There are many different fantasy sleeper articles out there, and everyone has a different definition of what is a sleeper. Let's start this article off by defining what is a sleeper to me. A sleeper is someone who will outperform where the majority of people are drafting them, someone who your league mates are sleeping on going into your draft. Sleepers are determined by looking at the average draft position (ADP) of a player. If I believe the player will finish the year at a much higher place than ADP, they are a sleeper.
Cam Newton (NE)
TL: DR Has been a consistent top QB when healthy and now with a head coach that will handle him correctly.
Cam Newton is being undervalued by a majority of the fantasy football world right now. His current ADP is round 12 pick four, and he is coming off of the board as the 18th quarterback!. I currently have Cam as my tenth-ranked quarterback in fantasy this year. Yes, Cam Newton is 31 years old, yes he has been injured in recent years, but the value Cam Newton provides this year is astronomical. In his career, Cam has consistently finished as a top ten quarterback when healthy. He has done this without great weapons at his disposal. His MVP season saw Cam throwing to Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn. Other years where Cam finished as a top ten fantasy QB, he had Kelvin Benjamin as his primary target. While the Patriots don't boast the most talented receiving core in the NFL, they still have plenty of targets for Newton to throw to. Julian Edelman will be a safety blanket for Cam, much like Greg Olson was over the middle of the field for years. N'Keal Harry should take a step forward in his second year, and James White will assume the role the Christian McCaffery served for Cam in Carolina. While Cam will not be the runner, he was in years past. I still expect him to get many of the goal line carriers, leading to rushing touchdowns. One other factor many people are not using while evaluating Cam is the Bill Belichick factor. We have seen Bill turn Matt Cassel and Jimmy Garapollo into QB1 for fantasy, and neither of those guys can compare to the talent Cam has. Belichick knows how to get the most out of a QB, and he will bring the best out of Cam. Based on where Cam is going late in drafts currently, he represents 0 risks for you as a fantasy player. You can grab him late in your draft, and you will know right away what you are getting from him. Cam faces the Dolphins week 1, and if he goes out there and looks like a washed-up QB, you get to drop him and stream the position. However, I expect us to see a healthy Cam in week 1, and he will continue to produce throughout the year.
Gardner Minshew (JAX)
TL: DR Showed potential last year, has chemistry with his surrounding cast and is on a team with a lousy defense, which means plenty of passing opportunities.
Gardner Minshew is currently going as the QB 24 in drafts. Minshew presents a lot of upside for fantasy for a variety of reasons. First off, we saw last year that Minshew could provide QB 1 upside. He showed a great connection with DJ Chark, who we are drafting as a high-end WR2 right now, and he is in a better position then he was last year. Minshew no longer needs to compete against Nick Foles for the job; this is his team now. His top receiving weapons are back in Chark, Conley, and Westbrooke, which is even more critical this year with COVID. We do not need to worry about Minshew developing chemistry with a new receiver since his core is still intact. He still has Fourenette in the backfield who showed us last year that even though he may be ineffective as a runner, he is a reliable receiver. Both of these are good news for Minshew. Minshew also has shown great ability as a runner, which adds to his floor as a fantasy asset. Finally, a significant component of Minshew's value comes from the fact that the Jaguars aren't a great team. Their defense is far from the dominant force; it was a few years ago. The Jaguars will be behind in most games this year, which means more opportunities for Minshew to put up fantasy points. Minshew has the ability, has the opportunity, and has the weapons to be a top ten quarterback this year, and you do not need to draft him anywhere near that point.
Kareem Hunt (CLE)
TL: DR RB 1 upside if Chubb goes down this season, will provide value even with Chubb healthy due to receiving role in the offense.
Kareem Hunt is currently going as RB27 right at the end of round 5 in most drafts. You may be thinking, how is a fifth-round pick considered a sleeper? The main reason why Kareem Hunt is a sleeper is that he presents a legitimate RB1 upside. Yes, Nick Chubb will be the starting running back for the Cleveland Browns; however, we are entering a season unlike any other. Coming into this season, we can have players who walk into a game and have a fever, and they end up missing multiple weeks because of this. COVID is now on top of just the injury risk that comes from playing the NFL's running back position. If Nick Chubb ever gets hurt Hunt is a top 5 back every week. However, I do not include Hunt on this list because of his upside if Chubb gets hurt. Hunt provides weekly value, no matter what. Hunt will have a role in the Browns offense and will be their primary receiving back. We have seen many receiving backs put up RB1 seasons in recent years (Tarik Cohen and James White). Hunt is just as talented as a receiver as both of those players, and he is a better pure runner. If Hunt is getting the bulk of the receiving work every week and throws in 8-10 rushes per week, he could put up close to RB1 numbers even with Chubb healthy. Hunt goes as a flex player currently, but his upside with Chubb's injury and just value he will provide weekly should have him as a solid RB2 with low-end RB1 upside.
Zack Moss (BUF)
TL: DR Will be taking over the Frank Gore role, which means early-down work and goal-line opportunities. Could push Singletary out of a job and become a bell-cow back.
Zack Moss is currently going as RB46, in the ninth round. Zack Moss is walking into an extraordinary situation. The Bills are a strong defensive-minded team that wants to run the ball a lot. Devin Singletary is still in the mix, but his role will not change from what we saw last year. Zack Moss will be taking over the Frank Gore role from last year. The Frank Gore role involves Early down work, and goal-line work, both of which are valuable to fantasy football. We saw the Bills consistently giving the ball to Gore even though they had Singletary on the roster. Gore being older, did not do much with those opportunities, but Moss is a much younger, faster, stronger player than Gore was last year. The coaching staff has already said that Moss will be taking Gore's role, and that alone makes him a sleeper. If Moss starts to flash in the Frank Gore role, he can quickly push Singletary out of a job since the organization has invested in them equally when it comes to draft pick equity. Singletary already showed a bit of an inefficient runner last year, so the door is open for Moss to become a bell-cow back for a run happy team. If that scenario plays out, his value is even higher. However, he does not need to become the bell cow back to serve a fantasy role this year, and he is providing value to fantasy players in drafts right now.
Tarik Cohen (CHI)
TL: DR Has been a top RB option before, the offense will be improved this year, and Cohen will benefit from that.
Tarik Cohen is currently going as RB45 right before Zack Moss in the ninth round. We have already seen the value Cohen can provide when used properly in the Bears offense two years ago when he finished as an RB1 for fantasy. While last year was a significant disappointment for Cohen and the entire Bears offense, I believe it will provide a lot of value for fantasy players. Last year Matt Nagy learned a lot as a head coach after being so successful in his first year. He now gets to take what he learned and apply it to his team. I believe we will see a much improved Bears offense in 2020, and Cohen will benefit significantly. Not only will the coaching improve, but the addition of Nick Foles will help Cohen as well. Having Foles and Trubisky in a quarterback competition bodes well for the Bears skill position players. If one QB is struggling, the other will come into the game. The QB situation doubles the likelihood each week that we get competent QB play from the bears. Cohen is an essential piece to the Bears' success and will very active this year.
Those are my five sleepers for the QB/RB positions going into fantasy drafts these upcoming weekends. I will follow this article up tomorrow with five sleepers for the WR/TE positions.