As the August days continue to dwindle, fantasy football is in the air. Drafts are quickly approaching which means you need to be ready to build a lineup that will put your friends' to shame. Here are five sleepers and busts that you should know about before you get to the draft table.
QB - Matt Stafford, Detroit Lions (Yahoo ADP: 102.8)
Currently drafted as QB13 according to Yahoo average-draft-position (ADP) Stafford is a great value pick and the quarterback you should be targeting when waiting at the position. Prior to the back injury that cost him the final eight games of last season, Stafford was QB6 in fantasy points through Week 9.
He ranked No. 1 amongst qualifying passers last season in average intended air yards, completed air yards, aggressiveness percentage, while finishing fifth in completion percentage above expectation, according to NFL Next Gen stats. With the same cast of receivers returning this season, expect more of the same from a healthy Stafford.
RB - Damien Harris, New England Patriots (Yahoo ADP: 127.5)
A third-round selection of the Patriots from the 2019 NFL Draft, Harris hardly saw the field as a rookie. He suited up for just two games and received only four touches. Entering his second season, however, there is lots of buzz surrounding Harris.
As it currently stands, both Sony Michel and Lamar Miller are not participating in New England's training camp due to injury. Their absences have allowed Harris to receive a lot of work in camp, and he has been a standout performer this summer. It’s worth noting that during the pair's final season at the University of Alabama, Harris actually out-touched Raiders standout Josh Jacobs 172-140, while also averaging a better yards-per-carry.
RB - Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills (Yahoo ADP: 124.1)
Moss is entering a Buffalo backfield where there is sneakily a nice opportunity to contribute immediately. The Bills are a run-heavy offense, running the ball 465 times in 2019, the sixth-most frequent mark in the NFL.
With Frank Gore departing for the Jets, he leaves behind 179 vacated backfield touches. Moss is shaping up to potentially assume that role in the Bills' offense, but there's a good chance that he'll be more effective than the 37-year-old was. Gore totalled an uninspiring 699 yards from scrimmage last year, which translates to 3.9 yards-per-touch. If Moss, who was Pro Football Focus' No. 2 ranked running back prospect entering the 2020 NFL Draft, can surpass that low bar, 179 touches could be the baseline for the volume he sees as a rookie. He's one of the few RBs that offers the potential for immediate standalone value at this part of the draft.
WR - Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals (Yahoo ADP: 127.3)
For some reason unbeknownst to me, Kirk is being selected behind veteran teammate Larry Fitzgerald according to Yahoo ADP. Pro tip: Don't draft Fitzgerald ahead of Kirk this year.
The addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals' lineup has many shying away from Kirk, but I'm doing the exact opposite. Kirk has performed well in his young career so far. While dealing with an ankle injury in 2019, Kirk surpassed 60 receiving yards in five of the 13 games he played in. He's also in a Cardinals offense that passed the ball the 12th-most frequently of any team in the NFL last season.
Arizona, under head coach Kliff Kingsbury also deployed four wide receiver sets on 31% of its plays, by far the highest mark in the NFL. This means Kirk should have no problem finding the field this season. The addition of Hopkins may help Kirk. The All-Pro talent will command quite a bit of attention from opposing defenses, which will make things a little easier on Kirk, who is better suited as a No. 2 option.
TE - Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (Yahoo ADP: 123.6)
The tight end I am consistently waiting on in fantasy football drafts is Gesicki. The third-year pro made enough progress in his second season to have fantasy football managers excited about his potential in Year 3.
Gesicki is an athletic specimen. He has 95th percentile speed, 99th percentile burst and agility and a 100th percentile catch radius, according to Player Profiler. In case you were wondering, those measurables are absolutely ridiculous. There will be an increased opportunity or Gesicki in Miami's offense in 2020, as the team has 176 vacated targets, the fifth-highest total in the NFL.
Earlier in the offseason, it was reported by Cameron Wolfe of ESPN that Gesicki could be used more out of the slot this season. That development seems increasingly more likely now that Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns have opted out of the 2020 season.
QB - Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans (Yahoo ADP: 54.5)
Watson being a bust in 2020 has less to do with him and more to do with the Texans' offseason. The absence of DeAndre Hopkins can not be understated. Losing a player of Hopkins' calibre is going to be felt in every facet of the team's offense in 2020.
Although the receiving options on this team aren't horrible, there are reasons to be skeptical. Brandin Cooks was added this offseason, but he has an extensive and unfortunate concussion history. Will Fuller has been an elite producer when healthy, but he's only suited up for 18 games the past two years. My worry is both Cooks and Fuller have concerning injury histories which may hurt Watson if either or both players miss time.
RB - Todd Gurley II, Atlanta Falcons (Yahoo ADP: 33.2)
At his current ADP, there is absolutely no chance Gurley will wind up on any of my fantasy football teams. For starters, the 26-year-old reportedly has an "arthritic component to his knee." That doesn't sound like fun.
Additionally, Gurley is coming off a rough season for his standards. In 2019, he received 223 carries, the lowest total of his career. He mustered just 3.8 yards-per-carry, his worst mark since his rookie season while also putting forth 6.3 yards-per-reception, another career-worst. Gurley's knee ailment has sapped much of the explosiveness and productivity out of his game. He'll get every opportunity to lead this backfield, but there's reason to doubt that he'll withstand the large workload he's assuming in Atlanta.
RB - Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos (Yahoo ADP: 33.8)
The Broncos lured Gordon to Denver, signing him to a contract with an annual average value of $8M over the next two seasons. Early reports suggest, however, that Gordon may not have truly realized what he was getting himself into.
Gordon admitted to Jeff Legwold of ESPN that he's been struggling with the altitude. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio also added most recently that he sees "both [Gordon and Phillip Lindsay] playing enough where we really don’t have to designate a starter," according to Zac Stevens of DNVR Sports. This sounds like a much more even timeshare than what was originally expected when Gordon joined the team. Lindsay, who has been in the league for two seasons, has more 1,000 yard rushing seasons (2) and seasons with a yards-per-carry over 4.0 (2) than Gordon, who has just one of each through five campaigns.
WR - Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (Yahoo ADP: 45.7)
From Week 1 to Week 8 in 2019, Kupp accumulated the second-most fantasy points of any wide receiver. From Week 9 through Week 16, however, Kupp's production took a bit of a dive. During that span, Kupp had the 44th-most fantasy points at the position, being outscored by teammate Robert Woods 91.6-65.5. Kupp's downtick in production coincided with tight end Tyler Higbee's increased involvement in the offense, a development that won't disappear this season. There are so many solid wide receiver options in the early-mid rounds of fantasy drafts that I'm willing to look elsewhere for production.
TE - Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Yahoo ADP: 76.6)
I want the Gronk come back to be great, I really do, but I just don't see it happening. Being drafted as TE9 in Yahoo fantasy football drafts, people are hoping that there's still some magic left, that the year off will do Gronkowski some good. I will not be looking to take that chance given where you have to draft the 31-year old tight end.
Back issues have plagued Gronkowski in the past, which is certainly something to consider. The other issue is there is legitimate competition for targets. O.J. Howard has looked good in training camp, several sources reported throughout camp. Gronk can still be effective with a lighter workload, but guessing when he will pop off will be a challenge. When you factor in the two elite receiving options the Bucs have in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well, I see Tampa's offense being too crowded to support Gronkowski as a No. 1 TE in fantasy football.
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