When researching possible sleepers this year, I made sure they ticked four boxes. They have a lot of talent, they’re in a good environment (pieces around them should increase their efficiency and not make it worse), they have a lot of opportunities (should see a lot of touches) and most importantly, they’re in it too deep.
Here are the four players I believe are ticking those four boxes.
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Allen Lazard (WR – UK)
Since Aaron Rodgers took over as the starting QB for the Packers, Green Bay’s WR1 has averaged 18.0 PPR points per game. In his 14 years as a starter, the Packers have produced a wide receiver with the highest 25 PPR scoring each season. Allen Lazard is currently being drafted in fantasy leagues as WR49.
With Davante Adams and his 169 targets gone, Lazard was set to fill that role. He’s currently the first wide receiver on the depth chart, and Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating increased from 111.4 to 134.7 (+23.3) when he shot against Allen Lazard in 2021.
Tony Pollard (RB – DAL)
I’m going to give you the stats of two players over the last three years.
Player A averages 4.27 yards per carry (36th among RBs). He’s forced a missed tackle on 11.6% of his runs. He’s averaging 2.95 yards after contact (according to Pro Football Focus).
Player B averages 5.06 yards per carry (second among RBs). He’s forced a missed tackle on 22.8% of his runs. He’s averaging 3.83 yards after contact (according to Pro Football Focus).
Player A is Ezekiel Elliott.
Player B is Tony Pollard.
Pollard has averaged more yards per carry, yards from contact, and more missed tackles than Ezekiel Elliott per carry over the past three years. In terms of receiving, Pollard caught 84% of his passes compared to Zeke’s 72% last year. Pollard averaged more yards per carry than Elliott (4.42 yards per goal) last season.
Elliott is drafted as RB15 in PPR leagues while Pollard is ranked as RB31 on FantasyPros.
Elliott is drafted as RB1 on the depth chart, but don’t be surprised if Pollard takes over.
Gabriel Davis (WR – BUF)
With Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley on the horizon, Josh Allen currently has 199 goals up for grabs. And when the stakes were highest against Kansas City in the divisional round, Gabriel Davis was used heavily, receiving 10 goals and catching four touchdowns in that contest. When targeted, Davis was incredibly efficient; According to Sports Info Solutions, 28% of Davis’ goals were uncatchable. But of the 44 catchable targets, Davis caught 80% of them, averaging a paltry 13.6 yards per target.
Gabriel Davis has an extremely underrated mix of talent, situation and opportunity this year. His efficiency numbers are off the charts, Josh Allen is throwing passes at him, and there’s a lot of open targets in Buffalo. What more do you want?
Davis is currently drafted as a WR30 and 82nd overall in fantasy leagues.
Treylon Burks (WR – TEN)
Out of all 32 teams across the NFL, none have more open goals than the Tennessee Titans (351), meaning Treylon Burks could be seeing big crowds right away. Last year, the Arkansas product led all FBS receivers (min. 80 targets) in yards after catch per receiver (9.3). He also had a 155.3 passer rating when he was thrown, which was the second-highest mark in college football last season.
Ever since Ryan Tannehill joined the Tennessee Titans, the Titans’ passing attack has been incredibly efficient. Tannehill has been ranked in the top 10 NFL QBs for Passer Rating, QBR, and Fantasy Points for 2019. While the Titans aren’t necessarily a pass-heavy offense, there aren’t many better situations for Burks than what he’s in right now: an efficient quarterback with not much more to throw.
You can’t argue with his talent. There’s a reason the Titans were willing to trade their Pro-Bowl WR, AJ Brown, and snap him up in the first round. If you don’t believe me, look at the Alabama tape (10 receptions, 175 yards, 2 TDs). The opportunity and environment are also there; 67% of Tennessee’s goals are under, and Tannehill has been one of the most efficient passers in the league as of 2019. But despite all that, Burks currently has an ADP of WR38.
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