3 Post-Hype Sleeper Picks for Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

by James Vitucci ·

The most under appreciated assets in fantasy football dynasty leagues are players in their early 20’s that are at or entering their athletic prime, have proven to be reliable fantasy producers in previous years and have a fantasy ceiling that has not yet been reached. Recently, players such as Amari Cooper, Brandin Cooks and Tevin Coleman fit the bill for this description. The issue with these players is that their fantasy appeal is completely obvious, even to the most casual fantasy gamers. Consequently, finding value picks in dynasty league drafts is a murky endeavor that requires critical and creative thinking in order to achieve. Extensive offseason player analysis and numerous mock drafts point to the following post-hype sleepers as dynasty league value picks. Conveniently, these players rarely need no more sacrifice than a late round draft pick.

Malcolm Mitchell (Current ADP: WR 73)

In 2016 Malcolm Mitchell was a Week 14 waiver wire darling and a fantasy-relevant producer in the second-half of his rookie season. Injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola opened up an opportunity for Mitchell, as he sported an 80-percent or above snap share in all but one game from Weeks 11 to 16. Mitchell also scored 15 or more PPR points in 4 games in that same span. Mitchell’s play is certainly correlated to the presence of Tom Brady, however Mitchell was very efficient with a +15.9 (No. 20) Production Premium and 66.7-percent Catch Rate (No. 27). Moreover, The Fake Football profiled Mitchell as a sure-handed college receiver, as he had the “the largest combination of arm length and hand size adjusted for height in his (draft) class” and “was credited with just four drops over his last two (college) seasons.” Mitchell reaps the rewards of his athletic gifts. This is especially true in the red zone as he caught 9 of 12 red zone targets in 12 games. Being reliable in the red zone is always a highly sought after feature with receivers, and in an offense spearheaded by Brady, red zone reliability is like gold dust. While Mitchell neither profiles as a slot receiver nor a direct replacement for Julian Edelman, Edelman’s injury opens up 160 targets and will lead to additional snaps for Mitchell in three receiver sets.


A history of knee injuries, the addition of Cooks and the return of Gronkowski and Danny have significantly depressed Mitchell’s dynasty ADP this summer. With that being said, one only has to look as far as last season to see how he excelled with increased opportunity when other receivers on the roster went down. Let’s remember that Gronkowski and Amendola’s injury histories are extensive, so the idea that additional injuries may be on the horizon for the Pats is not far-fetched. In order for Mitchell to remain fantasy relevant a slew of lower-probability events will need to occur including staying healthy himself. However, Mitchell’s potential upside in an explosive offense is more than worth his bargain price.

Tyler Boyd (Current ADP: WR 90)

One year displaced from being the WR50 according to DLF’s ADP data, Cincinnati’s 2016 2nd-round pick Tyler Boyd sits at an ADP of WR90. He sits within the same range as players like Nelson Agholor, Leonte Carroo, Philip Dorsett and Torrey Smith. This significant drop in ADP was predictable considering the addition of John Ross, return of a healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert and a disappointing 2016 season, finishing as the WR66 in PPR leagues. However, there is still hope for Boyd despite what his current ADP would suggest. Boyd was a highly productive collegiate receiver at Pittsburgh, sporting a 42.7-percent (85th-percentile) College Dominator Rating and 18.8 (92nd-percentile) Breakout Age, despite a lacking an athletic profile.

Tyler Boyd Advanced Stats and Metrics Profile

He still maintains a tangible role in the Bengals offense as their slot receiver, with a slot rate of 57-percent in three or four wide receiver sets in 2016. While Boyd’s -5.8 (No. 69) Production Premium and -10.2-percent (No. 79) Target Premium suggests a largely inefficient season, Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards Database, illustrates a much more optimistic picture. Boyd’s Receiver Air Conversion Ratio, which measures a player’s ability to convert air yards into receiving yards, was a solid 0.89 overall. This mark was above average among all depths of targets thrown his way. In addition, his catch rate was also above average among all depths of targets.


Tyler Boyd’s RACR by Target Depth


Tyler Boyd’s Catch Rate by Target Depth

The re-installation of Green and Eifert into the offense will limit the target upside of Boyd. In the same breath, the increased efficiency of the passing offense as a whole will lengthen drives and increase the amount of opportunities for Boyd in the red zone. Additionally, Andy Dalton and the Bengals receivers are among the strongest touchdown regression candidates based on Rich Hribar’s analysis of Passing yards per attempt vs. touchdown rate for QBs in 2016.


Passing Yards per Attempt vs. Touchdown Rate

While A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert are prolific red zone targets, they will be the focal point of opposing defenses. That has the potential to open up space for the sure-handed Boyd inside the 20 (2.5-percent Drop Rate in 2016). Ross is going to miss some of the first half of 2017 due to injury which will inflate Boyd’s target projection and give him an opportunity to establish himself as a factor in the offense early in the season. As is the case for Malcolm Mitchell, lower-probability events will need to occur for Boyd to be fantasy relevant. Considering his current ADP is even lower than Mitchell’s, Boyd is well worth an investment in the late rounds of dynasty drafts.

Tyler Lockett (Current ADP: WR 61)

As of August 2016, Tyler Lockett had an ADP was WR27, ranking him above the likes of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Emmanuel Sanders and Stefon Diggs. Lockett’s currently free falling ADP is a result of the emergence of Baldwin as the undisputed WR1, his hugely disappointing 2016 season finishing as the WR63 in PPR leagues and a broken tibia and fibula he suffered in Week 16. Lockett is expected to be ready for Week 1, but will need time to get into true game shape and re-familiarize himself with the offense. Despite all of this, Lockett remains an intriguing post-hype sleeper especially in dynasty leagues where rosters are deeper and owners can more easily afford stashing players nursing injuries.

It is important to provide context to Lockett’s disappointing 2016 season. Lockett played nearly the entire season with a PCL tear, which he suffered in Week 2. While these metrics will likely fall on the deaf ears of Lockett’s former owners, Lockett was surprisingly efficient in 2016, with a +8.9 (No. 32) Production Premium and 9.0 Yards per Target (No. 14). Furthermore, he was one of the most efficient receivers in 2015, with a +29.6 (No. 6) Production Premium, 9.6 Yards Per Target (No. 12), 73.9-percent Catch Rate (No. 7) and 2.24 Fantasy Points Per Target (No. 3). One of the most appealing aspects of Lockett’s game (not to mention his extremely efficient quarterback) is his Air Yards rate, a metric that has shown to correlate strongly with receiver production. Lockett scored 6.0 Air Yards Per Target in 2015 and 5.7 Air Yards Per Target in 2016. Lockett also displays an ability to convert Air Yards thrown to him to receiving yards as shown below in Josh Hermsmeyer’s Air Yards model.


Tyler Lockett’s RACR by Target Depth (2015-2016)

To play’s devil’s advocate, Lockett’s impressive efficiency came at a lower target volume, averaging only 68 targets over his last two seasons. Seattle’s target leaders Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are expected to remain seeing the lion’s share of the targets for the time being. With that being said, the trade of Jermaine Kearse to the Jets opens up 89 available targets in the Seattle offense, which Lockett will partially inherit. It is noteworthy that emerging Paul Richardson will also be competing with Lockett for these additional snaps and targets. Richardson himself is an enticing dynasty stack with Lockett as the WR75.

Lockett’s long-term dynasty upside is very appealing. He has the potential to earn the WR 1A or WR 1B spot. In a Russell Wilson-led offense, this position warrants a possibility for 100+ target season. The current target leaders of Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin are at or near the dreaded age 30 and the much younger Lockett can gradually siphon their targets in the next 2-3 years if he can stay healthy. Whether or not he can maintain acceptable efficiency with an increasing target share is unknown. However, his impressive athletic-collegiate production profile coming out of Kansas State recording a 44.2-percent (88th-percentile) College Dominator Rating and 113.7 (75th-percentile) SPARQ-x rating is cause for optimism.

Check out Malcolm Mitchell, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Lockett on the Updated PlayerProfiler Weekly, Seasonal & Dynasty Rankings:

Those who draft Lockett in dynasty will need to exercise caution. Due to his current health and target projection, he likely will not realize his true ceiling this season. However, assuming he returns to the field healthy sometime in early 2017, it is very likely that he will be meaningfully productive. Lockett is one dynasty asset that should be viewed with a 2-3 years lens, as opportunity will eventually open up for him to the point where he can be an early-round producer. Considering his clear talent and efficient quarterback, Lockett stands as one of the highest upside wide receiver assets in dynasty, especially given his deflated ADP.