My 2023 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers almost looked a lot like my 2022 set.
For example, I was very tempted to include Rondale Moore again on this list. Because once you're a post-hype sleeper, you remain a post-hype sleeper until you either succeed or absolutely fizzle out.
But I decided to choose players who were NOT on this list last year. Because if at first, you don't succeed...you're about average. But you fail at recommending a guy two years in a row, you look kind of dumb. That's why in addition to Rondale Moore, there will be no Irv Smith in this column either. But I swear this is this year!
Anyhoo...what follows is a handful of post-hype sleepers with at least one at each of the four Fantasy Football skill positions.
2023 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers
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James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2022
Being Dalvin Cook's younger brother, James Cook got plenty of hype. Given that Buffalo picked him in the second round, folks were envisioning Cook finishing off Josh Allen-led drives. Or at a minimum, he'd get at least three of four short passes a game and would take enough of them to the house. Yet Cook failed to do much most of the season. He finally notched his first top-15 finish in Week 13 with 14 carries for 64 yards and six receptions for 41 yards.
The high point of Cook's season arrived in Week 16 against the lowly Chicago Bears as Cook totaled 108 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries and one reception. At that point, however, most of his owners were likely out of the fantasy playoffs or used other options. But it gives us a spark of hope.
And Cook's advanced stats look pretty enticing. He managed to have the highest breakaway run rate (12.1%), not to mention an electric 5.3 "true yards per carry" last season (2nd amongst all RBs). He also recorded 6.3 yards per touch, good for third overall. Cook was also above average last season in fantasy points per opportunity, breakaway runs, juke rate, and yards created per touch.
While Singletary is now gone, the Bills did add Damien Harris. And there are whispers that Jonathan Taylor might stop Buffalo's revolving door at RB. But assuming that doesn't happen, I like Cook to break into RB2 territory on his receiving alone. He could approach 60 catches with Buffalo, who has ranked fifth in pass rate over the past three years. Cook could very well be an integral part of a fantasy championship team recipe.
Elijah Moore, WR, Cleveland Browns
Moore came into the league as the 34th overall pick two years ago and was expected to be part of the "Jets' revival". However, fast forward to today and Moore is now the WR2 behind Amari Cooper in Cleveland.
Because while Moore hasn't been terrible, he has less than 1K yards receiving combined during his two years in the league and just half a dozen TDs. So why the optimism? Well for one, Cleveland's DeShaun Watson is probably the best quarterback Moore has had his entire career. Still just 23, Moore is small but has blazing speed (he ran a 4.35 40-time at the Combine), and is the perfect complement to Cooper.
There is even a chance that Moore could see more targets than Cooper this year. I wouldn't count on that happening, but it's not that far-fetched of a hope. Plus, there's this fact:
Don't forget Elijah Moore finished 9th in success rate vs man coverage last year
The eight players above him all finished as Top 24 WRs in fantasy football
— Alex Caruso (@AlexCaruso) July 26, 2023
I think Moore definitely will finish as a WR2 this year and given his ADP is in the double-digit rounds, that screams steal and a post-hype sleeper to me.
Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders
Howell was actually a potential number one pick in the 2021 draft, but returned to school only to see his stock drop in the 2022 draft. So there's your post-hype recap. But he is an extremely popular sleeper this season and with good reason.
Let's not put too much stock into Howell ending the Ravens' preseason win streak, but he definitely passed the eye test in that game. Eric Bienemy is dangerously close to being called a football genius. He helped make that Patrick Mahomes fella pretty good and seems to working his magic with Howell. In addition, Howell has some pretty decent weapons at his disposal with All-Pro Terry McLaurin and another popular sleeper, Jahan Dotson.
But Howell also brings with him some running ability, which is also welcomed in fantasy circles. He ran for 35 yards in his only start last year, but that might just be a preview. In his last season as a Tar Heel, he ran for 828 yards and 11 TDs. Howell is a sneaky peak to sneak into the QB1 rankings this upcoming season.
Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Currently manifesting that Trey McBride breakout season…pic.twitter.com/6emFdPq1vh
— PHNX Cardinals (@PHNX_Cardinals) June 26, 2023
After being drafted as the 55th overall in the 2022 draft, many thought McBride would begin to make a name for himself last year. That didn't happen.
McBride's usage however didn't see any kind of uptick until Ertz went down. In his first eight games, McBride caught just three passes for 24 yards. However, during his final eight games, that number skyrocketed to 26 catches and 241 yards.
I think Clayton Tune might look to his check-down option a bit, which means McBride, especially early in the season. And if McBride can prove he can be a worthwhile weapon before Kyler Murray comes back, I expect him to continue to be a weapon when Murray gets back. McBride likely won't finish as a WR1, but a top 20 season is definitely in the cards.
Cards. Cardinals. Get it? Oh, never mind.....
That will do it for now for my 2023 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers, but look for me on Twitter (@MarkStrausberg) to post some other potential 2023 Fantasy Football Post-Hype Sleepers before the season kicks off!
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