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

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIAugust 30, 2021

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

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Whether your fantasy football league has already had its draft or it's happening at some point in the next 10 days, it's always important to keep an eye out for sleepers.

    The best fantasy football managers are those who scour the waiver wire on a weekly basis looking for ways to add depth to their roster and find hidden gems. That starts in the draft, too, as there will be players available in late rounds who aren't being looked at by other managers and could end up being huge steals.

    Now that every team has completed its preseason slate, there's a better idea of what 53-man rosters and depth charts could look like when the 2021 regular season begins. And that means it should be a bit easier to identify potential sleepers now that there's some information to work with.

    Here's a look at three sleepers who should be on your radar now that the preseason is over and the start of the regular season is quickly approaching. (All average draft positions are based on points-per-reception leagues per Fantasy Football Calculator.)

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Considering he was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and is likely to be a star quarterback in the future, Lawrence isn't a sleeper in the landscape of the league. However, his ADP in fantasy drafts for PPR leagues is in the 13th round, so he's clearly not being picked by managers as a starting option.

    Perhaps he should be, though. Lawrence impressed in his final preseason action, as he went 11-for-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Although Dallas wasn't playing most of its starting defense, it was still an encouraging showing from Lawrence as he prepares for his first NFL season.

    Lawrence clearly has the skills to be a successful quarterback, and he's surrounded by plenty of playmakers in Jacksonville. He'll have running back James Robinson and a trio of talented wide receivers (DJ Chark Jr., Marvin Jones Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr.) to help him have a smooth transition to the NFL.

    That may also lead to Lawrence putting up big fantasy numbers as soon as the season starts. So if you miss out on the top tier of quarterbacks, it might be worth drafting Lawrence in the middle rounds and taking a risk by playing him as your starting QB to open the season. It could reap high rewards.

James White, RB, New England Patriots

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    The Patriots had too many running backs on their roster. They opted to trade Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams because there weren't going to be enough touches to go around in their backfield this season.

    While Damien Harris will be New England's top RB, there are several others who are likely to be involved. That includes White, who has had past success as a receiving back for the Pats. And while his numbers were down in 2020, that could have been because the Patriots' offensive struggles negatively impacted every player's production.

    Now that New England's offense is set up to perform better in 2021, White could become a bigger contributor again. Especially now that Michel is gone and White will likely get plenty of time on the field, particularly on third downs and in passing situations.

    White, whose ADP is in the 13th round, has tremendous value in PPR leagues. He's had at least 40 catches each of the past six seasons, which included a career-high 87 in 2018. Expect him to have a sizable role this season, making him worth picking late in your fantasy draft.

Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    Marshall may not have been picked until late in the second round in the 2021 NFL draft, but he may be the rookie wide receiver who boosted his fantasy stock the most during the preseason. And that's because the 21-year-old had some impressive showings for the Panthers.

    Across Carolina's three preseason games, Marshall had nine receptions for 181 yards and a touchdown. His lone score occurred in the Panthers' preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday, and it came on a 13-yard pass from Sam Darnold midway through the second quarter.

    Marshall isn't getting drafted until late in the 13th round, but he has the potential to provide plenty of fantasy value this season. He's likely to be Carolina's No. 3 receiving option, behind only Robby Anderson and DJ Moore, and there should be enough opportunities for all three to contribute.

    While other rookie receivers will go much earlier in the draft, Marshall has the potential to be the breakout sleeper among the class. So take him and expect him to be a factor for your fantasy team at some point during 2021.