15. David Montgomery, Bears (Sleeper)
Taking a rookie running back is always a bit of a risk, but Montgomery could be worth the risk. If nothing else, we know that the Bears like him a lot. Not only did they trade up in the 3rd round to make sure they could get him, but they also traded away Jordan Howard for a 6th-round pick to make room for him. Tarik Cohen is a nice change-of-pace back, but he’s probably not going to take too many carries away from Montgomery, who has a chance to replicate Howard’s role in the Chicago offense.
If you’re not familiar with Montgomery from his college days at Iowa State, you’re probably not the only one. He was overlooked by many in college despite being one of the best backs in the Big 12 with two 1,000-yard seasons under his belt. Montgomery’s hands are also an underrated part of his game, so he’ll fit in nicely if the Bears trust Mitch Trubisky to do more passing this year.
14. Darrell Henderson, Rams (Sleeper)
Henderson was one of the top running backs selected in this year’s draft, so there’s no doubting the talent and potential is there. This guy ran for over 3,000 yards over his last two seasons at Memphis, averaging close to nine yards per carry. He was a constant threat to take it to the house every time he touched the ball, and despite playing in a non-power conference, you can’t debate that he posted impressive numbers in college.
More importantly, Henderson should have the opportunity to get plenty of touches. There are serious questions about Todd Gurley’s knee, and if nothing else, the Rams are going to have to ease back his use, opening the door for Henderson to get plenty of carries. Also, keep in mind what C.J. Anderson did late last season with the Rams. This is an offense in which running backs can thrive, which is why Henderson is a potential sleeper.
13. Jaylen Samuels, Steelers (Sleeper)
With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown both gone, the Steelers have a lot of productivity to replace, and Samuels figures to help make up for their absence. As a rookie, he didn’t get much of an opportunity until the last week of the season. But he made the most of his opportunity, accumulating 172 all-purpose yards in a game against the Patriots.
His versatility may actually be what makes Samuels so intriguing. He was actually listed as a tight end for most of his college career. Even if the Steelers use him primarily as a running back, Samuels should catch plenty of passes. Pittsburgh will also find ways to put him and starting running back James Conner on the field at the same time. In short, Samuels will get plenty of reps, regardless of where he lines up, giving him a chance to rack up big-time fantasy points this season.
12. Darren Waller, Raiders (Sleeper)
Waller may be the definition of a deep sleeper in fantasy drafts. He’s been suspended twice, including a season-long suspension in 2017, for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Of course, it’s a lot easier to take a chance on a player with character issues in fantasy football than in actual football. He also has just 18 career receptions and four career starts under his belt.
That being said, Waller is in line to be Oakland’s starting tight end this season with Jared Cook leaving the Raiders during the off-season. He played wide receiver in college, albeit in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, so he has the skills to be a pass catcher in the NFL. Waller will likely get the reps he needs to be an impact fantasy tight end, it’s just a matter of him taking advantage of his opportunity. Considering his upside, he’s worth the risk if you can get him in the later rounds.