Get In While Everyone is Still Sleeping
By Jesse Moeller (Twitter: @JMoeller05)
What is a sleeper? (No, not the phenomenal fantasy football app.) We hear the term tossed around by various writers and podcast hosts. It has become the go-to word to describe a player or players we perceive as having more value than the market. It does not matter to me what term you use to describe these players. I want you to stop sleeping on the players below, as the value they have to your team is worth far more than the cost of acquisition.
Now all these players have a risk to them. If they did not, the price on them would be considerably higher than it currently is. It is the trade-off when trying to find the next “Sleeper.” What I enjoy about these players is the current ADP/price. Having risk already built-in makes them tremendous value because you are not spending premium draft capital to acquire them.
Without further ado, let us take the plunge on these sleepers.
Jalen Hurts – (QB14 ADP – 1QB: 97 SF: 29)
If anyone will finish the season as a top-five quarterback currently going outside of the top twelve, it is Jalen Hurts. Hurts is the definition of a Konami Quarterback, as he possesses that elite trait for fantasy football dominance at the position. If you want to read up on how vital the Konami Code is for quarterbacks, there is a fantastic thread from @MiKeMeUpP that breaks it down in detail. (P.S. it’s everything in quarterback scoring)
Run Forest, Run!
To break it down to simple arithmetic, rushing yards for quarterbacks are worth 2.5x more fantasy points. That’s right! They are gold for fantasy production from quarterbacks. I’ll list an example of two separate quarterback performances from week 14 to highlight the discrepancy. We will also use traditional four points per passing touchdown scoring.
Phillip Rivers was 19 for 28, had 244 yards and two passing touchdowns. Rivers totaled 17.8 fantasy points.
Jalen Hurts was 17 for 30, had 167 yards and one passing touchdown. Hurts totaled 19.3 fantasy points.
The difference was Hurts rushed 18 times for 106 yards! It saved the day for Hurts when his passing did little in terms of fantasy points.
Not only does rushing boosts a quarterbacks ceiling, but it also raises the floor for a quarterback. Know how many times Hurts rushed in his four starts in week 14-17 last year? 46 times, meaning he averaged over 11 attempts per game in his starts. He totaled 272 rushing yards in those four games for an average of 68 rushing yards per game. That is a boost of 6.8 points that the statuesque quarterbacks do not provide. We in the fantasy community love Konami Quarterbacks for this reason. They raise both the floor and ceiling with the rushing ability.
Carson Wentz The Broken QB
The Eagles this year are not projected to be a great team. Las Vegas has the W/L odds set at 6.5 wins for them. Vegas is telling us that they do not currently believe in the talent on the roster. One of those concerns is the offensive line, who was killed by injury as they led the league in different starting lineups with 14 last year. I’m afraid I have to disagree with Vegas because Wentz was the issue, not the line. He held onto the ball for 2.97 seconds per attempt. 6th worst in the NFL. Wentz and is also not the elusive quarterback he was earlier in his career. It led to a disaster for the entire offense in 2020 as Wentz ended leading the league with 50 sacks in just 12 games! It was an odd sight to watch games with Wentz seeing ghosts on the field copious times. If his first read did not develop, Wentz would develop “happy feet” and frantically try to leave the pocket that the majority of the time led to a sack.
The Eagles line was not the problem that many thought it was. Wentz was the biggest issue in Philadelphia for the offensive problems last season. It will be difficult for Jalen Hurts to be as bad as Wentz was last year. Don’t just take my word for it, the statistics paint a picture of how truly awful Wentz was in 2020.
Mr. Splash Play
Jalen Hurts put up unbelievable statistics during his college career.
That seems to be the forgotten part about Hurts because he was a second-round pick that almost everyone in the NFL routinely scrutinized the moment the selection happened. Hurts put up one of the greatest seasons we have seen from a college Q.B. during his one season at Oklahoma in 2019. He joined Lamar Jackson and Johnny Manziel as the only quarterbacks in college football history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
I thought Hurts posted a 52% completion percentage during his rookie season? He did that while posting an absurd 13.8 yards per completion, which was number one in the league, besting DeShaun Watson by over one yard. At the same time, throwing to the likes of Alshon Jeffrey, Quez Watkins, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, and the rookie Jalen Reagor. Not necessarily a whose who of top-level wide receiver talent. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hurts lead the league in time to throw at 3.11 seconds. It makes sense with that receiving core Hurts would continue to wait and see the play develop, as the group does not give you much hope outside of Reagor if you are an Eagles or Jalen Hurts fan.
The Bright Side
In the offseason, the Eagles jettisoned the past his prime Alshon Jeffrey in favor of Heisman-winning rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith who landed in the perfect situation to step in and be the day one alpha. This move also allows Reagor to play the slot, which he is much more suited to play. With Sanders, Smith, Reagor, and Goddert as his playmakers and a fully healthy offensive line, the team will not look the same as the one that ended 2020.
Hurts will never be a hyper-accurate quarterback in the NFL, though he is more than capable of being a plus passer. Starting his rookie season as a backup, he was ill-prepared, treated as the backup, and not expected to compete for the starting job in the same way all other top rookie quarterbacks are during a pandemic. Hurts was then thrown into the fire with very little preparation and proved to the NFL that he is a capable starter. This year it will be up to Hurts and Nick Sirianni to continue his progression to take the next step forward and become a franchise quarterback the Eagles hope he can be.
I am planting my flag on Jalen Hurts, becoming the next fantasy stud quarterback. Get him while his price is still attainable in redraft and dynasty leagues. Here are a few DLF trades that articulate that point below.
(1QB) Hurts for Mecole Hardman & 2021 3.05
(SF) Hurts & 1.08 for 1.04 & 1.13
(1QB) Hurts, 3.03 & 4.10 for Wentz & Hilton
(SF) Hurts for 2022 1st
(SF) Hurts & Mike Davis for Cousins & 2022 3rd
Ryan Tannehill – (QB13 ADP 1QB: 150 SF: 27)
It has been quite the offseason for Ryan Tannehill, Go back two weeks, and the fantasy football community was wondering who Tannehill would pass to besides A.J. Brown (Myself included). Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis departed in free agency, and there was brief talk of Anthony Firkser as a top twelve tight end this year. Don’t worry if you do not know who Firkser is, as he is a player who has spent a higher percentage of snaps on special teams than on the offense in his three-year career. There was also late-round hype for Josh Reynolds, as the assumption was one or both of them would get some of those vacated targets. (Peter Howard is shaking his head in disgust.)
The Super Group
If you have not seen the recruitment video Brown made for Julio, it’s a thing of beauty. Everything officially changed on June 4th, with the Titans sending a second and fourth-round pick for Julio Jones and a sixth-round pick. One scary group of skill players as Henry, Julio, and AJB are the best trio since the Rush, aka the Holy Trinity. Defenses are going to have an exceptionally troublesome time trying to figure out who to defend. Move up to stop Henry with eight in the box, and Julio or A.J. Brown will torch the single coverage. Worry about the pass catchers outside with six in the box, and Henry will have space for another 100+ yard day. Sure seems like a damned if you, damned if you don’t scenario for defenses this season.
Tannehill has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league during his tenure with Tennessee.
There are numerous statistics to show how good Tannehill was in 2020. He was Top 10 or better in the following:
Yards Per Attempt – 6th
Adjusted Air Yards/Attempt – 4th
Air Yards – 9th
Catchable Pass Rate – 5th
EPA – 3rd
Total QBR – 4th
True Passer Rating – 2nd
Fantasy Points/Dropback – 2nd
Given that Julio Jones is now on the team, what do you think will happen to Tannehill’s overall statistics? His presence on the team will make the job easier for everyone, particularly Tannehill, as Julio was 3rd in the league in Yards/Route and Yards/Target. Julio managed to put those stats up while dealing with injuries the majority of the year. Presenting a healthy Julio with a more accurate passer will both reward him and Tannehill in 2021. The phrase wheels up seem entirely appropriate for both the rushing and passing attack.
The often forgot part of Tannehill’s game is his rushing ability. He is a former wide receiver who put up over 800 yards as a freshman at Texas A&M. He used that athleticism to his advantage this past season as 20% of his fantasy points came from rushing. He ran it 43 times for 266 yards and seven touchdowns. That is a whopping 68.6 points that if you remove those points drop him from QB7 down to QB13 on the season. That is the equivalent of falling from the elite tier to a run-of-a-mill quarterback in fantasy. The difference cannot be undersold, even with a quarterback such a Tannehill, who does not run at the same level as Lamar, Kyler, and Hurts. Those rushing totals can put you over the edge in a close weekly matchup. As mentioned with Hurts earlier, it boosts the floor of every performance, keeping your quarterback usable every week, even if they put up a bad passing performance.
Let us Look at some of the deals that Tannehill went for the last week on DLF.
(1QB) Tannehill & 2023 5th for Ronald Jones & 2023 3rd
(SF) Tannehill, Najee Harris, Irv Smith for Theilen, 1.09 & 22 1st
(SF) Tannehill, Amari Rodgers, Schwartz for Jalen Hurts
(1QB) Tannehill & 2022 3rd for Brandin Cooks & 2022 4th
What these deals show me is that Tannehill is easily attainable and currently undervalued by the community. He is only 32 years old and still has many years of high-level production ahead of him. Please go out and acquire him. You can thank me when he guides your team to the playoffs in 2021.
Kirk Cousins – ( QB22 ADP 1QB:199 SF: 61 )
I am once again making a case for Kirk Cousins to be the quarterback you are targeting late in drafts. I made my first ever fantasy thread on Kirk Cousins back in January, and everything I said then still holds up. His value was QB22 in startups at the time, and it’s nice to see his value still low on the spectrum. He is a quarterback that will continue to outproduce his acquisition cost, which is how you accumulate value.
The Future is Now
The Vikings did spend a 3rd round pick on Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M this year. Before the panic sets in, Spielman was quoted saying with a chuckle, “Kirk’s our starting quarterback. There’s no competition there.” The Vikings drafted Mond as a potentially high upside backup, who only completed 59% of his career college passes. He possesses the athletic upside of a Konami quarterback, but there are questions on if he has the accuracy to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Kirk Cousins will be the starting quarterback of the Vikings as long as he is under contract. A much more likely scenario is that the Vikings let Cousins go in free agency after the 2022 season. Captain Kirk is giving a minimum of two seasons of backend QB1 or high-end QB2 production in fantasy.
Cousins has been one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the league during his tenure with the Vikings. His numbers are off the charts, and it shows up on his end-of-season stat lines. Cousins has used play action to his advantage better than almost anyone in the NFL during the last three seasons. It sets up Cousins in a position to win. When given a clean pocket, he destroyed defenses and was ranked 2nd in the NFL last season at 81.7%. Cousins managed to finish top 10 in the following categories as well:
Passing Yards – 8th
Air Yards – 7th
Passing Touchdowns – 6th
Air Yards/Attempt – 3rd
Accuracy Rating – 10th
True Completion % – 9th
EPA – 8th
True Passer Rating – 6th
Hurts and Tannehill both provide the rushing upside that Captain Kirk does not. He has never run for more than 179 yards in a season, and no one will confuse him with the Trey Lance’s of the world on a football field. What Cousins does is give you a delightful floor play week in and week out, and when given the proper game script, will have massive peaks. Cousins scored over 20 points in ten games last year, meaning 62.5% of the time, you have an excellent chance to win your weekly matchups. The defense expects to have another down year in Minnesota, so the passing game should be cooking like a Tater Tot Hotdish on an October Sunday. (Look this dish up, it looks incredible.) Cousins’ efficiency allows him to succeed on less than 550 passing attempts, even with lower passing attempts. Something said mainly about Konami quarterbacks. You either need to have the rushing ability or efficiency to make up for the passing volume. Cousins has the efficiency year in and year out.
Here are some of the latest DLF trades involving Cousins. What a doozy the first trade is. That is selling extremely low on him or practically any other starting quarterback in the league. If I could make that deal, I would make it ten out of ten times.
(S.F.) Cousins & 2022 2nd for 1.13
(2QB) Cousins for Wentz & 2022 2nd
(1QB) Cousins for Curtis Samuel
(1QB) Cousins for Zach Wilson
(1QB) Cousins for 2022 3rd
Thank you for taking this journey with me. Ideally, I persuaded you of at least one of these quarterbacks to acquire this offseason.