Of the many emotions that fantasy football can elicit, I think the feeling of satisfaction you get when trading for or drafting a sleeper has to be one of the best. Maybe it’s just a me thing, but it makes you feel like the belle of the ball. That sneaky sleeper is going to help bring you a championship, while those high priced, over-hyped players do your competition no good. Not every sleeper ends up bringing you fortune and fame though, sometimes they underperform even the modest expectations you (should) have for them.
Because I love misery I decided it might be fun to examine some players who many of us were touting as buy-low bargains who we would have been better served spending nothing on.
To determine who was a sleeper with hype I only used two qualifiers. The first qualifier is me, I read every damn thing written about dynasty football. Literally. I have 22 different fantasy football sites bookmarked. That doesn’t include the additional 16 sites I have bookmarked for research purposes. So If I say the players below had sleeper hype, you can take that as gospel.
The second qualifier was start-up ADP. I used DFF’s ADP data from August 2017. The ADP is in parenthesis next to the player and team name. As to not just make this a normal run of the mill bust article, I only selected players with an ADP outside of 84(8th round or later).
QB Brian Hoyer, San Francisco 49ers (204)
Hoyer goes into week 6 as a low-end QB2 or high-end QB3, dependent on your league QB scoring. In a league with 6 point passing TD scoring and -2 for interceptions, Hoyer is averaging 13.8 fantasy points per game, good enough for the QB28 spot. No one expected Hoyer to be a QB1 this season, that would have been pure lunacy, but it was reasonable to expect Hoyer to be in the QB16-20 range.
WR Kenny Britt, Cleveland Browns (130)
Kenny Britt got paid this off-season. Then Britt retired. Good for him, he had a long and arduous career. Not so good for the Browns. Britt never got around to letting the Browns know he retired and they keep sending him out onto the football field. Except for this week when he was out due to “injury”. When actually “playing” Britt wanders around the football field like my grandmom looking for her call at a mall parking lot.
In full point PPR leagues, Britt is currently sitting at the WR84 spot. Scoring 6.525 points per game Britt lags behind such luminaries as Cordarrelle Patterson, Deonte Thompson, and Albert Wilson. So there’s that.
Marching orders: Trade Britt for whatever you can get at this point. Britt is a sunk cost move on.
WR Breshad Perriman, Baltimore Ravens (143)
My WR2 spot for the All-Bust team was a hard one to settle on. I debated among Martavis Bryant, John Brown, and Breshad Perriman. Bryant wasn’t really a sleeper, though he’s clearly a bust thus far in 2017. John Brown is doing typical John Brown things, showing up on the injury report every day, not playing some Sundays. Ultimately if you didn’t know Smoke would be oft-injured that’s on you.
That leaves us with Breshad Perriman. Many fantasy analysts and fantasy players alike thought that Perriman was in line for a breakout in his 3rd season. I for one never bought into the hype(Editor’s note: Lies, Shane had Perriman down for 1,200 yards this season). Damn it. Okay, you got me, I did buy into the hype, in fact, I was one of the guys actually drumming up the hype. Enamored by Perriman’s size, speed, skill-set and the departure of Steve Smith and Kamar Aiken, I saw this as Perriman’s season to announce himself as an offensive force.
I’m going to give myself a pass on this take for several reasons. In January of this year when I penned that fawning profile of Perriman there was no way for me to know that Kansas City would cut Jeremy Maclin and that Maclin would end up in Baltimore. Joe Flacco also injured his back during a weightlifting session at the beginning of the pre-season. Coincidentally or not the Ravens have gone from a throw first offense to a run-first offense. The Ravens led the league in passing attempts per game in 2015 (42.2 per game) and in 2016(42.4 per game), but have fallen to 24th(30.6) in the league so far in 2017.
It’s hard to do much damage when you have 16(for comparison purposes RB Buck Allen has 24 targets) total targets through 5 games. For those of you vehemently opposed to doing division, that works out to 3.2 targets per game. Even if Perriman converted 100% of his targets into receptions he’d still be a low-end WR112 with that workload.
Marching orders: Buy low if you feel like it. I can’t pretend that Perriman is someone I’m targeting in trades but I’ll take him on as a throw in. I did recently trade for Perriman, I did not initiate the trade, for a 2018 3rd round pick.
WR Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills (117)
Zay Jones catch % is bad. So bad that if it were a batting average he would have been demoted to Single-A ball at this point.
On 23 targets this season Jones is rocking a 21.7% catch rate. Even if we round up to a whole number that’s still only 22%. We could round up to the closest ten and he would still have a god awful 30% catch rate. I’m rounding up a full 10 and the guy would only hit 30%, that is an almost unimaginable feat of inefficiency. Using advanced metrics on PlayerProfiler is always a good time right?! Let’s take a look at some of Zay Jones’ advanced efficiency metrics below.
Oh. Well, that’s not fun at all, not even remotely fun. In fact, I’m actually depressed now. I need to move on to another player before I start crying.
Marching orders: I got nothing.
RB Samaje Perine, Washington (93)
Perine was a running back who ended up being over-drafted largely due to his landing spot. As soon as Washington drafted him everyone in the Northern hemisphere started hyping him as the RB to own in D.C. Once provided the opportunity there was no chance that Perine wouldn’t supplant Rob Kelley. This vaulted Perine into the 1st round in many rookie drafts.
Unfortunately, Perine displayed little acumen for pass protection or ball security during the preseason practices. Perine proceeded to fumble in his first professional game against Baltimore in Washington’s first preseason game. Though he was able to resist the urge to fumble the rest of the preseason, he neglected to actually be any good at running the ball. The preseason ended with Perine producing 2.8 yards per carry on 24 attempts. With Rob Kelley unable to play against the Raiders in Week 3 Perine had another chance to stake his claim to the lead back role. Perine was only able to muster 49 rushing yards on 19 carries for a less than impressive 3.1 yards per carry. He also fumbled.
It’s looking increasingly likely that Kelley won’t be able to play again this week, so Perine will have another chance to show that he can be a starting caliber running back. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t fumble(dad pun!) the chance again.
Actionable Intel: Stop drafting Day 3 running backs in the 1st round of your rookie drafts!
TE Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (81)
I cheated with this selection, Ebron technically doesn’t meet the threshold I spelled at the beginning of this article, but this group of players would feel incomplete without including him. Eric Ebron career trajectory up to this season pointed to a breakout season in 2017. Courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference let’s take a look at his first three seasons.
Ebron’s games started, targets, receptions and receiving yards all increased every season of his career. The lone blemish on his stat line was the lack of touchdowns, but with Anquan Boldin’s departure, surely Ebron would see an increase in that area.
Instead, Ebron has struggled all year with drops and now a crisis of confidence. On only 23 targets Ebron already has 4 drops this season. He’s lost his starting role to Darren Fells, being out snapped in consecutive weeks by Fells. Let that sink in for just a moment. Eric Ebron who was the 10th overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft has lost his starting job to a player whose career totals of 48 receptions, 611 yards and 6 touchdowns barely exceed Ebron’s 2nd year stats. Ebron has even expressed being “Down in the dumps” over his performance this season.
Marching orders: Buy low on Ebron. Ebron is still only 24 years old. His first three seasons show he has the talent to succeed in the NFL. In fantasy football we often discuss how it takes time for Tight ends to develop. In Ebron we have a player who seemed to have broken that mold. Progression is not always linear, sometimes there are peaks and valleys. I see Ebron’s struggles as a valley that he’ll ascend from in short order.
Thank you for reading. Anytime you want to talk some fantasy football, or anything else that’s on your mind you can find me at @DFF_Shane.