DLF’s 2019 Predictions: Sleeper Rookie of the Year

Ryan Finley

It’s now been over 200 days since the Patriots defeated the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. That’s over 200 days of content including research, articles, podcasts and more getting ready for the next fantasy season.

Well, the wait is almost over, as the 2019 NFL Football season is right around the corner. That also means that it’s time for DLF’s 2019 Fantasy Predictions. As we do every year, we have several different prediction articles for you in the following categories:

Next up in the series we will take a look at the new class with our picks for Sleeper Rookie of the Year: 

Darwin Thompson, RB KC

Damien Williams is approaching 28 years of age and we know Andy Reid loves primarily using one back in most of his schemes. With injury concerns looming over Williams, Thompson has terrific speed and unique receiving capabilities that the Chiefs will lean on throughout the year. – Noah Ballweg

Alexander Mattison, RB MIN

Mattison has a solid profile and has already shown well early in the preseason. He likely needs a Dalvin Cook injury (hopefully it doesn’t happen) to make some serious noise this year but if he gets some starts, watch out! – Kyle Holden

KeeSean Johnson, WR ARI

Not many times does the 3rd rookie wide receiver selected by one single team in the same draft end up being the most productive. That may very well be the case for the Cardinals and Johnson. I liked him as a late-round prospect coming out of college, and it looks as though in training camp and beginning of the preseason, he has been balling out and could earn a starting gig as the WR3 in an air raid offense. – Levi Chappell

Trayveon Williams, RB CIN

I don’t know how, but a 206 lb. running back who ran a 4.5 at the combine and displayed a three-down skill set in college is going forgotten in a lot of rookie drafts. I also don’t know why the Bengals selected two running backs in the later rounds behind perhaps one of the best running back tandems in the NFL. I do know running backs breakout early more often and get hurt at a higher rate though.- Peter Howard

Hunter Renfrow, WR OAK

Renfrow has looked great in camp and should emerge as the slot guy for Oakland. I don’t trust the TE options, so Renfrow is going to be a reliable safety valve for Derek Carr and has potential to put up solid WR3 numbers and help your fantasy team. – Dwight Peebles

John Ursua, WR SEA

You can be in love with D.K. Metcalf all you like, but in dynasty PPR leagues, give me John Ursua. No one else on this roster is better equipped to step into the slot role vacated by the retired Doug Baldwin than Ursua. After using all of their draft picks, the Seahawks traded back into the seventh round to select Ursua, so they obviously like him, and the reports out of camp have been positive thus far. It wouldn’t shock me if Ursua outscored Metcalf in PPR leagues over the next five seasons. – John Di Bari

Greg Dortch, WR FA

Dortch is a well-under-the-radar rookie that looks to be a good bet to make the team in New York and play a significant role early for the Jets. Dortch comes with some safety as a special teams maven and has uninspiring depth ahead of him for playing time at wideout. – James Koutoulas

Jakobi Meyers, WR NEP

He’s made a lot of noise this preseason, so I don’t know how much of a sleeper he is anymore, but he’s outside of the top-24 rookies and that’s the criteria. He’s not a burner, but he’s a solid route-runner with very good body control. If he’s the new apple of Tom Brady’s eye, even better. – Doug Green

Preston Williams, WR MIA

This guy was barely on anybody’s radar heading into their fantasy drafts. He might emerge this preseason as the Dolphins number one wide receiver, and that alone could propel him to the sleeper rookie of the year. – Mike Havens

Terry McLaurin, WR WAS

The parameters for this exercise indicated the sleeper rookie had to be outside of the top 24 of current rookie rankings. So what did I do? Picked number 25. Work smarter not harder, folks. McLaurin has a golden opportunity in Washington given the team’s heinous depth chart. He was held out of the second preseason game due to a minor injury but he’s shined all off-season, demonstrating the elite playmaking skills which bludgeoned the Big Ten (or however many teams there are now). Production may be sporadic but I think McLaurin will be an asset in 2019. – Rob Willette

Preston Williams, WR MIA

Step one: make the team. Step two: earn playing time. Step three: keep your game tight off the field. This is a dart throw, but the kid can flat out play football – but he’s also a walking train wreck. Combine Josh Gordon‘s drug love with Tyreek Hill‘s domestic violence history and you get Preston Williams. He also has a questionable work ethic. Sold yet? He lands on a team in need of a playmaker at the receiver position after years of waiting for DeVante Parker to do something. With a new coaching staff in place, he has an opportunity to carve out a role if football is his main priority. Outside of the top 24, I think his ceiling is higher than anyone’s but his floor is as low as possible. – Eric Olinger

Miles Boykin, WR BAL

Boykin was getting plenty of hype before the preseason as he lit the combine on fire. That only intensified as he’s been able to get on the field ahead of the Ravens first-rounder Marquise Brown and puts him in position to start early. – Michael Moore

Ryquell Armstead, RB JAX

As you saw in my All Hype Team article, I believe Leonard Fournette is a bit overrated, largely due to his inability to stay on the field. Enter Armstead. The Jags seem to prefer having a bellcow RB, so if Fournette goes down, it could be Armstead carrying the load on what should be a better Jaguars team in 2019. – Eric Hardter

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR PHI

Regardless of whether or not Arcega-Whiteside is a relevant fantasy asset in 2019, the time to buy him is NOW! Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson have both struggled with injuries in the past, which would give Arcega-Whiteside a plethora of opportunity to seize a major role in this high-scoring Eagles offense. He is a premier red zone threat even in his rookie season, and I believe he will be a household name come 2020-2021 at the latest. – Ryan Miller

Terry McLaurin, WR WAS

The fact that a third round rookie was held out of multiple preseason games for precautionary reasons should signal how much the Redskins value the former Buckeye. A low college dominator rating may worry some, but judging Ohio State receivers under Urban Meyer merely on analytics is a mistake as Curtis Patrick pointed out at the fantasy expo recently (see Thomas, Michael). McLaurin might be listed behind Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson right now on the Redskins unofficial depth chart, though it shouldn’t take the Ohio State product much time to pass the forever underperforming Doctson. – Josh Brickner

Darius Slayton, WR NYG

Slayton has flown under the radar this off-season, after being selected in the 5th round. He may have more promise than the average fifth-rounder. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash as part of an impressive Combine performance, he recorded nearly a quarter of Auburn’s receiving yards last season, and he has plenty of fans in the draft community (myself included). Perhaps most importantly, the Giants’ receiving corps is extremely shallow behind Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, and Tate looks to be missing some time. – Stephen Gill

Greg Dortch, WR FA

He may be small, but he is a dynamic, versatile weapon. He has the potential to beat out Crowder for slot duties and become a FLEX option out of nowhere. – Austin DeWitt

Emmanuel Butler, WR FA

Drew Brees’ willingness to spread the ball around, a lack of dominance from the Saints other receiving options behind Michael Thomas, and consistent camp hype are all reasons the door is open for Butler to make a fantasy impact. – Jacob Wolf

Terry McLaurin, WR WAS

He already has experience playing with Dwayne Haskins who will start sooner rather than later. Redskins’ pass catching group very thin as well. – Bobby Koch

Dawson Knox, TE BUF

I can’t help it. I love to guess tight end in these situations. Josh Allen needs a security blanket, and I really like the tape I saw of Knox. Reports out of camp are good as well, though I don’t read that much into that. I just know that Knox can block and catch, and that’s exactly what I want in a tight end. – Ryan Finley

There you have it. Who are you drafting late as your Sleeper Rookie of the Year? Comment below!

Eds.: some players above have been waived (Dortch and Butler) or otherwise compromised (Thompson) since these predictions were made. We’ve included them anyway for the sake of posterity.