These players could be labeled 2019 busts or they could be labeled 2020 post-hype sleepers. Let’s first break down the term post-hype sleepers. The term ‘Post-hype’ refers to players that struggled or underperformed in 2019. Sleepers refer to players that will outperform their ADP. Another way to define post-hype sleepers would be to say that these are players with notable differences in their 2019 and 2020 ADP.
This isn’t to say these players will be league winners, but it’s one of the best feelings when you find a player that outperforms their ADP. Some examples who come to mind from last year include Austin Ekeler, Allen Robinson, and Aaron Jones, all of whom outperformed their 2019 ADP. Don’t forget to also check out our PPR running back, wide receiver, and other positional rankings on the site. Most of these post-hype sleeper candidates are currently being drafted within the top-90 picks with one being a late-round player. Let’s look into these 2020 post-hype sleeper candidates.
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5 Post-Hype Sleepers for 2020
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
2019 ADP (12.9) → 2020 ADP (33.3)
First up, JuJu Smith-Schuster. Last year he finished with 70 targets, 42 receptions, 552 receiving yards, and three receiving touchdowns although we can probably toss 2019 out the window. We observed how important a healthy quarterback can be to a wide receiver and the offense in general. After Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury, the quarterback play was awful. In fact, the Steelers finished second to last with 186.3 passing yards per game last year.
However, in 2018, Smith-Schuster finished with 166 targets, 111 receptions, 1,426 receiving yards, and seven touchdowns. That season he finished 13th while his teammate Antonio Brown finished first amongst receivers in total fantasy points and fantasy points per game. The point being that Smith-Schuster can thrive in this offense with a healthy quarterback.
When Roethlisberger is Healthy
With Roethlisberger at quarterback, the Steelers have been a pass-heavy offense. In terms of pass attempts per game, they ranked 2nd in 2017 and 1st in 2018. They also finished 2nd in passing yards per game in 2017 and 2018. Sometimes teams with bad defenses tend to have high volume passing offenses. However, that’s not the case with the Steelers, as they ranked top-6 in total yards allowed per game on defense in 2017 and 2018. So even with a positive game script, the Steelers still threw the ball. It’s safe to expect the Steelers to be a pass-heavy offense again with a healthy quarterback.
One concern might be that the Steelers drafted wide receiver Chase Claypool in the second round. However, Smith-Schuster’s hog rate in 2018 indicates we shouldn’t worry about other competition. In 2018, Smith-Schuster’s 18.2% hog rate ranked 6th amongst receivers right in front of his teammate Antonio Brown who ranked 7th with a 17.9% hog rate. Hog rate on Player Profiler indicates what players are the focal points in their passing offense. Regardless of the other issues, Brown’s arguably one of the best wide receivers in this era and Smith-Schuster proved to be a focal point with Brown on the field.
Why is Smith-Schuster a Post-Hype Sleeper?
If Roethlisberger’s healthy, can Smith-Schuster produce closer to his 2018 numbers? That might be a big “if,” but the short answer – yes. Even if he receives slightly less targets, he can still be productive. He’s going to see time in the slot, where he spent 50% of his time in each of the previous two seasons. Smith-Schuster’s a volume receiver with tons of yards after the catch in a high volume passing offense. His ADP places him as the 11th wide receiver with the potential to finish top-8. JuJu Smith-Schuster is my top post-hype sleeper candidate.
Damien Williams, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
2019 ADP (25.5) → 2020 ADP (63.1)
Last year, Damien Williams finished 2019 with 111 carries, 498 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns. He also received 37 targets, 30 receptions, 213 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. The season-long line doesn’t look great, but veteran LeSean McCoy took a bulk of the touches early in the season. In addition, Williams missed time due to injuries. During weeks 9, 10, 16, and 17, Williams averaged 21.1 fantasy points. If we add in the three playoff games, Williams averaged 25.3 fantasy points. Williams proved to be efficient and productive in the rushing and receiving game when given the opportunities.
Why is Williams a 2020 Post-Hype Sleeper?
Last year Williams was drafted as the 13th running back with a 25.5 ADP. Now he’s going at pick 63.1 as the 30th running back drafted. Sure the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but will Edwards-Helaire take most of the opportunities? Edwards-Helaire is currently being drafted as the 14th running back with a 21.9 ADP. The draft discount on Williams makes him a post-hype sleeper candidate. If there’s an injury or Williams runs away with the job, then that’s RB1 potential.
It’s safe to expect Williams and Edwards-Helaire to share touches, but what if it’s a 60/40 split? Last year the Chiefs finished with 375 rushing attempts. If we cut out 50 for Patrick Mahomes and another 25 for other running backs, we have 300 rushing attempts. If Williams receives 150-180 rush attempts and some targets in the passing game, then he could easily outperform his ADP. Running back production in Andy Reid’s offenses tend to be fruitful, and I’ll take the one with the better draft value in Williams.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Cleveland Browns
2019 ADP (64.8) → 2020 ADP (77.5)
Jarvis Landry’s one of the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL. In all six seasons of Landry’s career, he’s received over 110 targets. During his six-year career, he’s averaged 142.8 targets, 94 receptions, 1,031.3 receiving yards, and 5.3 touchdowns. Last year, Landry finished with 138 targets, 83 receptions, 1,174 receiving yards, and six receiving touchdowns. He led the Browns in targets and finished with career highs in receiving yards and yards per reception.
The Browns ranked 20th with 33.7 pass attempts per game and now Kevin Stefanski is the new head coach. With Stefanski as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator, the Vikings ranked 30th with 29.2 pass attempts per game. However, under Stefanski, Kirk Cousins displayed efficiency as he ranked 7th in production premium on Player Profiler. So maybe Stefanski’s offense can help Baker Mayfield be efficient? I’ll mention that I included Mayfield on my quarterback bust list, but Landry still produced with Mayfield’s struggles.
Why is Landry a 2020 Post-Hype Sleeper?
The main reason being target volume. Landry ranked 9th in total targets and 6th with a 26.6% target share. He’s averaged 142.8 targets per year and produced even in a lower volume pass offense. Landry’s going as the 32nd wide receiver when he finished 21st with 14.8 fantasy points per game. He’s been a consistent WR2, but currently being drafted as a WR3. Another one of my favorite post-hype sleeper candidates.
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
2019 ADP (51.5) → 2020 ADP (84.2)
Tyler Boyd went from waiver wire league-winner in 2018 to highly drafted in 2019. Yet now he’s being drafted as the 34th wide receiver, but why though? Before you think it’s because A.J. Green’s returning in 2020, think again. Last year Boyd ranked 27th with 13.9 fantasy points per game, and that’s without A.J. Green playing a single game. In 2018 Boyd averaged 15.8 fantasy points per game that ranked 20th. In nine games in 2018 with A.J. Green healthy, Boyd averaged 17.4 fantasy points per game.
Why is Boyd a 2020 Post-Hype Sleeper?
Under Zac Taylor, the Bengals ranked 6th with 38.5 pass attempts per game, and it’s safe to expect a high passing volume again in 2020. Last year the Bengals’ defense ranked 29th in yards allowed and 25th in points allowed. They made some defensive acquisitions in the draft and free agency, but the Bengals will probably continue to play from behind.
Last year Andy Dalton proved to be inefficient. Dalton ranked 32nd in production premium and finished with the 4th most interceptable passes, not good. The Bengals drafted Joe Burrow who dominated college football last season. It’ll be exciting to see Burrow paired with Boyd in this high volume passing offense. They also drafted wide receiver Tee Higgins, but I expect Green and Boyd to receive most of the targets with Boyd playing over half of his snaps in the slot. Boyd’s being drafted at an amazing value as the 34th wide receiver, so I’m buying back into this 2020 post-hype sleeper candidate.
Curtis Samuel, WR, Carolina Panthers
2019 ADP (88.0) → 2020 ADP (164.4)
Looking for a late-round post-hype sleeper candidate? Then draft Curtis Samuel, who’s due for positive regression in terms of efficiency. Last season Curtis Samuel finished with 105 targets, 54 receptions, 627 receiving yards, and six receiving touchdowns. He also added 19 rushes, 130 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown. Samuel received the 9th most air yards last season, and he was the only receiver within the top-10 in air yards to not reach 1,000 receiving yards. His 15.3 average depth of target (aDOT) tied him with Mike Evans, but Evans received over 1,000 yards last year. Samuel also ranked 73rd in production premium, which further indicates poor efficiency.
Why is Samuel a 2020 Post-Hype Sleeper?
Last year the Panthers threw the second-most pass attempts per game only behind the Atlanta Falcons. Their defense ranked second to last in points allowed and 24th in total yards allowed per game. So they’ll likely continue to be a high volume passing offense especially with Matt Rhule as head coach and Joe Brady as offensive coordinator. Part of Samuel’s struggles relates to poor quarterback play by Kyle Allen. Samuel’s catchable target rate dropped from 78.5% (ranked 44th) in 2018 down to 62.6% (ranked 105th) in 2019.
The Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater this offseason, and he’s one of the more accurate passers so this should bode well for the Panthers’ receivers. In five games last season, Bridgewater ranked 4th with a 46.7% deep ball completion percentage behind Jimmy Garoppolo, Dak Prescott, and Patrick Mahomes. Bridgewater’s 76.4% true completion percentage also ranked 4th last year behind Drew Brees, Derek Carr, and Garoppolo again. Both of those stats indicate potential improvements in efficiency and productivity for the Panthers’ offense as a whole. The Panthers also have 155 available targets, so we could see Samuel’s target share rise further. Samuel’s currently the 63rd wide receiver drafted and he’s around WR51 in my projections and rankings. He’s a late-round 2020 post-hype sleeper candidate.
Who are your favorite post-hype sleepers for the coming season? Drop some names in the comments below.
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