Dynasty Football: Five Post-Hype Sleepers
June 9, 2014 | Rich Hribar
It’s happened to all of us. We’ve all had our friends; social and or pop culture media hype some movie to immense levels that ultimately were impossible to live up to once we actually got to see it for ourselves. Time goes by, you catch the movie one afternoon after you called off of work and realize it wasn’t so bad after all. The same can be said for fantasy football. We’re prone to over-inflate players on a pretty regular basis, setting us up for failure when one of our favorite sleepers doesn’t pan out. When those players fall short of our initial expectations, we tend to then overreact and let the scorn from being burned marinate to a level where that player becomes dead to us for fantasy purposes. Sometimes that can be detrimental. Players like Ryan Mathews, Alex Smith, Donald Brown, Rashad Jennings and Knowshon Moreno are just a few examples from last season of players who were once left for dead that helped teams win weeks a season ago. Let’s take a stroll through the post-hype sleeper cemetery to see if we can’t resurrect a few fantasy souls from the grave. With the help of the commissioner of commissioners, Ryan McDowell of Dynasty League Football, I’ve added the players ADP from May.
Mark Ingram RB, NO Age: 24 ADP: RB56
The first running back selected in the 2011 draft, Mark Ingram has done almost nothing throughout the first three years of his career. Since his rookie season, his rushing attempts per game dropped every season, down to only 7.1 per game in 2013. It wasn’t all bad for Ingram, however, last season. He averaged .57 fantasy points per rushing attempt last season, which led the Saints and was higher than the totals posted by Ryan Mathews, Zac Stacy, Le’Veon Bell, Arian Foster and C.J. Spiller to mention a few. He ran for 4.9 yards per carry despite participating in 40 percent or more of the Saints’ offensive snaps only twice all season including the playoffs. It seemed like the lights were finally coming on at times last season. He was just caught in a backfield that has regularly rotated their backs that are tied to specific roles. When Ingram received enough touches to get traction going, he wasn’t poor. Here are the four games in which he had double digit carries in 2013.
You can take the Dallas game in which Ingram was the fourth highest scoring running back that week with a wheelbarrow full of salt since his teammates, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles, finished as the first and second highest scorers that week as well. Outside of that game, he ran well against a Carolina defense that was third in the league, and a Philadelphia defense that was 15th when Thomas missed the postseason. Nothing amazing, but you’ve got to start somewhere. He’ll have a chance to contribute this season as Pierre Thomas plans to take a portion of the snaps that are left vacant by Sproles’ departure, leaving some rushing attempts open for him and Khiry Robinson. He’ll never receive regular usage while attached to Sean Payton, but there’s reason to like him beyond 2014. Not shocking, but the Saints declined to pick up the fifth year option on his contract, meaning Ingram will be a free agent after this season. He’ll only be 25, which is still in the apex age of running back success and has only 411 career touches entering this season. He’s likely not going to be more than a early down banger for a team, but he’s an arbitrage play on those making a play on Stevan Ridley.
Lamar Miller RB, MIA Age: 23 ADP: RB42
Lamar Miller isn’t really a sleeper, but he’s seen a massive value change from 2013. A year ago, you couldn’t pry Miller away from owners at this time. Now he’s being drafted after Khiry Robinson, Chris Johnson, Ka’Deem Carey and 15 spots behind new backfield mate, Moreno. I’m not going to overreact to the recent camp reports on the lack of Moreno’s conditioning, or Miller getting early first team reps, but I’ve always seen the signing of Moreno as good news for Miller. Moreno’s true strengths come in the passing game, as a receiver and as a blocker, an area where Miller has struggled. Bringing in a veteran player on only a one year deal was a mark in the corner for Miami giving Miller another year to prove himself. Then they decided not to add another running back in the draft, another plus in support from the organization. They did sign Damien Williams as an undrafted rookie, a player I was high on entering the draft, but undrafted rookies rarely contribute early on, if ever. Miller still had four Top 24 fantasy weeks last season in a dysfunctional offense. With Bill Lazor coming on as offensive coordinator with his creative commitment to running the football, Miller is still a buy in my book at his deflated cost.
Kenny Britt WR, STL Age: 26 ADP: WR70
Tavon Austin WR, STL Age: 23 ADP: WR42
Chris Givens WR, STL Age: 25, ADP: WR101
Honestly, there’s an argument to be made that the player throwing them the football should be represented here as well. Crazy thing is there’s still plenty of support out there for Sam Bradford in the dynasty football community, but hardly any for his targets. If you believe in Bradford, theoretically you also believe that someone here will step up. Neither Tavon Austin nor Chris Givens have the true ceiling of Britt, but their stock has plummeted in one year. With Stedman Bailey suspended the first four weeks of the season; the door is open for this trio to keep him buried for the rest of the year. Bailey doesn’t make this list himself because he’s yet to be overvalued by the community.
Still only turning 26 this season, Kenny Britt has had his career depressed by injuries and off field behavior. Before all of that occurred, Britt was doing things at a young age that not many do in the NFL. He’s on an impressive short list of receivers to have a nine touchdown season at age 22 or younger.
That’s not terrible company to keep, but Britt’s upside is nearly rivaled by his downside since he was a cancer exiting Tennessee. If Jeff Fisher can get through to him like he did early in his career, Britt has WR2 upside for pretty much free cost in dynasty circles. It’s worth kicking the tires one more time in a fresh start since he has to only beat out Brian Quick and Austin Pettis outside.
There’s a difference between a bust player and a bust pick, and Tavon Austin was the latter. In terms of on field performance, he was exactly the guy many of us thought he was. He’s a slot receiver that can make an impact in the return game and off of unique touches. He was just overvalued from a real and fantasy perspective last season. Funny thing is, his performance was parallel with that of another receiver who does similar things that is sky rocketing up draft boards this summer, Cordarelle Patterson.
|Player||Off. Snaps||Rec.||Rec. Yds||Rush Yds||YdsScrm||Total TD|
In a vacuum, I’d rather own Patterson because his much larger frame is better suited for this type of usage, but Austin is pretty fairly priced now as a sophomore. I’d like to see him a bit lower than this to take a squeeze myself, but we’re close to overcompensation from 2013 on his current market value. We know that the Rams are invested into getting him the ball a lot because of the equity used to acquire him. If treated properly, Austin can be a fantasy WR3 in reception leagues and comes with return yardage if your league rewards that as well.
Chris Givens’ draft stock was filled with helium a year ago because of a monster preseason and lack of a lead receiver on the roster. He followed all of that promise up with a 34 catch season while scoring as many touchdowns as me and you. He had only one game over 60 yards receiving, and it was in Week Two. He’s entering the fabled third year for a wide receiver and still had a good collegiate career for a receiver of his profile. Givens is a very similar player to that of T.Y. Hilton, a player selected just four spots ahead of him in the 2012 draft. Both reliant on big plays to carry fantasy production, only Givens hasn’t created many at all. After seeing 25 of his 77 targets (32.5 percent) in 2012 come on throws over twenty yards downfield, he had only 15 such targets last season on the same 77 targets. He’s not the type of player I like to roster since he comes with so much variance, but I’m willing to check him out at this price. Those three players can help each other out though because they all play a specific role. Givens can open up holes by stretching the defense vertically for Austin while both benefit Britt. I’m willing to scrap the 2013 Rams season from a passing perspective for these prices to see if I can land a usable player. In most cases I prefer to chase the player with a lofty ceiling in his range of outcomes, so Britt will be the one I’ll pursue late in startups or as an add on in trades.