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.
One of the more hyped-up offenses heading into the 2022 NFL season is that of the Jalen Hurts-led Philadelphia Eagles. The team traded for star receiver AJ Brown to join last year’s tenth overall pick DeVonta Smith, who entered the league after being only the third wide receiver to ever win the Heisman Trophy. Add tight end Dallas Goedert to the mix, and you’ve got a pretty formidable group of receivers for opposing defenses to cover. But, could anyone else carve out a role for themself in this offense? The answer is yes, and a certain third-year receiver is an under-the-radar option to target in this offense…
Quez Watkins, WR
Category: Deep Sleeper
Last season, the longest reception in the NFL was Watkins’ 91-yard catch against the 49ers in week two. Not that he did anything remarkable on the play, but it does show his big-play potential as a part of this offense.
As of this writing, Watkins is projected to be the team’s WR3 behind Brown and Smith. When you add Goedert into the mix and imagine being an opposing defensive coordinator, where are you likely to put your weakest coverage guy? When Watkins gets on the field, he will potentially have the best matchup on every snap.
His only current competition for the role is Zach Pascal, who came to the Eagles from Indianapolis, where he played under Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni. To put it in fantasy terms, Watkins probably has the higher ceiling, but Pascal has the higher floor. According to an article recently written by CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr:
“Watkins and Pascal are locks to make the roster, but where they fit on the depth chart is to be determined. Pascal is a strong route runner and is an ideal fit for the slot with Smith and Brown on the outside. That allows Watkins to emerge as the number four wideout and emerge as a deep threat in an offense with three proven receivers. Watkins can play the slot, too, creating a mismatch with his speed, but the Eagles’ best setup in “11” personnel is probably Smith, Brown and Pascal.”
Being the bona fide number three in the offense would be preferable, but given Watkins’ skill set, he can probably do well in any role, although he’ll see less volume as the number four.
Does Watkins have a path to significant playing time? It’s not something you hope for, but Brown has missed six games over the last two seasons. On the other side, Smith is only 170 pounds, and although he got banged up as a rookie, he didn’t miss any significant time despite concerns about his size coming into the league. If either one misses any time, Watkins is potentially the biggest beneficiary of that absence, whether he is the Eagles’ WR3 or WR4.
In terms of fantasy expectations, I think a WR4 finish with the potential upside of sneaking into WR3 territory is well within the realm of possibilities for Watkins. He finished as WR67 last year, and that is reflected in his current ADP of 253, but as they say, a rising tide lifts all ships, and even with the additional competition for targets from freshly acquired Brown and Pascal, if this offense takes the leap forward many are projecting, Watkins should see a bump in his numbers as well. He’s probably a better bet in best ball leagues compared to traditional lineup-setting leagues, but in the right matchup, he could be startable on a given week in-season once bye weeks start kicking in.
Like many sleepers, Quez Watkins doesn’t have league-winning potential. He does, however, have the big-play ability to win you a given week. Few players being drafted in the 21st round can say they have that ability too. An essential role in one of the NFL’s top offenses for 2022 always brings with it the potential for fantasy goodness.
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