Best Deep Sleepers for the 2019 Fantasy Season

Best Deep Sleepers for the 2019 Fantasy Season

You want deep sleepers… we got deep sleepers. All 12 players on this list of deep sleepers are available after pick 128, and 11 of 12 after pick 148. We feel like these 12 players not only hold the most value in the final rounds of drafts, but also have huge potential upside and could potentially crack your lineup more often than not.

Even if you don’t find yourself in a spot where you feel like you need to reach on one of these guys, simply recognizing the upside with each guy and being ready to grab them off waivers could be a huger difference maker for your team this season.

Why are deep sleepers important?

Frankly, if you follow the Hello Rookie Draft Strategy deep sleepers really are not that important. Or at least they should truly be irrelevant picks. Keep in mind we are loading up on RB’s early (at least 3 in the first 4 rounds), WR’s in rounds 5-7, then filling out QB/TE in 8-12. In this case you should be all set at the flex positions well before ‘deep sleepers’ become a thing. Click here for an example of how this would look.

However, if you are someone that likes to target a QB and TE prior to round 8, then you are looking at being forced to take these deeper guys as your RB4 and WR5. Assuming you are in a flex league, and considering injuries and byes, these guys are going to have to play for you.

You can win your league either way. While we believe our draft strategy is the easiest way to build a winning team every year, if you are able to just hit on one or two late round picks then getting a high end QB and TE gives you a massive advantage at both spots most weeks. Although we would counter that using high picks on a QB1 and TE1 tends to lock you into those players and you are not able to play matchups like someone that drafts a lower end QB1 and TE1.

Either way, it’s nice to be on some late round players with massive upside, and we think we have a group of deep sleepers here that could potentially win your league this season.

Our Favorite Deep Sleeper QB Picks

Jimmy Garoppolo

Quarterback | San Francisco 49ers | Current ADP: 128
Who Jimmy Garoppolo is, and what upside this situation represents, has been completely marred by his ACL tear in 2018. This time last season he was being drafted as QB10, and is now QB18. Aside from the ACL… what changed? The team added a ton of weapons: Coleman, Samuel, Hurd, Matthews. The offensive line is now one of the five best in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, and George Kittle put up 1,400 yards without a QB last season.

Jimmy G. is talented. His career passer rating is the same as Brady’s. He is smart, accurate, and surprisingly athletic. The biggest reason to love Garoppolo? Kyle Shanahan. Forget about every other coach in the NFL… Shanahan is the guy.

From Brian Hoyer to Matt Schaub to RGII, Shanahan was always able to get the absolute most out of every QB he coached. Every single one of those quarterbacks had their best years under Shanahan. Then he finally got a legitimate NFL QB in Matt Ryan, and in 2016 he had the #1 offense in football (34 PPG) and Ryan had a career year. Even with the duo of Beathard and Mullens last season, the 49ers finished top 15 in passing yards and 8th in yards per attempt.

Here is why I absolutely love Garoppolo’s fantasy value this season: he isn’t your QB1. You can draft a QB in an earlier round and then pick up Garopollo in round 10 or 11. There is zero risk, and he has legitimate, undeniable top 10 upside in this offense.

Mitch Trubisky

Quarterback | Chicago Bears | Current ADP: 148
I get it, the QB class is loaded this season (which is why we are such big advocates on waiting until round 9 or later to draft one) but this is another guy who’s current ADP baffles me. Either people expect Trubisky to get hurt or for Matt Nagy to forget how to coach, because that is the only way his QB22 rank is explainable.

You don’t have to study Trubisky’s game film very long to figure out what his strengths and weaknesses are: his decision making was slow, he was inaccurate downfield, but he is a phenomenal athlete, has obvious arm talent, throws a very catchable ball, and like Garopollo, plays for an offensive wizard.

He may never be accurate down field, but everything else is going to improve this season. The only thing Mitch needed was another offseason with Nagy. The weapons around him are perfect, his skill set is a great fit, and now he truly understands the system, has a year running it, and can start to process things faster. He will be better this season… and I don’t think you can question that statement. He was QB11 last year.

top 12 QB's 2018

Our Favorite Deep Sleeper RB Picks

deep sleeper rb pick

Alexander Mattison

Running Back | Minnesota Vikings | Current ADP: 149
For those of you that subscribe to our YouTube channel, you are likely sick of hearing us say this, but Alexander Mattison is more than just a Dalvin Cook handcuff. Cook has missed more than half the Vikings games since entering the league two season ago, has averaged only 13 carries per game over his career, and hasn’t hit 20 carries since week 3 of 2017.

We know the Vikings offense, led by OC Stefanski and Assistant HC Kubiak, wants to run the ball a lot in 2019. They drafted Garrett Bradbury out of NC State to solidify the inside of the offensive line, and just getting healthy bodies back should help on the line as well. I think you have to assume that if Cook is healthy for a full 16 games, he is likely a top 10 back.

That being said, it seems unlikely that another back doesn’t have a role in this system. Even if they give Cook 250 carries this season, it will leave around 170 carries available from when Kubiak ran this same system with the Texans.

The Vikings have already told us they expect Mattison to get these carries, they drafted him as a direct replacement for Latavius Murray. So, if you draft Mattison at or before his current ADP you are getting a ‘handcuff’ that should see close to double digit carries most weeks. If Cook does go down at some point this season you are likely looking at a top 20 RB play regardless of matchup.

Duke Johnson

Running Back | Cleveland Browns ? | Current ADP: —
How this Duke Johnson situation plays out over the next two months is going to be very interesting to watch. Clearly he realizes that three is a crowd, and wants out of Cleveland. If his attempt to force a trade is successful, then he could overnight become a fantasy commodity.

In the video at the top of the page I discuss two possible trade locations that intrigue me, with Houston and Tampa. The Bucs in particular are intriguing, as Arians has always had pass catching backs. If he were to end up in Houston it would obviously be as a 3rd down and change of pace type compliment to the two guys there already, but that seems much less likely given Foreman’s return.

If you are in a super deep 15 team league, or a dynasty league with massive rosters, Johnson might be worth picking up and stashing on your bench while this all plays out. However, as it stands he has little value in Cleveland unless Chubb gets hurt, and would then slip back into irrelevancy once Kareem Hunt comes off his suspension. Draft him as a Chubb handcuff, or as a possible flex play if he does keep the 3rd down role despite the teams’ apparent fascination with throwing Chubb the ball.

Darwin Thompson

Running Back | Kansas City Chiefs | Current ADP: —
Thompson was our deep sleeper pick in our original RB sleeper article. He is a guy that has the potential to wear several different hats for the Chiefs this season, and will play a role in what was the best offense in football last year.

Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was recently quoted saying that he has ‘fallen in love with Thompson’s skill set’. Thompson is a guy with 4.3 speed, and despite being only 5’8″ and 200 lbs, his frame looks like one that would hold up to a starter’s workload. Not only does he give the Chiefs a dynamic ball carrier that can serve as a change of pace to Williams or Hyde, but a guy that can be heavily involved in the passing game and do some things in space similar to Tyreek Hill.

I’m not predicting that Thompson will end up being the starter in KC, I’m just saying that we have seen plenty of Damien Willimas and Carlos Hyde over the past four years. We know what they are, and it is not easy to get overly excited about either guy. Darwin Thompson is a player to get excited about. The Chiefs fans are excited about him, and if he puts on a show this preseason it could become really difficult for the two vets to hold him off.

Our Favorite Deep Sleeper WR Picks

deep sleeper wr pick

Donte Moncrief

Wide Receiver | Pittsburgh Steelers | Current ADP: 154
I was a James Washington fan when he was in Oklahoma State, his production was unreal. He averaged 20 YPC on his career, and had 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season. That being said, plenty of guys put up video game numbers in college and can’t cut it in the NFL… particularly in the Big 12. Kliff Kingsbury just got a HC job for this very reason. After watching every snap Washington played last season, I don’t think he is a starting NFL receiver.

I fully expect Donte Moncrief to not only become the number two receiver in Pittsburgh, but to thrive in that role. Still just 25 years old, Moncrief is a proven NFL commodity. He isn’t flashy, is not a big play guy, but has reliable hands, and has been a reliable red zone asset throughout his career. Moncrief put up 7 touchdowns in 9 games in his last season with Andrew Luck.

Moncrief is already working as the team’s #2 receiver, and even spent part of the offseason working out with Roethlisberger in Georgia. Whether it was JuJu Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders, or Mike Wallace, the number two receiver in Pittsburgh has almost always been fantasy-relevant during the Roethlisberger era, and it appears that Moncrief is ready to be the next name on that list.

It’s worth noting that Roethlisberger is +1000 (fourth in NFL) to lead the league in passing, behind just Brady, Brees, and Rivers. With Brown gone, unless JuJu is going for 3,000 yards, somebody has to account for that yardage.

Tre’Quan Smith

Wide Receiver | New Orleans Saints | Current ADP: 164
Before we jump too deep into Smith’s 2018 season and our expectations for him for 2019, I have to mention one thing. Over the past two months I have created rankings for every fantasy position (NFL and CFB), have identified the top sleepers at each position, the top deep sleepers at each position, have analyzed depth charts, offseason moves and notes, system changes, and more. A process that has forced/allowed me to watch every offensive snap from the 2018 NFL season. As I am watching back each team’s season, I write down names of players that I think are being under-drafted based off what I am seeing on film. The names at the top of my WR list, and if you have followed our videos and articles these will seem familiar: Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Mike Williams, Chris Godwin, Will Fuller, Tre’Quan Smith… It’s no wonder these guys film jumps out, take a look at their QB’s rating when targeting them:

qb rating by receiver

Tre’Quan Smith made our WR sleeper picks for 2019 article, and we think he is in a great spot to finally live up to the expectations many experts had for him heading into last season. Smith was a monster for UCF’s undefeated 2017 team, putting up 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns, while averaging 19.8 YPC.

The first thing to clarify is that his numbers and role in 2019 were what we should have expected out of a rookie in the Saints offense. In fact, they were better than Brandin Cooks rookie numbers from 2014. In addition to being a rookie in Sean Payton’s system, Smith was forced to change his role in the offense once Ginn went down.

Smith has had another offseason in the Saints system and appears to have finally earned the trust of Brees and Payton. I thought the combination of Cameron Meredith and Rishard Matthews could cause problems for Smith, but the team has doubled down on the second year player essentially stating he is locked in as a starter.

With Thomas on one side, Ginn on the other, and Cook at tight end, it seems like Smith will have favorable matchups on basically every snap this season. What are the odds Brees doesn’t take advantage of those mismatches?

Paul Richardson

Wide Receiver | Washington Redskins | Current ADP: —
Paul Richardson is a player that we have been back-and-forth on all offseason. On one hand, he is clearly the WR1 in Washington. Unless Terry McLaurin, who did make our WR sleeper article, is an instant home run, Richardson is going to be the guy here. On the other hand, he averaged only 3 receptions on 5 targets per game in 2018.

He was extremely productive with those targets, averaging 13.1 YPR and scoring 2 touchdowns on only 20 receptions. In fact, when targeted he had the 38th highest QB rating of all NFL receivers last season and that was with the dumpster fire at QB. The Redskins were 29th in QB rating at 78.1, but Richardson had a QB rating over 105 when he was targeted.

The translation here seems obvious, he needs more targets, but does Jay Gruden realize this? He appears to, often stating throughout the offseason how excited he is to have Richardson back and calling him their source for explosive plays. This is a role Richardson is familiar with. In his final season with Seattle he put up 44/703/6 averaging 16 YPR.

Richardson is currently going undrafted in fantasy leagues, and I would argue that even given the upside of being a WR1 in a Jay Gruden offense (that should get better QB play in 2019 w/ no Mark Sanchez or Josh Johnson) certainly merits a late dart draft choice. That being said, we will have a better feel for Richardson once the preseason rolls around. We need to see if he is indeed the WR1 here, if the knee is fully back and he is able to get separation, what is his snap count, and what the target share looks like.

Adam Humphries

Wide Receiver | Tennessee Titans | Current ADP: —
Say hello to Marcus Mariota’s new best friend. To be honest, I liked this WR corps before the Humphries signing, but I think he is now the only fantasy relevant receiver on the roster.

One of the most underrated GM’s in the league, Jon Robinson has done everything possible to help Marcus Mariota. Over the past few season he has drafted Jack Conklin, Corey Davis, AJ Brown, Taywan Taylor, Jonnu Smith, and signed Rodger Saffold and Dion Lewis. He looked at the numbers last season, including a 58% catch rate for WR1 Corey Davis, and realized he need a WR that knew how to get open. Here is a direct quote from the first week of Titans camp as to what player has been most impressive: Adam Humphries has stood out throughout offseason practices, he gets open quickly and catches everything. Jon Robinson knew this, that’s why he gave Humphries 4 years, $36 million.

I think Humphries has a legitimate chance to lead the Titans in targets, and that number could be as high as 8/game or 118 total targets. Given how well we think Tennessee is going to run the ball with Henry and that offensive line, and with weapons like Davis and Taylor on the outside, Humphries is going to find himself in great matchups, in a system that will be able to manipulate the middle of the defense with play action.

This is another deep sleeper that is going completely undrafted, but is certainly worth a shot over some of the receivers going late in drafts this season. At the very least, have him on your radar and be ready to pounce if he looks like the Titans top target this preseason.

Scotty Miller

Wide Receiver | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Current ADP: —
Ok, so we talked about Humphries, now let’s discuss his potential replacement. Before we pitch Scotty Miller, let me preface this by saying it is extremely unlikely he is a fantasy asset in 2019. It would take an injury and an act of god. I think the Bucs are set on Godwin in the slot, so Miller will have to earn an outside receiver role, which is asking a lot. That being said, he is still an intriguing prospect. As we said in our fantasy player outlook for Miller, he is essentially a combination of former Bucs Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson.

You can sum up Scotty Miller as a prospect in about one sentence, elite at just about everything other than size. He has elite speed and quickness, is extremely competitive and attacks the ball when it’s thrown to him… but he is only 5’9″ and 175 lbs. Over 10% of his receptions at Bowling Green went for touchdowns, and he put up 71/1148/16.2/9 his senior year at Bowling Green.

Unless you are in an extremely deep fantasy league, 15 team/15+ round draft, he should be off your radar at the moment. At best, he is a draft and stash guy in dynasty leagues this season. He seems like a lock to make the Bucs roster, the scouting department and GM Jason Licht are extremely high on him, and he will be a ton of fun to watch this preseason.

jordan thomas - deep sleeper te

Jordan Thomas

Tight End | Houston Texans | Current ADP: —
For a guy that the Texans selected in the 6th round, after already having drafted TE Jordan Akins in the 3rd round, Jordan Thomas is an exciting prospect. A former basketball player and converted receiver, he has great size and a huge catch radius at 6’6″ 265 lbs. His 4.74 40 time was fourth at the position behind Mike Gesicki, Mark Andrews, and Hayden Hurst.

He used that natural ability to put up some decent numbers in limited opportunities last season: he put up 20/215/4 with an adjusted catch rate of 95.2%. The Texans have arguably the best WR in the NFL on one side in Hopkins, arguably the best deep threat in the NFL on the other in Fuller, and if they can add a pass catching TE like Thomas, this could be one of the most lethal passing attacks in the NFL.

The Texans are clearly trying to replicate what O’Brien did in his time with the Pats, drafting and playing both Gronk and Hernandez. It’s worth noting that even last season, with Ryan Griffen and 2 rookie tight ends, they ran 12 personnel 40% of the time. That was 5% higher than the next highest team! Thomas will be on the field a ton for Houston, the question is if he grows into a bigger role in this passing game, and given his size and skill set, we think he may end up being one of Watson’s favorite targets this season.

Matt Lacosse

Tight End | New England Patriots | Current ADP: —
We are working on a video that should post in the next couple of weeks that breaks down the best depth chart opportunities in fantasy football. This will include things like the Bucs running back, the number two WR in Pittsburgh, and the TE position in New England.

Obviously it doesn’t matter who wins this job, there is no replacing Gronk. Lacosse was a fantasy irrelevant TE on a team that featured Jeff Heuerman at the position. He caught 38 passes in his entire career at Illinois. We are not going to sell you on the player, and after trying to trade for Michael Roberts, I don’t think the Pats are convinced Lacosse is the guy. We are not picking a player here, we are picking an opportunity.

If Lacosse is the starting tight end week one for New England, then he is 100% fantasy relevant. According to Sharp Football, New England had a tight end on the field for over 99% of their snaps in 2018. Given how much of their system currently involves the position, it stands to reason that whoever gets those snaps is going to see a decent number of targets. Given how little we have seen of Lacosse over the course of his career, we really don’t know what to expect him to do with those targets.

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