Fantasy Football 2021: Most Exciting Sleepers to Target in Mock Drafts
During the first few rounds of a fantasy football draft, managers are selecting the best players in the NFL. These are the stars who are going to anchor your teams, likely for the entirety of the season (unless you have the misfortune of getting bitten by the injury bug).
But just like the on-field product, it takes more than one or two star players to win games in fantasy football. There needs to be depth up and down the roster, with players on the bench ready to fill in when there are injuries or starters who are not meeting expectations.
That's why the mid-to-late rounds of a fantasy football draft are often more important than the first few. Those rounds are when you get a competitive advantage over your leaguemates, especially if they are the type whose interest wanes as the event wears on.
So do your research to make sure you know which players could be the late-round steals who end up being key to winning the championship in your league.
Here are several exciting sleepers you should target in this year's drafts. And it may not be a bad idea to see where they are getting taken in mock drafts so that you can make sure they end up on your roster.
Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami Dolphins
Considering Tua Tagovailoa's average draft position is in the 14th round, per Fantasy Football Calculator, it seems that fantasy managers aren't too high on the Miami Dolphins quarterback as he enters his second NFL season. But they also may be underestimating the 2020 first-round draft pick.
Tagovailoa didn't have a smooth transition to the league last year, as he passed for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions in 10 games. He was never in consideration of being a fantasy starter, which is likely part of the reason why he's staying on the board so long in this year's drafts.
But the Dolphins have improved their offense around Tagovailoa this offseason. They used their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft on wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, Tagovailoa's former Alabama teammate, and signed veteran receiver Will Fuller V.
Don't enter the 2021 season with Tagovailoa as the top quarterback on your roster. But if you miss out on the elite QBs and want a high-upside backup on your bench, he should be a perfect fit because there's a real chance that he breaks out and puts up much bigger numbers this year.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Houston Texans
There are several running backs competing for playing time in the Houston Texans' training camp, and they are all experienced players. David Johnson has returned to the backfield, while Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram II and Rex Burkhead all joined the team during free agency.
It's likely several backs will be getting touches for the Texans. But Lindsay has the potential to emerge from the group as the top option, especially if Johnson continues to regress as he nears 30.
Lindsay eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first two NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos, but he only had 502 rushing yards and one touchdown while being limited to 11 games last year because of injuries.
However, he is only 27, and assuming he stays healthy, he could become one of the Texans' top offensive playmakers. His average draft position is in the 11th round, per Fantasy Football Calculator, but his production could warrant managers taking him in the eighth or ninth to ensure he's on their rosters for 2021.
Jalen Reagor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
As a first-round draft pick who was going to get immediate opportunities in the Philadelphia Eagles offense, Jalen Reagor seemed to be in position to impress during his rookie season in 2020. Instead, he had only 31 catches for 396 yards and one touchdown in 11 games.
Because of that, he doesn't even have an average draft position in the first 16 rounds, per Fantasy Football Calculator. Instead, the Philadelphia receiver getting taken during fantasy drafts is rookie DeVonta Smith, who was the Eagles' first-round draft pick this year.
But don't forget about Reagor, even though he didn't live up to expectations last season. He's still going to get opportunities in the offense, and he will get to work with Jalen Hurts as the starting quarterback during training camp and the preseason unlike last year.
If you have the roster space to take Reagor in one of the final few rounds, he's a great option to stash on your bench during the first few weeks to see whether he can get off to a better start than he did in 2020. It wouldn't be a surprise if he shows he can be a contributor during the Eagles' first few games of the season.