2018 Summer Sleeper: Dallas Cowboys

Bruce Matson

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.

The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2017 regular season with a 9-7 record. Star running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, missing six games. His absence suffocated the offense’s ability to move the chains and led to them losing some meaningful games down the stretch. The team won four of their last five games, but it wasn’t enough for them to get their playoff bid.

Dallas cut ties with Dez Bryant a few months ago and now there’s a massive void on the team’s depth chart at wide receiver. Allen Hurns signed with the Cowboys this off-season and the team drafted Colorado State standout, Michael Gallup, in the third round of this year’s draft. Jason Witten’s retirement was the cherry on top.

This transitional period that the Cowboys are currently going through is going to provide some added opportunities for some of the younger wide receivers on the roster. These players will get the chance to compete for a starting role. You never know, one of the players on the back end of the roster could exceed expectations and develop into the next hot dynasty asset in the near future.

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Category: Deep Sleeper

Brown was a seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Injuries plagued his collegiate career which ultimately limited his production. This caused him to slip through the cracks and fall all the way to the tail end of the draft.

What’s exciting about Brown is his size adjusted athleticism. He stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 222-pounds and at that size, he can run a 4.56 40-yard dash. Brown has the size to take over as the team’s flanker. He also has enough speed to keep the opposing defense honest. He’s the only receiver on the team who weighs over 210 pounds. This will give him an advantage in training camp, because he will be the only receiver who can utilize size and strength at the catch point.

If you don’t remember, Brown made one of the greatest catches in the history of Ohio State football against Oklahoma during his redshirt sophomore season. In this game, he caught five catches for 72 yards and four touchdowns. This was the only big performance of his career.

However, in this game, he executed great body control and excellent hands at the catch point. Brown does a great job at tracking the ball while it’s in the air while also having a defender breathing down his neck. The sample size is small, but Brown carries a lot of gusto with his game.

The Cowboys will take all the help they can get this year. Brown’s ability to make plays on the football could help the team around the end zone. We can easily make the case that he’s a better option than Terrance Williams who has been a major disappointment the last few years. Hurns and Gallup will be his main competition in camp because those are the two most talented receivers on the team.

Don’t forget about Cedrick Wilson, the team’s sixth-round pick from this year’s draft. He also has some juice in his legs and could be competition in camp. The team also signed Deonte Thompson earlier this off-season, but if Brown can’t beat him out then he doesn’t deserve to be on the team.

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Brown’s snap share during his rookie season is listed in the chart above. One thing you will notice is an increased snap share during the last five games of the season. Keep in mind, Dallas was fighting for a playoff spot during this time and if Brown was considered a liability then we would barely see him on the field. This is a good indication that he’s earning his stripes with the team.

He should start camp on a high note and build off his performance last year. Even though he wasn’t productive, an uptick in snap share is a big deal for a seventh-round pick. The more time he gets on the field, the more comfortable he’s going to be. Unless he falls off completely in camp, he should at least get to compete with the rest of the wide receivers for snaps this year.

One of the reasons why his workload increased down the stretch is his blocking ability. Brown does a good job of using his size to keep the defensive backs from crashing down on the ball carrier. Since Dallas’ goal is to control the clock with the run game, his blocking abilities adds value to the offense.

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According to Brown’s Dynasty ADP, he’s technically free in rookie drafts. His value in drafts also indicates that he should be close to free on the trade market if he’s not already collecting dust on your waiver wire. There’s little to no risk involved to drafting Brown. If he hits, then you can plug him in your lineups, but you’re not out anything if he falls completely on his face. This is a no-lose situation, most of the players drafted in this range will not contribute to your weekly lineups.

The odds of him becoming a top-tier fantasy asset are next to none. However, he could become fantasy-relevant if he gets the opportunity to see a sizeable snap share. Even with the team’s recent additions through the draft and free agency, there’s still a chance he could carve out a meaningful role in the offense.

Anything can happen if he gets the opportunity to be one of the team’s starting wide receivers. Couple this with his very cheap price tag and you have an inexpensive dynasty asset with a lot of upside. The investment is so small that there’s very little risk involved in acquiring him, making him a good player to stash on the back end of your roster.


bruce matson
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