A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. This article specifically targets deep sleeper value (players that can be found very late in a fantasy draft). In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look deeper than the Top 150 and identify players that should significantly outperform their late draft position. These players should be your targets after the 12th round of your draft.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Jeff Haseley: There are two reasons why I think Sam Bradford could outperform his draft position in 2017. One, the Vikings have assembled a formidable receiving corps in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. Plus if last year's first-round pick Laquon Treadwell elevates his game in year two, the Vikings will be hard to ignore on offense. Secondly, Bradford's efficiency rating of 71.6% was tops in the league. He takes care of the ball and doesn't commit many turnovers (5 interceptions in 552 pass attempts last year). The combination of Bradford's accuracy and the talent he has at receiver leads me to believe he belongs in the conversation of quarterbacks who could finish in the Top 20.
Andy Hicks: Sam Bradford was thrown into the Minnesota lineup after spending the whole off season and preseason preparing to play for the Eagles. He did remarkably well passing for 20 touchdowns and only throwing 5 interceptions. With a full off season and a promising receiving group, Bradford could easily become a borderline starter or at least a good backup option. With Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray added to the running game and hopeful improvement from the offensive line, Bradford should be more comfortable and be capable of surprising fantasy owners.
Stephen Holloway: Bradford set career highs of 3,877 passing yards, 71.6% completion rate, 7.0 ypa, and best touchdown/interception ratio (20/5) in his first season with Minnesota. Let’s not forget that he came to Minnesota only days before the season opener a year ago after Teddy Bridgewater’s injury. The team’s wide receivers are young, but Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen played well last year and Laquon Treadwell, their first round pick a year ago was a disaster and should improve greatly in his second season. Bradford should be a steady producer and could surprise as a very late selection.
Ari Ingel: Bradford is regarded as a bust, but a closer look shows signs of life. Since coming into the league Bradford suffered a slew of early season fluke injuries and has also had the same offensive coordinator once in successive years, last year was no different, joining the Vikings as the season was set to begin and then losing OC Norv Turner during the middle of the season. Yet, as PFF's Pat Thorman mentioned on Twitter, Bradford set career highs in completion percentage, adjusted yards per pass attempt, touchdown to interception percentage and passer rating all behind the league’s 4th-worst pass blocking offensive line. This season, Bradford knows the offensive scheme, has a upgraded set of weapons and a (slightly) upgraded offensive line. He is a great late QB2 steal for those waiting until the 15th round to grab their second quarterback in two quarterback or superflex leagues.
Mark Wimer: Bradford was rushed into service by the Vikings last year after Teddy Bridgewaters' catastrophic knee injury and did a lot of learning on the job. This season, he'll benefit from a full slate of OTAs and training camp with the Vikings, and he was pretty impressive as a rushed-in emergency replacement last year (a completion rate of 71.6% in his first season with Minnesota). He'll be a quality fantasy backup who could emerge as a fantasy starter if Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen continue to develop into quality NFL wide receivers. Bradford has considerable upside from his current ADP.
Player Receiving 3 Votes
Alex Smith, Kansas City
Clayton Gray: Patrick Mahomes was clearly selected for the future. While that future might arrive in 2018, Alex Smith is certainly entrenched as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs. Despite the release of Jeremy Maclin, Smith has plenty of weapons around him with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and several other receiving playmakers. Smith is a great player to target late in your draft as a QB2. His cheap price makes him perfect as a backup to a stud quarterback and is able to turn in solid numbers when needed.
Jeff Pasquino: To be honest, finding a quarterback outside of the Top 20 with some value right now is tough. The one guy I don’t mind having as a QB2 is Alex Smith, because you know he is that safe choice that you just know will be there if you want to wait to grab a second quarterback. He is rather unlikely to put up a big score in any given week, but you know that Andy Reid is going to trust him to play every game (as long as he is healthy) and put up respectable numbers.
Mark Wimer: The Chiefs found a dynamic young playmaker in Tyreek Hill last year, they have an excellent tight end in Travis Kelce, and a fine pass-catching back in Spencer Ware. Also, the Chiefs drafted a heir apparent at quarterback this past April - Patrick Mahomes - who will likely step into the starting lineup after a year of holding the clipboard for Smith duing 2017. This all means that Smith is going to be motivated to earn his next NFL contract during 2017, and he has an able set of playmakers to help him post a solid NFL season. He is the sort of quarterback who has high upside for 2017 (and a decent floor, making him a nice bye-week option as fantasy quarterback #2), and he comes very inexpensively.
Players Receiving 1 Votes
Jared Goff, LA Rams
Chris Feery: Once the top two tiers of quarterbacks are off the board, it can be akin to tossing darts to find a suitable QB2 for your fantasy squad. Here’s a longshot play that may come tantalizingly close to being a bullseye. The Los Angeles Rams were a mess offensively for their first year back on the West Coast, and that led to a housecleaning. Out went head coach Jeff Fisher and company, and in comes the intriguing Sean McVay with hopes of righting the ship. McVay is just 31-years-old, but he brings an impressive resume to the table. That includes his most recent stint as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins, and we’ve all seen the leap that Kirk Cousins has made during that time. No promises that McVay can work the same magic with Goff, but it’s not of the question for him to take a big leap forward in 2017.
Brian Hoyer, San Francisco
Clayton Gray: Every year, there are quarterbacks who go undrafted in most fantasy leagues but end the season as borderline, every-week starters. Why can't Brian Hoyer be one of those quarterbacks in 2017? He has played well in the past: in his four complete games last season, Hoyer went over 300 yards in them all and had two touchdown three times. Hoyer has no competition for the starting job and will be on the field as long as he stays healthy. The surrounding talent is certainly a concern, but Kyle Shanahan is more than capable of running a spectacular offense.
Brett Hundley, Green Bay
Matt Waldman: I’m not calling for Hundley to overtake Aaron Rodgers, but it’s important to know who has the top reserve spot on the depth chart of a strong offense. Prior to the 2014 season, Hundley was considered an early-round prospect at UCLA. A difficult season behind a poor offensive line and a head coach who wouldn’t let Hundley make simple adjustments to avoid obvious pre-snap disadvantages earned Hundley a somewhat unfair moniker of a developmental player. It was unfair because Green Bay soon learned that Hundley looked a lot more like a top prospect during his first preseason, quickly learning and executing the offense. Green Bay looked for trade partners for Hundley during the 2017 Draft, which is a sign they think he has starter talent and others do, too. If Rodgers gets hurt, Hundley has the surrounding talent, the mobility, the arm, and the smarts to deliver starter production.
Paxton Lynch, Denver
Andy Hicks: John Elway and the Bronco regime appears to be using Trevor Siemian until they feel Paxton Lynch is ready to assume command. We will have a better idea during training camp, but first round quarterbacks tend to get their opportunity sooner rather than later and you should expect action from Lynch early in the 2017 season. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders around he has every chance. The only real question is about his ability to be an NFL starter. If he is indeed the starter, he will clearly outperform what Trevor Siemian did last year and will be fantasy value.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City
Matt Waldman: For Mahomes’ sake, I hope that Alex Smith stays healthy all year so the Chiefs don’t thrust the rookie into the fray too early. However, Mahomes’ creativity and off-the-charts arm make him a threat regardless of the mistakes he’ll incur with typical reckless play for a rookie with these gifts. The Chiefs have the weapons to win in the vertical game, and while there was some good analysis from Chiefs websites that show Smith had increased his aggression as a downfield thrower, he still tentative for a beat or two longer than he should be on targets more than 20 years downfield. The best quarterbacks identify the visual cues and let it go without hesitation. Mahomes has this ability but will lack some of Smith’s experience and skill at reading complex coverage looks. This will lead to more big plays, but also more mistakes. Still, if Mahomes gets on the field he has big-week upside.
Tom Savage, Houston
Andy Hicks: Tom Savage will start for Houston...until he doesn't. The drafting of Deshaun Watson puts a big target on his back. This team however is ready to win now and, as was proven with Brock Osweiler in 2016, if the guy isn't up to it, it's time to move on. Savage has had injury issues, but it is now or never. He has had years with Bill O'Brien and should know this offense much better than Watson. How long he takes advantage of this remains to be seen, but if he is the starter he will have earnt the job and merit fantasy attention.
Deshaun Watson, Houston
Jason Wood: The Texans have struggled at the quarterback position and last year's Brock Osweiler experiment completely derailed the offense. Osweiler was traded, and Deshaun Watson was drafted to bring life back into an offense that ranked 28th in points and 29th in yards. The former Clemson Tiger doesn't profile as an impact player in Week 1, but expectations for rookie quarterbacks have been upended in recent years; witness last year's MVP-caliber play from Dak Prescott. The most compelling reason to bet on Watson this season is a look back to Houston's 2015 passing stats: 3,833 yards / 29 touchdowns / 12 interceptions. Respectable numbers when you realize four quarterback – Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden – combined for the tally. With offensive gems DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller in place, Watson has the chance to be fantasy relevant as a passer and runner. All he needs to do is win the job in training camp.