FANTASY PLAYS: Kelley, Darnold potential sleeper picks
They’re the hot names that everyone wants to know as they head into fantasy football drafts for the 2018 season — the unearthed gems and the deep values that can come out of nowhere to help you win your league and make you look smarter than everyone you are playing against.
But do “sleepers” even really exist in today’s fantasy world?
There is so much information out there, making it difficult to find out a deep value performer without others in your league knowing about him. Still, it’s about digging deeper than your opponents and figuring out where to find value.
ROB KELLEY, Washington: The unfortunate season-ending injury to Derrius Guice has created an opportunity for someone to step forward and seize an opportunity to carry the ball consistently. It’s not going to be Chris Thompson, who does not have the frame to take the regular pounding that comes with more rushing attempts. Kelley and Samaje Perine will battle for the chance to replace Guice as the lead runner. Kelley has reportedly slimmed down prior to this season and can do a better job of creating his own running room behind a questionable offensive line. Kelley has flex potential to be the TD finisher for a respectable offense.
NYHEIM HINES, Indianapolis: Andrew Luck has never enjoyed a weapon like Hines before. The effervescent rookie has significant point-per-reception league upside as a player similar to Darren Sproles. Not only can Luck finally have a safety valve when he is in trouble, Hines will also make many plays for him from anywhere on the field. If the Colts can’t establish a running game, Hines can act as a substitution or extension of a ground attack, much like Theo Riddick used to in Detroit.
LeGARRETTE BLOUNT, Detroit: There is a lot of initial buzz about rookie Kerryon Johnson so far, but he runs high and could expose himself to some injuries. Plus, the Lions have made an organizational commitment to being more physical — a philosophy Blount fits. Blount has been written off in the preseason before, only to maintain fantasy relevance once the season starts for real. Even with Johnson in the picture, Blount could be a frequent goal line runner for a very productive offense.
CHRIS GODWIN, Tampa Bay: There’s already talk that Godwin will seize a starting job in his second season. He is a big and fast target who should emerge as the top complement to Mike Evans. Godwin averaged 15.4 yards per catch last season, flashing his exciting potential during the first half of the season. DeSean Jackson is not going to recapture past form and Godwin will become a viable upside option.
MACK HOLLINS, Philadelphia: The Eagles are already dealing with Alshon Jeffery injury issues and their receiving depth otherwise is not too impressive, with the likes of retread Mike Wallace. Hollins is a very sizable pass-catcher with some extra gears who has generated some chatter from seasoned Eagle watchers as he heads into his second year. He could step into a more prominent role as a notable playmaker for Carson Wentz.
JARON BROWN, Seattle: Paul Richardson has left for Washington, and Brown is set to step into his old role as a deep threat for Russell Wilson. Brown could be even more productive than his predecessor. Brown consistently got open downfield in Arizona, but was done in by shoddy QB play. Wilson is one of the best downfield passers in the league and Brown is going to make himself known as a more regular playmaker in Seattle. Draft him as a WR5 or 6 before he starts making noise.
SAM DARNOLD, New York Jets: The excitement among Jets fans is for real. Darnold is the best QB in the rookie class from an intangibles and decision-making perspective. He plays for a team with an aggressive, opportunistic approach. The Jets also have respectable talents surrounding him. Josh McCown flirted with back-end QB1 status for a spell last year. Darnold’s traits that can’t be taught to just anyone will propel him into the starting role quickly and translate into solid, sometimes outstanding fantasy production.
MITCHELL TRUBISKY, Chicago: Much like Jared Goff last year, Trubisky is coming off a frustrating and forgettable rookie season, but his team has brought in a fresh new coach and surrounding talents. Trubisky may start a bit slowly as he adjusts to his new surroundings, but eventually he should mesh with the new playmakers he can utilize, and he could vault at least into high-end QB2 status.
AUSTIN HOOPER, Atlanta: The Falcons do have other weapons, but Matt Ryan has often featured his TE in the past and Hooper is ready to step forward and play a larger role in the offense in his third NFL season. Tight ends sometimes take a while to get into the pro flow, and now Hooper has enough experience to break out. With defenses always so concerned about Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley drawing extra attention downfield, Hooper will be more free to work in the middle and should become a more frequent red zone target.
RICKY SEALS-JONES, Arizona: Seals-Jones showed brief glimpses of his promise last season, with a two-TD outing and a 72-yard performance. Look for him to play a more frequent role in the Arizona offense this season, especially as a TD threat. He may face some discipline from the league for a recent off-field incident, but otherwise he should vault himself into fantasy relevance as a featured pass-catcher on a team needing his size and scoring potential.
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