By Matt Orecchio
With the fantasy football draft season in full swing, there are plenty of value players who slip through the cracks of the higher rounds and are available late into drafts. In your draft, you should be targeting these sleepers who have value way above their average draft position (ADP). Without further ado, I’ll be recapping my favorite late round steals.
Jimmy Garoppolo (SF)
After joining the 49ers, Jimmy G led one of the worst teams in the league to a 5-0 stretch to close out the season. His fantasy performance over the final four contests stretched out over a whole season would’ve been good for 9th overall among quarterbacks. In standard NFL.com leagues, he’s currently being drafted in the middle of the 12th round as the 12th quarterback off the board. I only expect his numbers to improve as he continues to build a rapport with his receivers. His availability late into drafts only further proves that you should wait on a quarterback.
Latavius Murray (RB, MIN)
Murray was impressive last year in the absence of rookie phenom Dalvin Cook, finishing as the 20th best running back of last season while splitting duties with Jerick McKinnon. With Cook back in action, Murray’s stock is obviously expected to fall. However, he’s currently going undrafted as the 58th-ranked running back. We’ve only seen Cook play four NFL contests, and if he isn’t the stud he’s expected to be Murray could easily steal a good number of carries. And even if Cook lives up to the hype, Murray is quite possibly the best handcuff you could draft. Either way, he’s worth a look at the end of the draft.
C.J. Anderson (RB, CAR)
Last year, C.J. Anderson finished 7th in rushing yards, topping 1000 yards for the first time in his career while finishing as the 17th-best fantasy RB. This year, his stock fell to RB41 after being sent to the Carolina Panthers, sitting behind Christian McCaffrey on the depth chart. Last year, McCaffrey’s backup, Jonathan Stewart, finished as the 35th-best fantasy RB while getting 198 carries. Since McCaffrey isn’t a between-the-tackles runner, CJ Anderson could be in line for that same number of carries in 2018. As a younger, more talented back than Stewart, Anderson could turn those carries into a solid fantasy campaign worth more than his 10th-round value.
Michael Gallup / Allen Hurns (WR, DAL)
With Dez Bryant out of town and Jason Witten retired, who is going to be catching passes for the Cowboys in 2018? Terrance Williams has been unimpressive throughout his career and Cole Beasley has been nothing more than a slot guy. Look for Hurns or rookie Michael Gallup to fill the starting roles in Dallas. The pair is currently being drafted as the 53rd and 65th receivers respectively but could finish well above those rankings. It’s unclear who Dak Prescott will build the best relationship with as of right now, but both of these guys are worth a late-round flier.
Brandin Cooks (WR, LAR)
Cooks might not fit the definition of a legitimate sleeper, as his current ADP is 64th, in the early 6th round. But one might wonder why Cooks, the 7th-best fantasy receiver in 2017, is currently being drafted as the 28th receiver off the board. Many might be worried he’ll receive the Sammy Watkins treatment in LA, but clearly, he has the potential to be a stud in a high-powered offense this season. With Robert Woods opposite him and Cooper Kupp in the slot, Cooks should be able to take advantage of one-on-one coverages and be well worth a fourth or fifth-round pick.
Trey Burton (TE, CHI)
We’ve seen a very small sample size from Burton thus far. As a backup for Zach Ertz last season, he only saw significant action in two games. He took full advantage of his opportunities, however, especially when he broke out for 19.1 points in Week 14. As the Chicago Bears’ new starting TE and a fancy new weapon for young QB Mitch Trubisky, Burton could easily finish above his draft stock as a mid-12th round pick and the 11th TE off the board. (Just don’t confuse him with Chicago fullback Michael Burton.)