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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 targets deep sleeper value (players that can be found very late in a fantasy draft). In an attempt to point out this value, 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:
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Sam Darnold, Carolina
Ben Cummins: The list of players who have gone on to find success after escaping Adam Gase has grown quite large, and former third-overall draft pick Sam Darnold is a candidate for the list as well. In Carolina, Darnold gets to play with a fantasy-friendly coaching staff in head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady alongside an incredible supporting cast featuring Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall Jr. There is a risk that Darnold, who has been bad, can’t turn it around and gets benched for exciting backup P.J. Walker. However, I’m not predicting that and if Darnold stays healthy and plays well enough to keep the job, he’s almost certain to beat his ADP by providing numerous usable weeks as a streamable option.
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. Running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receivers D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson will make Darnold's job easier, and Darnold has a favorable schedule to open the season, facing the Jets (revenge game!), Saints, Texans, Cowboys, and Eagles in his first five games.
Andy Hicks: Sam Darnold has strong weapons at his disposal in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Terrace Marshall Jr 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.
Jeff Haseley: The bottom line about Darnold is that he's essentially free as a QB2. If he doesn't rise to the occasion in the first three weeks (NYJ, NO, at HOU), then you can elect to drop him for the better quarterback on the waiver wire. Don't forget, Carolina had three top-25 wide receivers last year, and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr is looking like a decent, if not better, replacement for Curtis Samuel. Carolina has weapons on offense and the coach to make it happen. If Darnold extends drives and cashes in inside the 20, he can be well worth the later pick it took to acquire him.
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.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Andrew Davenport: This ADP must reflect the general lack of confidence in the Pittsburgh offensive line and the negative buzz around Roethlisberger last year as his deep ball accuracy fell. As 2020 unfolded, those watching the Steelers' offensive struggles began to feel as though they were watching a quarterback who was finished, and at times Roethlisberger didn't play well. But his numbers tell a different story for fantasy purposes. He still threw over 600 passes (third in the league) and 33 touchdowns while posting a 5.4% touchdown rate. Roethlisberger may be nearing the end, but he still has three excellent wide receivers for fantasy purposes and now has a new running back to help the offense. His ADP is a massive overreaction to what people saw on the field in 2020.
Jordan McNamara: I'll agree with Jason. With JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, and Chase Claypool as perimeter weapons, Roethlisberger has a good core of weapons to throw to. The offensive system should change under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada and could incorporate more efficient passing schemes than in prior iterations of the offense. Roethlisberger also has another year of recovery for his throwing arm injury in 2019, which should help him perform at a higher level in 2021.
Chad Parsons: Roethlisberger is an obvious choice considering his improved health status compared to last year, strong trio of wide receivers (plus James Washington as a luxurious WR4), and Najee Harris added over the lagging running back position a year ago. His seven career top-12 aPPG seasons should be valued more by the market, and he was a borderline QB1 in the category in 2020.
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