Everyone loves a good underdog, especially when that underdog outperforms previous expectations. When it comes to fantasy, having those underdogs can make or break your season.
Each year, millions of participants spend hours scouring the waiver wire and late rounds of the draft hoping to unearth the next gem that they can brag about for the rest of the season. Having doubts about who those players might be this season?
Well, you’ve come to the right place, as I’ve assembled the 2021 Fantasy Football All-Sleeper Team utilizing the standard nine-player format. Let’s take a lookout at some breakout candidate sleepers for this upcoming season!
All-Sleeper Fantasy Football Team
Quarterback (QB): Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
While the keys to San Francisco’s offense may currently be in Jimmy G’s hands, it certainly feels like it won’t be for long. For starters, Garoppolo’s durability has been a huge issue for the team during his time in the bay area, leaving the Niners with less than ideal options at QB in the past.
Enter Lance, who GM John Lynch decided to trade up for during this past year’s draft, giving up some heavy draft capital to grab the former NDSU star third overall. Think he’s got some confidence in the kid?
I certainly do, as I see Lance starting the season off on the bench before taking over in the early portion of the season (potentially by week 3 or 4). Don’t be fooled when you see Lance on the waiver wire during the early portion of the season–grab and stash him on your bench while you can.
What’s not to like about this guy? He’s an ultra-efficient, dual-threat QB who can rack up points on the ground and through the air. He’s got a big arm, ideal size, and is surrounded by a plethora of versatile weapons on offense.
Throw in a healthy defense and an improved rushing attack, and you’ve got a player who’s likely to thrive in their new role. I see him having a Jalen Hurts type impact during his first season in the bay, as a player who can explode for 30 plus points on any given week. While he may be a higher risk at times, the reward will be higher.
Running Back (RB1): Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals
While an argument could be made that Edmonds isn’t a true “sleeper,” people sometimes forget that he’s shared reps in the backfield for his entire career. With Kenyan Drake now in Vegas, it’s his turn to run the show and prove whether or not he’s capable of being a number one back for an Arizona Cardinals team with high hopes.
While the addition of James Conner will certainly cut into his reps, his chemistry with QB Kyler Murray and threat in the passing game are what sets him up as a nice sleeper option. Don’t forget that Edmonds ranked in the top ten for running back receptions in 2020 (with 53) while rushing for just under 500 yards as well.
With more reps, he could sneak into the top ten for fantasy running backs this season.
Running Back (RB2): Sony Michel, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams’ recent acquisition of Michel may seem like extra insurance in the backfield following Cam Akers’ injury, but somehow it feels like more than that. While the former Georgia star has shown flashes of brilliance during his three-year career, he hasn’t quite been able to put it all together on a consistent basis.
Injuries slowed Michel’s production during his final year in Foxborough but have topped 900 rushing yards twice in his career already. That, combined with Darrell Henderson Jr’s injury woes, leads me to believe that Michel will be thrust into the RB1 role in LA sooner rather than later.
With Matt Stafford under center and Robert Woods/Cooper Kupp flanked wide right/left, the opportunity is there for Michel to recapture some of that magic that made him a postseason hero in New England.
Wide Receiver (WR1): Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints
Callaway, who’s been one of the stars of the preseason, has all but solidified his spot as the Saints’ WR1 following Michael Thomas’ injury. While he does have limited experience which could cause some frustrating inconsistencies, he’s worth the risk as a flier who will receive a high volume of targets from Jameis Winston.
Bottom line is, if Callaway slips to the late rounds of your draft, grab him ASAP. His upside is too great to pass on.
Wide Receiver (WR2): Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
While Shenault’’s rookie season earned him praise from both the Jaguars and his fantasy owners, he still has plenty of room to improve as both a wideout and flex option. His unique role as both a receiver and running back leads to increased touches, which is why his upside is greater than most fantasy receivers.
If he’s able to build on his promising rookie season with Trevor Lawrence now under center, watch out. Grab Shenault Jr. in the latter rounds if you can as a high-ceiling, low-floor sleeper option.
Tight End (TE1): Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks
Everett, like Shenault Jr., will greatly benefit from catching passes from a new quarterback. Everett has always been an explosive option who was never truly unleashed during his time in LA, so it will be exciting to see what Russell Wilson can do with him.
I project that Everett will finally display the potential that made him a second-round pick in 2017 and blow away expectations as the Seahawks TE1. Pencil him in for 600 plus yards and at least seven touchdowns during his first year in “The Evergreen State.”
Flex (WR/RB/TE): Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
This one is my favorite pick of all, as somehow I still feel that Mike Davis is undervalued despite what he showed in Christan McCaffrey’s absence last season. Davis recorded 642 rushing yards to go along with 59 receptions before finishing his season on the sideline due to a nagging ankle injury.
This year, he will be the featured back in a new-look Falcons offense sure to be a top-five unit league-wide, despite the departure of franchise cornerstone Julio Jones. With that being said, Davis will likely see an increase in overall touches with Atlanta’s heavy passing attack, further increasing his value.
While he’s not likely to get you 1,000 yards rushing, his threat as a pass-catching back more than makes up for his decreased rushing numbers. Don’t be afraid to reach on this guy if you can, he’s certainly going to be worth more than he’s currently valued by season’s end.
D/ST: Minnesota Vikings
After a “down” year for this usually stout group, Mike Zimmer leads a retooled defense featuring eight-time Pro Bowl corner Patrick Peterson, Pro Bowl pass rusher Danielle Hunter, stalwart linebackers Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and All-Pro safety Harrison Smith. While this group may not be a turnover machine, they will certainly hold their own and likely rank near the top of the league in sacks and points allowed per game.
With improved corner play from last season’s dismal unit, we could even see an uptick in interceptions. Take a long look at this group before deciding which defense to snag, because they may very well be at the top of the league before the season’s end.
K: Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals
Last season, I drafted Colts rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship, which turned out pretty good for me as he ended up being the sixth-best kicker in fantasy. This year, I will do the same with McPherson, as I believe that he has the same ceiling Blankenship possessed.
With a big leg and pinpoint accuracy, McPherson may rank in the top five among kickers come season’s end, especially with all of the scoring opportunities that the Bengals are going to have with Joe Burrow under center. You can grab the Florida product now and thank me later.