7 Sleepers to Target in ESPN Fantasy Leagues
The term "sleeper" is a bit overused in fantasy circles. This is especially true considering this industry is so oversaturated with analysis, there really aren't any true sleepers left. A better way to approach the idea is looking for value in drafts when ADP doesn't match with a player's potential. Fortunately for you, we have a tool designed to do just that: The ADP Bargains tool. This technological wonder allows you to pair 4for4's rankings with the ADP from the site that hosts your fantasy league to instantly find valuable players to target based on the discrepancy between the two numbers.
Using this tool, I've highlighted several sleepers on each major site, with the ESPN lot below. I try to highlight different players in each piece, so even if your league isn't hosted on one of the other sites it'll still be worthwhile to see who I've highlighted. And don't forget to use the ADP Bargains tool often, as ADP will continue to shift as the season approaches.
QB - Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
I’m on the record this season as a Josh Allen stan in fantasy, and when his ADP is as low as it is in ESPN drafts currently, I basically jump for joy. For a truly in-depth look at why Allen has the potential to be the overall QB1 this year, read TJ Hernandez’s player profile. But I’ll quickly run through some of the general highlights and appeal with Allen. Rushing ability is obviously at the top of the list, as Allen led all quarterbacks in rushing touchdowns (nine) while trailing only Lamar Jackson in attempts (176 to 109) and Jackson and Kyler Murray in yards (1,206, 544, versus 510 for Allen). Those rushing numbers helped Allen finish 2019 as the QB6 despite throwing for just over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. The addition of Stefon Diggs is what really puts Allen over the top. As TJ notes in his profile, Allen had the league’s fifth-highest deep ball rate (22.1%) but scored on just 4.9% of those attempts (conversely, Jackson scored on 16% of his deep balls). This isn’t solely accuracy dependent, as deep balls are generally high variance plays. Even a natural swing back in that direction, but with Diggs and John Brown running deep for the Bills, Allen could see a big uptick in production in that area. Diggs and Brown were both in the top 15 in targeted air yards last season, which speaks to their abilities downfield and the number of times they were targeted on deep passes. To sum it up, Allen offers a safe floor as a QB1 thanks to his rushing ability, but potentially improved passing game numbers could push him to be the QB1 in 2020. That’s why he’s a fantastic quarterback sleeper, especially at his ESPN ADP.
RB - James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
Conner’s 2019 season was forgettable, as everything went wrong for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Conner all suffered various injuries. With Big Ben out of the lineup, the quality of the quarterback play fell off a cliff, stymying the entire offense in the process. However, Conner, JuJu, and Big Ben are all healthy for 2020, and the outlook of his offense is good. Which makes Conner’s depressed ADP on ESPN platforms curious. This is the final year of Conner’s contract, and the team didn’t acquire a replacement for him yet, potentially signaling a sizable final workload for the local kid. Conner proved in 2018 he can be a complete back, catching 55 of his 71 targets for 497 yards and one touchdown. In Big Ben’s last two healthy seasons, he has showered his running backs with targets amounting to 16% and 19.1% of his total targets. Add in the Steelers’ talent-rich defense, and it’s easy to see a story unfolding where Conner receives plenty of targets and then plenty of carries in the fourth quarter of games where Pittsburgh is looking to salt away leads and control the clock. The Steelers are a team set to rebound and Conner will benefit mightily if they do. His current ADP isn’t factoring this in, so take advantage of it in ESPN drafts while you can.
RB - Matt Breida, Miami Dolphins
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