Many fantasy football leagues are expanding to 53 man rosters and the herd of players thins out quickly. Here are some of the top sleepers to target in late rounds of fantasy drafts.
Fantasy football keeps expanding every year and rosters keep getting deeper. I have joined 11 start up leagues this season with 53 man rosters and 5 taxi squad spots. These rosters are huge. When you get into those 40+ rounds, the quality of the picks drops off substantially. After participating in so many start ups this year, I have been able to see a couple of guys, some not even getting drafted, that are the best values to select late. Take a look as I cover each position at some IDP deep sleepers:
Ja’Whaun Bentley – Linebacker New England Patriots Current IDPGUYS Rank: 355.67
Last year my good friend @IDP_Dude wrote an article why Ja’Whaun Bentley was going to have a breakout year (read it here). @IDP_Dude may have been a year early. Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins remained the starters in New England with Elandon Roberts and Dont’a Hightower. Fortunately for Bentley, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts all signed with new teams this off-season. The Patriots also did not do much to address the middle linebacker position, mostly pass rush linebackers with the likes of Josh Usche and Anfernee Jennings.
Bentley came up with 44 tackles while playing only 27.8% of the team’s snaps. A total of 1,875 linebacker snaps are up for grabs from last year, and Bentley is the main benefactor. Anywhere between 70-80% snap share is heading Bentley’s way, and he has shown flashes of big play ability. Bentley is one of the higher-profile IDP deep sleepers in this article.
T.J. Edwards– Linebacker Philadelphia Eagles Current IDPGUYS Rank: 503
T.J. Edwards is one of my favorite IDP deep sleepers this year. He has barely ranked in our website’s top 700 players coming in at #503. He does not even register in our ADP because he is going undrafted. Edwards has a very good opportunity this year as I think he will be the starting middle linebacker for the Eagles this year. I covered the entire Eagles linebacker depth chart in an article you can read here.
The Eagles gave Edwards a little bit of run at the end of last season and produced well in limited action. He has an incredible football IQ though is slightly limited by his athleticism or lack thereof. He is not the most explosive athlete but is a tremendous run defender. Edwards also understands zone coverage and drop depth very well and could be a volume snap guy for 2020.
Jack Crawford – Defensive Tackle Tennessee Titans Unranked on IDPGUYS Top 700
Only those well-versed and degenerately digging deep in IDP know the name Jack Crawford. Jack Crawford is a crafty veteran that has never held down a true starting job but has played well in limited opportunity. Crawford saw his first increase in snap rate in 2015 with Dallas where he played all 16 games. While only making one start, he played on 46.2% of the team’s snaps. Crawford was able to produce 21 tackles, 7 for a loss, and four sacks. The next year he appeared on 50% of the team’s snaps and accrued 25 tackles, 3 for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. Then he signed with Atlanta and only appeared in 4 games.
Crawford had his career year just two years ago in 2018 where he played all 16 games, starting 11 and played 57.1% of snaps. He finished 2018 with 35 tackles, 7 for a loss, 6 sacks, and an interception. In the off-season, Crawford signed with the Titans after they lost Jurrell Casey to free agency. Casey averaged about 55 tackles, 9 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks per season over his 9 seasons with the Titans. Crawford is by no means Casey, but the Titans have great edge rush which should funnel quarterbacks up the pocket. If Crawford even gets 65% of the production Casey had he is still a great value and one of the defensive tackle IDP deep sleepers, especially since he can be your absolute last pick.
Clelin Ferrell – Defensive End Las Vegas Raiders Current IDPGUYS Rank: 305
How can a player selected 6th overall in 2019 already be a deep sleeper? I am not sure, but it happened to Clelin Ferrell. the Raiders selected him with the 6th overall pick in 2019 and is now ranked 305 in our top 700, almost a full 200 players after fellow 2019 rookie Maxx Crosby. Crosby was so good in fact he was likely the runner up for 2019 defensive rookie of the year. Ferrell still played on 61.9% of the team’s snaps and produced 38 tackles, 8 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 8 QB hits. Yet, he is being looked at as an afterthought in leagues as he is going undrafted in all of our site mock drafts. The talent is obviously there for Ferrell, and he will see heavy snaps again with more attention on Crosby. Ferrell is one of the top IDP deep sleepers and at only 23 years old is also a big buy low for me.
Lawrence Guy – Defensive End New England Patriots Unranked in IDPGUYS Top 700
Since Lawrence Guy has come to New England he has been a quiet beast of a defensive end. He has not missed a game and has started 46 of a possible 48 games he has played in. Over that three year span, he has averaged just under 60 tackles per season for the Patriots which is incredibly high for a defensive end. For reference, Danielle Hunter, the top-ranked defensive end, averaged only three more tackles per SEASON over the same stretch than Guy. The piece missing from Guy’s game is his play-making. He only has five sacks over the last three seasons. We are talking IDP deep sleepers here, and to get a guy who is ranked top 10 in defensive end total tackles, you could do much worse.
Gareon Conley – Cornerback Houston Texans Unranked in IDPGUYS Top 700
Many leagues are upping their point-scoring for pass deflections making cornerbacks more relevant in fantasy football. Now if you are in a league that forces you to play corners with a designated position for them, I suggest you dig deep. Conley is a former 1st round pick with the Raiders in 2017 and somehow fell out of favor with the team. He barely played his rookie season but in his second year in the NFL, he was actually quite good.
He finished the season with 37 tackles 15 passes defended, 3 interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. Conley struggled to start his third year in the league, and the Raiders chose to trade him to the Texans. In the last eight games, he had 27 tackles and 11 passes defended. He ranked 15th in the NFL in 2019 and tied for the 7th most pass deflections in 2018. He is starting again for the Texans in 2020 and is definitely worth a pick in cornerback leagues.
Bobby McCain – Safety Miami Dolphins Unranked in the IDPGUYS Top 700
Bobby McCain became slightly relevant as a cornerback after two straight years of part-time starting in 2016 and 2017. In 2018 though he became a fantasy darling for people in cornerback leagues. He finished 2018 with 61 tackles, two for a loss, two sacks, five passes defended and one interception playing in the slot.
McCain made a move to free safety hoping that his ball skills and aggressive nature would show. He struggled in his new role and eventually missed seven games to a shoulder injury. Still, he is the starting free safety on a team that is an up and coming group. His ball skills and potential volume earn him at least a look and can be a guy at the end of your bench for a weekly flyer.
More than half of the guys on this list do not even crack the IDPGUYS Combined Top 700 list. However, all of these guys should see the volume necessary to be fantasy relevant. Some have shown excellent potential and have increased roles while others have been forgotten about. Leagues are getting very deep these days with 53 man rosters and stretching to 16 team leagues. These IDP deep sleepers are something you need to keep your eyes out for.