Fantasy managers are a fickle bunch, and when a player doesn’t immediately meet expectations, his value drops faster than a new car that's been driven off the lot. But the sharp turns in opinions ignore the reality that some players work through detours before finding their perfect mix of experience, talent and opportunity.
The following eight men could recover from some past letdowns and emerge as post-hype sleepers this season.
Jordan Love (QB, Green Bay Packers)
Love got a bad rap immediately after drafted, as the Packers' decision to select an Aaron Rodgers successor in the first round was widely panned by fans and analysts. Three years later, we have no idea if this guy can play. After all, Love logged just one start during his initial two seasons, and that appearance was a difficult matchup in Kansas City during his rookie campaign.
Love could fall flat on his face, but with offensive guru Matt LaFleur by his side, he has upside worth chasing as a QB2 in Superflex formats.
It’s fair to say that the Lions didn’t believe in Swift. A top-15 pick in many 2022 fantasy drafts, the Georgia alum was permitted to carry the ball just 99 times in 14 games. Swift now gets a fresh start on a Philadelphia team that ranked fifth in rushing yards last year and lost their top RB, Miles Sanders, in free agency. Supremely talented as both a rusher and receiver, Swift could deliver on his 2022 expectations a year later and reward those who didn’t become Never-Swifters after getting burned by Detroit.
Gabe Davis (WR, Buffalo Bills)
No player in this article better models a post-hype sleeper profile than Davis. The downfield threat roared into the 2022 fantasy draft season on the heels of a four-TD playoff game that sent breakout expectations through the roof. And although Davis wasn’t awful last year, his managers were expecting better than 48 catches and 836 yards. Still just 24 years old, Davis could take his game to another level by scooping up some of the 65 targets that were vacated by the departure of Isaiah McKenzie.
Brown hoped for his career to take off in 2022. After all, the Cardinals had recently traded a first-round pick for the receiver, who was coming off his first 1,000-yard season in Baltimore’s run-heavy offense. The breakout campaign didn’t materialize, as Brown produced 59.1 yards per game, scored just three times and missed five contests due to injury.
This year’s drafters see little hope for the 26-year-old, taking him on average as WR35, in part due to the uncertain status of QB Kyler Murray. But with target-hog DeAndre Hopkins off the roster and Arizona likely to be trailing in many games, there is a chance that Brown gets the heaviest workload of his five-year career.
Elijah Moore (WR, Cleveland Browns)
After a promising rookie year (538 yards, five TDs in 11 games), Moore and the Jets could not get on the same page regarding his role in the offense during a disappointing sophomore season. The 23-year-old gets a fresh start in Cleveland this year, where he is expected to start alongside Amari Cooper while working with Deshaun Watson, who is much more talented than anyone who tossed passes Moore's way in New York. With talented players at every skill position, the Browns could have an electric offense this season.
DJ Chark Jr., Terrace Marshall Jr. (WRs, Carolina Panthers)
Rookie QB Bryce Young will undoubtedly be on the lookout for a go-to receiver during training camp and the initial weeks of the 2023 season. The answer is unlikely to be 32-year-old Adam Thielen, who can no longer be the focal point of an offense. Chark is the best bet to emerge, as he is just 26 years old and tallied 1,000 yards way back in 2019 before injuries wreaked havoc with his next three seasons.
Marshall is an even deeper sleeper. Still just 23 years old, he was a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft after scoring 23 TDs in his final two seasons at LSU. Marshall averaged 17.5 yards per catch last season and could become Young’s preferred big-play option.
Kyle Pitts (TE, Atlanta Falcons)
The sixth TE off the board in Yahoo drafts, Pitts may not get enough credit for his massive potential. Sure, he is coming off a disappointing sophomore season that included just 356 yards in 10 games. And yes, the Falcons are likely to have a run-heavy offense with an inexperienced QB (Desmond Ridder). But Pitts remains the same man who was the first non-QB selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and tallied the first 1,000-yard rookie season by a TE in 60 years. If Ridder proves to be better than 2022 starter Marcus Mariota, Pitts could become a top-three fantasy option at his position.