Your definition of the term “sleeper” may vary, but the following are players whom I’ve deemed undervalued based on their ADP in PPR formats.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 23-year-old is anything but under-the-radar as a new starter in a Bruce Arians system that has the coach predicting Godwin approaches 100 catches while “never coming off the field,” but his ADP is still too low given the departures of DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries during the offseason. Godwin is a sick talent (96th percentile in SPARQ-x, top-30 in yards per route run last season) entering his third year in the league in a near ideal situation. He’s in the Larry Fitzgerald role in Arians’ vertical offense, Tampa Bay features a pass-happy attack without a reliable running back and the team arguably has the league’s worst defense. Godwin is a top-15 WR on my board. And if you’re playing in a deep dynasty format, rookie Scott Miller is the PPR sleeper in Tampa Bay who’ll be available late.
Evan Engram, New York Giants
He was already an obvious breakout candidate entering Year 3 and with Odell Beckham Jr. gone, but Engram’s projection for catches increased after Sterling Shepard recently suffered a broken thumb, and Golden Tate was suspended for the first month of the season (while Corey Coleman also suffered a torn ACL). The Giants are going to have one of the league’s worst QB situations in 2019, and Engram’s had durability concerns, but he was able to rack up 64 catches in just 15 games as a rookie in 2017 while playing one of the hardest positions to learn. He’s in store to be among the tight end leaders in targets this season.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
The former Biletnikoff winner racked up 23 catches over the final month of last season and has emerged as Jacksonville’s clear No. 1 wide receiver (and Donte Moncrief left during the offseason). Nick Foles should be an upgrade at quarterback for the Jaguars. Westbrook also lined up in the slot 89.0% of the time last season (the second-highest rate in the NFL), which is a great way to rack up catches.
Geronimo Allison & Aaron Jones, Packers
I’m drafting teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling earlier, but Allison is going to be a major fantasy asset in PPR leagues as Green Bay’s main slot receiver in 2019. Aaron Rodgers has targeted the slot on more than a quarter of his pass attempts during his career, producing an NFL-best 111.6 Passer Rating, so it’s a lucrative role to step into.
Jones is also undervalued some in PPR formats, as new coach Matt LaFleur has openly stated he plans on throwing to his running backs more. Jones cut his body fat to 5.3% while putting in extra work as a receiver during the offseason and is ready to star in LaFleur’s system. Conversely, Jamaal Williams finished second to last in yards per route run among running backs last year. Jones is a top-10 RB on my board.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
Coutee hasn’t shown the ability to shake hamstring problems and has a couple of beasts outside at wide receiver to compete with for looks. Still, Houston has a pedestrian starter at running back, typically doesn’t throw much to its tight ends and one of those WRs is Will Fuller, who’s among the NFL’s most injury-prone players. Houston’s narrow tree and fast pace are plusses. Coutee was targeted heavily at times during his rookie campaign (he appeared in just seven games and wasn’t 100% for many of them yet recorded 11 catches with 14+ targets in two of those contests). He’s going to pile up receptions out of the slot in Year 2 should his health cooperate.
Jaylen Samuels & Vance McDonald, Steelers
Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are out in Pittsburgh, and James Conner has a serious injury history and will now be asked to carry the load. Samuels had 199 receiving yards with three touchdowns over 14 games in limited work as a rookie and could make noise in PPR formats even without a Conner injury. The Steelers are planning to feature more two-back sets (they were already top-three in using that formation last year), which makes sense given Samuels’ familiarity with the H-back and tight end roles in college. Samuels has major upside should Conner go down.
While less of a true sleeper, McDonald should also take full advantage of the team’s freed up targets. He’s a top-eight tight end on my board (and my favorite TE target if you miss out on George Kittle and O.J. Howard). The Steelers led the NFL in pass attempts last season by a comfortable margin (nearly 50 more than the next most and a whopping 262 more passes thrown than the Seahawks), and Bell is now gone for good. McDonald is a terrific athlete capable of racking up yards after the catch, and his target share is almost certainly going to be a career-high in 2019.
Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs
He’s undersized (5-foot-8, 200 pounds) and considered a change of pace back, but Kansas City is both arguably the best system for running backs and also thin at the position after Damien Williams (who himself left Sunday’s practice with a hamstring injury and set a career-high with 50 carries during his fifth year in the league last season). Carlos Hyde is awful as a receiver out of the backfield (among other areas on the football field), and Thompson is a big-play threat in a system that loves to throw to backs. Think Tarik Cohen but with more upside thanks to a much better situation.
Matt LaCosse & Rex Burkhead, Patriots
With Rob Gronkowski retired, Ben Watson suspended to open the season and Julian Edelman dealing with a broken thumb, LaCosse has been working with New England’s first-team offense. He could prove plenty useful over the first month of the season, especially at a weak tight end position.
There are also worse ways to spend a late round flier in PPR leagues than on Rex Burkhead, a year after he burned owners and with James White going much earlier in drafts. Counting the playoffs, Sony Michel had four more touchdowns (12) than receptions last year, and rookie Damien Harris wasn’t a huge pass-catcher at Alabama (totaling 52 receptions over four years). Burkhead is free at drafts yet is just one season removed from finishing second to Alvin Kamara among running backs in yards per route run (with a number that would’ve led all RBs in the stat last year).
Nyheim Hines & Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Maybe sleeper isn’t the right word here, but Hines certainly gets a big boost in PPR formats, as he’s locked into Indy’s third-down back role after seeing 81 targets (63 catches) as a rookie. There’s not a ton of upside, as Hines is too small to take over as a lead back should Marlon Mack go down, but this is still a terrific situation for the specialist. The Colts ran the fastest offense in the NFL last season (second-fastest in neutral situations) and more plays are gold for fantasy owners. Moreover, Doyle is one season removed from recording 80 receptions in 15 games. He’s also much cheaper than teammate Eric Ebron, who’s the biggest regression candidate in the league.
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
There’s certainly potential here considering Crowder got nearly $30 million to play the slot, the two outside wideouts are relatively unproven and the projected starting tight end is suspended the first four games of the season (more on all of them below). Crowder will also have a quarterback who was both the youngest Week 1 starter in NFL history while also sporting the league’s highest QBR over the final month of last season.
However, it's not all good news for Crowder. He exited Monday’s practice with a foot injury, disappointed badly in Washington and will be competing for targets with emerging options (Robby Anderson and Chris Herndon both look like budding stars at their position, while Quincy Enunwa is plenty capable of also playing the slot). The Jets also have an extremely shaky head coach (Adam Gase may have been calling plays slowly last year because of his personnel, but he also badly misused that personnel and can’t be trusted).
Trent Taylor, San Francisco 49ers
Slowed all of last season after undergoing back surgery, Taylor showed flashes as a rookie and is the favorite to act as San Francisco’s slot receiver in 2019. He’s also reportedly impressed under new WR coach Wes Welker. This is for deep formats, but in an uptempo Kyle Shanahan offense that produced an 8.3 YPA mark from undrafted Nick Mullens last season, Taylor could make an impact in fantasy leagues this year.