The RotoViz team is hard at work digging deep to uncover the most buried and overlooked sleepers for all 32 teams in the fantasy football landscape.
These are the guys that seemingly have no shot at significance, but with a little imagination and a little luck, could pay off in deeper formats.
Next up, two deep sleepers for the San Francisco 49ers.
Startup ADP: Undrafted
Scenario: Age Catches up to Pierre Garcon
A week before Pierre Garcon went down with a neck injury, rookie UDFA Kendrick Bourne broke on to the active roster and earned a 35 percent share of the offensive snaps. Bourne was in the 49ers’ plans even before Garcon was hurt. After Garcon went down, San Francisco employed a heavy rotation at WR throughout the season, and now-departed veteran Louis Murphy helped to absorb some of Garcon’s snaps.
With Garcon once again healthy, and second-round rookie Dante Pettis entering the fold, Bourne could be back down to fifth on the depth chart. However Garcon will be entering his age-32 season, and Pettis is still an unknown quantity. Bourne will have a good chance to once again be on the active roster as part of the WR rotation, and perhaps earn a larger role as the season progresses and injuries strike.
I profiled Bourne as a sleeper during the season last year, and only the addition of Pettis has really changed since then.
Bourne went undrafted largely due to a poor 40 time and a small-school pedigree. He was living in the shadow of Cooper Kupp at Eastern Washington University, so even though he tallied 1,200 yards and seven TDs as a senior, his market share numbers paled in comparison to a player who broke the college record for receiving yards and just about every FCS record there was to break. The important thing to note, however, is that Bourne is over two full years younger than Kupp. That doesn’t mean that Bourne is necessarily a better player, but it does offer a plausible explanation for how he could be legitimately good without even being the best receiver on an FCS team.
We know breakout age is extremely important for WRs, and Bourne has that covered with a sophomore-year breakout at age 19. While his 40 time looks ugly, he did manage to improve to a more respectable 4.55 at his pro day.1
With an unsettled depth chart after the top three, and Garcon getting older, Bourne could end up being part of the 49ers future plans.
Startup ADP: RB83
Scenario: Wins the RB3 Job
The depth of this sleeper pick probably depends on your league, as in some circles, Joe Williams is still considered a favorite to surpass Matt Breida for the RB2 job. That would be premature though, as Breida was an underrated prospect and performed well in his duties as the backup last year in San Francisco.
Still, as a fourth-round pick on a depth chart without much certainty, Williams has a good chance to be a part of the 49ers running game. And being a part of the 49ers running game is definitely a good thing. There’s a reason Jerick McKinnon has gone from “guy splitting time with Latavius Murray” to being taken in the second round of drafts. Despite a poor overall offense last year, the 49ers still managed to have the fourth most expected points for their running backs.
It’s easy to forget that Williams fared very well in a lot of important RB metrics coming out of college. He had an excellent Workhorse Score and his athleticism was also a point in his favor, running the 40 in 4.41 seconds at 210 pounds. Whether that translates to being an NFL caliber player is still an unknown, but with no established RB3 on the roster, he’ll at least have an opportunity to win the job.
Kyle Shanahan has presided over some high-powered offenses, with the teams he has coached ranking in the top 10 in yards more often than not. The 49ers offense is worth buying into in both redraft and dynasty, and with not a single offensive skill position player having been with the team for more than a year, there should be opportunity to move up the depth chart.2
Bourne is languishing on waivers in most leagues, while Williams may still be hanging around on the back end of rosters or taken in the late rounds of redraft leagues. Rather than paying top dollar to get a piece of the action in San Francisco, try picking up the cheap dart throws and hope one of them can achieve relevance.