8 Fantasy Sleepers for 2021

Sunday, Aug 15, 2021 at 10:47 am ET

It seems like a question that comes up every year. How do you define "sleeper"? To us, a sleeper is a player who has the ability to significantly outperform his Average Draft Position (ADP). It's the epitome of buy low, sell high mantra. Here are a few players on our radar this season that we believe can outperform their ADP.

Trey Lance, QB - SF
If Trey Lance was flying under the radar for most, this 80-yard touchdown bomb put him on everyone's radar. Lance is molded in the fashion of a Josh Allen or RGIII - a mobile QB who can be effective with his legs. The real question is going to simply be "when" he overtakes Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Most analysts expect that to happen by mid-season if not sooner. With a solid surrounding cast supporting him, Lance should make for a great late-round flyer. Draft him as your backup QB with the upside potential to be a starter later this year.

Another player to consider is Bears QB Justin Fields. After throwing for 142 yards and 1 touchdown on 20 attempts (plus 5 carries for 33 yards and a score), fans in Chicago are going to be clamoring for Fields to start.

Travis Etienne, RB - JAC
This is going to be a fun competition to watch. The fact that he's lining up behind his college QB Trevor Lawrence means that the rapport between them is already there. We're still expecting James Robinson to handle the early-down work, but Etienne plans to figure prominently in the 3rd-down and passing game roles. It's not a stretch of the imagination to see him edge out Robinson later this year. Should that happen, he has the potential to be a starter, or at the very least a flex option, for your team. Hopefully in plenty of time for the fantasy playoffs.

Mike DavisMike Davis, RB - ATL
There has been a lot of negative buzz on Mike Davis from the fantasy analyst community, but we're bullish on him this year. First, he sits atop the depth chart. There is very little competition for another back to significantly eat into his workload. Second, you're not going to find many potential-RB1s in the 5th/6th round of your draft. Running backs have been flying off the boards in the first two - three rounds. Finally, he's a known quantity. We finally got to see him shine with the Panthers and plenty of fantasy championship teams had him rostered. The reason many analysts are not fans is likely due to the fact that he's been a journeyman playing for five different teams over the course of seven seasons. We argue that volume alone should negate that pessimism. Davis should be either an RB2 with upside or at least a solid flex play every week.

Jerry Jeudy, WR - DEN
There's no doubt that Jerry Jeudy has to make marked improvements over last season where we saw him drop 12 passes (2nd-most in the league) and produce a dismal 46% catch rate. Regardless of who is under center (Lock or Bridgewater), Jeudy needs to get on the same page, and we think he will. His 112 targets will likely come down with the return of Courtland Sutton, but with a full 16 games under his belt, he should start to see the kind of progression typical with a second year receiver. In standard leagues, he's coming off the boards in the 9th round. For a guy projected to flirt with a 1,000 yard season, a 9th-round value is fantastic.

Elijah Moore, WR - NYJ
While he was sidelined with a groin injury for the Jets' first preseason game, the hype for Elijah Moore has been building for a few months now. He's fast (4.35-second 40 time), dynamic, and finding his spot on a team desperate for playmakers. Although Corey Davis is the safe bet for the most targets, it's not out of the realm of possibility to see Moore surpass that by the end of the season - exactly the kind of outcome that you hope for when drafting a guy in the 12th or 13th round of your fantasy draft.

Anthony FirkserAnthony Firkser, TE - TEN
The targets are there in Tennessee after the departure of Corey Davis, Adam Humphres, and Jonnu Smith. The addition of Julio Jones certainly impacts that number, but Firkser is in line for an uptick in targets from last season. The Titans have a fantasy-friendly environment for tight ends with the 6th-most fantasy points scored by the position last year. Firkser is either going undrafted in most leagues or after the 15th round in deeper leagues, meaning that you'll either find him on the waiver wire or could stash him as a backup with one of your last picks. He's worth a late round flier.

Nelson Agholor, WR - NE
This is not your father's Patriots team any longer, but if you're looking for a late round flier on a guy who sits atop his depth chart, Nelson Agholor could be that guy. Admittedly, Agholor is all about potential in the late rounds (14th round PPR, 16th-round STD). His history doesn't warrant a lot of confidence or buzz, but we're looking at potential here. We're not sure how long Cam Newton will be able to hold onto the starting job, and when Mac Jones does finally take over, Agholor should get a boost. The Pats offense is heavy on the run, but Agholor is a strong bet to lead the team in targets. The real question is going to be how consistently he can capitalize on those targets.

Adam Trautman, TE - NO
With the exception of Alvin Kamara, the Saints offense is full of question marks. Losing Jared Cook and Josh Hill in addition to Michael Thomas missing several games means that Trautman is in line for potentially significant target share. He'll need to build upon his low numbers from last year, but snap count and opportunity make him a nice target as a TE2 with upside. You can snag him in your draft with one of your last picks.

Join the Discussion

Dougeronisland CommentedAug 21, 2021 3:42 pm

Great sleeper names although it certainly is difficulty identifying late round tight ends. The great thing about a late round pick is that they are easily dropped if a player production does not come to fruition.
Totally off subject: I have the third pick in a 14 league non ppr league. Who do you see as the safest RB pick for this position in the draft assuming Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook are gone? Thinking Kamara, but Henry is a machine. Thank Fantasy Nerds. I appreciate your website these past several years.

Nerd CommentedAug 21, 2021 3:48 pm

Kamara could have a monster workload this year, but in standard scoring, I would still take Henry. Good luck!

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