🤫 2 Post-Hype Sleepers I'm Drafting

Ready to get hurt...

Fantasy Life presented by Chewy

How will I tell my children that there is no supplemental draft this year?

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by Chewy:

  • The new-look Seahawks

  • Watercooler: The Pope is involved

  • RB Sleepers: Opportunity in Chicago

  • It’s 6/27. Take it away, Peter Overzet

It’s difficult to know when to give up the ghost on a fantasy player.

I’ve already explained why I’m not going to get fooled by recent Jameson Williams and Rashod Bateman propaganda, but I find myself drinking the Kool-Aid on two post-hype sleepers in Seattle…

🤔 A Year-6 Breakout TE?!

Noah Fant was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft by the Broncos, but has yet to clear more than 4 TDs or 700 yards in a single season.

He entered the league with an insane profile—he was highly productive at a young age at The Tight End U and also extremely athletic (4.5 40-yard dash and off-the-chart agility numbers)—but has yet to live up to the hype.

But…ya you know where this is going…there’s reason for optimism heading into this year. Fant was re-signed right out of the gate by this new Seahawks regime and insiders believe he will be a big part of the passing game in 2024.

It’s not unusual for TEs to break out late in their career. Fant faces a ton of competition for targets (more on one of those roadblocks in a second), but it’s easy to see how he could deliver George Kittle-esque production (sporadic spike weeks) over the course of the season if the offense takes a leap under new OC Ryan Grubb.

How to play it: I’m generally going Elite TE in drafts, but Fant is my most-drafted late-round TE. I like pairing him with a top TE or using him in a cheap 3-TE build, specifically when stacked with Geno Smith.

🚀 It’s A New Year For Last Year’s Top WR Prospect

Jaxon Smith-Njigba started his career with the deck stacked against him—a hamstring injury that lingered into OTAs, a hand injury in the preseason, and two legit WRs ahead of him on the depth chart.

But the Seahawks insist that he’s now light years ahead of where he was last year at this time and head coach Mike Macdonald has consistently sung his praises this offseason.

Grubb orchestrated a prolific passing offense at the University of Washington and should provide a complete 180 as far as utilizing JSN more creatively than the Shane Waldron version of this offense.

How to play it: I’ve been selecting JSN more and more in Underdog drafts of late and don’t view him much differently than the rookie WRs going ahead of him. If you want to bet on the Seahawks’ offense taking a leap this year, I think it’s because we get a classic second-year breakout from Smith-Njigba.

Chewy

🐾 What does your pet need right now?

Think tasty treats, toys, supplies and so much more! Get a $30 eGift card on Chewy.com orders over $100. Code: SUMMER24. Limited time only. 

Around the Watercooler (August 2022)

🤠 Is CMC the only option at 1.01? This Cowboy may have a word…

✍️ Learning from last year’s mistakes. Great piece by Lord Reebs.

🗽 Is this WR the next fantasy football star? Your Naber(s) might think so.

👩‍🎤 Jason Kelce shares his first Eras Tour experience. Teary-eyed.

🦅 The most underrated tight end in fantasy football? He just might be.

🤯 The all-time leader in average pass attempts per game? I never would have guessed.

⛪️ Tommy DeVito’s agent with the pope. Sure, why not.

🤝 Russ and DK connection is still alive and well. Where’s Pickens?

👱‍♂️ Zach Wilson has a new hairstyle. The moms love it.

The easiest way to unlock a superteam is by hitting on a late-round RB. Today, Chris Allen identifies one cheap RB to target in Chicago…

Drafting sleeper RBs is a bit like playing Whac-A-Mole.

You try to hit on a player — in this metaphor, that’s one of the moles above ground –—but suddenly they’re gone. An injury or a scheme change results in less playing time. So we move on to the next guy. Our mallet waits in anticipation so we can strike first and get more points. 

But we picked the wrong spot. 

A backup rusher we thought would be “the” guy ends up being only “some” guy. The team we wanted exposure to doesn’t meet expectations. We’ve seen it happen before. Consequently, finding sleeper RBs feels more like an art than a science. However, using certain data, we can boost our chances of securing productive workloads from under-the-radar ball carriers.

🤓 Process

Classifying RBs can be challenging. We’ve got multiple archetypes we can target, from short-yardage grinders to pass-catching backs. As a result, I used full seasons to maximize the number of game samples. Accordingly, after looking at the last five seasons, I set point-total thresholds for rushers:

  • RB1: 274.4 total PPR points (17.7 PPR PPG)

  • RB2: 198.4 (13.6)

  • RB3: 155.9 (10.9)

Of course, we would all like our sleeper to be a top-12 asset. But for every Kyren Williams, there are about 10 Tank Bigsbys. The “more art than science” quip strikes again as the hit rates for late-round rushers aren’t all that compelling from an analytical approach.

  • RB1: 4.7%

  • RB2: 7.8%

  • RB3: 14.1%

For all the darts we’ve thrown at lesser-known ball carriers, only four have turned into RB1s in our five-year sample. Intuitively, and as the data suggests, our chances of finding valuable options increase as our expectations decrease. Regardless, there are a few commonalities between the players and their situations we can apply to our draft processes in 2024.

🐻 Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears

Despite logging only 561 scrimmage yards in his rookie season, Roschon Johnson ended 2023 on a high note, having wrested the RB1 job away from Khalil Herbert. The former Longhorn took 88% of the long-down-and-distance snaps while securing a 19% TPRR down the stretch. Combined with a 71% snap rate in two-minute situations, Johnson had evolved into a multi-down option. Even so, much has changed for the Bears franchise since the end of the regular season. 

The early additions of Keenan Allen, Rome Odunze and Gerald Everett during free agency and the draft put our focus on Chicago’s passing game. With DJ Moore already in place and Caleb Williams as the headliner, fantasy managers are clamoring for pieces of the Bears’ aerial attack. But new OC Shane Waldron’s seemingly pass-friendly ways haven’t always been prevalent when in scoring position in Seattle.

  • 2023: -6.6% red-zone pass rate over expectation

  • 2022: -1.0%

  • 2021: -0.3%

Sure, Chicago acquired D'Andre Swift. However, Swift doesn’t have the luxury of running behind Philadelphia’s offensive line. Plus, Johnson was the more efficient back in short-yardage situations, giving him an edge in goal-line scenarios. 

He’s like Kevin McCallister in “Home Alone.” With all of the happenings surrounding the Bears, we’ve forgotten Johnson is still in the house and capable of surprising us all in 2024.

Cooterdoodle's Favorite Tweets (Aug 2022)