliard, on the other hand, is the current favorite to win the kick returner job, outplayed his competition in OTA’s and fills a role that the team has vacant at this moment in time.
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