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.
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 or 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.
The Minnesota Vikings’ backfield is very straightforward. We know that Dalvin Cook is the team’s workhorse running back and a key component of the offense. Alexander Mattison is the backup who can handle a full workload when needed. Kene Nwangwu is the trendy second-year running back with top-tier athleticism.
We all know once the season starts that not everything goes according to plan. What happens if injuries start to mount up. Who is capable of stepping up and holding down the fort for a few games. Is there a running back on the backend of the roster who can be fantasy-viable if the Vikings lose a couple of running backs during the season?
Ty Chandler, RB
Super Deep Sleeper
Chandler has a very interesting collegiate profile. He started his career at Tennessee and finished his final season with North Carolina in 2021. Due to Tennessee posting a 20-27 regular-season record during his tenure there, it was easy to gloss over Chandler’s career. We saw him have the best season of his career once he transferred to North Carolina where he reeled off his first 1,000-yard season.
He averaged 3.93 yards after contact per attempt while also having 19 rush attempts of 15 yards or more. Chandler was used sparingly in the passing game but still averaged 12.6 yards after the catch per reception.
TY CHANDLER WHEEL ROUTE 🔥💨#CFB
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021
Combing over his full profile, it makes sense that he fell to the fifth round of the draft. When you combine his metrics and his film, he has enough goods to get the job at the NFL level if he maximizes his attributes. However, nothing about his game or his production makes him stand out ahead of the pack. Therefore, there wasn’t enough gusto in his stock to cause NFL to pull the trigger on him on day two or even early on day three of the NFL Draft.
This all bakes into why he’s a super deep sleeper in 2022. Expectations are going to be limited to nonexistent on his ability to be a producer in fantasy. In all fantasy formats, he’s a dirt-cheap speculative asset that needs a recession on his team depth chart for him to prosper.
All super deep sleepers need an event to happen for them to prosper. Usually, it means an injury to the starting running back combined with some chaos. When you look at the Vikings’ running back depth chart, it’s easy to see how attrition can play a role in Chandler getting a shot during his rookie season.
First off, Dalvin Cook has an extensive injury history and will turn 27 years old in August. He’s a premier talent, but the odds of him experiencing an injury causing him to miss some games are higher compared to the average running back. Alexander Mattison is second in line to be the team’s bell-cow running back which means there is going to have to be some chaos to ensue for Chandler to climb the depth chart high enough to receive meaningful touches.
Another thing to take into account is the Vikings’ have a new coaching staff. Who knows how Kevin O’Connell and company will feel about the back half of the depth chart once training camp starts. Cook will be their shiny new toy, but they don’t have any sunk cost invested into any of the other running backs on the depth chart. Mattison should be a clearcut RB2, but if Chandler plays well in camp he could find his way onto the 53-man roster instead of the practice squad.
Speaking of the practice squad. I would expect Chandler to start his career on the practice squad and it wouldn’t prevent me from rostering him in dynasty. He’s a fifth-round pick who many people drafted in the backend of their rookie drafts, making a fantasy asset who has the odds stacked against him.
You can write this storyline with most late-round rookie running backs. They are either buried on the practice squad or on the backend of the depth chart. They need a few breaks to go their way for them to get their chance.
The one thing that can help late-round prospects work their way up the depth chart in training camp is athleticism. Chandler’s 4.38 speed and burst in the open field could get him noticed by the coaching staff once the pads get on in camp. His long speed could allow him to eat chunks of yards on the field, making him functional in fantasy.
According to DLF’s June ADP, Chandler currently has an ADP of 234.33 and is being valued as the RB78 in dynasty. This is a fair price considering he’s a late-round prospect who has to work his way up the depth chart. Even if the fairytale scenario of everything breaking down in the Vikings’ backfield and Chandler strolls in as our Prince Charming doesn’t happen, we have next to no sunk cost invested in him as a dynasty asset.
This is also why he’s a super deep sleeper. Chandler is at the bottom of the draft board and expectations are almost nonexistent. However, looking at how the guys on the back of the depth chart could provide some value is an exercise that could allow you to pick which late-round or UDFA running backs to add to your dynasty as an end-of-bench stash.
Sometimes the obvious sleepers have been beaten into the ground throughout the off-season and it’s nice to pontificate how a team could be different if attrition ensues during the regular season. The odds aren’t likely, but we’ve seen this happen to the Baltimore Ravens last year. We are talking about a backfield that gave 296 combined carries to Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, Ty’Son Williams, and Le’Veon Bell.
Overall, Chandler is a deep stash who has some interesting specs in his prospect profile that could be an indicator he has the chance of being productive if he ever gets the opportunity. I wouldn’t bet on him developing into a long-term option in fantasy. If you are in a deep league and you need a sleeper for the bottom of your depth chart, then you might want to look at Chandler.
- Devy Fantasy Football Notes: Here Come the Running Backs - August 16, 2022
- Devy Fantasy Football: Top Ten Running Backs - July 30, 2022
- 2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Minnesota Vikings - July 23, 2022