Sleeper Mania: The Elite Eight

Benton McDonald

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing five dynasty sleepers that you could acquire at next-to-nothing. Wanting to run with the idea of sleepers that the community seems to love so much, I decided to continue the “March Madness” theme of my first article and create an interactive series to help identify 16 more sleepers for dynasty owners.

Poring over the DLF March ADP data, I identified 16 players, all with ADP’s lower than 100, (seven lower than 200) who I saw as rifts in the markets that are currently priced at something much lower than their expected value. With help from DLF’s own Brian Malone, each player was seeded based on their ADP (highest ADP was the 1 seed and so on) and then matched up in a tournament style to determine the community’s favorite dynasty sleeper. After the conclusion of the first round, the first of four pieces was published on DLF, detailing the first eight sleepers who were eliminated from the polls.

Moving into the second round, down to the final “elite” eight, there were four matchups that the community voted on, ultimately leaving us with four final sleepers, one of whom will be crowned the community’s favorite in just a few short weeks. As to once again not let the losers go in vain, this article serves to provide a profile on the four players that were eliminated in the second round of voting. So, without further ado, here are the voting results and profiles of four more sleepers.


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Buck Allen, RB BAL

The sleeper with the highest ADP goes down in round two. Allen, currently hovering right outside of the top 100, saw himself blown out by the man with the biggest momentum in this tournament, DeAndre Smelter. Yet, the Ravens running backs situation and skill set suggests that he is more than just a lottery ticket; he has a clear shot at production in 2016. The 24 year old fourth round pick, coming into his sophomore season, will be competing for the starting job with one of 2015’s biggest disappointments, Justin Forsett, who turns 31 in October.

Arriving out of USC, Allen already made a significant cut into Forsett’s workload last season, as he amassed 137 carries to Forsett’s 151 as well as besting him in receptions, 45 to 31. That workload this early in his career (37th in the NFL in carries, 12th in receptions) suggests that the coaching staff has a belief in Allen and are looking to groom him into the starting role as Forsett continues to decline on the wrong side of 30.

Even in a committee role, Allen is a nice bet to rack up PPR points as he should see an uptick in his role in the offense as he gets more and more adjusted to the NFL. Best of all, his ADP is dropping. Peaking at 91 in January, it slipped back to 106 in March (when the bracket was seeded) and is now currently at 130, its lowest point since October. This may be due to the fact the consensus top rookie running back, Ezekiel Elliot has been gaining steam as the Ravens first round pick but, with the recent trades at the top of the draft, it seems Baltimore may have a hard time passing up other elite prospects for Elliot at six overall. Allen is a talented back, with running and receiving skills, who is a really nice buy for a position that seems to have more questions than ever.

Davante Adams, WR GB

Davante Adams is one of the most polarizing players in football. Only 23 and coming off two seasons as the third or fourth option in Green Bay, some have completely waved him off while others are holding on to the glimmer of hope the former second round pick still offers. Seemingly ready to explode in 2015 after the news that Jordy Nelson would be out for the entire season, Adams ended up having a terribly inefficient year and disappointing owners everywhere. To put it in context, despite gaining 28 more targets than his rookie year, Adams only managed 12 additional receptions and 37 more yards, amounting to just 50 receptions and 483 yards on 94 targets. Not to mention he only scored one touchdown, which ranked dead last out of the 55 receivers who played at least 60 percent of their teams snaps in 2016 (Courtesy Pro Football Focus). Yet, despite the jarring inefficiency in his first two seasons and general inability to be productive in an offense that breeds it, Adams is still lurking around the fantasy world as a possible buy low who may live up the hype we had all hoped for.adams

For a player that once had an ADP as high as 29 overall, Adams is currently at an all-time low and most likely on many owners trading block, who will still have a bad taste in their mouth from 2015. The ability to get him so cheap is alluring – as well as the fact he is just 23, going into his third season, with the best quarterback in football still throwing to him. And while Adams may simply just be a bad football player, his current situation offers extreme upside if he is in fact able to turn into a legitimate NFL wide receiver.

His curious situation is the perfect symbol for the mindsets owners must approach with sleepers. Their price usually indicates their abilities, which truthfully, just may not be enough to allow them to produce at this level. Yet, the potential that lies in most of these guys, Adams included, is something that is a must have for any bottom of the bench roster spot, as any sort of “hit” on a sleeper is an instant advantage over the rest of your league. That is why all sleepers must always be taken with a grain of salt, especially one as inefficient as Adams. But at the end of the day, a good owner knows to chase potential and to chase production, both of which lie in the former Fresno State Bulldog, its just a matter if he can put it together to formulate a role as a legitimate fantasy asset.

Tavon Austin, WR STL

Tavon Austin had more rushing yards than Marshawn Lynch last season on 59 fewer carries. Those 434 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns went along with the career highs he set in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. To put it frank, the former Heisman finalist had the best year of his career in 2015 and showed he does have a place in an NFL offense. The number one wide receiver on the Ram’s depth chart, Austin is a position going into year four primed to have his biggest role yet, acting as a sort of Swiss army knife for Los Angeles. Plus, with the teams recent blockbuster trade to the top pick in the draft, he is destined to play with a quarterback who will almost certainly be better than any he has caught balls from in the last three years. In total, he has caught passes from seven different quarterbacks in his career, none being better than the mediocre at best Sam Bradford.

His abilities to get open quickly and be a wizard after the catch will be a nice security blanket for the rookie quarterback, and it’s almost a certainty he will surpass his career high of 52 receptions. This floor of production is incredibly intriguing at his current price of WR56 and makes him an awesome sleeper candidate for 2016 and beyond. And while the Rams offense is run heavy, (see: Gurley, Todd) Austin is primed for a breakout year playing with arguably the best quarterback and biggest role he has seen in his career.

Brian Quick, WR STL

Brian Quick’s window is closing quickly, and we may be looking at a player that just never manages to put it all together. One of the dynasty community’s favorite sleepers for the last few years, (mainly Jeff Miller’s), Quick registered an un-draftable grade in Aprils ADP data, a new low for the former second round pick. Even worse, he re-signed with the Rams this past off-season on an incentive laden one-year deal, despite the fact that the team clearly values Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt ahead of him; not to mention the fact it’s nearly impossible for three receivers to be viable in an offensive scheme so reliant on the run. Yet, you just can’t cut the guy. He’s only 26, may get the chance to finally escape the Rams next off-season and he’s certainly more talented than most players inhabiting the cesspool that is a deep dynasty leagues waiver wire.

If nothing else, Quick is a guy on the bottom of your roster that still receives NFL snaps and has a chance to produce in the chance of an injury to the two receivers mentioned, assuming he himself doesn’t rile up the shoulder injury that very well may be the reason he only caught ten balls last year. Brian Quick is still a sleeper. Albeit more of a sleeping giant, the potential alone is worth a roster spot along with the added team and potentially snap security that you gain with a guy now on his second NFL contract. And let us all hope his third isn’t with the Rams, a place where talented receivers come to toil away in mediocrity as their running back racks up carry after carry.