- Every year, there are late-round fantasy football players who end up returning top value. Who are those players this season?
- Using the Action Network projections and rankings, I identify 10 sleeper candidates this season you should be targeting in your fantasy drafts.
With the fantasy football season rapidly approaching, let’s take a look at 10 fantasy sleepers to target in 2018. These are players who we have ranked much higher than where they’re currently going in fantasy drafts.
To compile this list, I factored in The Action Network’s fantasy football rankings and projections, as well as general ADP. For all of our rankings, projections and player profiles, follow the links below:
Check out more fantasy football rankings:
PPR: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Standard: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Player Projections: QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
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Player Profiles: Top 200 | QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST | K
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
Current ADP: WR36, Overall No. 92 (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR28, Overall No. 64 (Standard)
Anderson was a revelation last season, posting a 63-941-7 line and finishing as fantasy’s WR18 in PPR and WR16 in standard settings. He certainly has the athletic profile to show last year wasn’t a fluke: He stands at 6-foot-3 with a 4.34-second 40-yard dash and a 36.5-inch vertical.
Entering his third season with the Jets, he’ll likely be the beneficiary of improved quarterback play. Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold have impressed this preseason. Anderson also faces limited competition for targets, and he’ll likely benefit from positive game script from a Jets team that could struggle this season. At WR36 in current standard ADP, he offers big draft value along with league-winning upside.
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
Current ADP: WR34, Overall No. 83 (PPR)
Action Ranking: WR26, Overall No. 51 (PPR)
Following the departure of Jordy Nelson, Cobb yet again has a firm grasp on the No. 2 receiving role in Green Bay. He’s played in 87 games with Aaron Rodgers in his career, averaging a season-long split of 72.8-874.7-6.6 in those games. That split translates to 199.7 PPR fantasy points per season, which would have been good enough for WR19 last season.
No. 2 receivers with Rodgers have historically averaged 214.0 PPR fantasy points per season, which would have been good enough for WR16 last season. They’ve averaged nearly 1,000 yards receiving.
Cobb is also one of the few NFL wide receivers with sneaky rushing value, having rushed 59 times for 352 yards in his career. At WR34 in current ADP, he’s a bona fide bargain.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Current ADP: RB33, No. 79 Overall (PPR); RB33, No. 76 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB22, No. 50 Overall (PPR); RB22, No. 50 Overall (Standard)
Coleman has finished as a top-25 running back each of the past two seasons, despite splitting a workload with Devonta Freeman. And, as Ian Hartitz points out, Coleman has also excelled when Freeman has had to miss time:
Coleman without Freeman: 19.0 rushes, 83.3 rushing yards, 1.3 targets, 5.0 receiving yards, 1.0 touchdowns per game in three games last year.
In those three games without Freeman last season, Coleman was a top-10 running back in PPR settings each week. This is particularly intriguing, as Freeman dealt with some serious injuries last season. He sprained his MCL and PCL and suffered three concussions (one in preseason and two in the regular season). Coleman is a steady FLEX contributor when Freeman is healthy, but he has RB1 upside if/when Freeman misses time.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Current ADP: TE12, No. 118 Overall (PPR)
Action Ranking: TE10, No. 102 Overall (PPR)
Doyle had a sneaky-good 2017 season, finishing as TE7 in PPR. He put up an 80-690-4 line in 15 games with Jacoby Brissett under center, and Andrew Luck‘s long-awaited return should further elevate Doyle’s fantasy value.
Hartitz breaks down Luck’s affinity for tight ends, noting that from 2012-16, Luck threw the fourth-most touchdowns to tight ends in the NFL. New coach Frank Reich also has a great history with tight ends, who have averaged eight touchdowns per season in his offense from 2014-17.
Some analysts have expressed concern over Eric Ebron‘s addition to the Colts’ roster, but those concerns have been somewhat quieted by the Colts’ preseason personnel trends. As Graham Barfield notes, Doyle has dominated preseason snaps with Luck on the field.
Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions
Current ADP: WR25, No. 58 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR18, No. 39 Overall (Standard)
After a career year in 2017, it’s surprising to see Jones being drafted so low. He finished as WR12 in PPR and WR5 in standard settings last season. He’s averaged 104.3 targets and 949 receiving yards over the past three seasons, and he exploded with nine touchdowns last year.
Kenny Golladay‘s stock continues to rise, potentially threatening Jones’ week-to-week volume in the Lions’ offense. Still, Jones is the deep threat to own in Detroit. Given Jones’ deflated ADP, his draft value likely overcomes concerns over Golladay’s potential ascension.
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Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Current ADP: WR38, No. 91 Overall (PPR); WR40, No. 105 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR30, Overall No. 67 (PPR); WR32, No. 69 Overall (Standard)
Kupp quietly had a fantastic rookie season, racking up 869 receiving yards on 62 receptions in 15 games. He finished as WR25 in PPR and tallied the fourth-most yards by a rookie wide receiver since 2014. The three receivers in front of him? Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Not bad.
He wasn’t just a possession receiver, either: He accumulated 364 yards after the catch, which ranked 12th in the NFL per PlayerProfiler.com. At WR38/WR40 in current ADP, he’s an excellent FLEX target with nice draft value.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
Current ADP: RB58, No. 162 Overall (PPR); RB60, No. 171 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB43, No. 114 Overall (PPR); RB44, No. 135 Overall (Standard)
Powell’s fantasy upside likely hinges on the recovery of Elijah McGuire, who broke his foot in training camp, requiring surgery. McGuire will miss the entire preseason and is unlikely to return for Week 1, which has pushed Powell back up the depth chart for now.
Isaiah Crowell, with his new $12 million deal, likely has the stranglehold on early-down work, but do not dismiss Powell’s ability to produce as a receiver. Over the past three seasons, Powell has averaged 48.8 receptions per 16 games and has finished as RB34, RB16 and RB29 in PPR formats.
Powell has played out of the slot in the past for the Jets, and he has also lined up there this preseason. With the retirement of Matt Forte, there’s also around 44 new targets up for grabs — and my bet is that Powell and Anderson are the primary beneficiaries of that receiving volume.
Theo Riddick, RB, Detroit Lions
Current ADP: RB60, No. 179 Overall (PPR); Undrafted (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB39, No. 100 Overall (PPR); RB47, No. 151 Overall (Standard)
Riddick is one of the best examples of a fantasy sleeper. In 2015, he went undrafted and finished as RB18 in PPR. In 2016, he was RB41 in ADP and finished as RB25 despite playing only 10 games due to injury. Last year, he was RB33 in ADP and finished as RB26. He consistently exceeds expectations.
He’s totaled 50-plus receptions each of the past three seasons, and his 71 targets last season ranked 10th in the NFL among running backs. Riddick has also been one of the few bright spots for the Lions this preseason, catching three passes for 50 yards in Week 2 against the Giants.
With uncertainty among Ameer Abdullah, LeGarrette Blount and Kerryon Johnson for the early-down workload, Riddick seems like the Lions back to own yet again in 2018. At RB60 in ADP, he’s close to a guarantee to outperform expectations for the fourth straight season.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Current ADP: WR51, No. 136 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: WR39, No. 84 Overall (Standard)
Stills has led the Dolphins in air yards the past two seasons as Miami’s dedicated deep-ball specialist. This has made Stills an inconsistent fantasy contributor with big weekly upside.
This offseason, the Dolphins parted ways with Jarvis Landry and brought in Albert Wilson in free agency. Despite Wilson’s previous role with the Chiefs, coach Adam Gase has reiterated that he views Wilson as an outside receiver.
That could mean Stills may see more time in the slot this season, feasting on short-yardage targets vacated by Landry. If that proves to be the case, increased volume may add consistency to Stills’ weekly production, making him an easier start in head-to-head matchups.
James White, RB, New England Patriots
Current ADP: RB54, No. 153 Overall (PPR); RB64, No. 179 Overall (Standard)
Action Ranking: RB36, No. 94 Overall (PPR); RB46, No. 137 Overall (Standard)
White has averaged 10.0 PPR points per game over the past three seasons, despite working in a dedicated running back committee. Especially with the departure of Dion Lewis this offseason, White will be a big part the Patriots’ backfield receiving game, along with Rex Burkhead.
White was impressive in Week 2 of the preseason, racking up 92 yards and a touchdown in limited action. With Julian Edelman suspended to start the season, and with Burkhead and Sony Michel nursing injuries, White’s role in the offense is unquestioned. Rely on him as a high-floor, low-ceiling FLEX play in 2018.