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 to 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.
It has been a tumultuous off-season for the Buffalo Bills thus far. After a 2017 season where questions swirled over every starting job, many of those same questions remain yet to be answered as the upcoming season draws closer.
The Bills have arguably one of the worst receiver corps heading into the 2018 season. Injury concerns, off-field issues, and a simple lack of talent is the foundation that this squad will have to build on. I believe this position will be the surprising bright spot on an organization that is sure to have its struggles this season.
Since 2012, the Bills have produced only two 1,000 yard receivers (Stevie Johnson and Sammy Watkins). With the current state of the their roster, it could be several more years before Bills fans can get excited about the passing attack once again. Fortunately for you as a fantasy owner, this predicament means there will be an “unknown” who will rise from his slumber and outperform all expectations of scouts and coaches.
With a bit of luck and an antidote for the injury bug, I believe that the Bills have a hidden gem on their roster who could help turn this franchise around in the coming seasons.
I give you…
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Malachi Dupre, WR
Category: Deep Sleeper
In the 2017 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers selected Dupre with the 247th pick (seventh round). At 6’2”, 196 pounds, Dupre was a five star prospect coming out of high school and immediately made a splash his freshman season at LSU. He scored five touchdowns on just 14 catches in 2014, putting his name on the radar of many NFL scouts awaiting his arrival into the league.
Due to some familiar names like Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice, Dupre was overshadowed by a very poor LSU offense that relied heavily on the run game. He only averaged 41 receptions in his final two seasons at LSU, and never surpassed 700 yards receiving in either season. Scouts knew the lack of a pass attack at LSU was holding the athletic receiver back, but questioned whether it had permanently stunted his development.
At the NFL Combine, Dupre pleasantly surprised scouts with his incredible athletic verticality. He posted a 39.5 inch vertical which was third best among competing wide receivers. He also had a broad jump of 11’3” placing him second in his position group. It was his 4.52 40-yard dash that had scouts concerned as the slim-framed Dupre was mostly qualified to find his work on the outside flats of the field but the numbers said otherwise.
When the Packers snatched Dupre up in the seventh round, they felt they had found a steal in the draft who would fit seamlessly into their offensive schemes. Unfortunately, an illegal hit in the preseason knocked Dupre unconscious and caused him to miss the rest of the it, ultimately leading the Packers to cut him before the season truly began.
This is where the Buffalo Bills come into play.
Dupre was immediately signed by the Bills in September and has since been awaiting his chance to show the high-level talent that he carries. He has been slowed down by various injuries since his arrival into the league, but it is do or die for him this year and I believe the Bills will give him the shot to prove his worth.
The Bills currently have just a handful of receivers who should be a lock for the upcoming 2018 season. The rest… is where Dupre’s opportunity arises. Aside from Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones, the depth chart at the wide receiver position really is split wide open for the taking.
Veteran receiver Jeremy Kerley figures to earn the starting role in the slot position, but we could see Dupre spending time spelling him in the slot, as well as contributing on the outside of the field as a deep threat. Before dealing with a hamstring injury during the Bills minicamp, Dupre was spending a lot of time working with the first team offense out of the slot, which I think is his strong suit given his quickness and leaping ability.
If Dupre is able to get fully healthy in time for training camp, I would predict the volume of reps he has seen in the off-season will remain through fall camp. He is a terrific versatile threat who could significantly open up the field for both Jones and Benjamin down the field. Dupre should get every opportunity thrown at him this fall, and given that he makes the 53-man roster, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make an impact in the 2018 season.
Still just 22 years old, Dupre has the upside and the advantage against slot-receiver Jeremy Kerley. Due to be a unrestricted free agent in 2019, Kerley will most likely re-sign in 2019, but at 30 years old, father time will eventually come calling on his slot role. Dupre has the chance to solidify himself in the slot position for the next several years as the focus on replacing LeSean McCoy in the coming seasons should be the point of focus for the skilled position.
There are a great number of sleeper picks still available to load your open roster spots with. Dupre might not be your man in 2018, but given he remains healthy, he could be a breakout receiver in 2019 for the Bills. Get him while you can.
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