by Michael Nazarek (UPDATED - 8/25/2020)
Editor's Note: Below you will find a portion of our Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2020. If you'd like to read about all 45 sleepers, please click HERE to order our 2020 Pre-Season Draft Guide.
Everyone knows about Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, and Michael Thomas. The top 50 players taken in most fantasy drafts will likely be the same group of players. What separates the men from the boys is knowing who will produce when they are not expected to produce. To this end, I will supply you with sleeper lists of players at each of the key fantasy positions. Consider each and weigh them against your league competition. I will list sleepers in three distinct categories… obvious, darkhorses, and long-shots. I have also offered my "deep sleeper" at each position. Note: The official projected statistics for these players were not posted, as they may change with each guide update.
The following DARKHORSE SLEEPER was posted on these pages five summer's ago. It just goes to show you that sometimes these players pan out in a HUGE way…
Devonta Freeman (Atlanta) - Freeman made a minor impact as a rookie in 2014 playing behind veteran RB Steven Jackson, but with Jackson gone, Freeman ran with the first unit this spring and should start for the Falcons come September. That said, the Falcons remain primarily a passing team, and rookie RB Tevin Coleman will share touches with Freeman. In other words, Freeman will have to impress if he has any chance to win the starting full-time job outright and put Coleman on the bench. That makes him an interesting darkhorse fantasy sleeper this summer because he might have the talent to do just that.
Yeah, I’d say he has talent. And I drafted him myself in THREE leagues in 2015 including the FFPC! He was a big reason why I won $10,000! On to this year’s lists…
Josh Allen (Buffalo) - Allen finished 2019 just inside of the top 10 QBs for the entire season, but looking at his average fantasy points per game lowers him to only the #15 slot at just over 21 points per game in 4-point TD passing leagues. That said, Allen proved to be very consistent in terms of scoring 20+ point games with 11 of them. Rushing for more than 500 yards with 9 scores certainly helped his cause. In 2020, he also gets WR Stefon Diggs as a new #1 WR, a player that will obviously help boost Allen's fantasy value. As such, he's a solid top 10 fantasy QB, making him a nice obvious fantasy sleeper pick, one with upside. Update 8/25: Despite a few ups and downs in camp practices, Allen remains a solid top 10 fantasy QB prospect in 2020. Nothing has really changed here.
Daniel Jones ® (New York Giants) - The Giants surprised everyone by drafting Jones in April 2019 over QB Dwayne Haskins. Jones proved his worth, throwing for more than 3,000 yards with 24 scores while only starting 12 games. In fact, the only blatant issue with Jones is his turnovers and fumbling issues. Those can be corrected by throwing the football away before he's either forced to throw a pick or fumble the football when being tackled. Jones knows he must learn that he can't do everything on every play. As such, look for more big plays, better decisions, and more throw-aways from Jones, something that could lead him into the top 10 fantasy QBs for 2020. Update 8/25: The game is slowing down for Jones in practices, which is a very good thing. As a result, he remains a very nice fantasy sleeper to target in the middle rounds of your draft. Best of all, his ADP is not climbing at all this month.
Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco) - Garoppolo threw for nearly 4,000 yards with 27 TD passes and 13 picks in 2019, while rushing for another score. Sounds good right? Well, those numbers were only good enough to place him 23rd on the fantasy points per game list with just a tad more than 19.4 points per game. Don't get me wrong, Garoppolo showed maturity in his first full season as a starter. The 49ers remain a run-first team, but when called upon, Garoppolo can sling it with the best of them, as evidenced by his four 26+ point games last season (three of them were 32+ points). We place him on this list because he is young, has room for more growth, is well known, and best of all, can be drafted as a fantasy backup in most leagues with a fairly high upside. Update 8/25: Garoppolo has had a solid camp to date, but the injuries to the wideouts is a bit concerning. That said, there is time for the corps to solidify, and if WR Deebo Samuel (foot) actually plays in the first few games, Garoppolo should be fine.
Joe Burrow ® (Cincinnati) - John Holler says about Burrow... "Two-year starter…Won the Heisman Trophy in 2019…Transferred from Ohio State…Had the greatest single-season numbers in college football history, throwing for 5,671 yards 60 touchdowns and six interceptions…Has the ability to be very good if he plays in a West Coast Offense…Very accurate and at his best when he’s on the run and can extend plays…Very intelligent and reads defensive very well…Has good toughness and is a leader…Doesn’t have elite arm strength or velocity. That said, coming off the greatest season in college football history, Burrow has some legitimate weapons in the passing game and will be given every chance to be a franchise QB." He has the talent to indeed be a franchise QB, so taking him as your fantasy backup could turn into big dividends if your normal starter gets injured or struggles. Update 8/25: Burrow has had a very impressive first camp, securing his listing in this category. I drafted him in two leagues as a fantasy backup with no hesitation!
Drew Lock (Denver) - Lock only started five games in 2019, his rookie season, but did manage to throw for 7 TDs and 3 picks in those games. Interestingly, he only broke 200 yards passing during the two road games he started. That said, Lock has a lot of potential, and seems "locked" in as the team's starter. It does not hurt matters that he can target a rising WR Courtland Sutton as his #1 WR, while the team just added WR Jerry Jeudy via the draft. Sleeper TE Noah Fant also brings a lot of talent to the table. As a rsult, Lock is a nice darkhorse fantasy sleeper for owners to target later in their draft as a backup, one whom could emerge as a starter down the road. Update 8/25: Lock has shown maturity in camp this summer, something the coaches have been looking from him. He's making better decisions in camp, and seems ready to take his game to the next level.
Teddy Bridgewater (Carolina) - Bridgewater was effective as a sub-starter in New Orleans last year when QB Drew Brees was injured. He threw for 9 TDs and only 2 picks in six games. That said, his average depth of completion of 4.7 yards was the lowest in the league, meaning a lot of dinks and dunks. However, he is now the starter in Carolina, and with a corps of WR D.J. Moore, WR Curtis Samuel, and WR Robby Anderson, has more than enough weapons around him (including stud RB Christian McCaffrey) to make a solid impact in 2020 with a higher average depth of completion rate. That makes him an interesting latter round darkhorse fantasy sleeper in most scoring systems. Update 8/25: There hasn't been much news coming from Panthers camp, which is likely a good thing. If Bridgwater was struggling, we would hear about it. As a result, he stays on his list this summer.
Tua Tagovailoa ® (Miami) - Tank for Tua! That is what the Dolphins were accused of doing in 2019, but they did start to win some games, and they still drafted Tua! Why? Because he is the most talented QB to emerge from college in quite some time. That said, he's coming off a serious hip injury, something many are worried will plague him throughout his NFL career. As a result, he may not start right away, but the kid is very talented, so when he does start, he will produce... as long as he stays healthy. That is what makes him a very intriguing long-shot fantasy sleeper for 2020! Oh, if you are drafting in a dynasty league, I would take him over QB Joe Burrow in a heartbeat! Updarte 8/25: After a bit of a slow start, Tagovailoa is rounding into form. That said, signs are pointing to Fitzpatrick starting come week #1, but that is fine. Give Tua a bit of time to get settled in, and he should take off as the starter at some point in 2020. I still believe in him. Remember, I've drafted him as my #3 QB in three drafts this summer.
Sam Darnold (New York Jets) - Darnold showed improvement late in his rookie season in 2018, but was an up and down QB for fantasy in 2019 after missing three games due to mono. Darnold managed 19 TDs, but also three 13 picks and topped 20 fantasy points in just 6 of 13 games. That said, people around the NFL still believe he can improve his play, especially his coaches. The loss of WR Robby Anderson hurts, but rookie WR Denzel Mims will help ease the situation a bit. Even if you believe Darnold will improve, he remains a long-shot sleeper at best for fantasy due to the many other young QBs that are producing better at the NFL level (i.e. Mahomes, Jackson, Murray, Wentz, Allen, Jones, Goff, Garoppolo...). Update 8/25: Darnold has been sharp in camp, creating solid chemsitry with new WR Breshad Perriman, but clearly seeking out WR Jamison Crowder as his #1 WR target. As a result, he sticks firmly to this list!
Nick Foles (Chicago) - Foles was the savior for the Eagles three seasons ago, helping them win a Super Bowl. He also replaced QB Carson Wentz in 2018 and played well. As a result, he signed a deal with the Jaguars to replace QB Blake Bortles as their starter in 2019, but an injury cost him most of last year. Now, he's a Bear, and will openly compete with struggling QB Mitchell Trubisky to start. Foles can get on a roll, in the right situation. It worked out well in Philly, not so much in Jacksonville. As a result, there are some questions in Chicago, but the poor overall play of Trubisky makes Foles more than likely to win the starting job. That makes him an interesting long-shot fantasy sleeper in 2020, especially if he can win that job outright before the season begins. Update 8/25: Word has it that Trubisky is more than likely going to keep the starting job come week #1, but this could still change. Even if it doesn't, odds are good that Foles will play after a rough game or two by Mitchell. As a reult, we'll keep Foles on this list for now, but I would not draft him as anything more than a risky #3 fantasy QB with a bit of upside.
Justin Hebert ® (Los Angeles Chargers) - Hebert was drafted to be the QB of the future for the Chargers, now that QB Philip Rivers has moved on. That said, he may be the QB of the present if QB Tyrod Taylor struggles as the bridge-starter. Hey! It happened in Cleveland, when Taylor struggled and was replaced early in the season with rookie QB Baker Mayfield. That said, questions surround Hebert. Can he be a solid NFL starter? Can he consistently produce? It's too early to answer those questions, but that is normally the case for our Deep Sleeper for fantasy at the QB position every summer, and Hebert fits that mold well. Update 8/25: Hebert has had some moments in camp, but it appears that Taylor is likely to start come week #1. That said, Hebert is still likely to get his starting chance at some point in 2020.
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