Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2019: Our Experts’ 9 Favorites
Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Darrell Henderson
- Our experts identify nine potential fantasy football sleepers for the 2019 season.
Editor’s note: This piece was published before news of Antonio Callaway’s four-game suspension broke.
Which players are expected to smash expectations in 2019? Who has league-winning upside, but isn’t being drafted as such?
Here are our analysts’ nine favorite fantasy football sleepers entering 2019. You can also use our experts’ latest rankings to create custom cheat sheets for your leagues using our Draft Kit.
Note: Average Draft Position (ADP) data is based on PPR drafts as of July 10.
Peter Jennings: Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
Current ADP: RB33 | No. 78 overall
Henderson is a player I believe could surprise a lot of people.
Todd Gurley’s questionable health situation and potential load management could lead to a lot of opportunity for the YouTube star. Outside of the possibility of a strong workload, Henderson put up unbelievable numbers in college. The big play specialist averaged 8.2 yards per carry in his career at Memphis and a ridiculous 8.9 YPC over his final two seasons.
Henderson is generally coming off the board in the sixth/seventh round and has the potential to be a league winner.
Jonathan Bales: Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Current ADP: WR37 | No. 95 overall
There are several situations across the league in which projected target share in an offense simply isn’t being reflected in the receivers’ corresponding average draft position.
One such example is with the Lions, as Kenny Golladay (WR17) is going well ahead of Jones (WR37) in PPR drafts.
Over the past two seasons:
- Golladay (26 games): 167 targets, 98 receptions, 1,540 yards, 8 TDs
- Jones (25 games): 169 targets, 96 receptions, 1,609 yards, 14 TDs
The absence of Golden Tate, combined with the presence of former Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, leaves a fairly unclear situation that isn’t being treated as such in the fantasy market at the moment.
Golladay and Jones worked as the respective WR24 and WR27 in PPR points per game in 2018.
Ian Hartitz: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
Current ADP: TE25 | No. 226 overall
Rookie tight ends pretty much always disappoint, especially when they’re in an offense led by Adam Gase and Ryan freaking Tannehill. Gesicki’s underwhelming rookie campaign thus shouldn’t be that surprising, as the uber-athletic former Penn State tight end caught 22-of-32 targets for 202 yards and zero scores in 2018.
New offensive coordinator Chad O’Shea spent the past decade as the Patriots wide receiver coach, so he should be aware of how to maximize a tight end with Gesicki’s natural receiving talents.
Don’t be surprised if Gesicki emerges as a real contender as the Dolphins offense’s No. 1 pass-game target with gun-slinger Ryan Fitzpatrick expected to start the season under center. This upside remains essentially free in drafts of all shapes and sizes, so don’t hesitate to take a lottery ticket on a potential top-10 tight end with a late-round selection.
Sean Koerner: Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
Current ADP: WR36 | No. 92 overall
Murray is the ideal RB I like to target outside the top 30.
He’s essentially replacing Mark Ingram for the Saints, which means he will be Alvin Kamara’s “backup” — a role that still involves 10-15 touches a game in an offense efficient enough to produce two fantasy relevant RBs. Even if Kamara plays all 16 games, it’s likely Murray ends up coming right in line with his current ADP in terms of production.
Factoring in the fact that Murray would become an instant RB1 in any game(s) Kamara were to miss, it makes the massive upside essentially free.
Chris Raybon: Baker Mayfield, Antonio Callaway, David Njoku; Cleveland Browns
Mayfield’s Current ADP: QB5 | No. 68 overall
Callaway’s Current ADP: WR89 | No. 243 overall
Njoku’s Current ADP: WR10 | No. 88 overall
Pre-Kyler and pre-the Colts picking up steam as everyone’s favorite upside bet, the Browns were the original 2019 hype squad due to the signing of Odell Beckham Jr. This seems to have resulted in a damper put on the expectations of talented incumbent pass catchers like second-year wideout Callaway and third-year tight end Njoku.
Once offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens took over last season, Mayfield got in a scary-good groove. Over his past eight games, he finished on a 4,508-yard, 38-touchdown pace, and his 8.5 yards per attempt trailed only Patrick Mahomes.
What’s key for secondary threats like Callaway and Njoku is how Mayfield did it: Instead of targeting Jarvis Landry at the 30% clip he’d been targeted at in the first half of the season, Mayfield spread the ball around to players the defense couldn’t devote as much attention to, averaging 10.0 YPA to Callaway, 9.2 to Njoku, 10.6 to Rashard Higgins and even 12.3 to Breshad Perriman.
The presence of Beckham alongside Landry will open things up for Njoku, a 2017 first-round pick, and Callaway, a 2018 fourth-rounder with first-round talent.
Justin Bailey: Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders
Current ADP: WR55 | No. 154 overall
Antonio Brown will soak up the majority of the target share, but Williams will step in as the No. 2 receiver behind Brown.
While putting any faith in an offensive player in Oakland isn’t pleasant, it’s hard to ignore all the target share that’s up for grabs on this team. The departure of several offensive weapons has left a league-high 68% target share and Air Yards (83%) that need to be replaced.
I don’t mind taking a flier on a field-stretching, 6-foot-4 receiver at the end of drafts on a team with so many vacated targets.
Matthew Freedman: Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Current ADP: WR42 | No. 105 overall
I’ve been a Dede stan ever since he was a Biletnikoff Award-winning prospect entering the league two years ago. I’m not about to back off now that he has the best quarterback and offensive coordinator of his young career in Nick Foles and John DeFilippo.
A true speedster (4.34-second 40 time) who benefits from soft matchups in the slot, Westbrook led the Jaguars with 101 targets, 66 receptions, 717 yards receiving and five touchdowns through the air last season.
I expect Westbrook to improve on those numbers in his third year, especially given that the Jags have remarkably few proven pass-catching options on the depth chart. Although Westbrook is usually available outside the top 40 at his position, I currently have him projected as my No. 21 wide receiver in PPR scoring.