Is anyone really a sleeper these days?
Considering the (over) analysis that now goes into every preseason game, training camp practice and minor news update, it's harder than ever for players to slip through the cracks.
But finding the diamond in the rough is still essential to fantasy football success. Just ask owners of Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay, who racked up 1,037 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as an undrafted rookie.
We'll define a "sleeper" as a player pegged as a mid-to-late round draft selection who we believe will significantly exceed expectations. At the very least, put a star next to these guys on your draft boards.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 8)
Jackson admitted he probably won't run as much as he did in 2018. But we can still see him rushing for at least 700 yards after nearly hitting 700 in half a season as a rookie. Jackson is outside the top 10 on essentially every draft board, but we can see him putting up top-10 numbers as a high-volume, dual-threat QB.
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers (Week 4)
Yes, Garoppolo looked awful in his first preseason action against the Broncos. But that only means you can scoop him up later in your draft. With a Tevin Coleman in the mix and an offensive-minded coach in Kyle Shananan, we're buying low on Jimmy G as a borderline QB1.
Damien Harris, New England Patriots (Week 10)
Targeting a Patriots running back is always risky business. But there's a reason New England used a third-round pick on Harris this year, and if Sony Michel's knee acts up, the Alabama product could be first in line to get early-down and goal-line snaps. He's worth a flier.
Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins (Week 5)
Remember when Kenyan Drake was supposed to be the Dolphins' workhorse? Well, Ballage is listed as Miami's co-starter while Drake is dealing with a foot injury that may sideline him for the rest of the preseason. We've seen this movie before: A young, unheralded upstart usurps the No. 1 role from the complacent veteran and reaps the rewards of his newfound touches. Ballage could star in that role this year.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (Week 10)
Jordan Howard is the Eagles' lead back, but he's a plodder. That means the dynamic Sanders can carve out a role as a change-of-pace back with pass-catching upside, similar to the likes of Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in the past. With a healthy Carson Wentz and a solid offensive line, Sanders is among the rookies with the highest upside.
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (Week 12)
Kirk finished third among rookie wide receivers in receptions last season under Bruce Arians and Josh Rosen. But you can expect new head coach-quarterback duo Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray to open things up in Arizona this fall, and Kirk might be the primary beneficiary.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (Week 8)
Amari Cooper will draw all the headlines, but the 23-year-old Gallup has a ton of upside. With Cole Beasley's 65 catches headed to Buffalo, Gallup should see an uptick in targets, making him an intriguing breakout candidate if Dak Prescott can take the next step.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers (Week 11)
Just as Davante Adams rose to prominence behind the aging duo of Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, "MVS" has the chance to fill the enviable position of Aaron Rodgers' No. 2 wide receiver. Geronimo Allison will battle Valdes-Scantling for that role, but we like the guy who averaged 15.3 yards per catch as a rookie last season.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons (Week 9)
You're always going to fly under the radar when Julio Jones is on your team. But Hooper was the sixth-highest-scoring tight end in fantasy last season and is projected outside the top 10 on some draft boards. Atlanta should be throwing plenty under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, so Hooper is a fine late-round option.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (Week 10)
Goedert won't be much of a factor as long as Zach Ertz keeps producing. But Ertz is coming off an exhausting 156-target campaign, while Goedert has looked strong in camp and stepped up when Philly called his number last year. At the very least, he should be on your radar.
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