Finding room on your dynasty league roster for sleepers can be tricky. Better value proposition: drop or trade a failed first rounder or stash a new sleeper off the fantasy football assembly line? In every dynasty league, a team owner will hold out hope for the failed first round prospect, because first rounders generally score more points than those drafted between rounds 2-7. That is a mistake.
Best Sleeper Profiles
First round receivers are often guaranteed year-one opportunity. If they don’t’ do anything it’s a sign they can’t for one reason or another. Later round players have to wait, hope, and earn any chance they get.
Adam Thielen broke out in 2016 but languished for 3 years on the depth chart. Willie Snead signed in 2014 and didn’t get an opportunity until 2015. Tyrell Williams and Cameron Meredith, both undrafted in 2015, did little until last year. The list goes on. The appropriate evaluation time for NFL players is 3 years but the hibernation period for later round players is longer.
The prospect pool is larger and we have to be more selective. But the good news is we have more information than we did a year ago. This helps us to cut our rosters down the right way. Here is a list of guidelines I’ve used to find later round players you should keep; based on the ones that have broken out since 2013.
1) Players that stuck to the same roster
2) Underperformed roles or ones filled by less athletic- perhaps unproven – players
3) The Willie Snead rule: a great athletic profile isn’t essential
4) Good Breakout age and College Dominator are still clear indicators
While it might not seem intuitive, it’s logical to hold onto your sleepers longer than your studs.
First Rounders to Cut
We can make excuses if you want? It makes me feel better, anyway. Maybe being a first round pick is too much pressure. Or it could be that after two seasons of poor production, the psychology of coaches simply turns against highly drafted players who don’t show any production. Maybe they were just over drafted. Whatever the reason, you should sell or cut these players based on draft capital weighing them down.
Nelson Agholor, Wide Receiver (2015)
With an above average college Dominator and a Best Comparable player of Jeremy Maclin, it’s not like there wasn’t anything to like about Nelson Agholor. But without so much as a wide receiver 3 performance on his resume through the first two seasons it’s unlikely he will ever pay off. A new coaching staff and a change in philosophy see Agholor on a team with no ties to him and his inflated NFL draft capital. With a sophomore quarterback, the team is looking for skill players they can rely on.
While they didn’t do much to the depth chart in the draft; they did add a wide receiver in the 4th, Mack Hollins, and a 5th round Shelton Gibson. They have also out effort into acquiring other wide receivers; Dorial Green-Beckham and Torrey Smith.
Phillip Dorsett, Wide Receiver (2015)
Someone owes Phillip Dorsett a new career or at least a draft do-over. Imagine for a moment; Philip Dorsett, a smaller conference player drafted in the 3rd round. His Best Comparable Player is Brandin Cooks. A 19.7 (72nd percentile) Breakout Age and 32.6-percent (58th percentile) College Dominator Rating make him more interesting then Chester Rodgers. He is behind only Donte Moncrief, an impressive prospect but one that has had trouble putting together a complete season. Who wouldn’t buy that guy?
But that’s not the situation. Phillip Dorsett has had opportunity handed to him and failed to take advantage. The Colts didn’t draft any competition, with greater needs on defense to think about, but they have signed athletic phenom Jerome Lane, an interesting prospect who posted a 33.2-percent (60th percentile) College Dominator Rating at Akron last season. Not all UDFA’s make the roster, but if Lane makes the roster, he instantly becomes a more interesting hold while he waits for an opportunity.
Kevin White, Wide Receiver (2015)
In a similar situation, I don’t think we have seen enough to Kevin White, but the Bears may have. I don’t think it’s overly reassuring that they traded up for a raw new quarterback if only because of the emergence of Cameron Meredith. He fits our mold of a first rounder we should try to move one way or another.
If someone in your league is heartened by the fact they didn’t draft any receivers, use it to trim your roster. Roster space is valuable after all.
Sorting by the minimum and maximum metrics of the latest, later-round breakouts stars creates a list of some 150 to 200 receivers in the last 4 years. So using our guidelines here is a more selective list of players we should still hold onto.
Breshad Perriman, Wide Receiver (2015)
We haven’t seen enough of Breshad Perriman to really know if he can make the leap to the NFL. Regardless, many fantasy gamers are still buying his dynasty stock, so he is easier to trade. Knowing Baltimore did very little to enhance their wide receiver depth chart in the NFL Draft, Perriman should continue to be stashed in dynasty leagues.
Michael Campanaro, Wide Receiver (2014) and Chris Moore, Wide Receiver (2016)
There are a lot of people claiming victory in the NFL Draft for Breshad Perriman, because Baltimore didn’t add any competition. But there are other winners as well. There is so much opportunity in Baltimore that almost everyone on the team has been hyped. But two have stuck despite later round draft capital.
Michael Campanaro was selected in the 7th round of the 2014 Draft. Campanaro’s Best Comparable Player is Julian Edelman, and he has a better Burst Score and Catch Radius than Edelman. They did cut him loose once but don’t let it fool you – they also happily re-signed him once they had the roster space. He looks set to get another chance.
Chris Moore was drafted in the 4th round in 2016. He has a little more draft capital and a lot less injury history. His athletic profile and landing spot have already brought him some interest. But those with poor memories could be busily hunting for space to stash their 2017 high hopes. If Moore is available don’t feel ashamed to take advantage of that.
Bruce Ellington, Wide Receiver (2014)
A 5th round pick, Trent Taylor, is Bruce Ellington‘s only new competition for targets in San Francisco. So why not concentrate on the player who has already eaten into the hibernation period of later round prospects already?
Selected in the 4th round in 2014 Bruce Ellington was tipped to be an off the radar producer in 2016. Injuries have kept him from truly getting the chance to claim a role on offense and the same was true last season. But he’s been in the league for 3 seasons and hasn’t lost his roster spot. Four draft classes have gone by with plenty of interesting prospects, but Ellington has stuck on the team. We can’t know if he will stay healthy, but he has a very interesting profile and clearly has the chance to seize a role. Pierre Garcon is set to be the target hog, but on this depth chart, there are still targets to go around.
Jeff Janis, Wide Receiver (2014)
Yes, Jeff Janis fits the mold I’ve cast for this article. I don’t think I have to belabor the virtues of playerprofiler’s favorite wide receiver. Drafted in the 7th round of 2014 Janis has made a splash every time he’s seen significant action. And are we really so sure that Jordy Nelson can keep it going in his age 32 season? Yes, we are. But will Davante Adams really continue his own breakout? Probably. Also, Randall Cobb’s pretty good. Still, we believe
Pharoh Cooper, Wide Receiver (2016) and Mike Thomas, Wide Receiver (2016)
Not only did the Rams fall into the snare of the White-Angle-Of-Death, Cooper Kupp, they also blindly stumbled into a prospect who is actually interesting, Josh Reynolds. They also added perennial target siphon and disappointment, Robert Woods. Still, despite the team’s desperate need to find someone, anyone, who can make their sophomore QB look barely competent, it doesn’t change the fact that they have a few prospects that could.
If someone hasn’t tapped you on the virtual shoulder to reminded you how excited analytics fans were about Pharoh Cooper yet, get new virtual friends. They’re not treating you right. Cooper was towards the top of a lot for interesting lists last year including Jon Moores Phenom index. He projects as a someone who should have success in the NFL, and he’s on a depth chart with Tavon Austin ahead of him, and Josh Reynolds behind.
As for the old, good Michael Thomas – or whatever his name is now – landing on the Rams depth chart is a good thing. Yes, that’s weird to type. With a well-above average Burst Score and above average College Dominator Rating, he remains an interesting prospect on perhaps the most depleted wide receiver corps in the league. I’ll say it again, their immediate competition is Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. There are worse bets. If either Cooper or Thomas are on a roster this off-season, make it yours.
Keyarris Garrett, Wide Receiver (2016)
An unanswered mystery of the 2016 NFL draft is why Keyarris Garrett went undrafted. Landing on the Carolina Panthers was not ideal at the time. But a year later and it doesn’t necessarily look as bad. The Panthers might have added speed on offense with Christian McCaffrey and Curtis-Samuel. But Cam Newton is still Cam Newton. There is a role for a big, tall red zone guy.
Ted Ginn, in all his glory, is gone. The worst case scenarios for Kelvin Benjamin seems to have played out. While most will re-consider Devin Funchess, I recommend continuing to stash the other later round sleeper of yester-draft. He lives behind one unproven and one underperforming veteran. A player like Garrett could well find his way into a role sooner than you’d think.