Summer Sleeper: New Orleans Saints

Jaron Foster

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 Tyler Lockett or Carlos Hyde, 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 Willie Snead 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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Tim Hightower, RB

Category: Sleeper

Would you be interested in acquiring a running back who was second at the position in fantasy points during the fantasy playoffs (over the final four weeks) of the 2015 season? He has proven the ability to be a three-down back and has caught 70% of his career passes (including 63 passes in a season). He is considered the clear handcuff to a five-year veteran who has only played 16 games in a season once and has never rushed for 1,000 yards or ten touchdowns in a season. If you missed the highlighted name above this paragraph, we’re talking about Tim Hightower.

Of course, cherry-picking the data in this fashion does an injustice to Mark Ingram and doesn’t account for the negatives we can associate with Hightower. C.J. Spiller is (for some reason) likely to make the roster, and there is a crowd with Hightower that includes Marcus Murphy, Travaris Cadet and (another sleeper) rookie Daniel Lasco. Assuming either John Kuhn or Austin Johnson makes the team as a fullback, there won’t be room for everyone so the 30-year old who was out of the league for multiple years in Hightower will have a short leash.

However, at the current price of a 20th-round startup pick or mid-to-late fourth-round rookie pick he is a worthy sleeper target even if you don’t have shares of any other New Orleans running backs. With games against the Lions and Buccaneers in weeks 13, 14 and 16, and the ever-present potential of an Ingram injury, Hightower could once again be valuable during the fantasy playoffs.

R.J. Harris, WR

Category: Super Deep Sleeper

As long as Drew Brees is under center, any receiver with an opportunity to see the field has potential for fantasy relevance. For 2015 undrafted free agent R.J. Harris, a former UNH standout who signed with the Saints shortly after the draft and spent a good part of the season on the practice squad, a strong preseason may lead to a promotion to the final spot on the 53-man roster.

Harris is a 6’0”, 203-pound possession receiver with over 4,000 yards and 36 receiving touchdowns on his college resume. He was clocked at 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and his measurables compare favorably to the Combine results for fellow 2014 rookie receivers Chris Conley (bench press), Phillip Dorsett (vertical jump), and J.J. Nelson (broad jump). In terms of size and speed, think Robert Woods. Overall, Harris is a solid-but-unspectacular player in most aspects of his game, with good hands and the ability to win difficult catches but a lack of agility and explosiveness.

After spending time on the practice squad for both the Falcons and Saints, the latter ensured to bring him back into the fold to compete for a roster spot this offseason. Currently listed on the depth chart for New Orleans behind Brandon Coleman and Michael Thomas on the left side in two-WR sets, and in the discussion as the fifth wide receiver behind Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead as well, Harris is well within the conversation of making the roster. Assuming the team keeps six wide receivers, Harris and wide receiver/kick returner Tommylee Lewis are in line for the final spots, and this is even assuming the rumors of Coleman on the roster bubble won’t come to fruition.

With Drew Brees reportedly connecting well with Harris in training camp and the likelihood that he makes the roster, despite being the seventh option (at best) in the passing game we all know too well how injuries and ineffectiveness shuffle depth charts throughout the season.


jaron foster
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