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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 (which can be found very late in a fantasy draft). 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.
Here is the player who received the most votes:
- Sam Darnold, who beat out a handful of veterans and rookies who each got multiple votes
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Drew Davenport: Darnold has never had the weapons at his disposal that he'll have in Carolina, nor the offensive coaching ability that will be helping him try to resurrect his spotty showing in the NFL to date. Without belaboring the point the other staffers have made, it is an ideal spot for Darnold to see if he can turn things around and become a productive NFL quarterback. The good news for fantasy drafters is they can grab Darnold for almost nothing, and it should be apparent early on if the bump from Adam Gase to the Panthers' staff is real or not. If it is? He could easily use his impressive group of skill position players to push up into the top of QB2 territory. His ADP leaves plenty of room for value.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Is it reasonable to place all the blame for Darnold's early-career struggles at the feet of former Jets head coach Adam Gase? Probably not, but it's certainly reasonable to think that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady give Darnold a much better chance to fulfill his potential than Gase did. Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Robby Anderson will make Darnold's job easier. Darnold has a favorable schedule to open the season, facing the Jets (revenge game!), Saints, Texans, Cowboys, and Eagles in his first five games.
Jeff Haseley: The name of the game with Sam Darnold is potential. Sure, he was less than stellar in his time in New York, but his draft pedigree and flashes of strong quarterback play keep me coming back to him as someone who could surprise with a new team, new staff, new weapons, and newfound confidence. Darnold can be a late-round dart throw who could turn out to be a fantasy gem. You won't find a better late-round quarterback with talent, ability, youth, and the surrounding talent and leadership to help him reach new heights. The potential is there, and that's where the value lies.
Andy Hicks: Sam Darnold has strong weapons at his disposal in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr, and of course, Christian McCaffrey. He has a coaching staff dedicated to playing to his strengths. All that is his upside. The downside is the ghost of Adam Gase. If he starts the season with confidence, you have yourself a fantasy steal. If the Jets experience has ruined him, we will find that out soon enough when real NFL defenses attempt to rattle Darnold.
Jason Wood: Sam Darnold has a lot to prove in Carolina. And his performance as the Jets franchise quarterback leaves more questions than answers. But his pedigree is without reproach, and it's easy to see the Adam Gase era in New York as a failure of epic proportions. Investing in Darnold is an exercise in trusting Joe Brady. Brady is on a meteoric rise up the coaching ranks and is one strong season from Darnold away from an NFL head coaching job. Darnold will finally have a coaching staff dedicated to calling plays suited to his skill set and has a collection of skill players that will make his job easier than it ever was in Gotham.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Sigmund Bloom: Fitzpatrick has been a fantasy QB1 at each of his last two stops, so there's no reason to expect him to be a fantasy footnote on his latest team. Washington has assembled exciting young talent at wide receiver and running back. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner should tap into vertical passing pages of the playbook that were unavailable with Alex Smith and Co. last year. Just be ready to pick up Taylor Heinicke if Fitzpatrick reverts to the occasional turnover-fest that has cost him starting jobs in the past.
Victoria Geary: Fitzpatrick gives the Washington offense a semblance of continuity after they went through a carousel of quarterbacks last season. In 2020, he finished with a QBR of 76.9, good for fifth-best amongst all quarterbacks and the best rating of his entire career. Fitzpatrick is now surrounded by capable playmakers in wide receivers Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, as well as breakout running back Antonio Gibson. The Washington Football Team has a middling strength of schedule, and their defense will need help from Fitzpatrick to keep them in games. He has the potential to outperform his ADP by a large margin this year.
Jordan McNamara: Washington's offense was awful last year. Washington's addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick changes the landscape of the entire NFC East. Fitzpatrick’s 2020 completion percentage over expectation was also the best of the five-year period. Fitzpatrick’s move from Miami to Washington comes with a better supporting cast in Curtis Samuel, Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, and Antonio Gibson. There is no threat from a highly drafted rookie. Fitzpatrick has top-12 upside this season and is a deep sleeper, particularly in super-flex leagues.
Chad Parsons: Fitzpatrick enters the most promising Week 1 projection of his career. Paired with a quality defense, Fitzpatrick is surrounded by Terry McLaurin, Logan Thomas, Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, plus offseason additions of Curtis Samuel, Dyami Brown, and Adam Humphries. Fitzpatrick is also mobile for his age, averaging more than 15 yards per game a year ago. Expect top-12 weeks from Fitzpatrick; he is the perfect late-draft target or committee option to open the season.
James Brimacombe: The 2020 season was not kind to Daniel Jones, but that is why we are seeing him at a huge discount this offseason. Jones was a high capital draft pick two years ago who should flash in his rookies season but took a step back in his sophomore season. I want to give Jones one more shot with a healthy team in front of him as he will have both Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay as superstar-like options this season and additions in Kadarius Toney, John Ross, Devontae Booker, and Kyle Rudolph. Jones also offers some ability in the rushing game as he has 702 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns in 27 career games.
Pat Fitzmaurice: As a rookie in 2019, Jones finished 15th in fantasy points per game among quarterbacks. His fantasy value cratered last year because the touchdowns dried up. Jones had 11 touchdown passes in 14 games, with a puny touchdown rate of 2.5%. The return of Saquon Barkley and the addition of Kenny Golladay will put more arrows in Jones' quiver, and it's reasonable to expect the 24-year-old quarterback to take a step forward in his third NFL season. It also helps that Jones adds value as a runner, so he can still be a worthwhile fantasy asset even if he doesn't mature into a high-end passer.
Jeff Haseley: Jones took two steps back in 2020 compared to his rookie 2019 season, but now he has the opportunity to step up and be a top 20 quarterback, if not higher. The Giants have bolstered their offense by adding to their arsenal Kenny Golladay and drafting Kadarius Toney, plus they will have Saquon Barkley back, which can only help the offense as a whole. Jones' fantasy stock took a hit after a not-so-appealing 2020, but that drop can be considered a discount. Let's not forget that Jones also has rushing ability. His 423 yards rushing in 14 games last year was the 5th highest per game total for all quarterbacks. Dual-threat quarterbacks are a high commodity in the fantasy landscape. Jones qualifies as such. If he can resume his potential of mid-upper 20s in touchdown passes, he'll easily outperform his draft stock. If he does not rise to the occasion in the early going, he can be a no-stress drop for another player of value.
Ryan Hester: The Giants made offensive skill players a priority this off-season by signing Kenny Golladay and drafting Kadarius Toney in the first round. Those additions and the return of Saquon Barkley should help Jones put up better numbers. Jones also adds value with his legs. Ironically, the best example came on the infamous run where he fell without being touched. But by breaking into the open field and running 80+ yards, Jones showed both willingness and ability to use his legs and rank up those valuable rushing points.
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