There’s a lot that goes into winning fantasy football championships, including team managers finding some gems hidden on an NFL team’s depth chart in the later rounds of their fantasy draft.
There are some players who are being slept on that have the potential to develop into weekly starters on your fantasy team, which could mean the difference between playoffs and a swift exit.
We’ve rounded up our NFL Wires editors to find one sleeper from each NFL team that could ultimately help you win your league at a bargain price.
New York Jets wide receiver Elijah Moore carries the ball after catching a pass during an NFL football practice, Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Florham Park, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Buffalo Bills: RB Zack Moss. The Bills also have WR Gabriel Davis as a potential true sleeper, but it’s hard to guess exactly what RB Zack Moss will be next season, so he’s still in sleeper territory. This offseason the Bills essentially announced that their backfield will be led by the “hot hand.” The two top candidates for such a scenario are Moss and Devin Singletary. While Singletary and even No. 3 Matt Breida might cut into the number of touches Moss gets in 2021, there’s one area they will not affect: The goal line plan. Regardless of hot-hand status, Moss will still be Buffalo’s rusher in the red zone and that’s a major factor for fantasy football. — Nick Wojton, Bills Wire
Miami Dolphins: RB Salvon Ahmed. The reports of a crowded backfield in Miami are going to understandably scare fantasy owners. A running back by committee isn’t going to move the needle for just about anyone. But Ahmed showed lots of life down the stretch in 2020 and if fellow RB Myles Gaskin gets banged up again this year, Ahmed will likely take on full-time duties aside of short yardage; which is likely to go to Malcolm Brown. Ahmed has shown more ability as a pass catcher this summer, increasing the likelihood that he could see the field on third down. — Kyle Crabbs, Dolphins Wire
New England Patriots: WR Jakobi Meyers. It would surprise me if Meyers was not the receptions and receiving yards leader for the Patriots in 2021. Even after the Patriots signed free agents Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, Meyers has been the best pass-catcher at training camp and in preseason. It’s not even close. That’s why it is wild to see Meyers going at 212 overall, according to Fantasy Pros consensus ADP. Take Meyers. Thank me later. — Henry McKenna, Patriots Wire
New York Jets: WR Elijah Moore. Moore is not a sleeper in New York and New Jersey, but those outside the area may not be aware of the monstrous spring and summer the rookie had before getting banged up. Moore was a constant and versatile play-maker in camp and should get the opportunity to do the same this season. He may just need some extra time to adapt to the NFL after missing New York’s preseason games. — Gary Phillips, Jets Wire
Aug 12, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (88) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Shaun Bradley (54) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens: RB Ty’Son Williams. With the season-ending injury to RB J.K. Dobbins, the Ravens will have to find rushing production elsewhere. While they could bring in an outside option to complement fellow RB Gus Edwards, Williams was a preseason standout that has earned plenty of snaps now that Dobbins won’t be able to suit up in 2021. Williams showed great power, speed, balance and even receiving skills over the month of August, and with Baltimore being such a run-heavy offense, even if he’s the No. 2 running back to Edwards, he should still get plenty of touches, enough to warrant serious fantasy consideration.— Kevin Oestreicher, Ravens Wire
Cincinnati Bengals: TE C.J. Uzomah. Well behind the wideout trio of Tee Higgins-Tyler Boyd-Ja’Marr Chase and running back Joe Mixon in terms of hype is Uzomah, the No. 1 receiving tight end on the depth chart. He played just two games last season but is all the way back from a season-ending achilles injury and coaches have said roughly 50 catches wouldn’t be a surprise, which would put him roughly top 15 at his position in catches based on last year. He’s going to feast with attention on the others and a rehabbed quarterback still getting comfortable behind a rebuilt line. — Chris Roling, Bengals Wire
Cleveland Browns: TE David Njoku. The Cleveland Browns are full of potential fantasy stars but most are household names. Njoku won’t even be listed as the team’s starting tight end, that will be Austin Hooper, but could end up the highest scoring fantasy tight end on the team and a redzone monster. With the run heavy offense and a myriad of weapons around Baker Mayfield, the former Miami Hurricane star will have less value in PPR leagues but in standard leagues have quite a few big games. — Jared Mueller, Browns Wire
Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Pat Freiermuth. It only took two drives for the Steelers to put the rest of the NFL on notice about rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth scored touchdowns on consecutive drives when QB Ben Roethlisberger was in the game and after the game, Roethlisberger wasn’t shy about comparing Freiermuth to Steelers legend Heath Miller. Freiermuth might not rack up big receptions with all the other talented skill players on the team but if you want to stash a guy away who could end up getting you 8-10 receiving touchdowns very late in your fantasy draft, Freiermuth is your guy. — Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (11) races past Tennessee Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro (24) for a first down during the fourth quarter at Nissan Stadium Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
Houston Texans: RB Phillip Lindsay. The Pro Bowl running back is looking for a fresh start after barely getting 500 yards in 2020. Although Lindsay will be part of a running back by committee, chaired by Mark Ingram at the moment, the 27-year-old still has the youth to be explosive with his carries. Houston’s offense will be ball-control in 2021, which means they will emphasize running the ball. Lindsay should get his touches and be the most productive. — Mark Lane, Texans Wire
Indianapolis Colts: WR Michael Pittman Jr. Everything seems to be pointing toward a breakout year for Pittman Jr. He’s ascending as the WR1 in the new Carson Wentz-led offense after a solid rookie season that was limited by injuries. With T.Y. Hilton expected to miss a few games due to a neck injury, Pittman Jr. should see a significant target share. Second-year wideouts are breaking out at a much higher rate, and Pittman Jr. is the perfect target in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts. — Kevin Hickey, Colts Wire
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Marvin Jones Jr. Even dating back to his days with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, Marvin Jones Jr. has been an under-the-radar fantasy option. It appears that won’t change as he’s joined a Jags team many feel isn’t a fantasy football power-house (at least not recently). Jones was the favorite target of rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence in training camp, and that could be the case in the regular season. While he probably won’t be the explosive threat DJ Chark Jr. will be in terms of deep balls, he could see a lot of 10-yard plus targets in the Jags’ offense. — James Johnson, Jaguars Wire
Tennessee Titans: TE Anthony Firkser. Firkser will be the Titans’ primary pass-catching tight end. The only question about him comes from his blocking, which has been suspect in years past. If he can prove to be a reliable blocker, he’ll garner an every-down role, which will only raise his ceiling. Even if that doesn’t happen, Firkser should still be productive, as he’ll see snaps out of the slot as well. And, with A.J. Brown and Julio Jones on the outside, the Harvard product will have plenty of room to operate. Firkser has the potential to be an every-week fantasy starter, and a breakout star. — Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire
Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Byron Pringle (13) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos: RB Javonte Williams. Fantasy football managers shouldn’t reach for Williams because he’s going to split touches with Melvin Gordon, but the rookie running back could easily outperform his average draft position (28th among RBs) this season. If anything happens to Gordon, Williams’ value will skyrocket. And even if Gordon and Williams both stay healthy for the entire year, Williams will have flex value and RB2 upside. Depending on Gordon’s health and production, Williams could even push for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. — Jon Heath, Broncos Wire
Kansas City Chiefs: WR Byron Pringle. If you’re looking for a WR2 in Kansas City, you’re going to be disappointed. Travis Kelce is virtually the WR2 with a TE1 label. Mecole Hardman may have a chip on his shoulder after some media chatter lately, but he hasn’t been consistent during the offseason and preseason. The player that has most impressed with consistency is fourth-year WR Byron Pringle. The 27-year-old caught 6-of-7 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown in 34 snaps this preseason. It was basically a snapshot of what his training camp has looked like as well. Hardman is likely the safer handcuff to Hill, but Pringle has a better chance to emerge as a tertiary or quaternary target in the K.C. offense. — Charles Goldman, Chiefs Wire
Las Vegas Raiders: WR Bryan Edwards. Despite being a rookie in 2020, Edwards was good enough during training camp to earn a Week 1 starting job. However, an ankle injury cost him some valuable time and he slid down the depth chart. Now, he is healthy once again and has been even better during practices. Head coach Jon Gruden compared him to Terrell Owens and it’s hard not to see the comparison given his size and physical playstyle. Edwards will be one of the team’s starting receivers again this year and could easily lead the Raiders in touchdown reception. Given that he isn’t being drafted in the top-125 picks, I think he qualifies as a fantasy sleeper this season. Grab him late in your drafts as a WR5 or WR6 and hope for a breakout season from the former third-round pick — Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire
Los Angeles Chargers: WR Josh Palmer. Palmer never surpassed 500 receiving yards or five touchdown catches in his four seasons at Tennessee, but based on each of his showings at training camp and in pressing, he is bound to be a lot more productive in the NFL. Palmer, the team’s third round pick steadily built a solid rapport with quarterback Justin Herbert, with his ability to get consistently get open at all three levels of the field and reeling in all of his targets. Even though offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi constantly rotates his receivers in based on the defense’s personnel, it will be hard to keep Palmer off the field. — Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire
Aug 20, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team wide receiver Dyami Brown (2) catches a pass in front of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips (23) in the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys: Cowboys D/ST. Stop laughing. You want a sleeper? You won’t find one on Dallas’ offense. Everyone in your league knows the firepower Dallas possesses with Dak Prescott at QB, the triumvirate of wideouts and a slimmed-down Ezekiel Elliott set to see 300-plus carries. Tony Pollard is his handcuff so he could qualify, but nobody is likely to draft one of 2020’s worst defenses. However, if you’re that guy, you might eat well off of a first-time-full-offseason Randy Gregory and rookie Micah Parsons causing pressure and a young secondary getting the turnovers that have evaded Kris Richard and Mike Nolan but could find Dan Quinn’s unit. John Fassel with the trickery on special teams returns? They’re worth a flyer after the top defenses are taken. — K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
New York Giants: WR John Ross. People are undoubtedly already screaming, “we’ve heard that before!” We know… And so does Ross. His injury history is well-documented and his underwhelming career in Cincinnati has landed him the “bust” label. But here’s the thing: Ross still looks incredibly explosive when he’s on the field. He’s seemingly found a niche role with the Giants that should limit his exposure to injury and lead to some unexpected production. He’s not worthy of a top pick in fantasy drafts or anything, but don’t sleep on him in the late rounds or on the waiver wire. — Dan Benton, Giants Wire
Philadelphia Eagles: RB Kenneth Gainwell. The former Memphis running back enters the NFL as one of the top dual-threat weapons coming out of college football. The Eagles have Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard on the depth chart ahead of Gainwell, but the rookie has the best hands out of the group and will likely be Nick Sirianni’s go-to pass catcher on third downs and obvious passing situations. Gainwell is a top-50 running back in most fantasy football rankings and as an obvious late-round pick, Philadelphia’s most explosive weapon out the backfield could be a sleeper pick on a championship roster. — Glenn Erby, The Eagles Wire
Washington Football Team: WR: Dyami Brown. The three fantasy players to know on Washington’s roster are Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson and Logan Thomas. Curtis Samuel could be another, once he’s finally on the field. However, rookie WR Dyami Brown could make an impact early in the season. Brown is known for his big-play ability, but he has drawn praise from the coaching staff for his versatile skill set. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick loves the deep ball. Washington didn’t draft Brown to sit him. He will play. Brown may not be a PPR monster early in his career, but he could have some big games. — Bryan Manning, Washington Wire
Minnesota Vikings tight end Tyler Conklin (83) and tight end Irv Smith (84) line up for the snap against the New York Giants during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Chicago Bears: WR Darnell Mooney. Mooney is coming off an impressive rookie season, where he quickly established himself as WR2 behind Allen Robinson. Mooney is fast, gets good separation and catches the ball when thrown his way. The problem last season was his quarterback overthrew him on numerous occasions. With a year of experience under his belt — along with the promise of more consistent quarterback play — Mooney is expected to be an even bigger part of the Bears’ offense in 2021. — Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire
Detroit Lions: WR Kalif Raymond. The Detroit passing offense isn’t likely to do much for most fantasy owners outside of TE T.J. Hockenson, or the RBs in points-per-reception leagues. But if there’s a value play late in a draft, it’s Raymond. He’s been the most consistent downfield weapon all summer in Detroit, seizing a starting WR spot and showing some playmaking ability. As a bonus, Raymond will also be the Lions’ primary return man and could earn some bonus fantasy points there. — Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire
Green Bay Packers: RB A.J. Dillon. He’s the No. 2 running back behind Pro Bowler Aaron Jones, but consider this: Jamaal Williams averaged almost 150 touches per year and scored nine total touchdowns over the last two seasons as the No. 2 option in the Packers offense. Matt LaFleur will find ways to get Dillon touches, mostly as a runner but also as a receiver. And if Jones goes down, Dillon would immediately have RB1 potential. In his only extended opportunity as a rookie, Dillon rushed 24 times for 124 yards and two scores against the Titans. — Zach Kruse, Packers Wire
Minnesota Vikings: TE Tyler Conklin. Conklin had a decent season in 2020, with Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith both being out at times. Conklin seemed poised to take on a role as the team’s second tight end in 2021, with Rudolph departing for the Giants this offseason. Then, Smith got injured, giving Conklin a shot at the primary tight end position. The timetable for Smith’s injury is undetermined as of now. Conklin will have to step up. He’s not a huge name, but he could be looking at a big year if Smith ends up being sidelined for a lot of games. — Jack White, Vikings Wire
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Giovani Bernard (25) before an NFL preseason football game against the Tennessee Titans Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Atlanta Falcons: TE Hayden Hurst. The Falcons may have used their first top-five pick since 2008 on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, but don’t sleep on Hayden Hurst in 2021. Last year, Hurst racked up 56 catches, 571 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 88 targets after being acquired from Baltimore via trade. Look for Hurst to be a featured player in Arthur Smith’s offense this season as the team uses multiple tight ends to fill the void left by All-Pro WR Julio Jones. — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire
Carolina Panthers: TE Dan Arnold. This was going to be the part where we chose Terrace Marshall Jr., but the rookie wideout is no longer a well-kept secret around these parts. Instead, we’ll go with Arnold, who should play a healthy role in this Panthers offense. The team’s production at the position has been nothing short of abysmal, almost non-existent, as Carolina tight ends combined for 204 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. That’ll change, as Arnold’s pass-catching prowess and noted chemistry with Sam Darnold will be a point of emphasis for offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Plus, “Darnold to Arnold . . . ?” How can they not work well together? — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire
New Orleans Saints: TE Juwan Johnson. The second-year converted wide receiver has gotten the majority of looks on passing downs among the Saints tight ends, and he’s also their best healthy option while Adam Trautman and Nick Vannett continue to recover from preseason injuries, so he’ll get the most opportunities early in the year. He’s a matchup problem against linebackers and smaller opponents and could establish himself quickly against several underperforming defenses. — John Sigler, Saints Wire
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Giovani Bernard. There are plenty of mouths to feed in this offense, but among all the big names, Bernard is the one who still might be flying under the fantasy radar. While Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette will split the lion’s share of the early-down touches, Bernard should have the same kind of impact James White had for Tom Brady in New England. Bernard should get plenty of opportunities to shine in the passing game, which will make him more valuable in PPR leagues, but any injury to Jones or Fournette will also increase his value in standard formats. — Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire
GLENDALE, ARIZONA – JULY 28: A.J. Green #18 of the Arizona Cardinals runs a pass pattern during Training Camp at State Farm Stadium on July 28, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals: WR A.J. Green. Green’s production the last three years is nothing what it was when he was a Pro Bowler the first seven years of his career. He didn’t play in 2019 and had 47 catches for 523 yards and only two scores. While some believe he is washed up, he didn’t look that way at all in training camp. Now healthy and no longer the No. 1 option or the focal point of an offense, he will thrive against No. 2 and No. 3 cornerbacks while DeAndre Hopkins gets all the attention from opposing defenses. — Jess Root, Cards Wire
Los Angeles Rams: WR Van Jefferson. There are a lot of mouths to feed within the Rams offense, from Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to DeSean Jackson and Tyler Higbee. But Jefferson shouldn’t be forgotten from a fantasy perspective. He has a chance to be the No. 3 receiver behind Woods and Kupp, especially with the Rams playing it safe by limiting Jackson’s workload leading up to the season. He only caught 19 passes last season, but that was as the No. 4 receiver. Now with a bigger workload expected, Jefferson could put up numbers similar to what Josh Reynolds had a year ago (52 catches, 618 yards and 2 TDs). Don’t reach for Jefferson because a heavy volume of targets may not be coming, but with Kupp and Jackson having durability concerns, he’s one injury away from becoming an even bigger part of the offense. — Cam DaSilva, Rams Wire
San Francisco 49ers: WR Trent Sherfield. Relying on any 49ers pass catcher is a risky proposition this year, but Sherfield could wind up in a bigger role if either WR Brandon Aiyuk or WR Deebo Samuel go down. The former Cardinals special teams ace has consistently shown up in training camp, and he’s hauled in all three balls thrown his way in the preseason for 130 yards and a touchdown. Sherfield is tough in short areas and can stretch the field vertically. It may take an injury ahead of him on the depth chart or QB Trey Lance taking over the starting quarterback job to extract Sherfield’s full fantasy value, but his upside is worth a stash early in the season to see just how big his role is going to be. — Kyle Madson, Niners Wire
Seattle Seahawks: WR Dee Eskridge. Seattle has several fantasy stars on its roster, including Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Chris Carson. Picking out a sleeper is tough, but the top candidate may be rookie WR Dee Eskridge, who projects as the No. 3 wide receiver on the depth chart behind Lockett and Metcalf. Last season, David Moore (now with the Panthers) held that role and managed to post 35 catches, 417 yards and six touchdowns. Eskridge has better speed and more upside than Moore and might go undrafted in many leagues. — Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire
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There’s a lot that goes into winning fantasy football championships, including team managers finding some gems hidden on an NFL team’s depth chart in the later rounds of their fantasy draft.