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 dynasty community does not expect much fantasy production in the near future from the New York Jets. The highest July dynasty ADP of any Jets player is Isaiah Crowell at 105, by far the lowest of any team. Thus, the challenge in finding a fantasy sleeper is quality, not quantity. Dynasty owners believe any future highly productive players on the Jets are not part of the current roster. Chances are, however, that at least one player on the team will be an exception.
One such player is quarterback Sam Darnold, the third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft. This is the obvious choice, though, and there’s already a DLF rookie profile for Darnold written by Kyle Pollock. Furthermore, I’m sure Darnold’s ADP is not in sleeper range in 2QB or Superflex leagues.
What are our other options? Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa should be at the top of the receiving hierarchy, possessing dynasty values outside of sleeper range. (As a side note, I think both of these players make great dynasty targets.) Until the passing offense becomes more potent, there’s not much room for other receivers to break out. Despite championing for a Jets tight end in this space last season, the team seems content to continue their trend of virtually ignoring the position for receiving purposes.
That leaves us with the running back position. Already cheap and about to get cheaper, one sophomore fresh off an injury fits the bill as a true dynasty sleeper.
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Elijah McGuire, RB NYJ
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft, Elijah McGuire showed flashes of a player who could one day settle into a significant role. He saw sporadic heavy usage last season, featuring four games with ten or more carries. His game speed was higher than both the positional average and his 2018 competition, Crowell and Bilal Powell, according to Josh Hermsmeyer’s game speed profiler.
On the downside, despite catching 130 passes across his four-year college career McGuire caught only 17 in his rookie season. This is partially explained by low usage outside of those four heavy usage games, but it’s still worth noting.
McGuire’s rookie season was solid but not spectacular. If the Jets backfield was more established, then this kind of showing from a sixth-round rookie would only be a blip on the radar. Furthermore, he recently suffered a fractured foot and could open the 2018 season on IR. Once he returns, though, there may be a path to fantasy relevance in 2018 and beyond.
A significant number of touches are available in New York. Matt Forte and his 103 carries and 45 targets are gone. Furthermore, Jets head coach Todd Bowles stated that quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates replaced John Morton as offensive coordinator this season because he wanted the passing and running game to “mesh” better. I take this to mean that there will be an increased focus on the running game relative to last season, in which the Jets ran on 43.4% of their plays, good for 15th in the league. It’s possible we see the Jets return to their pre-2015 form when they ran the ball on over 50% of their plays three seasons in a row.
The key to McGuire’s future will be his utilization in the passing game. In PPR leagues, dynasty and redraft RB sleepers often end up emerging as pass catchers. McGuire’s aforementioned receiving skills could allow him to supplant the eternally mediocre 29-year-old Powell in the passing game. McGuire’s ceiling is much higher than that of Powell, which is why McGuire is my choice over Powell for Jets dynasty sleeper. In 2019, Powell will be a free agent while Crowell could be cut with a minimal cap hit. If McGuire continues to flash the same skills he flashed last season, he could become the New York’s next primary receiving back.
The roadblocks to opportunity lie in McGuire’s competition and his recent injury. Crowell is likely to play a significant role and Powell finds a way to remain relevant year after year. In fact, when Forte missed the final four games of the season, Powell took on the heavy workload while McGuire only had nine carries across those four games. McGuire should find himself firmly third on the depth chart when he returns to action. Even then, it will be difficult for a sixth rounder to keep his foot in the door (no pun intended) after a long absence.
Elijah McGuire’s July dynasty ADP is 183 and RB60 overall, but that should decrease in August due to the injury. While the injury dampens his chances of future success, the cost to acquire him will go down along with it. If an owner drops him, snag him quickly. Other running backs going off the board in that range include Austin Ekeler and Latavius Murray whose values are likely limited to injury handcuff status. I’d rather take a chance on someone like McGuire who I believe stands a higher chance of maintaining a firmer share of running back opportunity in his backfield, even considering the injury. As we saw with Duke Johnson in Cleveland, a pass-catching running back can provide fantasy value even on a poor offense.
A number of things need to go right for a low-valued dynasty asset to dramatically increase in value. Not only must opportunity arise, but the player must be able to maintain said opportunity (usually through talent.) I think Elijah McGuire fits the mold of a player who can meet those goals, making him a fine RB flyer in the late rounds of a dynasty startup draft and a great waiver wire add.
- 2018 Summer Sleeper: New York Jets - July 29, 2018
- 2018 Summer Sleeper: Pittsburgh Steelers - July 24, 2018
- 2018 Rookie Profile: Michael Gallup, WR Colorado State - April 21, 2018