Sleeper is a nebulous term in fantasy football. There is never one size fits all for every column. Half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks in a flat league could be on the waiver wire. And in my highest league (a 400-pick bloodbath, a five-hour dance on Wednesday nights) every backup quarterback and WR5 is on the roster.
My goal with this article is to help you consider fantasy players who may be overlooked or underrated, whether as temporary backups, potential depth additions, or perhaps the impetus for a prop play or DFS slot. As always, your mileage may vary and you know your league – and your specific needs – better than an outsider ever could.
Deon Jackson, RB, Colts (39% on roster)
For Jackson, all seas have parted in recent weeks. Jonathan Taylor is out for at least a month as his contract dispute continues. Evan Hull is a freshman. Zack Moss is recovering from an injury and he might not be doing well anyway. The Colts are home underdogs to Jacksonville and could chase the game in the second half, but Jackson proved to be a capable receiver as a rookie (30 catches on 34 targets); The game script will not eliminate him.
If you need a player in the Indianapolis backfield, I’m putting my chips on Jackson.
The Pokes let Dalton Schultz go in the offseason, and while Dallas has addressed the position in the draft, they also have high hopes for Ferguson. Ferguson had a better yards per target number than Schultz last year (7.9 vs. 6.5), whatever small sample size means to you, and it’s reasonable that Ferguson could get close to something similar to Schultz’s 2022 production (57-577-5). which was hashed to TE11. Even if you already have a stronger tight end, Ferguson makes sense as a depth consideration.
I will secretly include Higbee in this column, even though he would be generally disqualified based on his 84 percent roster rating. I just want to point out that the Rams offense is built around Higbee catching 80+ passes with Cooper Kupp injured and the wide receiver room desperate for answers. Higbee isn’t an exciting talent — his game is mostly catch-and-fall at this point, aside from the occasional wide receiver screen preparing for YAC — but the Rams will play the hits early in the season. and Higbee is their main target. I’ll try to hit some Higbee props in week 1.
Sam Howell, QB, Commander (22%)
I spent most of the summer motivating Jahan Dotson (and I certainly wasn’t the only one), and we know that Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel are talented players. This is an offense that is on the rise, especially if new OC Eric Bieniemy is a hit. Howell was an interesting prospect at North Carolina, with a 4-to-1 touchdown/interception ratio over three years and a whopping 828 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior.
The Cardinals make for a delicious matchup in Week 1; Washington is a seven-point favorite against a franchise that might not even be trying. The Commander’s Defense is all over my rosters (it’s too common to include in this column), and I’ll also consider Washington as a possible survival pick. Howell’s surrounding pieces give him an interesting edge.
The DST position is not difficult in fantasy – we are chasing favorites and positive game scripts. The distribution of points is always your guide here. The Rams come into Seattle as 5.5-point underdogs (I expect that to be the case before Sunday), Kupp is out indefinitely, and the offensive line has exploitable holes. Home advantage has waned a bit lately, but it’s alive and well in Seattle.
Noah Gray, TE, Chiefs (8%)
The Gray game assumes Travis Kelce will be unavailable for Thursday’s opening game. Gray performed well as a spot player last year (28-299-1 on just 34 goals) and the Lions were weak for most of 2022. Detroit has made interesting back-end adjustments this offseason, but the defense usually takes time to do so. Gray is also worth a deep league addition if there’s a chance Kelce will suffer a setback or be sidelined for several weeks.
Kalif Raymond, WR, Lions (1%)
I’m thinking more of a Thursday prop with Raymond than his fantasy, even though he was one of my late picks in the 400 pick pool I mentioned above. Detroit’s wide receiver options are absurdly sparse after Amon-Ra St. Brown, but the team has always liked Raymond – he’s compiled a quiet 95-1,192-4 line and averaged 13.7 yards per catch over the last two years achieved in his career. OK Ben Johnson could put together a splash play or two.