We begin 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, 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.
The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2016 regular season with a 13-3 record. During the year, they obtained a first-round bye in the playoffs, but were ultimately defeated in the Divisional Round by the Green Bay Packers, 34-31.
This success came by surprise, considering the team’s franchise quarterback Tony Romo missed almost the entire season due to a back injury. The defense was also predicted to be one of the worst units in the league going into the 2016 season. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott managed to take the league by storm and lead the Cowboys to playoffs. Rod Marinelli did a tremendous job coaching up the defense, allowing the team to finish the season ranked first in the league with an 83.5 rush yards allowed per game average. The team is currently evolving into a young, flashy, hard-nosed group planning to make another playoff push in 2017.
Dallas drafted Ryan Switzer in the fourth round and Noah Brown in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Those two draft selections were the main acquisitions in this off-season for the Cowboys’ wide receiver corps. Switzer, considered a very talented slot receiver, and Brown, a raw highly athletic prospect with a lot of upside, will battle it out to carve a role with the team during training camp. Outside of the aging Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley, there is plenty of room on the roster for a young wideout to emerge and become a perennial asset to the team.
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Andy Jones, WR DAL
Category: Super Deep Sleeper
Jones was a high priority free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. The Dallas Cowboys aggressively pursued him after the draft by granting a $15,000 signing bonus which was the most the Cowboys paid for any undrafted free agent that year. He’s a small school prospect who wasn’t on the radar of many teams, allowing him to slip in the draft and fall to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent.
He was a standout prospect at Jacksonville University, where he caught 60 receptions for 890 yards and eight touchdowns while eclipsing the 100-yard mark in five games during his senior season. During that season, he accounted for a 26.49 per cent market share of the team’s passing production and a 27.59 per cent market share of the team’s passing touchdowns. Quite frankly, he was the main focal point of the offense and one of the key contributors to the team.
Jones attended Florida’s pro day on the April First 2016 and dazzled everyone with his athleticism. He measured in at 6’2’’ and 217 pounds, and managed to run a 4.55 40-yard dash. He also had an impressive 41 1/2 inch vertical jump and a 6.97 second three cone performance. His pro day numbers suggest he has enough size and speed to beat cornerbacks at the NFL level, and his short area quickness and burst is enough to consistently create separation from defenders while running routes.
He immediately impressed the coaching staff in OTA’s last year by making impressive grabs and out-muscling defenders on a consistent basis, which allowed him to work in reps with the first team offense. During the preseason, he managed six receptions for 50 yards. In those games, he demonstrated strong hands at the catch point and an ability to box out defenders while making contest catches. His strong performance during the preseason was one of the reasons why Dallas decided to stash him on their practice squad last season.
In the past four seasons, Terrance Williams has been the team’s WR2 playing on the opposite side of Dez Bryant. Williams has a total of 2,791 yards and 20 touchdowns during the course of his career. Even though he’s not a tremendous talent, the coaching staff seems to like him, mostly due to him being dependable when the chips are down. When called upon during high pressure situations, he has a knack for coming up with the big play to bail out the team. However, he also has issues creating separation from defenders on a consistent basis and doesn’t have the potential to be the team’s WR1 if Bryant ever misses anytime with an injury. In 2015, Williams struggled against the opposing defense’ top cornerbacks while Bryant was out most of the season due to a foot injury. His inefficiencies could present opportunities to one of the other wide receivers on the roster, meaning Jones could have a chance to carve out a role on the depth chart as early as training camp.
Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley currently have their starting jobs locked down going into the 2017 season but every other spot on the depth chart at wide receiver is up for grabs, even Williams’. If Jones impresses the coaching staff during training camp and in preseason, then he could possibly crack the 53-man roster and become a contributor for the offense.
Making the active roster might be more difficult than what it sounds, considering Bryant, Williams, Beasley and Switzer are almost guaranteed to make the team. This leaves Brice Butler and Lucky Whitehead as the remaining two players Jones will have to jump in order to make the active roster. He also faces stiff competition from Noah Brown, who is a very athletic receiver with a lot of upside. The two receivers will be in a heated battle to make the team.
Jones seems to have made a strong impression on the coaching staff and hopefully that can carry over into the 2017 season. If he gets the opportunity to play a considerable role on the team, then he could be a possible breakout candidate due to his athletic ability. He should get picked up by another team if Dallas decides to cut him, because he’s a developmental prospect with a lot of upside and has enough talent to latch on to another team’s roster.
In dynasty, he’s a player that should be on your watch list, because he could blow up once given the opportunity. Unless your league has super deep rosters, he’s best left on your waiver wire until there’s positive news supporting an increased role with the team. Pick him up off waivers the moment there are news blurbs stating that he’s working in with the first-string offense in camp to avoid any bidding wars with your league mates. He will be a hot commodity if he even gets the slightest chance of being the team’s second receiver.
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