Fantasy Football 2020: 4 Sleepers Generating Buzz Among Experts

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

FILE - In this Nov. 3, 2019, file photo, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders in Oakland, Calif. Since the start of last year, Matthew Stafford has had to deal with a health scare involving his wife, his own injury problems -- and more recently, a coronavirus test that the team later described as a false positive. It's been a difficult period for the Detroit star. (AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron, File)
D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

When it comes to identifying NFL players who can be sleepers in fantasy, there are a couple of routes one can take. The first involves following team beat writers and national training-camp reports and using their information gleaned to identify targets.

The second route involves listening to the sleeper buzz from fantasy experts and deciding whether to buy into the hype.

We'll leave the decision-making up to you, but here, we'll examine some of the biggest potential sleepers currently generating buzz from experts around the web.


Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford only appeared in eight games last season because of injury. However, in those eight games, he passed for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns with five interceptions. This means he was on pace for 4,998 yards and an NFL-leading 38 touchdowns. 

As Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton pointed out, Detroit's receiving corps could set Stafford up for a remarkable bounce-back season:

"In 2019, wideout Kenny Golladay led the league in touchdown receptions (11). Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendola had 62 catches apiece as the No. 2 and slot receiving options, respectively. Now, the Lions backfield features a pair of dual-threat running backs in Kerryon Johnson and rookie second-rounder D'Andre Swift. If tight end T.J. Hockenson finds his way within the offense, Stafford would have a full house of offensive weapons and potentially a top-10 scoring season in fantasy points."

With an average draft position of just 101, Stafford is being woefully undervalued.


Ronald Jones II, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II faces a relatively crowded backfield, with LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn standing in his way of an every-down role. However, with an ADP of just 85, he could have a ton of upside as a middle-round committee back.

Last season, Jones caught 31 passes and topped 1,000 combined rushing and receiving yards. As Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros pointed out, his receiving ability makes him a quality sleeper prospect.

"There were 64 running backs who ran at least 100 routes in 2019. The top five in yards per route run were: Austin Ekeler, DeAndre Washington, Dalvin Cook, James White, and...Ronald Jones. Stop saying he's a bad receiver. He's not announced as the clear starter, I'm buying in at his current RB31 cost," Tagliere wrote.

With Tom Brady at quarterback, Jones' pass-catching prowess could lead to some notable production in point-per-reception leagues. New England Patriots running back James White caught 72 passes last season.


Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee Titans

Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean recently pointed out several reasons why Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith could be a steal in fantasy this season. One of the most notable is that Smith and quarterback Ryan Tannehill were able to work out together during the offseason.

"While NFL players were spread around the country and relied on virtual team meetings and individual workouts, Smith and Tannehill were able to work together on their own," Bacharach wrote. "The two were both based in South Florida and spent some valuable time honing their on-field chemistry."

Bacharach also mentioned Smith's elusiveness—he forced 14 missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus—and his after-the-catch ability.

While Smith had a modest 35 receptions for 439 yards and three scores last season, he could be in store for a significant jump this season. With an ADP of 144, he's a solid late-round target at the tight end position.


DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Another sleeper from Moton—and a player I've touted myself recently—is Philadelphia Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson. As Moton pointed out, Jackson is likely to be Philadelphia's No. 1 receiver come Week 1. 

"He'll likely open the season in the lead role at wide receiver. If so, expect more big games from him with [QB Carson] Wentz under center," Moton wrote.

The Eagles have wideout Alshon Jeffery on the PUP list, and rookie receiver Jalen Reagor recently suffered a shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined for multiple weeks, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

This means that Jackson might not only be Wentz's top target on the perimeter, but he might be one of the few healthy options he has. With an ADP of 163, he's could be one of the biggest steals in fantasy this season.


All ADPs from FantasyPros.