In our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series, 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 Adam Thielen 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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Austin Carr, WR NE
Category: Super Deep Sleeper
For the second time in as many days, we’re going to focus on a player who very well could be looking for work at this time next week. It’s just too easy to put Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola or any of the Patriots running backs on this list. Instead, we’re going to take a closer look at an undrafted player from Northwestern who has been turning heads at camp since the moment he arrived.
The Patriots immediately signed Carr after he was left unclaimed after the 2017 NFL Draft. Carr was extraordinarily quiet over his first two years at Northwestern after making the team as a walk-on. In fact, he had just 23 catches for 402 yards and two total touchdowns in 2014 and 2015 combined. However, he simply exploded last season as he became an ultra-dependable slot receiver on his way to winning Big Ten Receiver of the Year and third-team All-America honors. He was also named Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 college slot receiver. On the year, he posted a monstrous 90 catches for 1,247 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also played well against great opponents as he had a two game stretch against Ohio State and Wisconsin that featured 20 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown. His highlight package show a player who knows how to get open and does a pretty good job of finding extra yards after making the catch as well.
Carr isn’t the most athletically gifted player in this year’s rookie class. In fact, he wasn’t even invited to the combine and posted a less-than-exciting 4.62 40 at his Pro Day. Still, his 6.72 three cone drill score is ideal for someone needing short area elusiveness and it could be argued to be more important than a 40-yard dash time for a player who looks to man the slot. Carr’s been a standout player at Patriots camp and also in the preseason games. So far, he’s amassed 11 catches for 104 yards and scored a touchdown in three preseason games. Bill Belichick even singled him out today as a player who has worked hard trying to earn a spot. We love waiting until the end for a few of these Summer Sleepers to give you players to watch this final week of the preseason and Carr is squarely one of them.
Recent events have really worked in his favor as well, namely Julian Edelman being lost for the season with a torn ACL. New England is suddenly looking for another receiver to add to their regular season roster and have a depth chart with Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, special teams player Matthew Slater and Malcolm Mitchell as the only real locks at the wide receiver position. If the Patriots keep another receiver, it will likely be Carr or fellow youngster Devin Lucien. The targets Edelman would have received are likely going to be absorbed by Cooks, Hogan and Amendola. Still, there’s room for another player to emerge, especially one with the type of skill set Carr has.
There are valid questions about Carr’s ability translating to the next level. He’s a player who will more than likely find his way to the practice squad or even be signed by another team after being released. Still, there’s an intriguing quality about his talent, production and situation that merits a look as a super deep sleeper. Plus, we tend to root for players with good back stories. Carr isn’t just a “Rudy-like” walk-on who made his mark – he also donated peripheral blood stem cells to a stranger who was battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2016. That’s no joke as it actually caused him to have an enlarged spleen and left him recovering for more than a month.
Plus, he can do this…
Add Carr to your list of players to keep tabs on this week. Another solid effort could put him on the Patriots roster and he’d then be squarely on the dynasty radar for teams looking for a deep stash. He’s in the perfect spot if he can make a magical run from unknown to roster worthy. I wouldn’t count against him as he’s done it before.
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