The term sleeper has different meanings to different people in the world of fantasy football. Some people believe that he is simply a player who will surpass his position in the draft. That would include players like Justin Herbert, James Robinson and Justin Jefferson in 2020. Others believe that it is someone relatively unknown who emerges in a useful fantasy option, such as Myles Gaskin, Curtis Samuel or Robert Tonyan.
However, I think there are different levels of sleeping value among NFL players.
Fabiano’s Top 10 Lists
Sprouts | Sleepers | Deep sleepers | Busts | Rookies
For example, the athletes I labeled as traditional sleepers are likely to fall off the table in the middle or late rounds. So, you have another level. I like to call them deep sleepers. These players have late-round average draft positions (ADPs), but could regain some value based on their abilities and potential opportunities in their respective teams’ depth tables.
With that in mind, here are 10 players to target in the later rounds who might be the best of the best for the deep sleep class of fantasy football of 2021.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
Harris showed some glimpses of potential last season, recording three games with at least 100 rushing yards and finishing with an average of five yards per attempt. He won’t do much in the passing game, but Harris could open the season as New England’s starting running back ahead of Sony Michel and rookie Rhamandre Stevenson. It will be worth seeing in the later rounds as an RB4 on your list that could develop flexible starting value in 2021.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Penny has been anything but enduring in the NFL, missing 21 combined games in her first three seasons. Still, he will be second in Seattle behind Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde (Jaguars) is no longer on the roster. Carson has had his share of bumps and bruises (Hyde, DeeJay Dallas, and Travis Homer had 182 touches in 2020), so Penny should find herself seeing enough touches to have definite fantasy appeal in the final round.
Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
Jones was a popular sleeper in fantasy land a season ago, and well, things didn’t work out. But often, we’re in a season too early to predict a player’s exit party, and Jones is in a great position to succeed. Not only will he get Saquon Barkley back on offense, but the Giants added Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney and Kyle Rudolph in the offseason. It’s likely to be a life and death moment for Danny Dimes, worth a late flight.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears
Mooney didn’t produce spectacular numbers as a rookie, finishing 50th in fantasy points among wide receivers. However, he showed some potential at times, none more memorable than an 11-catch blast against the Packers in the regular season finale. The Bears appear to be passing on Anthony Miller (he’s been on the trade block), which would make Mooney the team’s projected No. 2 receiver behind Allen Robinson this season.
Henry Ruggs III, WR, The Las Vegas Raiders
Remember when the NFL world was absolutely raving about Ruggs, comparing him to Tyreek Hill? Heck, he was the first wide receiver chosen in the 2020 NFL Draft! I suppose the Raiders regret that decision now, but Ruggs is still young, talented, and on an offense that lost its main receiver (Nelson Agholor) as a free agent. I may be better off as a late player in better ball formats, but I’d take a chance with Ruggs at No. 5 in new drafts.
Josh Reynolds, WR, Tennessee Titans
Reynolds didn’t make much of an impact as a member of the Rams, but he’s in a good place to find success in Tennessee. The Titans lost Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith as free agents, and Reynolds looks like the favorite to take over as the team’s No. 2 wide receiver behind AJ Brown. With more than 100 open goals, including Davis’ 92 from last season’s roster, Reynolds will be a No. 5 fantasy wide receiver who pays off in most trades.
Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Gage finished last season with his career best across the board, but those efforts weren’t good enough to finish in the top 30 among receivers. Still, the future could be brighter for the former LSU product if the Falcons decide to move Julio Jones through a trade. Gage would immediately become the favorite to start against Calvin Ridley in a Falcons offense that should score a ton of points in that kind of scenario. That makes it worth being chosen late.
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints
Trautman is in a great position to emerge as a statistical weapon for both the Saints and fantasy coaches in 2021. The team lost Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook as free agents and did not add significant competition in the passing game, so that the stage is set. for Trautman. Coach Sean Payton’s offense has been very tight end friendly in the past, so don’t be surprised if Dayton’s product hits the top 15 fantasy totals in 2021.
Tyrell Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
Someone has to catch Jared Goff passes, right? His main target could end up being Williams, who missed last season due to injuries, but now appears to be the Lions’ number one receiver (sad, I know). Williams, who has a 1,000-yard season on his NFL resume, is in position to drive in more than 90 goals, with rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown and Breshad Perriman competing for open goals. Williams will also be a good late-game top flyer.
Anthony Firkser, TE, Tennessee Titans
The Titans’ best tight end a season ago, Jonnu Smith, left for the Patriots as a free agent. The team didn’t add another player at the position and has yet to re-sign MyCole Pruitt, so Firsker seems like the best option in an offense that has used the tight end position in a prominent role. I’m not sure if I see Firsker as a week-after-week starter in fantasy land, but he has a chance to produce good numbers overall.
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Michael Fabiano he is an award-winning fantasy football analyst in Illustrated Sports and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Y Instagram for your latest great news and the best analysis in the industry.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.