Looking for the must-draft fantasy football sleepers of 2020?
You’ve come to the right place. Lucky for you, The Fantasy Academy has done the research for you. Below, we’ve listed five diamond in the rough players at each skill position that will breakout in 2020. These fantasy sleepers will help you dominate your league and leave you looking like a fantasy football wizard.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FANTASY FOOTBALL SLEEPERS
The best fantasy managers win championships by being strategic with their late-round draft picks.
If you’ve purchased our 2020 Draft Kit, you already know that those who do their fantasy research early on have an advantage over those who rely solely on the core of their starting lineup to get them to the finish line.
Players like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, D.K. Metcalf, and A.J. Brown may have all seemed like questionable picks in their respective drafts as rookies, but they all ended up paying huge dividends to the owners that were willing to take a shot on them. Like financial investing, taking calculated risks on fantasy sleepers can provide managers a huge reward.
Let’s get started!
Gardner Minshew | Jacksonville Jaguars | ADP: QB #28
Gardner Minshew stormed on to the scene in 2019 after Nick Foles went down with an injury early in week one. Minshew is currently being taken as the 28th overall QB, which is outright disrespectful. Especially for a man who looks so good rocking jorts and a handlebar mustache.
The truth is, Minshew isn’t getting the fantasy respect he deserves. If you really look into the stats, in games Minshew started 80 percent of the snaps or more, he was a top 12 fantasy QB in the league…as a rookie. In those games, he averaged 17.47 points per game, which would land him directly behind Aaron Rodgers (17.65) and Carson Wentz (17.68) on the season.
The only other rookie to perform better was Kyler Murray, and Minshew finished the season a lot stronger than Murray. With a year of experience under his belt and the team confidently behind him, look for Minshew to once again shock the NFL, provide a little Minshew magic, and solidify himself as a serious quarterback in the league.
Drew Lock | Denver Broncos | ADP: QB #24
Drew Lock only started five games in 2019 as a rookie after an unfortunate finger injury during the pre-season. In those five games, he was able to go 4-1 with a subpar team that finished with only 7 wins.
Lock couldn’t have asked for a better off-seaosn as the Broncos decided to build around him, adding offensive firepower through the draft and in free agency with guys like Melvin Gordon, wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, who happens to be Lock’s former Missouri teammate and ran a 4.49 40-yard dash at the combine.
On top of that, GM John Elway brought in Pat Shurmur as offensive coordinator, known as one of the NFL’s quarterback gurus. All this to say, with the promise he showed late last season and the Broncos off-season additions, Drew Lock could be in store for a huge breakout season in 2020.
Matthew Stafford | Detroit Lions | ADP: QB #13
Matthew Stafford is being drafted way below where he should be as the 13th quarterback coming off the board. In 2019 before getting injured, Stafford was on pace to be a top four quarterback in the league.
In the eight games he played, Stafford averaged 21.45 fantasy points, behind only Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes. The Lions have a strong receiving corps in Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and TJ Hockenson, as well as adding D’Andre Swift who is a strong pass catching back through the draft. If you can grab Stafford as the 13th QB off the board or around there, you won’t regret it.
Cam Newton | New England Patriots | ADP: QB #21
Cam Newton is a former MVP, he’s still young, and he’s joining arguably the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. Tom Brady averaged just under 600 passing attempts his last three seasons in New England and that number shouldn’t decrease drastically with Cam Newton behind center.
Currently going as the 21st quarterback off the board, Newton will far outplay his ADP. He’s historically been a great fantasy play, landing in the top five at the quarterback position five times in his career. Newton represents a high floor and high ceiling situation for fantasy owners and is a serious sleeper in 2020.
Ben Roethlisberger | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: QB #15
Going as the 6th quarterback taken off the board, Ben Roethlisberger will always be a threat to finish the season as a top 10 fantasy QB. Yes, he’s 38 and was essentially injured all of last season, but the year before, in 2018, Big Ben finished as a top three quarterback in fantasy football. And he was top ten the year before that as well.
Roethlisberger is a quarterback who makes the most out of what he’s got, and he’s got some reliable weapons in Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner, Diontae Johnson, and a newly added Eric Ebron. Like Matthew Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger will far outplay his current ADP in 2020.
Teddy Bridgewater | Carolina Panthers | ADP: QB #27
As the backup to Drew Brees in 2019, Teddy Bridgewater showed glimpses of his potential to take over a starting quarterback role. The Carolina Panthers took notice and decided to sign Bridgewater along with new head coach, Matt Rhule, and offensive coordinator, Joe Brady.
Both coaches ran very efficient offenses at the college level and will be joining forces to create an offensive system that could be scarry good at the professional level. With Christian McCaffrey drawing the eyes of defenses and a quality receiving corps in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel, Bridgewater could very likely surprise fantasy managers with big numbers in 2020.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Sam Darnold
RUNNING BACK SLEEPERS
Matt Breida | Miami Dolphins | ADP: RB #41
Matt Breida is out of the Kyle Shanahan running back committee in San Francisco and now has the opportunity to solidify himself as “the guy” in the Miami Dolphins backfield. Yes, he will be splitting carries with Jordan Howard, but Breida is the homerun hitter that can steal the show in Miami.
Newly acquired offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, is a run-heavy coach which will have Breida getting plenty of carries. The ceiling for Breida in 2020 is very high, especially at his current ADP of 41.
Kareem Hunt | Cleveland Browns | ADP: RB #29
Kareem Hunt’s 2019 stats may not look impressive at first glance, but the performance he put together post-suspension in the last eight games of the seasonwas was very impressive.
On less than 5.5 carries and 4.6 receptions a game, Hunt averaged 12.7 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, Nick Chubb averaged 12.8 points per game while carrying the ball 18 times a game in that same timeframe.
Hunt is too good not to have on the field more frequently this season. The Browns will likely utilize him more on the ground while continuing to feed him targets through the air. If that’s the plan, Hunt could average 15+ points in 2020.
Phillip Lindsay | Denver Broncos | ADP: RB #38
Once again, Phillip Lindsay is going to have to prove all the haters wrong. As the first undrafted free agent to make a pro bowl and a 1,000 yard rusher his first two seasons in the league, Lindsay is going to have another year of consistent production.
He’s now paired with Melvin Gordon, who will undoubtedly get the bulk of carries. But Phillip Lindsay doesn’t need bulk carries to provide for fantasy teams. He’s been a top 20 fantasy running back the past two seasons in a split backfield with bad offenses.
You can be sure Lindsay won’t be left out of the mix for two reasons: 1. He produces when called on. 2. He’s a fan favorite as he grew up in Denver and played college football at Colorado. If he doesn’t get his touches/targets, the organization will hear about it.
Look for Lindsay to be used more heavily in the pass game in 2020 and continue his consistent production.
David Montgomery | Chicago Bears | ADP: RB #24
In his rookie season, David Montgomery finished as the #24 PPR running back (#22 standard). Given that the Bears only added one undrafted free agent, Artavis Pierce, to their backfield, it seems they believe they have their guy in Montgomery.
If Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky can provide a consistent passing attack that doesn’t allow defenses to stack the box at a high rate, Montgomery will have the opportunity to thrive in 2020. He received 242 carries with 35 targets and 35 red zone touches. This shows Montgomery is a very high floor player with little low risk in 2020.
Tarik Cohen | Chicago Bears | ADP: RB #40
Along with David Montgomery in the Chicago Bears offense is hybrid running back/wide receiver, Tarik Cohen. Since entering the league in 2017, Cohen has never finished below 30th in PPR formats and has ranked as high as 11th.
In 2018 and 2019, Cohen ranked in the top 10 in receptions and receiving yards at the running back position. For being drafted as the 40th running back off the board, Cohen has a very safe floor and high ceiling.
Honorable mentions: Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift
WIDE RECEIVER SLEEPERS
Jamison Crowder | New York Jets | ADP: #43
Here are a few receivers Jamison Crowder finished better than in 2019: DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Deebo Samuel, and Calvin Ridley.
Crowder is an elite receiver who has formed a great chemistry with quarterback Sam Darnold, who targeted Crowder 33 percent of the time from within ten yards of the end zone, the fourth highest percentage in the NFL in 2019. Crowder’s currently being drafted as the number 43 receiver off the board. If he drops that low in your draft, take him.
Crowder works primarily in the slot and the Jets wideouts aren’t scaring any defenses with rookie Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman, who is only a deep threat. Jamison should get plenty of targets in 2020 and will finish way better than the #43 receiver.
Diontae Johnson | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: #38
In a down year for the Steelers passing game, Diontae Johnson was a bright spot in 2019. With Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, not even Juju Smith-Schuster was able to put together a productive season.
As a rookie, Johnson surprised fantasy managers and had four games with 20 or more points. The only downside is that he was very inconsistent and his luls were frustrating for owners trying to guess when he would have a blowup game.
With a year under his belt and a hall of fame quarterback behind center, look for Johnson to be a more consistent threat in 2020. Big Ben likes to spread the ball around so there should be plenty of fantasy points to be had by Pittsburgh receivers.
Golden Tate| New York Giants| ADP: WR #55
Golden Tate’s 2019 stats are deceiving due to his 4-game suspension to start the season. He did not disappoint fantasy owners once he returned, however, averaging 15 points a game, more than A.J. Brown, Cortland Sutton, OBJ, and Terry McLaurin.
Tate and quarterback Daniel Jones seem to have a connection with Tate receiving over 20 percent of total team targets. With Tate being drafted as the #55 overall receiver in drafts, know that you have massive value way down the line in Tate.
Preston Williams | Miami Dolphins | ADP: WR #58
In his rookie season, Preston Williams had no problem producing fantasy points right away. It’s not easy to come into the NFL and immediately have your way with defenses. But for Williams and his 6’5” frame, it didn’t seem too difficult.
Over his first eight games, and before he went down with a season ending ACL injury, Williams was averaging 12.2 points a game. He was receiving 21.4 percent of the teams targets and 37 percent of red zone targets, which would have finished as the second highest red zone percentage in the league behind only Travis Kelce if Williams played the entire season.
Make sure to track him in your draft(s) and grab him before others decide to roster him.
Brandon Aiyuk | San Francisco 49ers | ADP: WR #63
The 49ers moved up in the 2020 NFL draft to select Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State University. With the departure of Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel breaking his foot in the offseason, Aiyuk is set to be the top wideout in San Francisco come season start.
Kyle Shanahan had this to say about Aiyuk: “He’s got the speed to get on top. He’s got the quickness to play in the slot. He’s got the toughness to go over in the middle. And the guy is just completely committed to being as good as God ever intended him to be.”
Aiyuk might be a rookie, but he has a great opportunity to breakout early in 2020 and put up consistent numbers for fantasy managers. As the 63rd receiver being drafted, grab Aiyuk in the late rounds of your draft.
Honorable mentions: Mecole Hardman, Allen Lazard, Desean Jackson, Curtis Samuel, Justin Jefferson, Denzel Mims
TIGHT END SLEEPERS
Jonnu Smith | Tennessee Titans | ADP: #16
Jonnu Smith broke out late in 2019 and solidified himself as the number one tight end in Tennessee after Delanie Walker went down with a season ending injury.
Mike Vrabel was quick to realize that Smith was a big play threat every time he touched the ball, and rewarded him with opportunities as the season progressed. Smith was second in the NFL in yards per target (9.8 ypt) and fourth in catch rate, grabbing 77.8 percent of every ball thrown his way.
Ryan Tannehill and Smith have been working together a lot in the offseason to create a strong chemistry for the 2020 season. Look for Smith to explode in 2020.
Blake Jarwin | Dallas Cowboys | ADP: #19
Blake Jarwin is no longer under the shadow of Jason Witten in Dallas. In 2019, Witten was targeted 83 times to Jarwin’s 41. The Cowboys haven’t picked up any other tight ends in the off-season to compete for the starting role, so Jarwin will see a huge increase in targets in 2020.
Although Mike McCarthy is now the head coach in Dallas, Kellen Moore remains offensive coordinator and will continue leading one of the most passing efficient offenses in the NFL. Jarwin’s stock is set to climb substantially in 2020.
TJ Hockenson | Detroit Lions | ADP: #20
TJ Hockenson’s ceiling is still extremely high as the #20 tight end being taken off the board. Hockenson started 2019 with a bang grabbing 9 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown in his first game as a rookie.
He and Matthew Stafford seemed to have a connection early, but Hockenson suffered a concussion early in the season capping his snap percentage and had a season ending ankle injury in week 13. On top of that, Stafford only played until week 9 before ending his season with a back injury.
With both Hockenson and Stafford Healthy in 2020, look for a huge year from Detroit’s TE1.
Jack Doyle | Indianapolis Colts | ADP: #17
With Philip Rivers behind center in Indianapolis, Jack Doyle is set to have a huge season as the Colts primary tight end. With the Chargers, Rivers found success with Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, and any other fill-in they had playing the position.
Rivers loves tight ends. Doyle should find similar success to that of Hunter Henry, who finished as a top 10 tight end in 2019 while only playing in 12 games. O’Doyle will rule in 2020.
Eric Ebron | Pittsburgh Steelers | ADP: #18
We know that Eric Ebron has top five tight end potential. We saw it in 2018 when he ended the season as the number four tight end with Andrew Luck and the Colts.
When given the opportunity, Ebron produces for his teams. Now that he will be the primary pass-catching tight-end for Ben Roethlisberger (who loves throwing to tight ends in the red zone), Ebron could have a year similar to 2018. There is a high chance he is a sleeper who ends 2020 as a top ten fantasy tight end.
Honorable mention: Chris Herndon, Dallas Goedert, Jace Sternberger
Final Thoughts on 2020 Fantasy Football Sleepers
Now that you know the must-have fantasy football sleepers, make sure to read up on players to avoid in 2020. Don’t get caught drafting the player everyone knows will be a bust in 2020!