Fantasy Football 2016: 10 Sleepers Who Could Help You Win Your League

by NESN Staff

August 26, 2016

It’s easy to plan ahead for your fantasy football drafts — making charts or your own projections that help decide which players are value steals later and overdrafted earlier, for example.

A bit harder, though, is picking a sleeper. Having a breakout player — especially one taken in the later rounds — is a typical hallmark of every fantasy championship team.

That’s where we step in.

We’ve taken a look at all 32 NFL teams with a fantasy scope, and right here, we’ve compiled 10 players we believe could break out this season.

Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
Fuller was selected by the Texans 20th overall in this year’s NFL draft. Normally we’d put him in the sleepers category, and we’re still technically classifying him as such, but he’s being drafted (14th round, 54th wide receiver) and is owned in over 57 percent of ESPN leagues. For a guy who just caught 138 passes for 2,352 yards and 29 touchdowns over the past two seasons at Notre Dame, Fuller is an excellent flyer for the end of your bench, especially if he wins Houston’s No. 2 WR spot next to Hopkins.

Josh Ferguson, Running Back, Indianapolis Colts
Ferguson went undrafted, and he likely won’t be drafted in your fantasy leagues, either. But he might be worth a late pick or a waiver-wire look, as the Colts already have high expectations for him.

Tyler Boyd, Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals
This 2016 second-round pick projects as one of the Bengals’ top receivers right away, and he likely will be available as a steal late in your fantasy draft.

Josh Gordon, Wide Receiver, Cleveland Browns
Gordon finally might see the football field again after his yearlong suspension in 2015. He still is suspended for the first four games, but if he looks anything like he did in his first two seasons (2,451 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns), he’s worth a chance later in the draft.

Markus Wheaton, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
Martavis Bryant is suspended for the season because of a drug violation, so Wheaton steps into the No. 2 WR role in Steel City. He has averaged 48.5 catches on 82.5 targets for 697 yards the past two seasons, and he caught a career-high five touchdown passes last season. Time will tell if Wheaton truly is ready for an increased workload, but he’s a decent addition as a flex or bench option in the later rounds. He’s going in the 13th round as the 48th wide receiver.

Kolby Listenbee, Wide Receiver, Buffalo Bills
The Bills are looking for another reliable, speedy receiver to line up next to Sammy Watkins, and their sixth-round pick could be the guy. Listenbee could see increased targets if Watkins misses time, but he could struggle as a rookie facing elite defenders. He’s currently not being drafted, so keep him in mind as a possible waiver-wire pickup.

Martellus Bennett, Tight End, New England Patriots
Bennett missed five games last season, but he’s a Pro Bowl talent when healthy and engaged. He also moves from a terrible quarterback in Jay Cutler to arguably the greatest QB of all time in Tom Brady. It might take a few weeks to get the Patriots’ offense up to speed once Brady returns from suspension in Week 5, but across from Rob Gronkowski, Bennett could be a terrifying matchup for opposing defenses. He’s only being taken in the 13th round as the 15th tight end, despite his career numbers of 348 catches for 3,586 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Travis Benjamin, Wide Receiver, San Diego Chargers
Benjamin burst onto the scene last season with the Cleveland Browns, putting up career-highs — 68 catches, 966 yards and five touchdowns — without a competent quarterback throwing him the ball. He’ll probably be the No. 2 wide receiver in San Diego from Day 1, and those targets could increase should Keenan Allen’s health falter again. Benjamin is being drafted around the 13th round, on average, and could provide some terrific value at that spot.

DeAndré Washington, Running Back, Oakland Raiders
Taken in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, this rookie very well could play his way into at least a third-down role, which could be more beneficial to PPR users. As a senior at Texas Tech, Washington caught 41 passes for 385 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to his terrific rushing numbers: 233 rushes for 1,492 yards (6.4 average) and 14 touchdowns. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio already has said he sees Washington as a full-time player, not just a third-down option, and given Latavius Murray’s ridiculous workload last season (third-most touches in the NFL), don’t be shocked to see Washington steal some snaps. He’s currently going undrafted.

Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
People already are buying into the Treadwell hype, taking him just after Diggs in the ninth round as the 41st receiver off the board. He very well could end up being the best WR on the roster by season’s end, as his explosive past at Ole Miss suggests. Treadwell had 82 catches for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior last season before being taken at No. 23 by the Vikes. Half of those numbers would be a good floor projection for this potential star.

Bonus: Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
We felt bad not giving you a quarterback, so here’s a stretch. Kaepernick is exactly the guy new 49ers coach Chip Kelly has been searching for since he left Marcus Mariota at Oregon for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles. Lest you forget, Kelly made Nick Foles look like a really good quarterback for about a season and a half before he was injured and later traded. If Kaep can win the job, he might be worth a stash on your bench.

Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images

Picked For You