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Dynasty Football: Three Post-Draft Rookie Sleepers

Puka Nacua will haunt your nightmares. The baseline of talent and production he demonstrated in his sensational rookie campaign portends a successful career and it would be hard to imagine him falling off a cliff at this point. All but one manager in every league has kicked themselves for passing on Puka and will continue to do so. After all, he was languishing in most drafts at the tail end of the third round going into the fourth. So I could repeat ad nauseum what you’ll hear constantly moving forward about finding the next Puka Nacua. Or finding the next Brock Purdy. Or even the next Kyren Williams or any number of dynasty rookie sleepers from recent years.

I’ll instead add a caveat noting that these are outliers and ultimately impossible to predict. The reasons for success in each of these cases go beyond studying the tape or numbers. Most players who could fit the mold will end up wasting space on your roster.

But in dynasty, we cycle out the old and take fliers on the new. Let’s take a look at some of the most promising sleeper picks among this unreliable bunch.

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Three Post-Draft Rookie Sleepers

Javon Baker, WR, NE

We’ll start with the other New England Patriots receiver drafted this year. While Ja’Lynn Polk, as he did in the NFL Draft, made the second round for our rookie dynasty mock draft, Baker was nowhere to be found in any of the three rounds.

In spite of this, there are many pounding the table that Baker is actually the wide receiver to own in New England.

While Polk offers versatility being able to work in the slot, go downfield and make contested catches, his skillset doesn’t scream fantasy superstardom.

This is perfectly fine if he still claims WR1 status for Drake Maye. But Baker cooks downfield and consistently beat single coverage in college. His yards per route run eclipsed that of Rome Odunze and there isn’t much else in the way of competition in the Patriots’ wide receiver room.

Ultimately, you have to go by draft capital as that gives you a better idea of what NFL teams think of each player. With their wider network of information, their evaluation has to impact our perceptions in the dynasty community.

With Baker’s size and separation skills lacking, he’s still a sleeper by any measure. But there’s a real chance for him to make noise at the next level and steal Polk’s thunder.

Isaiah Davis, RB, NYJ

Davis, in his final year in college, logged a 94.9 grade for PFF, the best score of any running back last year. That’s good.

He did so while playing for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a team in the FCS. That’s bad.

But at 6’1″, 220 lbs, Davis absolutely dominated on the ground the past three years averaging 1,500 yards the past two seasons and adding a little less than 200 yards receiving through the air. While his pass protection is suspect, he flashed enough receiving ability to at least be a hopeful in the NFL.

While Israel Abanikanda has been a darling in his own right, he had all of 113 yards last year. That was working behind Breece Hall, the 2nd ranked running back on KeepTradeCut, so it’s understandable that opportunities were limited. But he’s hardly cemented himself as the backup in New York.

Hall of course remains the future for the Jets given his production thus far. And his torn ACL in 2023 doesn’t make him injury-prone as he only increased the odds that he retears it. But injury is a real risk to any player and particularly so for running backs. Davis could have an opportunity sooner than you think.

Jordan Travis, QB, NYJ

We’ll stay entirely in the AFC East as we grab one last sleeper in Travis. As I’ve stressed time and again, in Superflex, the absolute highest potential value is at the quarterback position.

Even if you don’t have a need for a third or fourth quarterback, there should always be a developing market for one. Only 10 quarterbacks finished last season having played all 17 games.

That means there are going to be situations in which people are short a second QB for the week.  And given that it’s impossible to trust anything you hear about Aaron Rodgers’ return from his Achilles tear, I wouldn’t bet on him to be one of those 17-game stalwarts.

Further, even Hall of Fame level quarterbacks fall off cliffs. Just ask Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, and even Peyton Manning.

But, to Travis himself, he demonstrated scrambling ability and his work in a clean pocket landed him in the 84th percentile among draft-eligible quarterbacks last year according to PFF. Given that is one of the most translatable and stable metrics for a quarterback, that’s quite promising.

A late-season ankle injury likely caused him to slide a little bit in drafts as he was unable to pad his numbers down the stretch. While he, like most players at this range, is very likely to bust, take the upside on a quarterback sleeper.

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