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Commissioner’s Corner: Top-5 Fantasy Sleepers for NFL’s Week 1

The Buccaneers defense demands respect

NFL: AUG 17 Buccaneers Training Camp
Bucs defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh during training camp in 2020
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every fantasy owner wants to win their week 1 fantasy match up. It sets the tone, it gives you confidence, and it allows you to get a better idea of how your line up will do from week to week. That’s likely why you’re reading this.

Since I put out the first Commissioner’s Corner start ‘em and sit ‘em for week 1, I started thinking about my initial picks. I realized I may need to get a little deeper as many of my picks were, in my opinion, a little too safe. So, I thought I’d break it down even further and provide a top sleeper list for you to mull over.

This week, we’re breaking down the top 5 sleepers. One sleeper at each position that will make the most impact for your fantasy rosters.

Let’s get started with quarterback.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars-Training Camp
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II during training camp at Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Sleeper - QB Gardner Minshew (QB21)

Just about every quarterback will do something this week, it’s just a matter of how much. Even on Thursday night, we didn’t see much from the Texans in terms of offense, but Deshaun Watson still reeled in a decent 18 FPTS with 253 yards, 2 TOT TDs and 1 INT.

My sleeper pick in my earlier article was Josh Allen (QB7), Buffalo Bills (@ New York Jets). This was one of those initial picks that had me thinking for a bit since you wouldn’t typically consider a QB7 as a sleeper. Technically, Tom Brady (QB11) should be considered a sleeper pick before him.

I’m digging a little deeper and I’m going with Gardner Minshew (QB21) of the Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Indianapolis Colts). At least we have some history to base things off of here.

Minshew is only on 15% of ESPN fantasy rosters. Mad disrespect for a QB that brought in 225 FPTS last season with 3,271 yards, 21 TDs and only 6 INTs. He had the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the entire league last season. Minshew only had 2 fewer FTPS than Tannehill who had a stellar first year with the Titans. Projected by ESPN to only bring in 14 points, I think he should be closer to 20 FPTS with a high passing game at 320 yards, 2 TOT TDs and 0 INTs. Simply because they don’t have any sort of running game right now.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
LA Chargers running back Justin Jackson in week 17, 2019 game against the Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Sleeper - RB Justin Jackson (RB92)

I initially went with Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB9) only because I wanted to list him. He is a natural given starter, so not much of a sleeper pick. As we all saw on Thursday night against the Texans, he clearly has RB1 potential. He scored 19 FPTS with 138 yards in 25 carries, 1 TD and no receptions. He’ll do well for both PPR and non-PPR leagues if he keeps this type of activity up.

Going a lot deeper, I’m going to agree with NBC Sports sleeper pick list and go with Justin Jackson (RB92) of the LA Chargers. He’s more a stash away back for later in the season, but good to consider him now and keep him on your radar. Since Melvin Gordon is no longer in LA, it’s now Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Jackson also knows there’s competition for that 2nd depth position against fourth-round draft pick, Joshua Kelly. He’s a good handcuff stash if you have Ekeler.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II attempts to make a catch against Kansas City Chiefs corner Charvarius Ward
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3. Sleeper - WR Allen Robinson II (WR8)

I’m going to stick with my initial sleeper pick of Allen Robinson II (WR8) of the Chicago Bears. The only reason is because I don’t think the Bears are getting any love this year. Most fantasy owners will probably want to start any other team’s wide reciever over a Bears wide receiver, but I’m saying don’t sleep on the Bears with this sleeper pick.

Chicago is projected to take last place in the NFC North and many are blasting Trubisky as an ineffective quarterback. You have to have an effective quarterback if you’re expected to trust on any wide receiver fantasy points. The job was expected to go to the Super Bowl winning quarterback Nick Foles, but the Bears just have too much invested in Trubisky.

Robinson is the top wide out for 2020 sharing catches with Anthony Miller and Ted Ginn Jr. Even if Foles takes over, Robinson will be the favorite target. Robinson caught 98 out of 154 targets for 1,147 yards and 7 TDs last season bringing in 248 FPTS in 2019. He scored the 8th most WR fantasy points, so he’s going to be a must start no matter the match up.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins
Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki celebrates a touchdown in a 2019 match up against the Cincinnati Bengals
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 4 Sleeper - Tight End

I actually think my initial sleeper pick for tight end is spot on. Mike Gesicki (TE12) of the Miami Dolphins is way down on the tight end list for fantasy rosters. He’s only rostered on 58% of ESPN teams. Not to mention, if you look at the week 1 match up, the Patriots have allowed the 7th fewest fantasy points against tight ends last season.

The Penn State product averaged over 10 yards per reception, and had almost 90 targets last season. He will be utilized and will have plenty of opportunity with Fitzy or Tua at the helm (whoever ends up playing more games).

Gesicki is projected to score 8 FPTS in week 1 against the Patriots which is projected to be a loss, but I actually predict a win for the fins and Gesicki will play a big role in that. There are plenty of other tight ends to roster, but if you have enough bench spots or if you’re streaming tight ends, Gesicki is the guy to have (perhaps even keep).

NFL: DEC 29 Falcons at Buccaneers
The Bucs defense against the Atlanta Falcons in 2019
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No. 5 Sleeper - Defense / Special Teams (DST)

This sleeper pick can’t be stressed enough. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers demand respect on defense (as much as their offense), and no one is giving it to them. The Bucs defense should be strongly considered a starter in most weeks, but since the Bucs have one of the toughest schedules this year, there are a few weeks that I can agree you’re better off with playing a stronger defensive match up.

Reiterating what I reported earlier, the Bucs were given a DST16 ranking for 2020. They are only rostered on 43% of ESPN teams. They scored the 12th highest points in the league in 2019. In most 12-team leagues, you can easily stream defenses so the Bucs may find themselves on the waiver wire more times than not.

Just consider what they did on and after week 12 against the Falcons. They went on a tear with 24 FPTS against the Jags, 17 points against Detroit and 12 FPTS against the high powered Texans offense. In week 17 last season the Bucs had 6 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 touchdown and only allowing 22 points scoring 22 FPTS in one of my fantasy leagues.

The upgrade at safety with the drafting of Antoine Winfield Jr. is expected to net immediate results. They resign Pierre-Paul, Suh and Barrett which was huge to ensure they continue the success that they ended with last season.