Come draft day, every Fantasy Football general manager is looking for that sleeper pick in order to be the smartest guy in the room. The first couple of rounds are usually fairly consistent, but it’s those later rounds that win you your league. Injuries are inevitable so, you need a bench that can step up at any given moment.  So, you need to look for the gem – that diamond in the rough, and oftentimes, it ends up being a fresh rookie whose ready to make his mark in the NFL.

The key to rookies is timing. Most of them aren’t going to be producing for you in week one, so you need a rookie or two that you can take in later rounds and watch as their role develops over the course of the season.  This guy for me last year was Cam Akers.  Yes, I struggled through the early season of split carries and feeling like he didn’t hit the hole well in LA, but he proved his worth over the year.

With all of this in mind, here are a few preseason candidates to be the next Akers, the next CeeDee Lamb, the next Jerry Jeudy… you get the point… Here are five guys for you to research:

Five preseason standouts

  1. Michael Carter (RB), Jets –  Sliding to the fourth round was alarming but he can be a three-down stud in an offense with a rookie QB.  I like Perine, but feel Carter is next level.  Something that always gets RB on the field is blitz pickup.  If a guy struggles with this, don’t plan on seeing him in the game.
  2. Chuba Hubbard (RB), Panthers – He is the ultimate handcuff for the best RB in fantasy.  Mike Davis had a chance to cash in off filling in for an injured CMC in 2020.
  3. Nico Collins (WR), Texans –  He brings size, speed, and agility to an offense with so many question marks.  He instantly becomes the top Red-Zone target in Houston.
  4. Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR), Lions – This is a position on the depth chart that looks weak in Detroit, so someone has to make the catches.  I’d monitor preseason and see what role he carves out and how Dan Campbell uses him.
  5. Tommy Tremble (TE) Panthers – I feel like they’ve never come close to replacing Olsen.  Tremble provides a solid blocker but he is so much more athletic than given credit for.  He can be a weapon in the passing game who plays with great physicality.

Steps to finding your rookie sleeper

Don’t be mistaken, finding the right guy for your roster is an art form in itself. It takes time to acquire this knowledge. So, be prepared to put in the work. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Know what the player brought in college.  Are we talking a power back?  Was he good outside the number with a high yards per reception (YPR)?
  2. Study up on depth charts and have a feel for what a team has ahead of the rookie.  Pay attention over the course of the season to active/inactive, touches/targets, and snap count.  If you see an increase weekly, something is clicking.
  3. Now that we seem to be on the other side of COVID-19, beat writers from each team will get a chance to see and get you reports.  Trust in the local writers, find out who those writers are in each market.  This should be key in your fantasy research.
  4. Have a knowledge of the coaching system.  Do they like to push the ball down the field, do they have an offensive lineman they run behind to get those tough yards and develop consistency in play calling?

These four tips should get you started, but be sure to check back each week for more tidbits. We know that Fantasy Football can pay the bills, so we take it very seriously at E2G Sports.

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We can stop looking for Stephon Gilmore