Conlin Postma @ConlinFF
It’s finally here! The long-awaited return of regular season football happens Thursday. That also means the Fantasy Football season begins on Thursday. One of the key parts of Fantasy Football is finding the weekly sleepers. A sleeper has the potential to be a breakout candidate that is being undervalued or isn’t necessarily a “star” player.
Week-to-week I’ll be writing a sleeper article breaking down one QB, one TE, two RB’s and two WR’s that are sleepers. A sleeper could be named because of a new opportunity, phenomenal matchup, or recent success. Finding that one sleeper could single-handedly win your matchup for the week. That is the point of this article and hopefully anyone that reads this can utilize it to their advantage.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
A tremendous matchup for the former Louisville Cardinal makes him an underrated sleeper for Week One. Playing against the Miami Dolphins gives Lamar a shot to be the top-ranked player at his position. As a dual-threat QB, Lamar has a higher floor than most other QBs due to his rushing abilities. With new weapons at his disposal such as Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown, Justice Hill, and Miles Boykin, Jackson will be even more lethal.
In 2018, dual-threat QB Josh Allen ripped apart the Dolphins. He totaled 455 passing yards, five passing TD’s, 230 rushing yards, and two rushing TD’s in two games. This is good news for the Baltimore Ravens QB who could have similar or greater success.
There is a real chance that Lamar Jackson throws for over 200 yards, rushes for close to or over 100 yards, and scores three or more TDs.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
This week Westbrook is a WR2 sleeper option. It was evident in the third preseason game that new QB, Nick Foles, has a connection with Westbrook. The former Oklahoma Sooner went for 29 receiving yards on four catches and reached the endzone just once.
It also goes without saying, Nick Foles is an upgrade from Blake Bortles, too. This as well is beneficial for Dede and we’ll see that on Sunday. If the third week of the preseason was a prelude to Week One, we could see an explosive game.
Going against the Kansas City Chiefs, who were a bottom-three defense in 2018, will make Westbrook a sneaky play. Other than bringing in Tyrann Mathieu, the Kansas City secondary is basically the same as it was last season.
In a possible shootout, Westbrook could be on the receiving end of double-digit targets, surpassing 80 receiving yards, and scoring a TD.
Marvin Jones Jr., Detroit Lions
Here is a man who was a top-eight receiver just two seasons ago. Now people are hesitant to play him due to his persistent knee problems last season. Marvin has been recovering from his offseason knee surgery and is ready to go for Week One. As of right now, he has a solid floor, but his ceiling is WR2 due to his matchup. Playing against the Arizona Cardinals, who are without CB, Patrick Peterson will pay dividends.
If you look back to last season, Jones’s game-to-game stats were underrated. In seven of his nine games, he surpassed 54 receiving yards. Marvin’s production was undeniable and he’s a sneaky WR3 sleeper this week against a questionable Arizona defense.
The Detroit receiver has a shot to finish the game with five receptions, over 60 yards, and reaching the endzone once or twice.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Capitalizing on a golden opportunity is what makes Pollard a sleeper for the first week. Ezekiel Elliot is in the middle of a contract dispute and will most likely miss Week One. Due to that, preseason rookie standout, Tony Pollard, will get the call to be the starter. The fourth-round draft selection will be facing off against divisional rival, New York Giants.
At the end of the 2018 season, the Giants allowed an average of 118.6 rushing yards per game. Another important point that makes Pollard a sleeper this week is how the Dallas Cowboys are a run-first offense. Ezekiel Elliot had 304 carries last season and that averages out to 19 per game. If the former Memphis Tiger is able to see 19 carries and not to mention the few receptions he’ll get, too it will be a successful regular-season debut.
Given how Dallas operates, Pollard could get 25 touches, over 130 total yards, and a couple of TD’s against a suspect Giants defense.
Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints
It’s strange to see how some people are forgetting about the impact Latavius Murray will have with the Saints. He’ll have the same role as Mark Ingram did when he was in New Orleans. Ingram’s role was to be the thunder to Kamara’s lightning and you can expect the same from Murray.
Last season, Murray played well in place of the injured Dalvin Cook. From Weeks Five to Eight, Murray rushed for 322 yards on 63 carries and four TDs. Not to mention he had another four games with double-digit carries.
One of the key takeaways from his career in the NFL has been his durability. Since entering the league in 2014, Murray has played in 77 out of 80 possible games.
Not only is he a sleeper for Week One, but the whole season. Just two seasons ago, Ingram surpassed 1,500 total yards and scored 12 TD’s. Murray has a chance to have similar production in 2019.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Another forgotten player who is a strong sleeper candidate and will make an immediate Week One impact is Delanie Walker. Since Marcus Mariota entered the league back in 2015 and up until last season, Walker has led the Titans in receptions. Another side not, there has been only one year that Walker didn’t lead the team in targets before his injury in 2018.
It’s clear that Mariota and Walker have a strong connection. In his lone appearance last year, Delanie saw seven targets, catching four passes, and finishing with 52 yards. Last season, was the first time he failed to play in double-digit games or have more than 60 catches for the first time since 2013.
This 14-year-old vet is a stable of this offense. As he makes his return, spectators will once again see why he is one of the most undervalued and underrated TEs in the NFL.