2020 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers

by Michael Tomlin
2021 Fantasy Football Week 5 Injury Impact

I have said many times in the past few years that there really are not any “sleepers” in the original use of the term for Fantasy Football. There is too much information widely available and people do too much research for that to happen. However, there are definitely still post-hype sleepers.

A sleeper was always seen as someone that no one knew about or was thinking about. These were also the days of people drafting multiple players at kicker and defense in the middle rounds. We have collectively become better and smarter at Fantasy Football so sleepers kind of died.

Post-hype sleepers are alive and well though. Post-hype sleepers are players that were touted strongly the previous season, did not live up to those lofty expectations, and are now being literally slept on. Everyone knows who these players are. The post-hype sleepers are being undervalued because they are being drafted at their floor of production because of recency bias.

The best way to spot post-hype sleepers is to look at workload and surrounding circumstances. If a guy was seen as a disappointment the previous season but is still expected to get a similar or larger workload, then I would trust the team that his ceiling is higher than it was shown.

You also want to factor in how the surrounding circumstances on the team affected the post-hype sleepers. Did the quarterback get hurt? Has the offensive line been upgraded in the offseason? Did he deal with a nagging injury?

So these are my best post-hype sleepers for 2020. All of the ADP data is per Fantasy Calculator as of July 28th. The rankings/ADP is using half-point per reception scoring. Also keep in mind these are the best players to place O/U bets on since they are usually lower. Find some WV sports betting places to place some bets for the upcoming season.

2020 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers

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Higher ADP Division

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Le'Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets

  • 2019 ADP: 8.1, RB7 -- 2019 Finish: RB17
  • 2020 ADP: 40.0, RB18

I get it: Adam Gase, it’s the Jets, tread on tires, efficiency, Frank Gore, etc. What I like are facts though.

Fact: Le'Veon Bell had the 11th most carries in the NFL last year with 245.

Fact: Bell had the seventh most catches of all running backs last year, 66. Only Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette matched him in both categories.

You have to have opportunity to succeed in Fantasy Football. Bell gives you guaranteed top-10 opportunity at the hardest position to secure touches. I know that Gore is there now and they drafted La'Mical Perine.

There are 102 carries and 37 catches up for grabs from last season due to the departures of Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery. Even if you add 41 of Bell’s to get that total to 180 touches between the secondary backs, Bell is still in the Top 11 for total touches.

All of this means that at the current price point, you are drafting Bell at his absolute floor. He is going to touch the ball a minimum of 250 times for around 1,200 total yards with 50 catches and a handful of touchdowns. That’s around 180 half-point per reception points. RB18 last year scored 181.6 points.

So Bell’s production floor is RB18. His upside is the top back overall, which he accomplished before. That’s well worth the price.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • 2019 ADP: 14.6, WR5 -- 2019 Finish: WR66
  • 2020 ADP: 42.3, WR16

I think I have come around more on JuJu this offseason than any other player. The biggest reason is his draft price keeps falling. You can now get the undisputed top target on an offense that was in the top four in the league in passing the last two years with a healthy quarterback at the end of the fourth round (fifth round even in 10-team leagues!).

I know I hated on his 2019, but between his and his quarterback’s injuries, it can be validated. I mean, JuJu is still a kid. He was 22 when Ben got hurt last year. I can’t imagine my focus would have been top-notch at that age either.

Nevertheless, Smith-Schuster fits the requirements of the post-hype sleepers perfectly. He will receive well over 150 targets as the top option in an offense that will throw 600 times. His previous season was affected massively by injury.

He is now worth a mid-round pick just a year after going near the end of Round One. The upside is too good to pass up.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, Cleveland Browns

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  • 2019 ADP: 14.9, WR6 -- 2019 Finish: WR26
  • 2020 ADP: 35.5, WR12

OBJ was pretty hyped up going into his first season with the Browns in 2019. Heck, the entire team was hyped up. Beckham definitely did not live up to his hype though, finishing as a WR3.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem terrible: 74 catches for 1,035 yards. However, the touchdown luck was NOT on his side with just four scores despite playing in all 16 games. The most alarming stat to me though was his receptions per game.

Beckham averaged between 6.3 and 6.4 receptions per game for four straight seasons going into last year. In 2019 the former LSU Tiger hauled in just 4.6 catches per game. If you bring that up to his previous prevalent amount with his yards per catch, he jumps up just behind WR6 overall.

I know it’s not that easy to extrapolate and think it is just going to happen. But, I do think it is likely to happen. Even if it just regresses halfway up, the rest of the production will be made up by touchdown regression. By Beckham’s career touchdown percentage, he should have had 8.4 touchdowns last season. He had just four. That will come up for sure, giving Beckham a higher floor than his current draft slot.

Should he become the blonde OBJ we all know and love, he could challenge for the top spot overall at the position.

Full-On Sleepers

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Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

  • 2019 ADP: 29.6, RB16 -- 2019 Finish: RB53
  • 2020 ADP: 94.3, RB34

Now we are getting to the more traditional “sleeper” range. While I’m holding back from using all of the incumbent backs that people just assume the rookies will take over, Kerryon fits the post-hype sleepers the best.

Last season, Johnson was the hot pick as the mid-round back ready to break out. However, an injury in Week 6 coupled with Matthew Stafford going down caused half of his season to be lost. So I get the injury concerns. I also understand that D’Andre Swift was drafted. Both of those concerns are baked into his ADP, which you can get him in rounds nine or ten.

When Johnson does get the ball he is nearly elite. Before his injury, he was PFF's seventh-best running back. In games in which he gets 10 touches or more, he averages 12.72 Fantasy Points (including THREE that he left early with injury). In games that he gets at least 12 carries he averages 15 Fantasy Points. That type of production can put you in high-end RB1 territory.

So with a short/no offseason/preseason, give me the veteran starter over the rookie off the bat. If he gets off to a hot start, who’s to say that he can’t become a consistent RB2 even with Swift getting touches? That would be a great win at the current draft cost.

Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears

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  • 2019 ADP: 76.6, RB30 -- 2019 Finish: RB37
  • 2020 ADP: 129.3, RB46

Coming off a 71-catch, 1,169-scrimmage yard, 8-touchdown 2018, Cohen vaulted up draft boards last season, even with a top rookie drafted to the Bears. However, he fell short of his draft expectations.

While David Montgomery did severely cut into Cohen’s rushing numbers, he actually improved somewhat through the air catching 79 passes. Only CMC, Kamara, and Austin Ekeler caught more passes last season and all three of them will go hours before Cohen in your draft.

The most important factor is the situation: Nick Foles will take over for Mitchell Trubisky. Foles will bring the offense up as a whole to a point that they run more overall and have more valuable plays (i.e. scoring opportunities). More opportunity for Cohen could lead to a 90+ catch season. If he is reaching those heights with a little bit of touchdown luck, he could easily crack the 200-point barrier.

All of this for a Round 11 pick that brings you a four-to-five reception per game floor.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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  • 2019 ADP: 63.9, WR26 -- 2019 Finish, WR45
  • 2020 ADP: 202, WR70

Only 14 wide receivers in the NFL have at least 101 targets in each of the last two seasons. The majority of these guys are going in the first few rounds. Almost all of them in the top 30 at the position. There’s also Larry Fitzgerald, who is past his prime and just inherited target monster DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. Then there’s Dede Westbrook.

Westbrook’s current ADP is ridiculous. A guy who has over 100 targets in back-to-back seasons is going undrafted in the majority of 12-team drafts. D.J. Chark, recipient of just 17 more targets in the same offense last season, is going 150 picks higher. I’m not saying Westbrook is better, but he is definitely not that much worse of an option.

The Jaguars did draft Laviska Shenault, but as I’ve previously said I am avoiding most of the rookies this season. I also think Gardner Minshew progresses and the Jaguars will be playing from behind often, leading to more and better targets Westbrook’s way. I doubt Fournette gets that many looks his way again, opening up even more targets.

At the bare minimum, Westbrook is someone you can fill in on bye weeks with. At the most, Chark gets hurt, Shenault can’t get up to speed and you have a WR2 for the last pick in your draft.

Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice, including all 32 Fantasy Football Team Previews to get you prepared for the 2020 season

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