By: Ravi Krishnan (Twitter: @masalaESPN)
Time flies, even in a horrid COVID year, and we are already into Week 8 of the national pastime known as the NFL.
More specifically, the fantasy aspect of the NFL is in full swing with draft joy and anguish, an unprecedented spate of injuries, traditional studs regressing towards being washed, and unknown entities attaining fantasy stardom. And that is where we have found more than a few Cinderella stories — James Robinson, Travis Fulgham, Jeff Wilson, Justin Herbert, to name a mere few.
Okay-these are UDFA. Undrafted in all but a few uber-deep leagues with 28-member rosters, these players have come out of nowhere and shaken up the fantasy hegemony. And in the process, they have rendered hitherto fantasy regulars — Leonard Fournette, DeSean Jackson, Tevin Coleman, Phil Rivers, etc — into waiver-wire fodder.
So who are the next set of unseen heroes in the making —- or, super-deep sleepers, to be referential to
fantasy football? This article looks at 3 super-duper-sleeper picks for Week 8 and beyond in 2020.
1) Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Widely regarded as a can’t-miss prospect coming out of TCU, Reagor was drafted in the first round by the Eagles to be their #1 WR. He certainly looked the part early on, catching a deep bomb in his first game, and accounted for 96 yards on 5 catches in his first two games. A thumb
injury derailed his season thereafter, but he is back. And he is back right when the Eagles need him most. No D-Jax, no Ertz, no Alshon, no Sanders, and most-likely no Goedert (at least for the next game or two). In their collective absence, the aforementioned Fulgham has taken over as
the undisputed numero uno on the roster. Reagor will be an immediate upgrade to this unit. He could play as early as Week 8 and projects to be the leading receiver for the somewhat resurgent Eagles pass-offense for the rest of the season.
Current Status: #86 in Half-PPR Points-per-game among WRs
Projected Ranking for ROS: Top 25 among WRs
2) Irv Smith, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Prior to their bye week, the Vikings seem to have made a concerted effort to target Smith, and it showed in his output — eight catches on ten targets in two games, amounting to 119 yards (and a two-point conversion). There has been much hyper surrounding Smith as a testament to the new-age TE — someone who can block, catch short-route/screens, but can also go deep, as is evident in the fact the Smith has caught three passes of over 23 yards in the last two games. He has now firmly supplanted Kyle Rudolph in playing time, and the bye week has hopefully helped the Vikings scheme some more offensive sets for him. In the TE-starved landscape that has been the 2020 fantasy football season, Irv Smith might end up being a league-winner.
Current Status: #45 in Half-PPR Points-per-game among TEs
Projected Ranking: Top 8 among TEs
3) Denzel Mims, WR, NY Jets
Sam Darnold looks to have regressed this season, no thanks to Adam Gase. The Jets are the bottom of the NFL barrel, beset with poor play, horrible coaching, and a rash of injuries. In this seemingly unredeemable sphere of existence, is there a diamond in the rough? Not necessarily a diamond, but Denzel Mims will do. The second-round pick by Jets in 2020, the 6’3’’ Mims had a fabulous senior year and continued to impress in the offseason, drawing a favorable comparison to other heralded rookies Chase Claypool and Justin Jefferson. Out with an injury until Week 7, the rookie debuted this past week against the stodgy Bills Defense and was shadowed for most
of the afternoon by Tre’Davious White. Given that, a return of four catches for 42 yards on a team-high seven targets was more than a positive indicator. On top of that, with Breshad Perriman (concussion) and Jamison Crowder not practicing (as of Tuesday), Mims might find himself as the top pass-catcher for Darnold. Speaking of whom, for much of his poor play this
year, the one thing he possesses is a nice deep ball, so a shot or two to Mims is most definitely in play.
Current Status: #85 in Half-PPR Points-per-game among WRs
Projected Ranking for ROS: Top 30 among WRs