Cory Bonini's 2019 fantasy football sleepers and undervalued players

Cory Bonini's 2019 fantasy football sleepers and undervalued players

Sleepers

Cory Bonini's 2019 fantasy football sleepers and undervalued players

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Updated: Thursday, Aug. 25, 11:55 a.m. EDT

Now that preseason action is in full swing, The Huddle sleepers and undervalued players breakdown from David Dorey is on the site. The following players are my personal favorites and are not the official view of The Huddle.

Note: All ADP figures are courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com and are PPR scoring, unless noted otherwise.

(Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports)

Quarterbacks

Mitchell Trubisky | Chicago Bears | ADP: 13:10 | Sleeper

Year 2 in Matt Nagy’s complex offense will come much easier to the third-year pro. Trubisky flashed signs of “getting it” in 2018, and Chicago still boasts a strong offensive line. The backfield was upgraded in the draft with David Montgomery. Second-year receiver Anthony Miller appears poised for a strong year, and Allen Robinson is on track to improve. Never discredit the chunk gains by Tarik Cohen. This offense is loaded with outlets.

Trubisky finished QB15 in 2018 and is being ignored by gamers more comfortable choosing established names. The pool of quarterbacks looks deep, once again, but gamers need to realize someone is going to fall off of the map when we have so many guys north of 35 being drafted ahead of him. At any rate, consistency must improve for Trubisky to ascend into the QB1 conversation. Going for 135 yards and a TD one week, followed by 355-3-0 the next and then 165-1-2 isn’t going to cut it. Six-TD weeks are nice and all, but gamers should want more showings of 280-3-0 instead. If Trubisky gets there, look out!

Derek Carr | Oakland Raiders | ADP: 14:06 | Undervalued

It may take time to build chemistry with his revamped receiving corps, but even in a down year, Carr was good for 4,049 yards, 20 total TDs and only 10 picks. He went 10 straight appearances without an interception! Oakland majorly improved its offensive line. More important, WR Antonio Brown is in the mix, provide he overcomes his frostbitten tootsies soon enough. Tyrell Williams joins him as an up-and-comer, while speed in J.J. Nelson, and the chain-moving traits of Ryan Grant cannot be ignored. Tight end Darren Waller brings an underrated skill set to replace the older Jared Cook. Rookie Josh Jacobs provides backfield stability.

Carr doesn’t need to be all that much better to get into the weekly starting conversation. He’s no worse than a matchup play, and gamers shouldn’t be drafting him behind Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, Dak Prescott, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyler Murray and Tom Brady, for example. Being QB24 in ADP is insane after he finished QB18 last year in fantasy points and was gifted wholesale upgrades in the offseason.

Jameis Winston | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 10:02 | Sleeper

Update: The retirement of Andrew Luck will bump Winston up a notch, making him no longer undervalued. He still has sleeper potential, in relation to those drafted ahead of him.

Winston should be much more stable in 2019. He won’t have Ryan Fitzpatrick lurking over his shoulder, and vertical-minded head coach Bruce Arians will get the most out of Winston’s skills. His coach has raved about the gains in the offseason. There’s also the contract year factor to consider. This offense could chuck it nearly 700 times, so there will be some bad with the good, but the volume might be off the charts. Having Mike Evans and the blossoming Chris Godwin could result in a pair of 1,000-yard, 10-TD guys. Lofty, but doable. Toss in one of the best young TEs in the game and former first-round pick Breshad Perriman’s speed … the losses of Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson won’t matter as much.

Winston is currently going as QB12, which is fair on the surface. That’s what he is — a fringe QB1. However, a deeper dive suggests he could be several spots behind his potential. Ahead of him, gamers will find Carson Wentz (major health concerns), Cam Newton (bum throwing shoulder/foot), Jared Goff (debatable but understandable) and Russell Wilson (suspect cast of WRs) … the point being, Winston realistically could be the seventh quarterback off of the board without much of an argument.

NEW – Sam Darnold | New York Jets | ADP: 14:06 | Sleeper

It’s easy to overlook Darnold and the Jets entirely, but anyone paying attention to training camp and preseason action realizes this team will put up a fight. A new, creative offensive system has created mismatches all over the field so far, and Darnold’s weaponry is vastly improved. The offensive line is much better, too. With targets at all three levels, plus a dramatically upgraded backfield, Darnold will surprise casual observers. His maturation is evident in Year 2, and he offers crazy potential as a late-round quarterback No. 2 or even a third in best-ball.

Joe Flacco | Denver Broncos | ADP: N/A | Flier

Mostly reserved for best-ball formats or those in leagues that allow for two starting quarterbacks, Flacco is flying under the radar. He has something to prove and is in a better situation than in recent years with the Ravens. Broncos OC Rich Scangarello runs an offense that comes from a Gary Kubiak-influenced West Coast system; Flacco enjoyed his finest NFL season under Kubiak. Denver has talent, albeit mostly inexperienced, so the veteran quarterback will need to help lift those around him. He’s right on the fringe of being a passable QB2.

(Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports)

Running backs

Darrell Henderson | Los Angeles Rams | ADP: 8:01 | Sleeper

Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee could make Henderson a fantasy star in 2019. Not to detract from Gurley’s elite skill set, but this system can make just about anyone look like a star. C.J. Anderson was a fantasy savior in 2018’s home stretch, and Henderson is a more talented player. Plus, he adds a dynamic element to the passing game, even if Gurley is on the field.

It’s safe to presume Gurley’s workload will be restricted, and he may be forced to see his touches reduced in the passing attack. Henderson’s draft stock will rise throughout the summer months. Draft him as a no-brainer handcuff, and he’s an RB3 in his own right, mostly due to PPR flex playability.

Peyton Barber | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | ADP: 11:07 | Undervalued

Unless you’re jumping on the crumbling Ronald Jones bandwagon, Barber has a mostly obstacle-free path to significant playing time. The offense likes to check down to running backs, and while he’s not an elite receiver, Barber can hold his own. The Bucs’ passing game can open running lanes, and this line isn’t terrible by any stretch, especially with improved coaching.

Barber has experienced a declining yards-per-carry average in consecutive years, which is reason to question his ceiling. He’s not going to be an explosive player, but we’ve seen plenty of try-hard types do well through the years as an RB3. Don’t expect much more, but at the price of RB51 drafted right now, there’s just too much meat on the bone to not take a bite.

Justice Hill | Baltimore Ravens | ADP: 12:03 | Sleeper

We don’t need a crystal ball to know the Ravens will emphasize the run to protect Lamar Jackson and limit his passing attempts. He’s still too raw as a quarterback. It also affords them the ability to get him involved in designed misdirectional runs. Mark Ingram comes over as the primary handler. At 29, can he survive more than 230 or so carries? Behind him, Gus Edwards is just a dude, and Kenneth Dixon has remained a reserve for a reason. Hill is downright explosive and brings an Alvin Kamara-like element to the offense. He can catch out of the backfield and has the speed Ingram doesn’t offer as an RB4.

Devin Singletary | Buffalo Bills | ADP: 9:12 | Flier

With a pair of 800-year-old dinosaurs ahead of him, the rookie is in an ideal situation for a late-round fantasy gamble. Unfortunately, other gamers are all over him, too, so he’s no longer pure value at his current ADP. Singletary has seen considerable work with the first-team offense in training camp, and he has been rather impressive. Opportunity matters, so if something happens to LeSean McCoy or Frank Gore, Buffalo will turn to Singletary to see a wealth of touches over all three downs. At this point, don’t be shocked if McCoy is cut.

Alexander Mattison | Minnesota Vikings | ADP: 12:01 | Flier

Rookie running backs galore! There might be a minor injury preventing him from playing in the early preseason, so monitor is availability. Mattison’s role depends precisely on Dalvin Cook’s health, but he has already locked up the backup job on the opening depth chart. There is an opportunity for significant touches if something were to happen to the third-year Cook, and it should be telling that Minnesota hasn’t found competition for the rookie. Handcuff him or isolate Mattison as a potential steal.

Wide receivers

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Christian Kirk | Arizona Cardinals | ADP: 7:04 | Sleeper

Kyler Murray will be an upgrade at quarterback — even in his first season. Arizona’s culture should be much more conducive to success. Experienced in this offense from his collegiate days, Kirk caught more than 63 percent of his targets as a rookie, and that number jumps to 89.6 percent when uncatchable balls are factored. He is effective on the outside as well as in the slot (21.5 percent of his 2018 usage).

Despite battling impressive rookie KeeSean Johnson for looks, Kirk is the logical choice for the second-highest target share behind Larry Fitzgerald among wideouts. And at Fitz’s age, nothing is a guarantee in terms of his health. Kirk is not a lock, given all of the change in his world requiring acclimation. This offense will throw and throw some more, and his ability in space should lead to plenty of screen plays — look for a moderate volume of catches with decent yardage but somewhat depressed TD results.

Geronimo Allison | Green Bay Packers | ADP: 8:06 | Sleeper

We’ve seen a little bit of everything from Allison in his three pro seasons. Last year, the consistent theme was his inability to stay on the field. He was on the verge of a breakout season before missing 11 games due to a concussion (one), hamstring strain (three) and a core injury that required surgery. He’s ready to go now, and Allison has to prove himself to a new coaching staff against a handful of younger receivers with nearly as much on-field experience.

Allison has the upside of being a fourth-year veteran, which means the game will be about as slow is it will ever get mentally, and it never hurts having Aaron Rodgers slinging the rock his way. Davante Adams also helps by drawing coverage, and Randall Cobb is now a Cowboy. There is no fair way to extrapolate his 2018 data … for whatever it is worth, Allison was on his way to a 76-catch, 1,155-yard, 7-TD season using the first four weeks of production. It wasn’t likely to finish that way, but you can at least see the potential. The presumed slot guy is a sneaky WR4 and an acceptable No. 3 in 14-team leagues. Bank on there being enough looks to go around to buoy no worse than flex consideration from the 6-foot-3 Allison.

Dede Westbrook | Jacksonville Jaguars: ADP: 7:06 | Sleeper

Nick Foles is a definite upgrade at quarterback over Blake Bortles, and the journeyman passer has done well for himself when targeting slot receivers.  He knows this offense. Able to line up inside and out, Westbrook played 73.9 percent of his 2018 snaps from the inside receiver position. Entering his third year, Westbrook has only 23 games worth of NFL experience, however, so a major step forward is possibly another year away. He’s a more capable big-play type than his stats indicate, and this receiving corps lacks a go-to weapon.

Drafting a potential breakout player in the middle of a draft is a mostly low-risk venture. There’s a good chance he’ll fall past his ADP in more casual setups, but his rising ADP suggests people in all types of leagues are catching on. Drawing rave reviews in training camp can’t hurt, either. Westbrook is a possibly strong WR3 at a discount price.

Donte Moncrief | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: 10:09 | Undervalued

The veteran wideout spent time in the offseason with Ben Roethlisberger to in an attempt to build chemistry. The 25-year-old Moncrief opened camp as the No. 2 in the generic pecking order behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’ll continue see competition for action from a trimmed down James Washington and rookie Diontae Johnson. Following a promising second year with the Colts, Moncrief battled injuries in 2016 and ’17. He managed to play in every contest last year but was mired in the mishap that was Jacksonville’s season.

Greener pastures, with a bona fide quarterback again throwing his way, Moncrief going at the tail end of drafts is just the situation gamers look back at in six months and wonder how he wasn’t drafted earlier. Don’t get caught up on the past — he’s talented, healthy, and in a great situation in what will be only his age-26 season as a sixth-year vet. There’s tremendous ground to be made up with the trade of Antonio Brown, so looks shouldn’t be an issue. Moncrief is a roster-filler at this price point and legitimately could emerge as a WR2 some weeks.

Anthony Miller | Chicago Bears | ADP: 11:08 | Undervalued

Miller didn’t get a great deal of chances as a rookie, seeing only 54 looks in 14 games played. His value (finished as WR61) was due to scoring seven touchdowns on 33 grabs. Expecting such a low-volume, high-output ratio this year is unrealistic. Miller has a reasonably good chance at doubling his catches in Year 2, and he’s a better fit for the system than Allen Robinson as the de facto WR1 of this lot.

A shoulder surgery in January has Miller back on the field. While on the mend, Miller followed Matt Nagy around the sidelines like a puppy dog, trying to absorb anything and everything to improve mentally. He likely will climb as the summer comes to a close, barring any setbacks. That’s a small price to pay for a weekly flex option.

Trey Quinn | Washington Redskins | ADP: N/A | Flier

It sounds generic, but someone does have to catch passes in Washington. Quinn is a possible reception hog out of the slot in a system that made Jamison Crowder heavily targeted when he was healthy. In 2019, the ‘Skins are missing stud left tackle Trent Williams during a contract dispute that has no end in sight. His absence should mean more short-area passing. Counting on Chris Thompson to stay healthy works in Quinn’s favor, too. A likely rookie quarterback starting (or two veterans with noodle arms) should also make Quinn highly involved. Take this gamble in PPR formats only.

(Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Tight ends

Jimmy Graham | Green Bay Packers | ADP: 13:11 | Undervalued

The 2018 season was Graham’s worst since his rookie campaign, and gamers have taken notice. Don’t be one of those gamers. Graham caught a respectable 55 balls for 636 yards — improving his average by 2.5 yards a catch over the previous season. The biggest issue came in the way of only two touchdowns scored in an offense that wasn’t known for the position being a substantial factor. It is in the new Green Bay system, and it’s almost laughable to think he will score only twice again.

Graham is still just 32 years old, and Green Bay doesn’t have much in the way of proven pass-catchers behind Davante Adams. Graham finished as the 12th-best TE in PPR last year in an off-year and is going as the 16th chosen in 2019’s early drafts. Think about it this way: The No. 7 PPR TE last year (Kyle Rudolph) caught 11 more passes for two fewer yards and scored just two more times than Graham. Grabbing 11 more balls seems like a stretch, but scoring three more four more times isn’t out of the question at all. His finger injury isn’t a factor at this point.

Jordan Reed | Washington Redskins | ADP: 13:04 | Sleeper

Given that he previously broke out, normally I would call him undervalued. But Reed’s situation is a little different. Gamers know what he is capable of when he’s healthy, but this is the appropriate value for him, because he’s rarely on the field. Owners are sleeping on his clean bill of health. Several media sources out of the D.C. area say Reed is back into his prime form and has overcome the toe injury that robbed his trademark explosiveness. He just turned 29 in July and is in a good situation to provide fantasy owners nothing but upside. Washington’s receivers stink, and the quarterback situation is in flux. Regardless, the offense relies on the position. There’s no risk in Round 13 for a guy who could easily check in as a top-five TE in a full season of work.

Hayden Hurst | Baltimore Ravens | ADP: N/A | Flier

A 2018 first-round investment, Hurst missed most of his rookie year with a stress fracture in his foot. Reports have Hurst drawing praise for looking like the player Baltimore sought when drafting him. He bulked up with a whopping 20 pounds of muscle, which one has to question whether that is good for the foot or hammy, but he says it’s fine. Hurst believes the added strength makes him more functional and helps avoid injuries. We’re looking at an offense that will run a ton of two-tight end sets, which is where Mark Andrews comes into play. Expect Lamar Jackson to show a reliance on Hurst’s position as the young quarterback feels his way through the NFL. Given the volatility of the position, take a TE2 flier on Hurst late in drafts.

Geoff Swaim | Jacksonville Jaguars | ADP: N/A | Flier

This one is just based on the fact Jacksonville has almost no one of note to catch passes. Dede Westbrook has been included above, and rightfully so. However, at tight end, Swaim is the most logical choice to start, even with rookie Josh Oliver applying pressure. An undisclosed injury has Swaim sitting out the third preseason game, so depending on the severity of it, he may not be worth a pick in any league size. The offense is conducive to success at the position, and Nick Foles has found gains working with the position in the past. In what figures to be one of the rockiest positions after the top three names, Swaim is a late-round TE3 stab for gamers in deep leagues or best-ball setups.

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