Most fantasy analysis is devoted to sorting the order of players likely to have an immediate impact, but every year there are a handful of overlooked deep sleepers who emerge to fill a starting role in redraft.
Last year, it was guys like Phillip Lindsay and James Conner at running back. Deep sleepers at WR are a little harder to find, but we did tell you to watch out for Curtis Samuel, and he flirted with WR4 numbers.
Most of these guys in this deep sleeper series will be misses, but the goal is to look for the silver lining and find a handful of players that will emerge from their sleeper slumber in 2019.
Here’s a look at the rest of our deep sleeper series so far:
JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR
If you’re a regular RotoViz reader, you may not consider the Eagles second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft a deep sleeper, but with an ADP that is basically free in Fanball leagues, Arcega-Whiteside mostly an afterthought to the drafting public.
And fair enough. Dave Caban recently reinforced why you should avoid drafting rookie WRs in redraft and best ball, and I wholeheartedly agree. But even Dave had to concede that if there’s one WR you could make an exception for this year, it’s Arcega-Whiteside.
For starters, he’s playing behind an ancient (33 years-old) DeSean Jackson, and an injury-prone Alshon Jeffrey (14 missed games over the past four seasons).
The hope here is that, even if Jackson and Jeffrey are healthy and effective, the 6-foot-2, 223-pounder can be a legitimate red-zone threat in Year 1. That was the case over his three years in college when he accounted for nearly half of Standford’s receiving TDs.
But his 16.4 YPR average and 40% market share of team yards as a sophomore suggest something more than just a red-zone specialist.
As Jordan Hoover points out, prospects who have that kind of dominant market share go on to crack 200 fantasy points within their first three seasons 33% of the time.
Tape grinders agree with our analytics.
#FilmStudy -> JJ Arcega-Whiteside👇— FF_Kyle (@DynastyFF_KyleM) July 15, 2019
When I’m watching film on college WRs, the top three traits I’m looking for are:
– Ability to gain separation off the line
– Sharp, precise cuts when running routes
– Contested catch ability
JJAW flashes all three traits here ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/8sUEAVNhwK
During the pre-draft process, analysts expressed concern that his lack of top-end speed and ability to separate may scare off NFL teams, but now we know that not to be the case. He was selected in the second round by one of the NFL’s most analytic-savvy teams, leading to some spectacular comparisons in the Box Score Scout.
What to Watch for in Camp
The big question is whether the rookie can beat out Nelson Agholor and be the first to get on the field in three-WR formations.
I’ll be keeping an eye on camp reports to see whether Arcega-Whiteside is running ahead of the veteran and if so, look for his value to climb as we get deeper into August.
Darren Sproles, RB
I originally had the man who was set to replace Sproles, Boston Scott, pegged for this spot. But since the Eagles re-signed Sproles last week, let’s go ahead and pivot to the man himself.
Sproles still has it. Sure, he’s struggled with injuries over the last few years, his per-game numbers haven’t fallen off at all. He was still averaging double-digit fantasy points per game at 35-years old last year.
Last year’s pace extrapolates to 153 points, two fewer than what RB28, Nyheim Hines, scored in 2018.
With Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard now in the fold, we shouldn’t expect 7.8 expected points in the receiving game again, but as long as Sproles has been on the Eagles’ roster, he’s been worth a draft pick.
Image Credit: Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Carson Wentz.
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