2017 Dynasty League Football Sleepers (Premium Content)

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Part of what makes dynasty fantasy football so fun is the depth of player analysis. To succeed long term, you'll need to find more players that can contribute to your team than your opponents do.

The never-ending pursuit of the unexpected contributor is what brings us here today. I'll point you to some players capable of being fantasy difference makers but whose cost won't kill your season if they don't pan out.

Here are eight dynasty sleepers for the 2017 season to keep in mind for upcoming startup drafts:

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Quarterback

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Startup ADP: QB17, pick 147

Dalton was never a highly regarded prospect. He's not even a well-regarded pro, for the most part. In terms of fantasy, his season-ending ranks haven't been stellar recently. He was the QB12 last year, QB19 in 2015, and QB18 in 2014. There are, however, a few reasons to like Dalton.

The first reason is structural. Most dynasty leagues start just a single quarterback, and quarterback scoring is relatively flat. Last year, Dalton was just a single point per game away from being a top-seven fantasy QB. In 2015, his end-of-season rank was hurt by some missed games, but on a per-game basis, he was a top-10 fantasy QB. In other words, you don't need a highly drafted QB in order to get enough points from the position to keep you competitive.

So we know that Dalton has been close to being a top flight QB the past two seasons. What else works in his favor? He now has one of the best groups of skill players in the NFL. A.J. Green is joined by top-10 pick John Ross and promising second-year wide receiver Tyler Boyd. Tyler Eifert is a TD-scoring machine at the tight end position. And Joe Mixon looks like an upgrade - especially as a pass catcher - over Jeremy Hill. Add in the return of Giovani Bernard and this could be a very dynamic offense with an underrated Dalton at the helm.

Eli Manning, New York Giants
Startup ADP: QB21, pick 164

Manning comes at an even lower cost than Dalton, meaning you can squeeze in a couple more picks at other positions before you take a quarterback. Manning is cheaper for a reason. He's older and had a worse season last year. But we can make similar arguments in favor of him as we did for Dalton. Even though he was QB20 last year, he was just a point per game off the pace of QB12, or starter-level in most leagues. What about the Giants offense? To go along with Odell Beckham, you've got a future Hall of Famer, Brandon Marshall, and youngsters Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram, a new, highly-drafted pass catching tight end. Marshall had a sub-par 2016, but I'd blame the Jets quarterbacks for that. Marshall's yards per reception were still in line with his career norm, he just had trouble reeling in many of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Bryce Petty's passes. Look for Marshall to return to form, now that he's playing with maybe the best QB he's ever had. That, in turn, will help Manning return to top-10 QB form, a status he enjoyed in both 2014 and 2015.

Also considered: Sam Bradford, Cody Kessler

 

Running Back

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Startup ADP: RB34, pick 104

Running back is a position that has lots of potential sleepers. Because of injuries, just about any back, especially a recent draftee, can find themselves with a decent workload. But it's not often you find a situation like Martin's. He lost half of 2016 to injury, but in the eight games he played, he produced double-digit PPR points six times. More importantly, he was the RB4 overall in 2015, and RB2 overall in 2012. Very few backs available this late in startup drafts have that kind of potential upside. Don't be discouraged by his year-to-year volatility; that's normal at the RB position. Even great backs like Adrian Peterson and Le'Veon Bell have had seasons where they were injured or underperformed. Martin is suspended to begin the season but has done all the right things to get back into the team's good graces. The team seems to be on board, giving him several compliments during OTAs, and not spending a significant pick at the position in the recent draft.

Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens
Startup ADP: RB56, pick 168

West lacks Martin's upside, but he's also much cheaper. West is being drafted after teammate Kenneth Dixon, which is surprising to me. Not only did West earn much more work than Dixon last year, he was a more efficient TD scorer and receiver. Dixon is also suspended to begin the season, meaning West gets a four-game head start in which to secure the starting RB gig. Baltimore also brought in Danny Woodhead, who will certainly take away much of the receiving work. But those targets should come first from Dixon, who wasn't as good a receiver as West. At West's price, there are several other RBs who are good bets for solid production in 2017, but unlike most of them, West is just 25, meaning he has a potentially longer career window.

Also considered: Wayne Gallman, Aaron Jones

 

Wide Receiver

Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
Startup ADP: WR63, pick 143

Enunwa is just 25 years old and is coming off a 105 target season. Over the past two years, he's been one of the Jets most efficient receiving targets: For all Jets with more than 20 targets, only the departed Eric Decker helped his QB earn a higher adjusted yards per attempt. To provide some context for Enunwa's 2016, I searched for similar WR seasons since 2000. Here are the top 15 results.

NAME SEAS AGE WEIGHT TRGS RECS YDS YPR YPT TDS
Quincy Enunwa 2016 24 225 6.56 3.62 53.56 14.78 8.16 0.25
Andre Johnson 2003 22 225 7.44 4.12 61 14.79 8.2 0.25
Plaxico Burress 2001 24 226 7.5 4.12 63 15.27 8.4 0.38
Demaryius Thomas 2011 24 229 7 3.2 55.1 17.22 7.87 0.4
Michael Floyd 2014 25 220 6.19 2.94 52.56 17.89 8.49 0.38
Josh Gordon 2012 21 225 5.94 3.12 49.81 15.94 8.39 0.31
Pierre Garcon 2009 23 210 6.57 3.36 54.64 16.28 8.32 0.29
Michael Crabtree 2011 24 214 7.6 4.8 58.27 12.14 7.67 0.27
Dwayne Bowe 2007 23 221 7.38 4.38 62.19 14.21 8.43 0.31
Andre Johnson 2005 24 225 8.77 4.85 52.92 10.92 6.04 0.15
Rod Gardner 2001 24 213 6.31 2.88 46.31 16.11 7.34 0.25
Mohamed Sanu 2014 25 211 6.12 3.5 49.38 14.11 8.06 0.31
Calvin Johnson 2007 22 236 6.27 3.2 50.4 15.75 8.04 0.27
Chris Chambers 2002 24 210 6.67 3.47 48.93 14.12 7.34 0.2
Michael Floyd 2013 24 220 7 4.06 65.06 16.02 9.29 0.31

You can tell by the quality of the names in the list that Enunwa is in good company. The majority of those players went on to have more successful follow-up seasons, which is also a good sign for Enunwa's 2017. He'll have to deal with poor QB play, but since both Decker and Marshall have been released, he's the clear front-runner for as many targets as he can handle.

Chris Conley, Kansas City Chiefs
Startup ADP: WR82, pick 188

In the days since Jeremy Maclin's release, Conley's ADP hasn't changed much. That may change as the offseason progresses, but I'm not sure it'll catch up to his potential. Remember that Conley is a phenomenal athlete and more importantly, still very young - only 24 years old despite entering his third season. He played more snaps than any Chiefs WR last year, and he's already been named a starter for 2017. Conley is overshadowed by Tyreek Hill, and if things stay that way, Conley won't have much value, since Kansas City and Alex Smith don't pass enough to support more than one fantasy WR. But there are reasons to doubt that Hill is up to the task of being a team's No. 1 WR. Despite some impressive TD scores, he was a relatively inefficient receiver last year, and will now garner much more defensive attention. If Hill doesn't pan out, Conley is likely to find himself a focal point of the offense. If Alex Smith's short-sighted downfield vision concerns you, keep in mind that the Chiefs took Patrick Mahomes to sling the ball downfield within the next year or two, which could also help Conley's value tremendously.

Also worth considering: Marvin Jones, Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon, Zay Jones

 

Tight End

Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
Startup ADP: TE19, pick 164

Fleener was much-hyped heading into 2016, only to disappoint. As a result, his value has plummeted, and he's now hanging around into the 14th round of startups. He's still the unquestioned top tight end in New Orleans, who pass a lot and do it very well. Just being attached to Drew Brees is enough reason to take a flier on a player who was just a point per game off the TE11 pace last year. Perhaps another year in the Saints system will help. Also, there might be some more targets available now that Brandin Cooks has been traded.

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Startup ADP: TE26, pick 175

I know what you're thinking: Tampa Bay drafted O.J. Howard. That's great, but as you may have heard, it takes tight ends awhile to find their feet in the NFL. There have been 18 TE drafted in the first round since 2000. Only two of them produced more than 50 catches or 500 yards as rookies. In total, they averaged 29 catches for 317 yards and 2 TDs. Meanwhile, Brate has earned positive accolades for his rapport with Jameis Winston this offseason and it's even been noted that Howard will have a hard time prying work away from him. Brate as you should recall, finished as TE7 last year despite missing a game. Another TE1 season is certainly within reach. Beyond that, who knows. But at pick 175, he's worth the price.

Also worth considering: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Jesse James

 

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