Fantasy Football 2021: 3 Sleepers Generating Buzz After Preseason Week 2

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 23, 2021

Fantasy Football 2021: 3 Sleepers Generating Buzz After Preseason Week 2

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    Hands off the snooze button, folks.

    We're ringing the alarm for fantasy football sleepers who made noise in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL preseason, and you'd be wise to take note.

    While the usual caveats of it only being preseason apply, so too does the fact these performances aren't meaningless. When preseason momentum builds regular-season confidence, that's when sleepers can shock the fantasy world by coming alive under the bright lights.

    It may not be as shocking as it seems, though, if you've been paying attention. Coming here was a smart way to start, so let's spotlight three big Week 2 performers who elevated their fantasy stocks.

Big Ben Resurgence

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Perhaps you were fooled into thinking Ben Roethlisberger was a thing of fantasy football's past. After all, the 39-year-old effectively had his 2019 season erased by injury, then didn't rank among the top 12 scorers at his position last season.

    But the Pittsburgh Steelers have positioned him for success. Their receiving core is loaded, their running back room grew a lot more explosive with the arrival of first-round rookie Najee Harris and their offense perhaps gained a breath of fresh air with the promotion of new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

    Roethlisberger got his first taste of the new offense Saturday and promptly posted a perfect quarterback rating by going 8-of-10 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

    "I thought he did a nice job," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters. "I thought we got what we wanted to get accomplished. ... He made good and fluid decisions and we were able to move the ball."

    If Roethlisberger is healthy after 2019 elbow surgery, his fantasy potential is through the roof. In 2018, he was the third-highest fantasy scorer at his position, per FantasyPros.

Trey Lance Makes His Case for Starting Spot

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Times, they are a-changing out West.

    As soon as the San Francisco 49ers made Trey Lance the third overall pick of the 2021 draft—after trading four picks (including three first-rounders) to get to No. 3—they immediately got to work on quieting any talk of a quarterback controversy. Back in July, head coach Kyle Shanahan said simply Jimmy Garoppolo was the starter, and there was no open competition.

    But Shanhan sang a different tune after San Francisco's Week 2 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. After an underwhelming opening by Garoppolo (3-of-6 for 15 yards, one interception), Lance sent a spark through the offense. He'd go on to complete eight of his 14 passes for 102 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

    Afterward, Shanahan declined to name Garoppolo his Week 1 starter.

    It seems like a change is coming, whether that's Week 1 or later in the season. But the 49ers didn't move up for Lance to put him a backup role for long. His superior athleticism and arm strength could add different dimensions to this offense, not to mention give him enormous potential in fantasy.

Don't Forget About Zach Wilson

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    Given the NFL's obsession with quarterbacks and the fantasy world's fascination with freshman, it's surprising that fantasy folks aren't falling over themselves to snatch up New York Jets rookie signal-caller Zach Wilson.

    Sure, he doesn't have the greatest weapons around him in New York, but he does already have a starting gig to himself. You can't say the same about Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones, who have all arguably received more preseason hype than Wilson.

    Most fantasy football experts, start this rookie class with Trevor Lawrence, then go Fields and Lance in that order, per FantasyPros. Wilson is a distant fourth with an average ranking (26) exactly halfway between Lance (20) and Jones (32).

    It's probably time to rethink those rankings. After a solid preseason opener (6-of-9 for 63 yards, no picks or scores), Wilson looked special in Week 2 (9-of-11 for 128 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions).

    As Aaron Rodgers remarked on the telecast, "He can throw the heck out of it."

    Draft a discounted Wilson now, and you could be enjoying the savings all season.

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