By Alexander C. Lawrence
August is a beautiful month for football fans because football is finally back in our lives! Even if it is only preseason football we still get to watch our teams and see how they project for the regular season. Some people, such as myself, use it to scout potential fantasy football players that are strong sleeper candidates. Here’s my list for some of the best sleepers for the 2017 Fantasy Football season!
Green Bay Packers: RB, Jamaal Williams
Ty Montgomery has moved full time to running back but that doesn’t mean he’ll start. I’m not sold that Montgomery can handle a full work-load. Jamaal Williams, the eager fourth-round pick, will step in and make an immediate impact on that high powered offense. We’re not talking Zeke Elliott, but he could wind up being a very productive RB2. Taking a chance on him isn’t even costly- in most drafts he’ll be a late round pick.
Philadelphia Eagles: TE, Zach Ertz
I know most people may think Ertz isn’t an ideal late round sleeper given the fact that he simply hasn’t lived up to his real life expectations let alone fantasy owner’s, but that may not be as true as you think. Since 2013 Ertz has improved each fantasy season from a positional standpoint. 2013: TE-26, 2014: TE-13, 2015: TE-9 and 2016: TE-6. Have faith in Ertz this year!
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR, Marquise Lee
Lee showed off his WR2 type ability last season and you better believe that if Allen Hurns doesn’t produce early on, Lee can take his #2 WR spot and run with it. Bortles or Henne should get the ball to Lee, who will see a healthy chunk of targets. Lee, drafted as a late round pick, could be a fantasy breakout star in 2017.
New York Jets: TE, Jordan Leggett
The Jets don’t have a clear cut QB just yet, but one thing is clear. Whether it’s Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, or Bryce Petty under center, Jordan Leggett will see a lot of targets just because he is talented and healthy. He can stretch the field for a Jets’ team that is lacking many offensive weapons. Five of the eight first teams the Jets face gave up the most fantasy points to TEs in 2016. Don’t get me wrong the Jets will be bad, but Leggett will be one of the few bright spots so, for owners who want to take a late-round chance on him, go for it.
Houston Texans: WR, DeAndre Hopkins
He had a down season last year and left fantasy owners with a lot more to be desired, thanks in large part to the Texan’s horrible QB play. Hopkins believes in Tom Savage and I think with Savage, or even Watson, he can get back to his dominant self. He’ll cost a bit, but he’ll be a top 10 Wide Receiver this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB, Doug Martin
It’s no secret Doug Martin wasn’t the same guy last fantasy season, so I very much expect a bounce-back season for him once he serves his 3-game suspension for substance abuse. The team has praised him this offseason and competition with Charles Sims and Jeremy McNichols will bring out the best in him. The potential to be an RB1 again is too great to pass up.
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR, Martavis Bryant
There’s no secret that Bryant’s return should get him on most fantasy owner’s radars because his upside potential is so great. He should get back to being the no. 2 WR for the Steelers and help both himself and Antonio Brown. You can’t double everyone there. He’s a steal and I think a strong candidate for double-digit touchdowns in that Pittsburgh offense.
Detroit Lions: QB, Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford had what most would say was a normal season for the eighth-year QB out of Georgia. At least until you see his low number of TDs in 2016 (24). With the weapons at his arsenal this season that number should surely increase and I highly expect Stafford to be a QB1 this season. Detroit has a proven leader who can help that offense be elite this season.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR, Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery, just like Hopkins, is due for a bounce-back after injuries and a suspension derailed last season. He should thrive under young gun Carson Wentz throwing the ball his way as the clear no. 1 target with Jordan Mathews gone. The change of scenery will not only help him get a big pay day soon, but should improve his fantasy stock as well.
Los Angeles Rams: WR, Sammy Watkins
A lot of experts say Sammy Watkins is on their “Do not draft list” for 2017. I like to think otherwise since he was on IR last year and seems fully healthy this year and primed to live up to the second-round hype to be a WR1. I believe this is the year we see Watkins haul in 80+ receptions and produce a 1,200+ yard season. It’s a contract year for him so, he has every reason to make sure his body is in the best condition and perform his best. Don’t be shocked if Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans who is currently being drafted 3-4 rounds ahead Watkins is ranked below him at season’s end.
Indianapolis Colts: RB, Marlon Mack
I know a lot of Frank Gore owners will probably hate me for this, but the way I see it is Frank Gore can’t continue to perform this well forever. At age 34, father-time figures to catch-up to him and I think this may be the year it finally happens. Mack excites me and I can’t wait to see how he is used in the Colts offense that will hopefully feature Andrew Luck earlier rather then later in the season. His speed and agility gives them a valuable asset they haven’t had since Joseph Addai.
Good luck, grab your sleepers, avoid the busts, and happy drafting!