5 REAL 2017 Fantasy Football Sleepers -(hint hint: one of them isn’t f’n Jay Cutler, lol…)

Everyone is talking about Marcus Mariota, Isiah Crowell and Eric Decker being sleepers in 2017. Yet, with everyone talking about it, it means they are no longer secrets thus, they lose sleeper status. You want some real sleepers? Let’s look at 5 real sleepers and give you a bonus 5 over-drafted players in 2017 fantasy football.

 

5 Real Sleepers

 

  1. Bilal Powell, RB NYJ

Powell made some major headway in 2016 amassing 1,110 total yards, 58 receptions and 5 total TDs. He did all this with basically no real quarterback and having to split time with the forever aging Matt Forte. Make no mistake, Powell is the best offensive player on the Jets right now and he will be featured in every way possible on this squad that is helmed by the nomadic Josh McCown. After McCown dies at some point in the season it goes to Bryce Petty, who is a bad quarterback that will throw a lot of check down passes to Powell. The only other player worth anything on this team is Quincy Enunwa, but he requires a quarterback that knows what they’re doing and that is sorely lacking for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

 

Powell, barring injury, could yield top running back level scoring. Most sites have him ranked in the top 30 of all running backs, but I could see him leaping into the top 20 with ease. Everything about the Jets is bad, but Powell has the talent to make nothing plays into something plays. He is the example of an actual running back being overlooked whereas Isiah Crowell is going through hype machine hell where meeting the expectations is going to be extremely difficult. Powell is a back that you could reach a bit for and feel confident. I would rather have him than any Saints or Giants running back at all.

Forecast: 1,217 total yards, 63 rec, 5 total TDs, 1 fum lost

 

  1. Andy Dalton, QB CIN

    2017 fantasy football sleepers

When you talk of Dalton, you usually hear about how he is the Mendoza line of quarterbacks. He is that happy medium between good and bad. He is basically considered the most average guy in the NFL. He won’t kill you, but he won’t lead you to a resounding victory either. Yet look at what Dalton has been able to do when he has healthy talent around him. With the addition of Joe Mixon this team could return to a more prominent form.

 

What Dalton needs is his pair of tight end Tyler’s (Phrasing, I know) to stay healthy, AJ Green to keep being AJ Green, Mixon and Gio Bernard to be shifty and athletic and for Jeremy Hill to not fumble. Despite Dalton’s low TD numbers, which understandably shy drafters away, he has cut his interceptions in more than half the past two seasons. Literally. In 13’ and 14’ he amassed 37 INTs while in 15’ and 16’ that cut down to 15 total INTs. He threw about the same number of passes in 2013 as he did in 2016. My point is, while everyone jokes and says he is the barometer between garbage and good, Dalton has quietly gotten himself better while having less talent around him.

 

I’m high on John Ross. Not necessarily in fantasy, but as a slot receiver he looks really good. Ross with Eifert and Kroft (the twin Tyler’s) should give Dalton more options to pass to and give him a better red zone to work with as well. Dalton is a real life underrated quarterback who I feel should jump up the rankings ladder in fantasy this year as well. He has the tools around him, but the only worry is the offensive line. Whitworth and Zeitler are gone while Andre Smith is back. If the line can hold then Dalton will flourish with the pieces around him.

Forecast: 4,112 yds passing, 23 TDs, 10 INTs, 182 yds rushing, 2 rushing TDs

 

  1. Marvin Jones, WR DET

Want to know the difference between Marvin Jones and Golden Tate? 147 yards. That’s it. While Tate is slated as a top 25 receiver, Jones is ranked in the mid-50s by most, despite the only difference between them, on the same team, is 147 total yards. Now I will say that Tate had just under 40 more receptions and I get how important that is in fantasy PPR leagues, but Jones has the ability to make a leap in Detroit this season. The Lions will pass all day since their running backs are bad at being running backs. Riddick is a good receiving back, but Ameer Abdullah is garbage. Stafford will continue his 25+ TD ways and could bump back up to the 30s despite taking nearly 40 sacks a year on average.

 

Jones should have good scoring games in the division against the lowly Bears and the Packers who have decided that defense is pointless. While Tate seems to be the favored target of Stafford you should expect Jones to capitalize on defenses honing in on Tate as well as both Ebron and Fells taking some of the heat off Jones. Jones should see more 1-on-1 situations with linebackers and safety’s needing to cover Riddick, Ebron and Fells or even Jared Abbrederis on the slot. We’ve seen what Jones can do when left alone in 2013 when he turned 51 receptions into 712 yards and 10 TDs. Jones is extremely talented and one of the better number 2 wide receivers in the league.

Forecast: 68 rec, 1,022 rec yds, 5 TDs

 

  1. CJ Fiedorowicz, TE HOU

First off, that is one hell of a name. His full name is Colton John Fiedorowicz. He’s like a Polish Cowboy that plays in the NFL. Let’s face one major fact here. We will see Deshaun Watson at some point, but even up until then we are stuck with Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden helming the Texans ship. Hopkins is still very talented, Fuller has been OK, Braxton Miller is an athletic slot receiver and Lamar Miller is the best back on the team by a mile. So why is Fiedorowicz underrated? Because he’s a receiving tight end with good hands on a team with a bad quarterback situation. In 2016, Fiedorowicz had 54 receptions, 559 yards and 4 TDs. That’s with the dreadful Brock Osweiler playing 15 of the 16 games last season too. Savage and Weeden aren’t great, but they are more serviceable short term quarterbacks than Oswelier.

 

Fiedorowicz could see an uptick of red zone scoring opportunities when a lot of focus will get put on Hopkins. He is a big presence at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds and could take those right in the middle or right down the seam passes when inside the 20. I don’t see Fiedorowicz being a top-5 tight end, but he is definitely a top-12 tight end, meaning he should be owned in most leagues instead of Austin Hooper, Antonio Gates, Jesse James, Jared Cook and Dwayne Allen. If and when Watson hits the field you will see Watson and Fiedorowicz connect quite well as a rookie quarterback and talented tight end usually do. Fiedorowicz is not a top tight end, but is someone who will avoid injury and feast while in a poorly run offense.

Forecast: 68 rec, 712 rec yds, 5 TDs

 

  1. Justin Tucker, K BAL

Yup, I am putting a kicker here and you are going to deal with it. As a former kicker myself, I want it to be known that the kicker position in fantasy is the most underrated position. Justin Tucker is killing it in Baltimore and it is the perfect time to jump on the Tucker Train. He has made 33 or more field goals in 3 of the last 4 seasons and knocked in 38 last year in 2016 and in 2013. In 2014 he had 29 field goals, but also 42 extra points. Tucker is in a prime position with a Baltimore offense that is good enough to get across the 50, but not good enough to score frequently. Tucker is a career 48 of 53 from 40-49 yards out and 28 of 40 from 50 or more. Add in that he’s 51 of 53 from 30-39 yards and made a 57 yard field goal last season. He’s also knocked in a 61 yard field goal in 2013. Tucker is a bonafide stud and a certified G.

 

Tucker had a field goal percentage of 97.4% and has never, in his career, missed an extra point. He was 24 of 24 in 2016 when attempting a field goal from 40 or more yards. This juggernaut and will score insane numbers in 2017 and end up averaging around 10 points per week. His Average Draft Position (ADP) is sitting around 114, but I feel he is worth taking in the top 100. Who would you rather have? Tucker or any of the following players being drafted in the top 100? Pierre Garcon? Robert Kelley? Matt Forte? Derrick Henry? Cameron Meredith? Hunter Henry? Excuse me as I take Justin Tucker and enjoy my nearly guaranteed 10 points per week.

Forecast: 38 made FGs, 40 FG attempts, 34 PATs

 

For over-drafted I am excluding all rookies because rookies are generally in the eye of the beholder and they don’t have a history in the NFL yet to work with. Dalvin Cook could be Zeke 2.0 for all we know. That being said, here are your 5 most over-drafted in fantasy in 2017.

 

5 Over-Drafted

 

  1. Jay Ajayi, RB MIA

My god are people daft when they draft. Ajayi is possible the most overrated running back since Olandis Gary when he went to Detroit. Ajayi is a pick that everyone fawns over because he had a trio of 200+ yard games. Yet outside of those 200+ yard games, 2 of which were against Buffalo by the way, he was garbage. If you subtract the 200+ yard games from his total yards rushing he would sit at 648 yards. That’s it. In 13 games during the 2016 season, Ajayi rushed for a mere 648 yards. That’s 49.8 yards per game. Is that a legit #1 back? How about a #2? He crossed 100 total yards only 4 times in the season with 3 of those times being for 200 or more yards. The highest he got outside of that was 79 yards against the Chargers and 77 yards against the Rams. A pair of teams that were hot garbage in 2016. 4 of his total 8 TDs came in the 200 yard games. And even then he only scored 4 TDs in games where he was literally running wild.

 

So in those 3 weeks where he went bananas, he scored 50% of his TDs. That leaves 13 weeks where he amassed the other 4 TDs. Those TDs came against Cleveland, where he ran for 28 yards, Tennessee, where he ran for 42 yards, the Jets, where he ran for 111 yards and against San Francisco, where he ran for 45 yards and averaged 2.5 yards per carry against an abysmal 49ers team. The team he had run all over for 204 yards on October 16th, the Steelers, returned the favor by holding him to 33 yards in 16 carries for 2.1 yards on January 8th. What’s my point here? The kid is a homerun hitter. If he’s on, he can control an entire game, but if he’s off he is utterly terrible. I haven’t trusted a Miami player not named Ronnie Brown in about 14 years at this point. Ajayi will bust, but may get a few sexy games in that make people salivate. If you own him, you should then sell him ASAP. He is vastly overrated.

Forecast: 1 078 total yards, 22 rec, 5 total TDs, 2 fum lost

 

  1. Blake Bortles, QB JAC and Allen Robinson, WR JAC

I don’t get why everyone clamors over grabbing A-Rob. He’s an average wideout with a dreadful quarterback who had an anomaly season where he scored 14 TDs on 80 receptions in 2015. How was 2016 though? Well, compared to 2015 it was garbage. 73 receptions, 883 rec yards and 6 TDs. So how is Robinson going ahead of Cooks, Watkins, Adams, Pryor, Allen (pray for that ACL), Crabtree, Tate and Emmanuel Sanders? It has to be because he is viewed as the defacto number one receiver in J-Ville. There is no other reason that makes sense. Hell, I would rather have Tyreek Hill or Donte Moncrief over Robinson. Maybe even Edelman.

 

This is by no means saying that Robinson is not valuable as a default top wideout, but the only player on that Jacksonville roster that scares any defensive coordinator is Leonard Fournette and that’s mostly cause he is an unknown wild card. If your top two receiving options are both named Allen, that’s not good. What’s more however is that Blake Bortles is literally suck incarnate. Bortles is the prototypical garbage time quarterback. He is ass for 3.5 of 4 quarters then in the last half when the defense doesn’t care cause it’s up by 3 or 4 TDs, Bortles lights it up and takes his 183 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs and turns it into 268 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. WOW HE IS A GREAT QUARTERBACK IN FANTASY! Except he isn’t.

 

Halfway through typing this I decided to include Blake Bortles with Allen Robinson as a package of suck. I cannot stand how people fawned over Bortles getting 32 TDs compared to 18 INTs in 2015 as he led them to a resounding 5-11 record. Bortles does a lot of scoring in garbage time and people seem to forget that. They also seem to forget that the Jags defense has gotten worse and older which you can mix into the rest of their conference having far superior squads than the Jaguars. The Texans with Tom Savage are better than the Jags. The Titans are far better than the Jags and Andrew Luck on his own is better than the Jags. Bortles is a guy who had 10 INTs to 6 TDs on 3rd down in 2016 and who had 412 pass attempts while trailing. 412!!! Also, for everyone who raves about how he is a cheap option for playoff’s, news flash, he sucks during playoff time in fantasy. He has a whopping 1,156 yards passing in December and January and had 3 TDs and 3 INTs. That is just terrible. Terrible! Tyrod Taylor in December alone had 922 yards passing with 6 TDs and 2 INTs. Tyrod Taylor is god compared to Blake Bortles come playoff time. Robinson and Bortles are those guys you feel better about having when you draft them, then regret then by week 3.

Forecast:

Bortles: 3,684 yards, 22 TDs, 18 INTs, 288 rush yards, 1 TD, 5 lost fumbles

Robinson: 70 rec, 892 rec yds, 5 TDs

 

  1. Rob Gronkowski, TE NE

    2017 fantasy football sleepers

Ok, Ok, Ok, before you start being pissed, hear me out here. Gronkowski has only played more than 7 games 2 of the last 4 years. The real reason he is on here is because he is a constant question mark coming up on his 30’s here soon. He has had injury after injury and seems to keep getting hurt every time you need him in the second half of the season and/or playoffs.

 

The Gronk is an amazing talent, but he is such a wildcard year in and out. Could he play 15 or 16 games in 2017 and 2018? Sure, but he could just as well play 6 games and tear his bicep or ACL and be out forever again. Gronk, where he is drafted, just isn’t worth it to me. He isn’t a 2nd round pick to me where Hopkins, Cooks, Rodgers and Brady are right there.

 

Not to forget that 2 of the top 4 drafted tight ends, Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce, lack the same health issues while having around the same production as Gronkowski. Kelce had 1,125 yards last season and 4 TDs. In fact, Kelce has had at least 4 TDs each season and has played all 16 games the last 3 seasons. Olsen has had over 1,000 yards the past 3 seasons and has more receptions than Gronkowski even in 2014 and 2015 when Gronk played 15 games. Olsen is getting over 120 passes thrown his way a year from Newton while Kelce is at 2 years in a row of over 100 passes coming his way. Both these guys are far safer options without sacrificing much in the production department. Even if Alex Smith is replaced by Patrick Mahomes, Kelce will still produce. Gronkowski is the most talented tight end in the league, but his health is a real concern.

Forecast: 7 games, 27 rec, 482 yards, 2 TDs

 

  1. Kelvin Benjamin, WR CAR

Ok, let’s be real about 2 things here with Kelvin Benjamin. First, he’s gained a bunch of weight over the past 2 years and second, Newton has a pair of weapons he seems more likely to use in 2017. Greg Olsen gets over 120 targets a season and now add-on Christian McCaffrey as an out of the backfield receiver and slot receiver and you may see Benjamin’s touches dissipate. He had an insane 145 targets in 2014, missed all of 2015 due to injury then had a decent 118 targets in 2016. When you look at his 7 TDs in 2016, it looks like he had a great year, but in all reality it was rather padded by a quick start. He had 3 TDs in September, but only 1 each following month. Point being here is that his scoring, much like his recent weight, is top heavy. In December he only had 9 receptions and went from averaging 67 yards per game in September through November to averaging a mere 28 yards per game in those 4 December games.

 

The Panthers have a weird offense. They should be better this year than last, but they haven’t changed a whole lot. McCaffery was a nice add and so was Ed Dickson. You may see more duel tight end sets with Greg Olsen and Ed Dickson with McCaffrey in the slot. This could hamper Benjamin’s opportunities, especially in the red zone. Don’t forget this Panther’s team was ranked 10th in the league in rushing at 113.4 yards per game and Jonathon Stewart is still going to get 800 or more yards rushing and average around 4 yards per rush. Benjamin is not a bad wideout, but he is not the focus on the Panthers offense as Newton trusts Olsen and Stewart a lot and McCaffery will be a flexed used piece that will get plenty of opportunities.

Forecast: 58 rec, 782 yards, 4 TDs

 

  1. Todd Gurley, RB LAR

One of the biggest letdowns in 2016 will return… to being a continued letdown in 2017. Gurley never cracked 100 rushing yards in a game during the 2016 campaign despit getting over 20 carries in 5 weeks and 19 in another. In fact, n those 6 weeks combined, Gurley had 133 rushes for 397 yards and 5 TDs. That’s averaging 66.2 rushing yards on 22 rushes per game. That’s awful. Yet, everyone goes bananas over his 2015 season where he had a 4 week span in which he ran 88 times for 566 yards and 3 TDs. Keep in mind he ran for 1,106 yards, so that 566 4 week run was over 50% of his yearlong rushing total.

 

Gurley has no receiving TDs in his career, but was able to haul in 43 catches for 327 yards. There is a bit of value to be had in those reception numbers, but Gurley’s rushing is just bad. The thing is, I can’t tell if he’s bad or if the Rams are actually that bad. It seems like Gurley has talent, but other than a short burst his rookie year he has looked pedestrian. Even as an RB2 I would aim for someone else with higher upside or even a rookie like Fournette despite not being high on him myself. The issue that plagues Gurley mostly is that the Rams are utter garbage as an offense. Jared Goff is bad. Real bad. He averaged 155.6 yards passing with 5 TDs and 7 INTs. The Rams top 2 wideouts are Bills outcast Robert Woods and continued disappointment Tavon Austin. Yes, their line is a bit better than last season, but with no quarterback to fear and wide receivers I could replace with current college level talent and get the same results with, Gurley will get stuck against stacked defenses.

Forecast: 1,042 total yards, 31 rec, 4 TDs, 2 fum lost

 

BONUS OVERRATED!

Jay Cutler, QB MIA

2017 fantasy football sleepers

So the news that Ryan Tannehill is out for the season and that the Dolphins have decided to grab formerly retired Jay Cutler has thrown the fantasy world into a tizzy. Well, before you go out thinking that Cutler is a great cheap choice that you can get in the later rounds, realize that the Fins aren’t all that different from the Bears. In 2012 and 2013 Cutler threw under 20 TDs, 2014 he had a respectable 28 TDs to 18 INTs and in 2015 a 21 TD to 11 INT ratio. In the 5 games he played in 2016 he threw for a load of yards and had the highest yards per completion of his career. Yet he had a 4 TD to 5 INT ratio.

 

So this would normally be a hard read, but it’s actually a pretty easy one. Firstly the Dolphins have the 7th worst offensive line in the NFL and overrated wideouts. Landry is pretty good, but Parker and Stills are heavily TD reliant for fantasy purposes. Julius Thomas is a great offensive addition and Cutler should make him a solid TE, but the real issue here is still that offensive line. Tunsil was moved from guard to tackle, Bushrod was the 4th lowest rated tackle in 2016 and Tunsil’s guard replacement, Anthony Steen, was about as bad a Bushrod in 2016. Tannehill last season was sacked the least of his career, had the 2nd lowest yards per game, most yards per attempt, 2nd fewest TDs and a 3rd year in a row with 12 INTs which is pretty good. Tannehill would have had over 20 TDs in 4 straight seasons with 2016 had he not missed 3 games. Tannehill was set for his best overall season and now it’s all on the arm of the personality free B+ Brett Favre known as Jay Cutler. Ajayi is about as good as Howard is on the Bears while Landry is the 3rd best receiver Cutler will have played with.

 

Cutler is a bag of tricks. He can win you a game, but also lose it at the same time. The problem here is Cutler will be Cutler on a dreadful o-line, with an average receiver corps, a decent, but overrated RB and a middle of the crowd defense. The biggest issue is that they play in the same division as the Patriots. The Bills are average while the Jets are basically a free 2 wins. Cutler looks to lead a team that is good enough to make the Wild Card, but would be likely to lose in that first round. That said, Cutler will get over-drafted by owners who are a bit too frisky with their faith in Cutler. Jay Cutler is the Star Wars Episode 1-3 to Favre’s Episode 4-6.

Forecast: 3,788 passing yards, 23 TDs, 13 INTs, 192 rush yards, 0 TDs, 2 fum lost

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