Updated: Monday, Aug. 27, at 2:52 p.m. EDT
Drafts are at full steam, and fantasy owners are looking for a leg up on the competition. The recent-year surge in best-ball leagues, like the MFL10 competitions, require gamers to be on top of their, well, game.
All ADP figures are based on 12-team, PPR scoring, unless noted.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Sleeper (ADP: 11:05)
Yep, Mahomes went from the overvalued list to becoming a sleeper in a six-week window. The Chiefs have displayed considerable confidence in the former first-round pick, and the cast of weapons is reasonably talented. Depth could be a concern at wideout, but as long as Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins remain healthy, the second-year QB has two proven targets. He also has arguably the most dynamic tight end in football in Travis Kelce. KC steps backward on defense, which should translate to more passing. Mistakes will happen, and gamers should be conscious of this pitfall, but this athletic gunslinger in Andy Reid’s offense should catch fire sooner than later. Fifteen passers go ahead of Mahomes, per ADP, making him a moderately safe gamble as a QB2 for owners who prefer to rotate at the position.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons: Undervalued (ADP: 10:05)
Two years ago, Ryan was a fantasy toad in drafts. Last summer, the veteran was a selection darling. Currently, gamers want little to do with him. Sure, he won’t be in 2016 form. That was a career year, but he has improved weapons and a second offseason to improve in this offense. Remember how poorly he played in the first year of Kyle Shanahan’s system vs. Year 2? Julio Jones is now happy, and the rest of the weaponry is as good as any team fields. Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley could be special. The needle points north for Mr. Ryan as a midround value.
Case Keenum, Denver Broncos: Undervalued (ADP: 16:06)
Denver has worked hard to upgrade its offensive line, and the draft focused on bettering an already dangerous receiving corps. The backfield saw attention, too, perhaps by way of addition through subtraction. Keenum finally came into his own last year with the Vikes and was given a vote of confidence when Denver opted not to draft high-level competition. With a pick this late, he could provide relative safety to a risky starter or even see the field as a matchup play.
Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears: Sleeper (ADP: 6:09)
Explosive and rangy, the second-year back will have a versatile role in Matt Nagy’s offense that will allow him to line up all over the field to make plays by creating mismatches. The West Coast offense is predicated on short-area passing that leads to big plays because of the ball carrier’s open-field abilities. Cohen is as dynamic in space as anyone in the league. This offense will attempt to unleash Mitchell Trubisky, whose game remains raw and will lead to checkdowns. Uncertainty at wide receiver could also spell more looks for Cohen, and if your league rewards for individual special teams play, he offers a nice bonus. Catching 70 balls is not out of the question.
Corey Clement, Philadelphia Eagles: Sleeper (ADP: 10:09)
Coming off Super Bowl heroics and a six-touchdown rookie season, Clement remains embroiled in a backfield mess. Jay Ajayi may get every chance to shine as a two-down back, and veteran Darren Sproles returns from major injury to offer third-down utility at 35 years old. Donnel Pumphrey struggled mightily in 2017 after a fine career at San Diego State, and Wendell Smallwood will battle Matt Jones for a roster spot. Clement, just 23 until November, was almost combustible in 2017. He averaged a respectable 4.3 yards per carry but a whopping 12.3 in the aerial game, scoring twice on his 10 receptions. At 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, there is little he can’t do. Ajayi is his primary challenger for touchdowns and Sproles is for receptions — neither player has a firm grasp on either role. Don’t be surprised if Clement forces his way into Doug Pederson playing him as the primary back, even if there will be some form of a share. Think RB4 price with possible No. 2 returns.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts: Sleeper (ADP: 11:11)
Marlon Mack returned from shoulder surgery only to strain his hammy, and even if he returns without a hitch, the rookie will be needed to complement Mack’s slashing style. Hines is a capable receiver and has more worth in PPR setups. He impressed coaches this offseason, too, but ball security must improve if he wants to stay on the field. The rookie could catch a load of dump-offs in an offense without a great deal of talent at wide receiver. Jordan Wilkins could be in play for touches, but he’s more like Mack than Hines.
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals: Sleeper (ADP: 18:07)
David Johnson’s return to form is no guarantee. Should he look like his 2016 self, it is hard to imagine the Cardinals pounding him into the turf again. He was overused that year and will need a breather. Edmonds is the logical replacement, since his style greatly varies, and he’s more explosive than Elijhaa Penny. The rookie can serve as a change-up to DJ and is a clear handcuff target.
Latavius Murray, Minnesota Vikings: Undervalued (ADP: 11:12)
There is no value in this pick if Dalvin Cook (knee) bounces back as intended. The way this could work in your favor is if Cook is slow to form or outright struggles coming back from a devastating injury. Murray offers virtually nothing on passing downs, but Jerick McKinnon is gone, so Minnesota — under a new play-caller — could deploy Cook more on third downs and look to Murray to shoulder more work on early-down carries. Murray also enters a contract year with the hopes of showing enough to secure a starting job elsewhere in 2019.
Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers: Undervalued (ADP: 12:06)
Update: Breida suffered a separated shoulder injury and will miss the rest of the preseason. Even if he misses some action in the regular season, he still has late-round flier appeal. A shoulder isn’t as concerning as a lower-body part.
The 2017 undrafted rookie went for 465 yards on 105 attempts, scoring twice on the ground and adding on aerially via his 21 catches. He played second fiddle to Carlos Hyde and was learning the ropes of NFL action. Breida has the comfort of his second year in this system and an upgraded offensive line. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Georgia Southern product is similar to Jerick McKinnon in stature and playing style, making the two likely interchangeable within the system. McKinnon should be the primary back upon his return to health, but he has no track record as an established starter, and further injuries are a concern. Kyle Shanahan prefers to split his backfield work among two players, as illustrated by the one-two punch in Atlanta. Breida could emerge as a weekly play with a little luck.
Cameron Meredith, New Orleans Saints: Sleeper (ADP: 11:02)
The Saints didn’t add Meredith, a restricted free agent in Chicago, to watch him ride the pine. The offense needed another playmaker to assist Michael Thomas. Meredith stands 6-foot-3, like Thomas, and could be devastating in the red zone. He returns from missing all of 2017 with a torn ACL, but the timing will mean he should be as close to 100 percent as possible when the year opens. Ted Ginn has played admirably late in his career, though he is 33 this season and teetering on the brink. No Mark Ingram for a quarter or more of the season should mean increased passing. The tight end position’s lack of talent suggests Meredith could be utilized much like when Jimmy Graham was flexed out wide days gone by.
Paul Richardson, Washington Redskins: Sleeper (ADP: 16:08)
Despite the former Seahawk coming off of a career-best season, Richardson is flying so far under the radar based on his potential that he deserves “sleeper” over “undervalued” as a label. In short, as long as he is healthy, Richardson sports low-end WR2 potential. He finished with a 44-703-6 slash last year, his first full one as a pro. Alex Smith commands Jay Gruden’s system, working with Richardson as the deep threat, Jamison Crowder the intermediate guy, and Josh Doctson handling the possession chores. Richardson will fill that DeSean Jackson role and has tremendous upside with Smith’s mobility helping to extend plays. A ceiling should look something like 60-1,000-8.
Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers: Sleeper (ADP: 14:07)
The loss of Hunter Henry for the year opens up looks in the middle of the field and down the seam. Williams is being pushed by last year’s top pick, Mike Williams, for a starting receiver spot. Even if the younger Williams wins the battle, “House Tyrell” still has a sound chance of claiming some fantasy territory. Furthermore, there is a strong chance Mike Williams simply cannot stay on the field. Having two years of established chemistry with Philip Rivers, Tyrell is WR5 depth all day long and offers a possible weekly play.
Trent Taylor, San Francisco 49ers: Sleeper (ADP: 19:04)
“But they drafted Dante Pettis in Round 2?!?” … yeah, yeah. Taylor should retain his slot role either way, but if he doesn’t, how much are you willing to stake on a soon-to-be 32-year-old Pierre Garcon staying healthy? Taylor caught 43 balls as a rookie fifth-rounder last season and is now nearly 100 percent recovered from back surgery. Pettis is a threat, being the 12th pick of Round 2, but he’s also a dynamic return man, which may be where his career begins. Ever wonder where all of these projected Jimmy Garoppolo fantasy points are going to come from? Surely not totally from Garcon and Marquise Goodwin. We’ll monitor this situation throughout the summer, but for now, Taylor is the guy to take a flier on late in drafts.
Jordy Nelson, Oakland Raiders: Undervalued (ADP: 8:07)
By all accounts, Nelson, 33, appears to have the legs of a much younger man in Raiders camp and is drawing rave reviews. He has worked closely with Derek Carr to build chemistry and improve their timing. Last year, Nelson still looked the part until Aaron Rodgers went down, but the veteran was sooooo bad afterward, gamers apparently forgot how great he is at playing wide receiver in the NFL. Don’t make that mistake. He’s going as a WR3 and easily could emerge as the better of the two options for Carr. Nelson is a steal if he is even 80 percent of his 2016 self.
Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys: Undervalued (ADP: 10:08)
Barring an injury, Hurns should lead the Cowboys in receptions. Cole Beasley is a viable challenger, although there are more than enough looks to go around after Jason Witten retired and Dez Bryant was sent packing. Hurns isn’t flashy and won’t dominate games. In 2015, as a Jaguar, he racked up a 64-1,031-10 line as Allen Robinson’s sidekick. Able to line up anywhere, Hurns provides Dak Prescott a mostly reliable pair of hands, adequate size (6-foot-3, 201 pounds), and a little ability after the grab. Gamers have nothing to lose at his ADP, but he will go sooner in more competitive formats.
Danny Amendola, Miami Dolphins: Undervalued (ADP: 13:12)
It is easy to dismiss Amendola based on injury history, but it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore his opportunity for a large share of the vacated 161 targets in 2017 left by the departure of Jarvis Landry. Amendola turns 33 roughly midway through the year, and he’s coming off of a masterful postseason effort. Health is always a worry, and the downgrade at quarterback is also a factor. But when we get into the final few rounds, especially in PPR, gamers would be foolish to overlook a player poised to see roughly 100 targets.
Trey Burton, Chicago Bears: Sleeper (ADP: 8:02)
Burton flashed in 2017 as a hybrid tight end behind Zach Ertz in Philly, but it is a safe bet that many casual gamers don’t know the name. Chicago will turn to him as a pass-catching tight end to work as a safety valve for Mitchell Trubisky. The entire passing game was revamped in the offseason, and while Burton may not be the focus, he’ll be an important asset. This system has always utilized his position, and he’s more rangy than tight end Adam Shaheen. Burton has proven to be a popular sleeper for good reason.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills: Sleeper (ADP: 16:05)
The veteran tight end is largely going undrafted, which is bizarre considering Buffalo’s alarming lack of capable weaponry in the passing game and a crop of tight ends that is more miss than hit after the eighth round. Clay has proven he is capable of playing through injuries and has sneaky speed. The Bills are likely to start either a rookie or a quarterback with three career starts of his own; either scenario bodes well for Clay. At worst, he’s a worthwhile TE2 selection based on targets alone and should muster several lineup-worthy games along the way.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jacksonville Jaguars: Undervalued (ADP: 13:08)
Take 3. A fantasy tease in two previous stops, Seferian-Jenkins passed up a chance to return to the New York Jets in favor of joining the Jaguars. As mentioned in the Marqise Lee section above, this offense needs someone to rise up among a crew of mostly unprovens in the passing game. It is difficult to imagine Seferian-Jenkins becoming a high-volume target for Blake Bortles. He can contribute in the red zone and may land somewhere around 55 receptions, but his ceiling is capped. Even still, as a TE2 with a hint of upside, there is absolutely nothing to lose by landing him as late as his ADP suggests gamers can find him available.