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Dalvin Cook’s Physical Clone Resides in Carolina’s Backfield: 2 Panthers Deep Sleepers

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:


New England Patriots | New York Jets | Miami Dolphins


Houston Texans | Indianapolis Colts | Jacksonville Jaguars | Tennessee Titans


Cincinnati Bengals | Pittsburgh Steelers | Baltimore Ravens | Cleveland Browns


Los Angeles Chargers | Denver Broncos | Kansas City Chiefs


Dallas Cowboys | Philadelphia Eagles | Washington | New York Giants


Detroit Lions | Minnesota Vikings


New Orleans Saints | Atlanta Falcons | Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jordan Scarlett, RB

Tha Panthers are living on the edge at running back behind Christian McCaffrey, making just two additions of note at the position in the offseason — Florida’s Jordan Scarlett in the fifth round, and Georgia’s Elijah Holyfield as a UDFA.

Scarlett is a physical RB with world-class wheels — at 5 feet 11 inches and 208 pounds, his 4.47 40-yard dash time at the Combine scored in the 82nd percentile.

Physically, his closest comp is Dalvin Cook.

Unfortunately, Scarlett was nowhere near as productive as Cook in college. After being suspended for his 2017 junior season for a credit card fraud scandal, he failed to separate from Lamical Perine in his final year while tallying just 15 catches in his career.

Year Class G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2015 FR 9 34 181 5.3 1 1 1 1 0
2016 SO 13 179 889 5 6 4 23 5.8 0
2017 JR
2018 JR 13 131 776 5.9 5 10 84 8.4 0
344 1846 5.4 12 15 108 7.2 0

But head coach Ron Rivera apparently likes to look on the bright side. He sees that 7.2 yards per reception average and suddenly starts using Scarlett like McCaffrey in the opening days of camp.

Last year, the Panthers told us they wanted to use McCaffrey more, and they did. This year, they’re saying the opposite, and it’s the rookie back who stands to benefit.

On Thursday morning, with the veterans taking the day off, it was Scarlett lining up with the first-team offense.

While his talent may be in question, if this trajectory continues, Scarlett could ultimately wind up on Shawn Siegele’s Zero RB master list as a guy who can have standalone value coupled with the potential to explode if something happens to McCaffrey.

Ian Thomas, TE

Thomas wasn’t so much of a deep sleeper through most of this offseason, the label certainly applies once again now that Greg Olsen is said to be back at full health and Thomas’ ADP is at sub-200 levels.


As recently as a few weeks ago, Neil Dutton called Thomas a must-buy in dynasty. Despite an incomplete production profile, his impressive physical measurables made for some impressive comps even before playing an NFL snap.

After 10 games of work in the NFL, the picture is crystallizing a little on Thomas. He’s not the next Travis Kelce, but according to the RotoViz Screener, his range of outcomes is still has plenty of upside.

Those averages came in three games with an active Greg Olsen. In seven games without Olsen, Thomas played at a 153-point pace, which would have been good for TE5 last year, just ahead of Austin Hooper. Not bad for a rookie TE.

The only ingredient that might be missing in a potential Year 2 blowup is opportunity.

In the early days of Panthers camp, Olsen appears to be fully recovered from the foot issues that have plagued him over the past two years.

Still, the 34-year old has missed 16 games in the past two years and has a 49.5% chance of being injured this year according to Sports Injury Predictors.

Olsen missing a chunk of action for a third-straight season should surprise no one, and at this point, neither should a useful fantasy season from Thomas.

Image Credit: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Dalvin Cook.

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