2021 Fantasy Soccer Sleepers: Prime 10 League-Profitable Gamers to Goal on Draft Day
The term sleeper has different meanings for different people in the world of fantasy football. Some people believe that it is simply a player who surpasses his draft position. This includes players like Justin Herbert, James Robinson, and Justin Jefferson in 2020. Others believe that someone who was relatively unknown becomes a useful fantasy option, like Myles Gaskin, Curtis Samuel, or Robert Tonyan.
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Both definitions are true, but with one caveat. I don’t see a player as a sleeper if they have already been a valuable fantasy asset in their career. Carson Wentz, Marvin Jones Jr., and Noah Fant, for example, don’t feel like sleepers to me. Wentz was a top 12 QB several times. Jones has scored nine TDs in three of the last four seasons and was in WR18 last season. Fant was a top 10 tight end in 2020, so can he be a sleeper?
Could these players be called bargains in the 2021 Fantasy Football Drafts? Absolutely. But by my definition of the term, they are certainly not considered sleepers.
With that in mind, here are 10 players who could be the best of the best in the 2021 Fantasy Football Sleeper Class in the mid to late round.
Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos
Williams was a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft and is without question the future leader of the Broncos backfield. That’s in large part because Melvin Gordon is going into the final year of his contract. While I see the veteran as the team’s week 1 starter, the backcourt lost 125 touches when the team ran Phillip Lindsay as a free agent. I can imagine Williams having a standalone flex appeal or more in 2021.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Arizona Cardinals
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Edmonds was the RB25 last season, making him a high-end fantasy # 3 in most leagues. I think he can be better in 2021, and the addition of James Conner makes him even more of a sleeper. That’s because Conner’s presence in the Cardinals ‘backfield is viewed as detriment to Edmonds’ worth and has moved him onto the draft boards. At the beginning of a contract year, the versatile running back could be a gem of Draft Day.
Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets
Carter may be on the smaller side at 5 feet 8 and 201 pounds, but that didn’t stop him from standing 1,245 yards (eight yards per attempt average) in his senior year in North Carolina. In addition, he set these sums while sharing the workload with the aforementioned Williams. The Jets don’t have a real No. 1 running back, so former Tar Heel Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine will be pushing for touch.
Trey Sermon, RB, San Francisco 49ers
When the 49ers took over Sermon in the NFL draft, it immediately piqued the interest of fantasy managers. That’s because coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense has produced more than its share of star running backs. His system has resulted in five top 8 fantasy finishes in this position. The loss of Jeffery Wilson also moves Sermon up the depth chart, making it even more likely that he will push Raheem Mostert and Wayne Gallman into the rotation.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Smith finished the last banana season in Alabama with 117 catches for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns. While those sums of money are a pipe dream at the NFL level, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner landed in a great place to succeed as a rookie. He is reunited with Jalen Hurts in an Eagles offensive that doesn’t have a true No. 1 wideout. I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith is the Eagles’ most targeted wide receiver in 2021.
Laviska Shenault, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Shenault’s rookie totals weren’t what would be considered noticeable as it finished as a WR46 last year. He did have 600 yards and five touchdowns, however, and he caught passes from a rotation of mediocre (or worse) quarterbacks at Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon. With Trevor Lawrence now below the middle and with many goals to be won, Shenault should be in a better position to score points.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
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Burrow isn’t a traditional sleeper as we all know the college stat sheet stuffer, but he still has a lot to prove at the NFL level. The good news is that he will be back from a serious knee injury in time for Week 1 and will have his former LSU Tigers teammate Ja’Marr Chase back in his arsenal. Burrow has also been on pace as a rookie starter in nearly 650 attempts to pass, and he’s going to be throwing a lot this season.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Detroit Lions
Williams should be added as a complement to D’Andre Swift, but new Lions OC Anthony Lynn has dubbed him a “classic A-back.” That doesn’t mean he’s the favorite to start, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams plays a bigger role on the team’s offensive than we expected on his first deal with Detroit. I can imagine Williams having a flex value of its own in an attack that lacks real firepower.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
Tagovailoa hasn’t had a spectacular rookie season, but it showed some potential despite not having a preseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also recovering from a serious hip injury, so the cards of statistical success were stacked against him. Now in 2021, with a traditional off-season and the addition of offensive weapons like Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa could become a fantasy asset.
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints
Trautman is in a great position to be an effective weapon for both the Saints and Fantasy Managers in 2021. The team lost Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook as free agents and didn’t add any significant competition in the passing game, so the stage is set for Trautmann. Head coach Sean Payton’s offense has been a very close friendly in the past, so don’t be surprised if the Dayton product hits the top 15 fantasy totals in 2021.
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Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst for Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all of his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your latest fantasy news and the best analysis in the industry!