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 New York Jets.
STARTUP ADP: UNDRAFTED
SCENARIO: BILAL POWELL OR ELIJAH MCGUIRE INJURY/IMPACT ON SPECIAL TEAMS
The New York Jets selected the Virginia State product with the 204th pick overall in the 2018 draft. The current RB group is crowded with presumed starter Isaiah Crowell, whom the Jets signed in free agency, veteran Bilal Powell, and second-year back Elijah McGuire. Former Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls was also brought in as a free agent to compete, though early reports indicate he is a long shot to make the final roster. At best, that leaves Cannon fourth in the initial pecking order, but let’s see what his athletic and production profiles look like before dismissing him completely.
As a Division II player, it’s no surprise Cannon was not invited to the NFL Combine. He instead participated in Richmond’s pro day event for scouts and NFL personnel. He measured 5 feet 10 inches tall and 185 pounds. For a sub-200 pound back, speed is paramount and Cannon did not disappoint, clocking a 4.40 second hand-timed forty yard dash. A speed score of 94 places him between Chase Edmonds and Justin Jackson in the 2018 RB class. Cannon also showed explosiveness at his pro day, jumping 38 1/2″ inches on his vertical and posting a broad jump of 10 feet 9 inches.
Cannon started his career at Shepherd University before transferring to Virginia State and made an immediate impact. He led the Trojans in rushing each season and exploded for over 1,600 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2017. Cannon also improved in the receiving game each year. While 48 receptions isn’t a staggering amount for his career, context is important. The Trojans attempted fewer than 300 passes in each season and Cannon was the focal point of the offense.
Under the tutelage of former NFL RB and returner, Virginia State head coach Reggie Barlow, Cannon was also a standout kick returner. He averaging over 30 yards per return in 2016 and 2017 and found the end zone three times. The Jets cycled through four kick returners and three punt returners last season and Cannon was likely drafted with that role in mind. It’s also easy to connect the dots as Barlow was teammates with current Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, who put Cannon through a workout ahead of the draft.
|YEAR||G||KO RET||RET YDS||RET AVG||TDs|
Cannon’s outlook has changed significantly in the last few days. On Saturday, McGuire broke his foot during training camp and will miss six weeks. It’s possible the Jets place him on injured reserve for the first eight games. George Atkinson, who spent last season on the Chiefs practice squad, was signed on Sunday to add depth but likely won’t make the roster.
Jets RB Eli McGuire (broken foot) is having surgery today. Expect him to be sidelined about six weeks. #Jets— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) July 30, 2018
STARTUP ADP: UNDRAFTED
SCENARIO: CLIVE WALFORD IS BAD/CHRIS HERNDON SUSPENSION
To say the Jets have struggled to field a fantasy-viable tight end of late is an understatement. Using the RotoViz Screener, we have combined data for the Jets TEs for the last five seasons. After struggling mightily to produce only 26 combined receptions in 2015 and 2016, the Jets took a flier and signed Austin Sefarian-Jenkins after he was released by the Buccaneers. ASJ finished as the overall PPR TE20 in 2017, scoring 103.7 of the Jets 151.8 total TE points. Admittedly, a TE2 does not a league winner make, but there could still be value in the position with a new quarterback in Sam Darnold and new offensive coordinator.
Sefarian-Jenkins used his comeback season to sign a new deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, leaving the Jets on the hunt once again to fill the position. Former third-round pick Clive Walford, whom the Raiders cut after three ineffective seasons, was signed in April. The Jets used a fourth-round pick in this year’s draft on Chris Herndon. Herndon scores well in 2018 version of the TE model, but he could be facing a suspension from a DUI arrest in June. That leaves Jordan Leggett as your TE free-square for 2018.
At Clemson, Leggett played alongside Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant, and Mike Williams. He didn’t make an impact until his Junior year, using his 6-foot-5-inch frame to grab 23 percent of the passing touchdowns and boost his dominator rating to 18 percent. It dipped to 16 percent as a Senior, though, with such a strong supporting cast, it’s easy to why Leggett’s production doesn’t immediately stand out.
|Year||Class||G||Rec||Rec Yds||Rec TD||Team Passing||Team TDs||MS Yards||MS TD||Dom|
Leggett was part of the standout 2017 TE class that Phil Watkins analyzed with his TE model. It’s best used to identify busts from the position. While Leggett’s probability stands at 23 percent of being a long-term NFL starter, we’re chasing the short-term opportunity on a wide open depth chart. Interestingly, the Jets cut Bucky Hodges, who had the second highest score on the list, to make room for Atkinson.
Cannon just turned 24 and is facing quite a jump in competition. However, he could find himself as the No. 3 back after camp if Rawls is cut and he stays healthy. He’s going to remain off the radar in normal redraft leagues barring another injury ahead of him, but in dynasty, he makes a nice speculative add should he earn some offensive touches. McGuire’s injury certainly makes Cannon a player to keep tabs on in the pre-season should he flash.
For more background on Leggett, Neil Dutton has you covered with an excellent draft reaction article. He’s not a great prospect, but he does fare well in the TE model and meets important benchmarks for staying in the league. The depth chart ahead of him isn’t daunting and the Jets could certainly use another athletic pass catcher.