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Round by Round Targets, Avoids, Sleepers

By Faraz Siddiqi, August 17th

I like a lot of players for fantasy this season, but the price has to be right for me. There aren’t many players I’m willing to reach a round or two on - that would imply that they’re severely mispriced. And in turn, it would mean that I should be questioning my process on that player; and if I’m still feeling that a player is that much of a value, I’ll make sure to grab as much exposure to that player as possible. I’ll try to identify a few of those here.

Let’s use Sleeper redraft ADP, since Underdog ADP is slightly skewed towards WR early, which pushes RBs down the board.

For more details on these players, check out the rankings page with context, which includes blurbs on most of these players.

Round 1

Austin Ekeler

There isn’t anyone I’m completely avoiding in the first round. They’re all great. Cooper Kupp’s hamstring injury shakes things up a bit, because if I want to go a little safer, I’d take Tyreek Hill and even Travis Kelce over him. Sean McVay has said the injury isn’t serious, and that Kupp is day to day, but a hamstring injury for a 30-year old WR isn’t what you want to deal with when you can go a lot safer and potentially avoid a disaster. If you want to take Bijan Robinson or Stefon Diggs ahead of Kupp, I totally get it.

A few concerns on Austin Ekeler at his price: He’s been a TD machine over the last two years; 12 and 13 rushing TDs each of the last two seasons with Lombardi but check this out - compare that to 2, 3, 3, and 1 TD before Lombardi... does Moore want to have a bigger back at the goal line? Does Josh Kelley get a crack there? I'm just playing devil's advocate, and we should understand any sort of risks for any player... here's another one - 4.7 catches/game for Ekeler with Keenan Allen on the field compared to 7.4 catches without Keenan Allen on the field last season - huge split there. And now they add Quentin Johnston… Are they going to be dumping it down that often if they're going to throw the ball down the field more? Am I still comfortable taking Ekeler that early, yes, but I might actually lean towards a high-end WR if I'm faced with the decision early in the 1st.

My picks at the 1-2 turn (picks 10-12): I find myself going WR/WR a lot of the time here. CeeDee, AJ Brown, Garret Wilson, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Davante Adams are great picks here. If you wanted to mix it up with a RB, Saquon and Chubb would be the two options for me.

Round 2

Tony Pollard - 2

I find myself reaching for Pollard a lot in the 2nd, even when I have a pick in the mid-2nd; Pollard usually goes closer to the 2-3 turn. I have him ranked as my RB2/RB3 overall, so I want to grab him when I can.

Targets: Garrett Wilson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb

Avoids: Patrick Mahomes, Davante Adams, Jonathan Taylor, Jaylen Waddle, Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts

Grabbing a QB: It’s just too early to grab a QB. The opportunity cost preventing us from grabbing the other positions that provide real positional value is too high.

Jonathan Taylor’s situation isn’t ideal, so why not grab Nick Chubb instead? I like his situation better anyway regardless of the contract issues Taylor is deal with. Taylor already had some questions around goal-line vultures, offense quality, and involvement in the receiving game relative to his price.

Jaylen Waddle was 1st in yards per target over expectation, which means he's good, but it also means he could be in store for a slight negative regression. He also had the highest differential in expected fantasy points vs actual fantasy points. Waddle only had a 20% target share last year, while Tyreek led the league alongside Davante Adams with a 28% target share. His target and air yards share lined up with that of a WR2 rather than a WR1. With all that being said, he's going to have his huge blow-up games that wins you a few weeks. Just for those who might think a healthy Tua is the answer, he only averaged 6.4 targets and 4.1 catches per game with Tua at the helm. WR11 off the board is too high for me.

 

My picks at the 2-3 turn (picks 21-27): Tony Pollard and Rhamondre Stevenson are the ideal picks at this spot. I wouldn’t hesitate on Stevenson right now based on the possibility of the Patriots signing another back; he should get enough work regardless, including the money touches at the goal line and receiving. Chris Olave is the next priority target here, and provides a good pivot if you don’t need a RB, and you want to pivot away from Stevenson.

Round 3

Chris Olave.jpg

This might be the trickiest round of the draft. There are several players here who I’m not excited about. I’m not necessarily avoiding them, but I’m not excited about: Tee Higgins, Najee Harris, DK Metcalf. With that being said, these are the three I find myself with if I don’t reach for Jahmyr Gibbs. My main targets in the 3rd have been Chris Olave and Rhamondre Stevenson (if I have an early 3rd round pick), and Gibbs if I’m in the middle to end of the round.

Targets: Rhamondre Stevenson, Chris Olave, Jahmyr Gibbs

Avoids: Travis Etienne, Breece Hall, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson (if he’s being taken this high)

Again, too early to take a QB. The money touches (goal line and receiving) are a big question for Travis Etienne right now with Tank Bigsby getting rave reviews at camp in those areas. Breece Hall coming back from an ACL injury plus the Jets are seemingly very interested in signing Dalvin Cook and other RBs seems like they don’t want to give Hall a big workload this year.

I’m fine taking: Mark Andrews, DK Metcalf, DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris, Tee Higgins

My Picks at the 3-4 turn: Jahmyr Gibbs, Calvin Ridley, Keenan Allen

Round 4

Calvin Ridley

Avoids: Kenneth Walker, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle

Targets: Keenan Allen, Calvin Ridley

If I don’t get Allen or Ridley, Mixon is probably the next target, followed by Amari Cooper, then Aaron Jones. If you’re undecided on the latter two, maybe you go Jones and try to get Elijah Moore later on. Sometimes Lamar Jackson falls to the end of the 4th, in which case I’m scooping him up because of his overall QB1 upside.

George Kittle saw the lowest target share of any of the four main weapons for the 49ers with Brock Purdy, despite him getting lucky in the TD department. I’ve been avoiding Deebo, but it’s worth nothing that he actually had the highest target share among all of the four weapons with Purdy if you count their playoff run. My issue with Deebo is that he isn’t targeted downfield, lowering his expected fantasy points per opportunity compared to other WRs.

My picks at the 4-5 turn: Lamar Jackson, Terry McLaurin, Jerry Jeudy, JK Dobbins

Round 5

This is the round where a lot of pocket QBs like Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and Trevor Lawrence are taken, and I’m avoiding them this early. There’s just too much positional upside and value here to ignore, and chances are these QBs are not giving you the type of positional advantage as what these other targets are capable of.

Targets: Jerry Jeudy, JK Dobbins, Christian Watson, Alexander Mattison

Avoids: DJ Moore

I like DJ Moore as a player, but I’m not convinced that the Bears offense will have enough overall pass volume for him to have the net production even on a relatively high target share. I’d probably consider him if this round didn’t consist of several players that I really like at this price.

My picks at the 5-6 turn: Christian Watson, Alexander Mattison, D’Andre Swift, Darren Waller

Round 6

Justin Fields

Targets: Justin Fields, D’Andre Swift, Darren Waller, Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Lockett

Avoids: Chris Godwin, Dallas Goedert, Michael Pittman, Marquise Brown*

Fine taking: Mike Williams, Cam Akers, James Conner

I have no concerns about Aiyuk’s elite potential, but I do have concerns about his target share not taking a step forward because of all of the other weapons the offense has. Still, I like to bet on these types of players, and even if we don’t see target share move up considerably, Aiyuk will still pay off at this price - he’s being drafted at his floor.

Like Aiyuk, Lockett is one of the best values at the WR position. Very safe pick if you went RB/QB/TE early.

When you have a TE who can potentially lead his team in targets with a QB who looks like he’s taking a step forward, you just have to take that shot, even if there are some previous injury concerns. Waller has Top-2 upside at the position.

My concern with the talented WRs in my avoid list is that their offenses likely won’t be good. If Kyler Murray makes a miraculous comeback, then I will be very wrong about Marquise Brown, who should get a very high target share and produce - last year he was a Top-12 WR in FPPG before Hopkins came back. I’m just concerned that the QB situation will be one of the worst in the league.

If you need an RB, I’m perfectly fine taking either Akers or Conner. The Rams' offensive line isn’t going to be good, and Conner will be more involved in the receiving game. If I had to choose one, it will be Conner by a hair.

My picks at the 6-7 turn: Tyler Lockett, Rachaad White

Round 7

Jordan Addison

Targets: Rachaad White, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Diontae Johnson, David Montgomery, Jordan Addison

Avoids: Isiah Pacheco, Mike Evans, Javonte Williams, George Pickens, Evan Engram

JSN has a ton of upside, but his floor is lower than the there guys on this list. Jordan Addison is probably my favorite pick from this list (best combined floor and ceiling), and Diontae has the safest floor of any these WRs. Montgomery will be a solid RB2 as the goal line back and more on a very good offense. He can co-exist with Jahmyr Gibbs and both can be great for fantasy.

The early down back for KC doesn’t have much value outside of goal line touches, and we have no idea if Pacheco will own 100% of that work. KC also loves to throw it a lot inside the 5 yard line. Pacheco also doesn’t have the talent profile to bet on, either. He’ll have his games due to him being attached to this offense, but I’ll be fading.

My picks at the 7-8 turn: Diontae Johnson, David Montgomery, Jordan Addison, Pat Freiermuth, James Cook

Round 8

Pat Freiermuth

Targets: Pat Freiermuth, James Cook, Jahan Dotson, Deshaun Watson, Antonio Gibson, Brandin Cooks

Avoids: Treylon Burks, AJ Dillon, Kadarius Toney

Freiermuth is a breakout candidate at the TE position, so he’s my mid-round TE of choice if I didn’t grab Waller or a tight end before him. My #1 target in this round is James Cook, and I’d be willing to reach for him in the 7th. Dotson is a breakout WR candidate as well, especially if Sam Howell is the real deal. Cooks is the safest WR target here.

My picks at the 8-9 turn: Brandin Cooks, Antonio Gibson

Round 9

Targets: Zay Flowers, Anthony Richardson

Avoids: Jamaal Williams

Flowers is my #1 target in this round, with the hopes that he’s Lamar’s #1 WR this year. Rashod Bateman is also capable, but it’s cheap to find out. Richardson has nuclear upside, so targeting him at this price is also a priority.

My picks at the 9-10 turn: Samaje Perine, Khalil Herbert, Elijah Moore

Round 10

Targets: Dalton Kincaid, Samaje Perine, Khalil Herbert, Elijah Moore, De’Von Achane, Geno Smith

Avoids: Odell Beckham Jr, Cole Kmet

I’m bought in on Dalton Kincaid - I’m convinced he’ll be running a route on a very high percentage of QB drop backs, which is the primary factor to look into when targeting a TE who we don’t have much target share data for. Perine will be involved all year long regardless of Javonte Williams’ status, and he also has the upside of being the primary back in games where Williams isn’t 100%. It’s worth taking a shot in the Bears backfield, and we know Herbert was extremely efficient last year in this same offense. Elijah Moore has the type of upside we saw in his rookie year with Deshaun Watson, and reports are that he’s his favorite target (Cooper has been in and out of practice).

My picks at the 10-11 turn: Geno Smith

Round 11

Targets: Daniel Jones, Rashod Bateman, Skyy Moore (reaching is ok)

Avoids: Damien Harris, Jerick McKinnon

Fine taking: Adam Thielen, Chig Okonkwo

Round 12

Targets: Skyy Moore, Tyler Higbee, Tyler Allgeier (handcuff)

Avoids: Jakobi Meyers, Darnell Mooney

Fine taking: Russell Wilson

Round 13

Targets: Kendre Miller, Rashee Rice, Jonathan Mingo, Sam LaPorta

Avoids: Bryce Young, Rondale Moore, Devin Singletary

Late Round Shots (Round 13+)

  • Nico Collins (14th round)

  • Roschon Johnson (15th round)

  • Jaylen Warren (15th round)

  • DJ Chark (15th round)

  • Jeff Wilson (15th round)

  • Justyn Ross (undrafted)

  • Alec Pierce (undrafted)

  • Tyjae Spears (undrafted, 3-down handcuff)

  • Marvin Mims (undrafted)

  • Zamir White (undrafted)

  • Luke Musgrave (undrafted)

  • Tank Dell (undrafted)

  • Josh Downs (undrafted)

  • Kenneth Gainwell (undrafted)

  • Ty Chandler (undrafted, potential 3-down handcuff)

  • Tyler Conklin

  • Michael Wilson

  • Greg Dortch

Where Am I Taking A QB?

If Lamar falls to the 5th, I’m grabbing him. I’m fine grabbing him at the end of the 4th if you don’t love the options there. Next up is Justin Fields if he’s available in the 6th - I have him ranked as a Top-5 QB with overall QB1 upside. For whatever reason, if Josh Allen/Mahomes/Hurts falls to the 4th, I’d be willing to grab them there.

If I don’t grab any of those Top 5, I’m waiting until the 9th round or so to grab Deshaun Watson, and then Aaron Rodgers and Daniel Jones are my next targets. Jones’ rushing ability combined with the fact that he’s having a great camp has me buying in. He’s shown the fantasy upside in several games in the past.

If I wait even later, I’d be looking for Geno Smith, Jared Goff, and then Russell Wilson. After that I’m grasping - I don’t love Kenny Pickett, but he is a QB who can take a leap this year. My deep target as my QB3 in superflex leagues is Sam Howell.

Where Am I Grabbing A TE?

I’m perfectly fine grabbing Kelce early in the mid 1st round, but if I don’t grab him, I’m looking for Mark Andrews to fall to the end of the 3rd or early 4th. Darren Waller is my next target at the 5-6 turn at the earliest. If you can get him in the 6th, solid value. Next up is Pat Freiermuth in the 9th, followed by Dalton Kincaid in the 10th… that’s it, the confidence meter is over. Tyler Higbee is the next tight end you can be somewhat confident in who will be getting a solid target share. Upside fliers include Chig Okonkwo, Greg Dulcich, Sam LaPorta, Gerald Everett, Luke Musgrave (undrafted) and Jake Ferguson (undrafted but should be drafted in the 12th round).

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Round 4
Round 5
Round 6
Round 7
Round 8
Round 9
Round 10
Round 11
Round 12
Round 13
Late Round
Drafting QB
Drafting TE
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