As the NFL regular season approaches, preseason games are being played, fantasy experts are moving players up and down their draft boards and drafts are starting. Here are my top 10 sleepers, with a focus on players currently being selected after the eighth round in a 12-team league. That's an average draft position (ADP) of Pick 97 and higher. My list does not include defenses and kickers.
1. Dede Westbrook, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
When: Rounds 8-9
Why: With receiver Marqise Lee still on the mend, Westbrook is the top target for the Jaguars. He has 80-catch potential. New quarterback Nick Foles is a huge upgrade over Blake Bortles.
Advice: For teams that go running back early, Westbrook is a terrific WR2 in PPR leagues.
2. Curtis Samuel, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
When: Rounds 8-9
Why: Can we get through a day without a comment about how great Samuel's been this summer? DJ Moore is expected to be the team's WR1, but Samuel is a threat to get into the end zone every time he touches the ball.
Advice: The Carolina offense is going to be centered around quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey and tight end Greg Olsen, which leaves few footballs for receivers. Samuel is more of a big-play guy than Moore. I have always loved the talent, but just do not reach. He should be a solid WR3 or WR4 this year.
3. Jared Goff, Quarterback, Los Angeles Rams
When: Rounds 9-10
Why: ADPs for quarterbacks are sometimes tough to gauge, but Goff is usually no better than the 10th quarterback off the board, which makes him a terrific value. His yards, touchdowns and completion percentages have risen each of the last two years as a starter. In 2018, Goff threw for 32 touchdowns and 4,688 yards.
Advice: This is a favorite target of mine. The offense, the receiver talent and the running game all work for Goff. If he takes another step forward, this will be the last year he will ever be on a list like this.
4. Philip Rivers, Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
When: Rounds 10-13
Why: Rivers has been about the 17th quarterback off the board in most places this summer. He is almost being ignored in drafts despite throwing for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 68 percent of his throws in 2018. Rivers hasn't thrown for fewer than 28 touchdowns in any of the last six years.
Advice: Rivers is the poster child for why you can wait on a quarterback.
5. Delanie Walker, Tight End, Tennessee Titans
When: Rounds 11-12
Why: After missing all but a few quarters of 2018, Walker is back. He had at least 60 catches a season from 2013-2017. If you miss out on a top-three tight end, why not wait and grab a proven guy like Walker later in the draft?
Advice: There are five tight ends I truly trust in 2019. Outside of the big three (Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittle), I also trust Hunter Henry and Vance McDonald. After that ... put them all in a hat and pull one out, which is why I like the steady Walker.
6. Anthony Miller, Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears
When: Rounds 11-13
Why: Miller had seven touchdowns on just 33 grabs as a rookie. Allen Robinson, the WR1 in Chicago, is going five rounds earlier than Miller. I'd rather go with the younger guy without the long injury history.
Advice: Drafting after the eighth round is about value. Miller has 60-plus-catch potential and has already proven to be a touchdown maker and a red-zone target. I like to draft upside players.
7. Vance McDonald, Tight End, Pittsburgh Steelers
When: Rounds 8-9
Why: Jesse James is gone, so 85-plus percent of the Steelers' tight-end targets should go to McDonald. Receiver Antonio Brown and his 100-plus catches and 150 or more targets are also gone. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger seems to trust McDonald. If you miss on the big three tight ends, McDonald is worth a look.
Advice: If he can stay healthy, McDonald has top-five tight end potential.
8. Alexander Mattison, Running Back, Minnesota Vikings
When: Rounds 10-12
Why: Dalvin Cook has been an injury risk so far in his brief NFL career. Latavius Murray is gone. The Vikings should have a top-12 offense this season.
Advice: Mattison is my top handcuff for 2019. If you draft Cook in the first or second round, I advise reaching for Mattison in the eighth round or so. If he somehow lasts until his 10th-round ADP, grab him immediately.
9. Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver, Dallas Cowboys
When: Rounds 13-15
Why: Cobb is worth a pick because he comes at little cost. Cobb has been injured often and hasn't come close to replicating his 2014 season with the Green Bay Packers, but with Cole Beasley gone, he has a chance to grab a role in Dallas.
Advice: Late-round picks are for rookies and darts. Cobb is a veteran worth throwing a dart at. I love Michael Gallup, but Amari Cooper is a tad overrated right now. Could Cobb surprise? It's worth a spot on a roster for a few weeks to find out.
10. Jamison Crowder, Wide Receiver, New York Jets
When: Rounds 12-14
Why: Crowder has a chance to be the leading receiver for the Jets as far as catches go.
Advice: His ADP will rise if he can stay healthy during the preseason given the improved outlook the Jets' offense. Quarterback Sam Darnold is entering his second year, and running back Le'Veon Bell was a huge addition. I just can't quit Crowder, another dart I seem to throw often. •
1. Mark Andrews, Tight End, Baltimore Ravens
2. Noah Fant, Tight End, Denver Broncos
3. Trey Quinn, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins
4. DJ Chark, Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars
5. Deon Cain, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts
6. Demarcus Robinson, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Matt Breida, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers
8. Devin Singletary, Running Back, Buffalo Bills
9. Kirk Cousins, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
10. Defenses: Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox
Issue 256: August 2019
Originally published Aug. 15, 2019