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 Jay Ajayi or Isaiah Crowell, 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 thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
I have the privilege to unveil the 2016 Chicago Bears Summer Sleeper, but who to choose. Many good options in Chicago, and I’ll briefly discuss my three runners up.
#4) Ka’Deem Carey, RB
He doesn’t get the love he deserves because dynasty owners like fast running backs. Carey ran a 4.69 40 yard dash at the combine. However, he’s a much better football player than athlete. He ran for over 1,800 yards twice in college. Carey shows toughness, good vision and reminds me of a poor version of Knowshon Moreno. When Matt Forte was sidelined last season, Jeremy Langford received the bulk of the work. However, Chicago coaches gave Carey 30 carries in a three game stretch as well. Improvements in the off-season, especially in the passing game, give Carey a better chance in 2016 and Chicago has already said they will ride the hot hand at running back.
#3) Jordan Howard, RB
Fox likes big backs (Stephen Davis, Jonathan Stewart, CJ Anderson) and Howard runs tough. He ran the best out of all Chicago runners in the first preseason game and everyone has a chance at this starting job. Howard will at least have short yardage and goal line duties in 2016. His ADP price point is very low at 128.
#2) Zach Miller, TE
Miller closed out the second half of the 2015 season on a 31/404/5 run, which gives fantasy owners hope for 2016. However, Alshon Jeffery was less than 100% last season and Kevin White didn’t even play. The competition for target increase is the main reason Miller isn’t my #1 for this article. The other reason is injuries. Miller has been injured often in his NFL career and literally just got back to practice after a concussion in training camp.
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Reading through three Chicago Bears fantasy sleepers isn’t the most exciting thing, so I appreciate you sticking with me. I’ll take my chances with my fourth and favorite fantasy sleeper in Chicago. If you don’t know much about me, I’m big into devy leagues and college football. One of ‘my guys’ is Corey Davis, a wide receiver Western Michigan. He was a junior last season and I was waiting for him to declare for the NFL Draft. Then the news hit my eyes:
“Western Michigan WR declares for the NFL Draft…”
I didn’t even need to keep reading it because my excitement was too great. I ran through my yard fist pumping like I won the Masters! Then to regain my strength and continue the celebration, I grabbed some mint Oreos (obviously double stuffed). After my regained my composure in a food coma, I go back to the article to read it was Daniel Braverman who declared for the NFL Draft from Western Michigan. What? No way! It can’t be (Nick checks out eight more sources and finds out it’s legit). I knew of Braverman from scouting Davis, but I didn’t think he would declare. I shared this story to let you know how much dislike I had to overcome for him to be my favorite sleeper for Chicago.
Daniel Braverman, WR
Category: Deep Sleeper
For the purposes of this series, I would classify Braverman in the sleeper-to-deep sleeper category. The more research I put into Braverman, the more I come away impressed. Despite having a lackluster mockdraftable profile for his small stature, Braverman has continued to beat the odds. He tore his ACL in 2013, but bounced back to be third team all-MAC in 2014. Continuing to improve, Braverman finished the 2015 season with 108/1367/13. Two of his best performances came against Michigan State (13/109/0) and Ohio State (10/123/1). Braverman declared for the NFL Draft and waited until the seventh round to get selected by Chicago. Expectations are low of the 5’10” 177lb WR from a small school, but he has been excelling in training camp. Braverman has been getting lots of buzz and John Fox even said “…he (Braverman) continues to flash and make big plays.”
Braverman is a small, quick twitch receiver. He gets to top gear quickly and his change of direction can leave defenders in the dust. Primarily he will play in the slot in the NFL due to his size and he doesn’t play physical. He’s a hands catcher, who shows good instincts and awareness. He makes the most of his touches by using his vision in the open field, but doesn’t take many big hits.
Chicago has a need for a slot receiver because Eddie Royal (my summer sleeper last year, I know I know) has failed to live up to expectations or stay healthy. Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White will get plenty of attention on the outside, which leaves the middle of the field open for Braverman to operate. I don’t see a huge amount of targets available if everyone stays healthy, but he could certainly develop a role. Especially when you consider the Bears don’t have a great passing option at running back or tight end (Miller is 31 years old). Besides the injury risk of both Jeffery and White, remember that the former is an unrestricted free agent after the 2016 season. Therefore, it’s possible Braverman earns the trust of the coaching staff and Jay Cutler in 2016, then gets an expanded role in 2017 if Jeffery walks. At the current ADP price of 217, I’ll take a gamble on a player who has shown to be a playmaker at every level and currently is flashing in training camp.
Nick can be found on Twitter at @_NickWhalen