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Five NFL Dynasty Sleepers Heading Into 2021

One of my favorite things about the NFL offseason is getting wildly obsessed with random players who don't really have a great shot at being NFL stars, but who I think highly of anyway.

Let's share in that fun tradition together by looking at five players who I consider to be deep dynasty sleepers.

All of these players currently rank outside of the top 150 in FantasyPros' current dynasty rankings.

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Lynn Bowden Jr. (RB/WR, Miami Dolphins)

Of all the players on this list, Bowden is the one who'll enter 2021 with the most hype, which is good because he should enter 2021 with the most hype.

Drafted by the Raiders as a running back and then traded to Miami where he played wide receiver, Bowden didn't see serious playing time until Week 13. But over the final five weeks of the NFL season, the rookie flashed his potential to be a good NFL receiver, averaging 5.4 receptions and 42.4 yards per game over that span. While he never found the end zone, he kept the chains moving in Miami.

The Dolphins have a pretty unsettled wide receiver room right now. Here's their multi-year contract situation per Spotrac. (Note, Spotrac has Bowden listed with the running backs, hence him not appearing on this chart)

So, the situation looks like this: DeVante Parker is under contract for three more seasons at a reasonable price, but beyond that are plenty of questions. Albert Wilson and Preston Williams each are entering the final year of their deals, and while Williams had some impressive moments as a rookie in 2019, he enters this offseason without a safe spot on this team. Isaiah Ford and Mack Hollins are both free agents this offseason and Jakeem Grant doesn't have a ton of guaranteed money left on his deal, so the Dolphins might not have much need for him going forward, especially since he'll already be 29 next season.

The point is, there's a clear hole moving forward that Bowden could do a lot with. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is an accurate short-yardage passer, which is where Bowden will be most effective as a receiver. This combo could work well together over the next few years. Of course, drafting a top receiver could change things in Miami, but if they go offensive line with their first pick instead of picking one of the elite receivers, it could signal an increased future role for Bowden.

 

Mitchell Trubisky (QB, Chicago Bears)

2021 NFL NVP Mitchell Trubisky!

For all of Trubisky's many flaws, he's still a 26-year-old former No. 2 overall pick who played well in the final six regular-season games after he regained his starting job, completing 70.14 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions, plus adding 24 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The interceptions are a concern, but Trubisky is still a guy whose mix of foot speed and arm strength give him a chance to find NFL success. And while I know you're probably laughing as you read this, I want to reiterate that I'm serious: Trubisky can still be an NFL starter.

He finished 17th in fantasy points per dropback, fifth in play-action completion percentage, and third in pressured completion percentage, there are encouraging signs that say Trubisky can be a productive fantasy option if he does get a starting job again. With an improved supporting cast -- PlayerProfiler has his supporting cast efficiency ranked 27th among quarterbacks -- Trubisky can be a fine QB2 play in fantasy, and you can get him at an incredible discount right now since everyone assumes he's done as an NFL starter. Acquiring Trubisky this offseason is a low-risk, high-reward kind of thing.

 

Van Jefferson (WR, Los Angeles Rams)

Jefferson's rookie season didn't go as well as expected, with Josh Reynolds holding onto that No. 3 receiver role in Los Angeles.

But Jefferson's two games with the most usage came in a vital Week 17 contest -- eight targets with four receptions for 50 yards -- and the Divisional playoff game -- seven targets with six catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.

Jefferson played 87 percent of the snaps in that final playoff game, garnering an increased role with Cooper Kupp sidelined. He responded with his best game of the season.

The Rams have a lot of money invested in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, so it seems unlikely they'd spend a lot on a third receiver at this point, even after we saw them have success in the past by running a lot of 11 personnel with those two and Brandin Cooks. And Reynolds is a free agent this offseason, which means there's a good chance that Jefferson enters 2021 as the third receiver here. That's a role that we've seen have plenty of fantasy relevance in the past, and Jefferson is under contract three more seasons at a cheap salary.

 

Donovan Peoples-Jones (WR, Cleveland Browns)

The biggest question in Cleveland this offseason: will we see Odell Beckham Jr. in a Browns jersey again?

If you think the answer is no -- heck, if you even think the answer could maybe, maybe be no, then you should be looking for a way to get Donovan Peoples-Jones onto your dynasty roster.

The rookie out of Michigan never really established a rhythm in 2020 though he did have some solid games near the end of the season. Including the playoffs, he took over half the offensive snaps for the Browns in five of the final six games, including 72 percent of snaps against the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss.

As you may have guessed from the first few entries on this list, I like when guys trend up near the end of the season. It's even better when those guys are rookies because it means they have some affordable, team-controlled years ahead of them.

Cleveland enters this offseason with Rashard Higgins not under contract. They're spending a combined $30 million on Beckham and Jarvis Landry. If those two are in Cleveland next year, Peoples-Jones and his sub-$1 million contract would make a lot of sense to enter the year as the third receiver. If other things happen, Peoples-Jones and his 99th percentile burst score and 87.5 true catch rate in 2020 should have a clear shot at a larger role.

 

Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR, Washington Football Team)

For the first four players here, we have some nice 2020 production that suggests the players are trending up. For Gandy-Golden, we don't have that. So, why am I high on him?

Because, well...just look at the Washington Football Team depth chart, per ESPN:

Terry McLaurin is obviously a stud, but beyond that, this receiving unit is terrifyingly shallow. Cam Sims and Steven Sims Jr. have both had some opportunities to show what they can do and both have proven that they're probably just depth guys. Kelvin Harmon is on the roster but will be coming off a torn ACL.

Gandy-Golden's rookie year saw him record one catch on seven targets, which is obviously a disappointment. But AGG dealt with a hamstring injury and spent much of the season on the IR.

In college, Gandy-Golden was a big-play receiver for Liberty, garnering a lot of pre-draft hype. Some of that even came from me, as I mentioned him as a deeper sleeper, writing:

Was I right? Well, no. But all the things that made Gandy-Golden an attractive fantasy option before this season remain mostly true. He can still be a productive receiver in Washington, especially as the team looks to upgrade at quarterback either through the draft, free agency, or a blockbuster deal for Matthew Stafford.



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