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 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 James Robinson 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.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved heaven and earth to run it back with (literally) every starter from the 2020 championship squad returning. This means that few, if any end-of-dynasty roster types are likely to emerge for an unexpected breakout in 2021, as each and every skill position slot is locked and loaded, with many boasting playmakers even at the second level of the depth chart. To juxtapose a currently used idiom with the overarching title of this series, the Bucs are probably the “wokest” team in the league as it relates to unearthing any sleeping hidden gems.
Naturally, though searching for an individual sleeper opening would be like finding the Lombardi Trophy at the bottom of the Hillsborough River in an alternate universe where Tom Brady’s toss to Cameron Brate went awry, the overarching opportunity is massive. After all, the 2020 Bucs finished seventh in the league in total offense (384.1 yards per game), second in passing offense (289.1 YPG), and third in scoring offense (30.8 PPG). With the GOAT Brady remaining at quarterback, 2021 should yield similar fireworks.
Given the specific proclivity of the passing game, it seems the likeliest avenue for an under-the-radar player to surface. Undoubtedly the trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown will receive the lion’s share of work, with Rob Gronkowski (and perhaps OJ Howard) chipping in, but should playing time become available the aerial attack exudes potential.
With that in mind, the Tampa Bay 2021 sleeper is none other than…
Scott Miller, WR
Category: Super Deep Sleeper
Miller meets the criteria of a super deep sleeper, as of the whopping 12 (!!) Bucs players being selected in the most recent dynasty ADP, he is nowhere to be found. To quantify that a bit more, the ADP is comprised of six mock drafts, each with 12 owners making selections across 20 rounds. As such there are 1,440 total opportunities for a player to be selected – in July, 2021 this resulted in 292 players being picked at least once, and yet Miller was not one of them. Ostensibly, as no better than the 293rd most valued dynasty asset, Miller is the definition of watch list material, at best.
It’s my assertion, however, that this is due more to situation and less because of his talent. Owners likely see the trio of receivers blocking him off, along with youngsters Tyler Johnson and Jaelon Darden waiting in the wings, and get cold feet with Miller, preferring to leave him on the waiver wire. It’s understandable – we can only roster so many players, and if the ends of our benches are for players with tangible opportunity, Miller is going to be relegated to the sidelines.
Of course, this actually belies the fact Miller was functioning as the team’s WR3 for a good portion of 2020. The arrival of Brown indeed relegated him to the bench, but even with that he actually finished the season with the third-most yards amongst receivers, and the third-most snaps played. Of the team’s ancillary pieces, he was well ahead of the likes of Johnson, Justin Watson, Jaydon Mickens and tight end Brate.
All told, in his second year in the league, Miller turned 53 targets into a 33-501-3 line, with another 80 yards and a score coming during Tampa’s playoff run. The numbers are certainly nothing special, but for a 22-year old small school late-round prospect playing with his second quarterback in two years, it’s easy to note an upward trajectory (Miller’s rookie year resulted in a 13-200-1 line). All extraneous factors aside and sticking solely to Miller’s profile, this is the output we typically look for heading towards a hopeful third-year breakout.
While Miller will never be confused with the bigger players on the field (he stands in at 5’9”, 174 pounds), he offers blazing speed (4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Bowling Green Pro Day) and above-average agility. For believers in advanced college metrics, Miller scored in the 84th percentile for Dominator Rating, and broke out at just 19 years old. Even incorporating his draft capital (he was a sixth-round selection in 2019), Miller’s profile is, at the least, interesting.
It is likely these speed metrics that have helped Miller achieve an aggregate 15.2 YPR average through two NFL seasons. He is conceivably the team’s preeminent downfield threat, with an average depth of target of 15.8 yards in 2020, and 17.9 yards as a rookie. Continuing, he had 854 air yards in 2020, and seven of his 33 receptions went for over 20 yards. These numbers assert Miller has a definitive NFL trump card, one perhaps unique on the Bucs’ offensive roster.
Darden, the fourth-round rookie and fellow diminutive receiver, appears to be gaining the majority of training camp hype at the moment. However, Miller has a year of experience with Brady, a signal-caller famous for his need to “trust” his weapons, and fickle when that trust is broken. They also may be playing inherently different roles, with Darden expected to fight with Johnson on the interior, and Miller doing his work outside. Regardless, it would not surprise me to see Miller as the next man up, either in 4WR sets or as a replacement should one of Evans, Godwin or Brown miss any time. On an offense that has as much potential as any in the league to produce both yards and points, it would be in owners’ best interests to not get caught napping on this super deep sleeper.
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