Draft strategy by platform: Sleeper

With less than three weeks left before the kickoff to the 2021 NFL season, the August 27th and September 3rd weekends are the two biggest draft weekends of the year. Fantasy players across the world will stake their claim to be champions in their leagues and many will be drafting on three websites. Welcome to the Sleeper site coverage of our three-part site ranks deep dive. Just as our other two parts for CBS and ESPN, we are comparing our ranks against the online draft clients for full PPR purposes. For each position, we are stating an over and undervalued player to each site. Additional players with a large difference from rankings to draft clients will also be listed.

 

Quarterback
Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) Listed Rank 10/ My Rank 15 :

Jacksonville rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence gets an immediate top ten billing for the site. A top twelve season for the highly touted prospect isn’t outside the realm of possibilities, the tenth slot has us leaning towards more of a yes than no in that regard. A better preseason strategy for Lawrence would be to pair him with an aging or safe option at QB. Lawrence may be a top 12 option sooner than later, but going into 2021 with him as your only option in redraft would be inadvisable.

Draft instead: Matthew Stafford ( Los Angeles Rams), Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans)

 

Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys) Listed Rank 6/ My Rank 2:

Through four of the six weeks that Prescott was healthy for 80 or more offensive snaps for the Cowboys was the norm. Volume is something that we naturally chase in fantasy. A pace of 800 pass attempts from that six-game sample is funny math, but it does tell the story of how this offense was operating. Dallas is currently joined by only Kansas City with four players in the top 50 for FantasyPros.com full PPR ADP. The general public is investing in Dallas. Having two alpha receivers in Ceedee Lamb and Amari Cooper, and a true generational running back in Ezekiel Elliot is a massive boon. Prescott is in a prime offensive position.

Draft over: Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks), Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)

 

Other QB’s of note:

Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns) Listed Rank 15/ My Rank 22

Justin Fields (Chicago Bears) Listed Rank 16/ My Rank 16

 

Running Back
J.K. Dobbins (Baltimore Ravens) Listed Rank 14/ My Rank 20:

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman has authored a heavy run style for Baltimore over the last few seasons. Starting in 2018, the Ravens have had the third, first, and first heaviest run/pass ratio in the NFL, topping off at nearly 58% favoring the run in 2020. To further that point there were nine games last year where Baltimore rushed for more yards than they passed. Those points may seem like a positive for Dobbins, and they would be, if not for the workload quarterback Lamar Jackson and backup running back Gus Edwards see. For the whole season, Dobbins only saw two weeks of 40 or more snaps. Edwards and Jackson also eat into valuable red-zone snaps, with Dobbins’ 28 barely beating out Edwards’ 26 but behind Jackson’s 32. Dobbins should not be expected to garner significant receiving work. While Dobbins did have on average six yards per attempt, 31% of his total rushing yards came from seven carries. With those seven carries taken out his average yardage drops to 4.4 yards.

Draft instead: Clyde Edwards Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs), D’andre Swift (Detroit Lions)

 

Mike Davis (Atlanta Falcons) Listed Rank 27/ My Rank 17:

A top twelve total points finish was an unexpected result to journeyman Davis’ 2020 season. In a relief role for starting Carolina Panthers back Christian McCaffrey, Davis played the 13th most snaps of all running backs with no starting week snap total under 60% in 2020. A possible large snap share is in line for the Falcons in 2021. Currently, seldom-used Qadree Ollison is the only true competition for touches in that locker room. Which is the crux for Davis, who avoided any other major NFL talent entering that locker room in the offseason. The advantage gained from rostering Davis is his receiving talent. In Davis’ last two quality seasons, 2020 in Carolina and 2018 with the Seattle Seahawks, Davis saw 112 targets. While Ollison figures to mix in for general carry work, Davis should once again showcase his best trait with his pass-catching.

Draft over: James Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

 

Other RB’s of Note:

Ezekiel Elliot (Dallas Cowboys) Listed Rank 8/ My Rank 4

Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers) Listed Rank 10/ My Rank 6

Damien Harris (New England Patriots) Listed Rank 37/ My Rank 29

 

Wide Receiver
Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Listed Rank 12/ My Rank 17

Evans has been a player who has thrived off of touchdown and big-play production. With his 2020 total of 13 scores, 7th of all skills players, 31% of his fantasy point total came from his scoring. Typically we prefer players with scoring ability, but his other areas were lacking against the rest of the field. Evans came in 28th in receptions for all receivers, as well as 16th in yards and 24th in yards per game. Over the last two seasons, a common theme has been Evans’ production fluctuating when fellow receiver Chris Godwin is active. In 2020 when Godwin was on the field Evans scored 14 points per game, an average of WR29. When Godwin missed time, that shot up to 20.05, or WR3 in PPG. In 2019, Evans’ PPG in his 13 games was 17.5 points full PPR, three of those games were 36, 42.8, and 45 fantasy points. The PPG average drops to 10.7 in all other games besides those. Drafting Evans as a WR2 with touchdown upside is one thing, locking him in as a top 12 option is another. The 16th finish in PPG for 2020 seems closer in line to what Evans should be thought of going into 2021.

Draft instead: Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears), Ceedee Lamb (Dallas Cowboys)

 

Brandin Cooks (Houston Texans) Listed Rank 40/ My rank 29

Over the last four seasons, Cooks has suited up for three different NFL teams. 2021 sees Cooks once again in Houston, possibly minus his starting quarterback of 2020 in Deshaun Watson though. The probability of the starting quarterback being journeyman Tyrod Taylor makes me less optimistic. That pathway though has been baked into Cooks’ current average draft position, for full PPR he is WR36 on fantasypros.com. What Cooks has accomplished so far in his career has been five different seasons of 114 targets for four different teams. Those target numbers also contributed to five near 1100 or more yard seasons and 40 total receiving touchdowns. Trepidation is understandable in a team like the Texans. Houston currently is near the bottom for preseason team expectations for wins. Overall wins don’t contribute to fantasy points and in an offense desperate for production, a track record like Cooks’ is enticing.

Draft over: Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos), Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals)

 

Other WR’s of note:

D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks) Listed Rank 4/ My Rank 8

Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons) Listed Rank 7/ My Rank 5

Ja’Marr Chase (Cincinnati Bengals) Listed Rank 21/ My Rank 36

Robby Anderson (Carolina Panthers) Listed Rank 39/ My Rank 27

 

Tight End
Rob Gronkowski (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) Listed Rank 10/ My Rank 23

An offseason one-year contract puts the writing on the wall that this may be the last season for Gronkowski. After 26 full PPR fantasy points collectively over his first five games to start 2020, Gronk turned it on. Scoring in four of the next 5 games it seemed his preseason ADP of TE7 was correct. With the addition of receiver Antonio Brown, Gronkowski seemed to disappear after the week 13 bye. A total of 161 receiving yards and 10 receptions Gronkowski produced from week 14 to the NFC conference championship. A heroic two-score game in the Super Bowl seemed to downplay that previous seven-week 6.3 PPG production. For all the player ranks mentioned for this site, this one is the most questionable.

Draft instead: Irv Smith (Minnesota Vikings), Robert Tonyan (Green Bay Packers)

 

Jonnu Smith (New England Patriots) Listed Rank 17/ My Rank 7

Recently covered on Gridiron Ratings, Smith was acquired in the offseason to be the Patriots main offensive target. New England is seemingly attempting to replicate one of their best offensive systems from 2011. In the 2011 season, tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were heavily targeted options for New England. The two tight end system is being implemented again with Smith and Hunter Henry, who was also acquired in the offseason. Smith currently has the third-largest tight end contract in football and with that contract comes expectations. This offense works best with both players active to confuse opposing defenses. Defensive mismatches against linebackers and skirting safety coverage will be key.

Draft over: Dallas Goedert (Philadelphia Eagles), Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins)

 

Other TE’s of note:

Mike Gesicki (Miami Dolphins) Listed Rank 9/ My Rank 14

Logan Thomas (Washington Football Team) Listed Rank 12/ My Rank 17

 

For Matthew’s rankings check them out here!

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