We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.
To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:
- Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
- Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
- Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.
Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Allen Robinson or C.J. Anderson, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Alfred Morris is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
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Every once in a while NFL teams underestimate a player during the draft process. Tom Brady and Antonio Brown somehow made it to the sixth round, Marques Colston was there in the seventh and Arian Foster and Antonio Gates didn’t even have their names called, instead signing as undrafted free agents. For all the time and money and manpower spent on scouting, sometimes the entire league misses, just like they did with Victor Cruz.
Cruz’ story is well worn at this point, but it bears repeating. He wasn’t invited to the combine, didn’t tear up either of the two pro days he participated in, and wasn’t drafted to an NFL roster. A bit small (he is a shade under 6’), a bit slow (~4.5 40 time) and not all that productive his senior year (59/868/5), it’s no wonder the future salsa dancer was overlooked. Thankfully for the Giants they gave him a shot. And now they may have hit paydirt again.
Corey Washington, WR
(Super Deep Sleeper)
If you read back the last paragraph subbing Washington’s name in for Cruz, you’ll get a pretty accurate picture of the former Newberry College Wolf. Aside from their height (Washington stands 6’4”), the story is very much the same. The question is whether Washington can follow in his teammate’s footsteps and hit it big in the NFL?
The physical makings are all there for a future red zone threat. Big and fast enough, Washington ticks enough of the boxes from a measureables standpoint that it’s difficult to write him off for any one deficiency in this area (although his 33” vertical is less than desirable). With the perennially underachieving Rueben Randle, who happens to be the Giants’ best big receiver, in the final year of his deal, the opportunity to fill such a role may present itself sooner rather than later.
His size, 2014 preseason performance (four touchdowns) and potential opportunity is in all likelihood enough to qualify him for our Summer Sleeper series. But where things get more compelling is when you try and figure out why a guy like Washington didn’t get drafted in the first place.
The most obvious answer to such a query comes down to the school he attended. The tiny, 1,000 student strong college is tucked away in Newberry, South Carolina. To give you an idea how small that is, there are more drunk dudes waiting in line for a chance to use a Wrigley Field urinal right now than go to that school.
Considering the level of competition Newberry faced, you are probably expecting Washington’s stats to be of the dominant variety – you’d be wrong. In 12 games during his senior season, the receiver managed only 44 receptions and 839 yards. There is a silver lining, which, hopefully, is a predictor of future NFL success – of Washington’s 44 catches, 13 of them ended in a trip to the end zone (the 19.1 yards per reception average isn’t too shabby either). If teammate Odell Beckham Jr. caught TD’s at the same rate in his rookie year, he would have tallied 27 of them.
To bring Washington’s season into focus, all we have to do is look at the Wolves’ passing totals from the 2013 season: they managed only 2,656 yards and 20 touchdowns. Washington managed to log an encouraging 32% of the team’s total receiving yards and a staggering 65% of their touchdowns. For comparison’s sake, in Beckham Jr.’s final year of college he was responsible for 35% of both LSU’s production in both of those categories.
There is a very limited amount of film out there, but in addition to the 2014 preseason I was able to find a highlight cut-up from Washington’s juco days. After watching it a couple of times, there were a handful of things that stuck out to me.
Washington is a bit stiff in the hips, causing him to be slower than you would like in and out of breaks. Because he is so big and dominant at the point of the catch, I’m hopeful this is an issue he can overcome. Good news abound, though. He fights at the point of the catch, is very physical with the ball in his hands, often running into contact, and seems to catch the ball naturally.
With the Summer Sleeper series, all we are trying to do is make a compelling case for a player to whom you may not be paying any mind. So while I’m not at all convinced Washington is going to end up a startable fantasy commodity, I do think there is enough here to make a reasonable argument for the youngster. I’m not rushing out to add Washington in 12 team leagues, but I could see making room in deeper formats. As with many of the sleepers we will be discussing this summer, the cost is essentially only your last roster spot, so why not take the plunge? You never know when you’ll find the next Victor Cruz.
Jeff can be found on Twitter at @FFJeffM
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