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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Malcolm Brown, RB
Category: Super Deep Sleeper
What if, and stick with me here, Todd Gurley isn’t good? I think he is probably good. Our ranker people here at the DLF machine think he’s good. As is shown in his ADP, owners think he is good. The problem is, he hasn’t been good. Like, at all.
Let’s pretend that continues. Let’s imagine a world where Gurley comes out and fails, as he largely has for around three-quarters of his career games. Let’s say he is more Trent Richardson than we can bear to think. What will the Rams do in the short term? They will turn to somebody named Malcolm Brown.
Brown is a battering ram of a back, carrying 225 pounds on his 5’11” frame. That north-south attitude has been on display this summer, with the third-year pro showing toughness, decisiveness, and the ability to get what is blocked on every play. Those are three areas Gurley has struggled with. They also happen to be three things coaches want all their backs to do. On a young offense that needs to sustain drives as much as possible, that rings especially true.
Turning the clock back to his college career, Brown, once a five-star high school recruit, was a bit of a disappointment for the Texas Longhorns. Although to be fair, as with Gurley thus far in St. Louis/LA, the entire team was a disappointment during his tenure. Still, the youngster showed a willingness to stick his nose in between the tackles play after play. He also proved himself as a fantastic pass blocker and capable pass catcher, attributes that should get him on the field often in LA.
The main issue, aside from Gurley, is Brown’s lack of athleticism. He is the definition of “Just a Guy” in nearly every speed or explosion measurement taken with a yard stick or stop watch. That isn’t always a death blow, as Brown, like other players of this ilk who has found NFL success, has above-average-for-the-NFL agility and looks better on film than in shorts. That said, his NFL tape is in pretty short supply, so the jury is still out on whether his athletic deficiencies could be overcome by his motor, agility, and football IQ.
If you stopped reading this article after the fourth paragraph you may be wondering if I am pitching Brown as a better solution than Gurley. That is far from the case, as there is a clear difference in skill level and ceiling between the two. As we saw early in his career, Gurley has the upside to be one of the three or four best backs in the game. We have also seen him regress since then, a pattern that has become alarmingly familiar game after game.
With a new coaching staff in town who has no dog in the fight, there are scenarios where Brown finds himself being used more than one would imagine. Almost all of them involve an injury or Gurley failing in a spectacular way, but once upon a time, Richardson was drafted with a first round pick then traded for another, so we know stranger things have happened.
- How to Win Without Watching Football - July 22, 2021
- 2018 Summer Sleeper: Chicago Bears - July 9, 2018
- NFL Draft Aftermath: Winners and Losers from the AFC North - June 18, 2018