11. Derrius Guice, Redskins (Sleeper)
Guice was poised to be a little bit of a sleeper last season before tearing his ACL in a preseason game. The good news is that he’s had a full year to recover and should be ready to go Week 1 and get a second crack at his rookie season. Guice comes from a long line of LSU running backs who have made their presence known in the NFL. One thing that’s impressive about his college career is that he actually got enough carries in the crowded LSU backfield to have two 1,000-yard seasons.
In Washington, Guice will be in a great position to earn a bulk of the carries over the aging Adrian Peterson. Given the team’s quarterback situation, the Redskins are likely to run the ball as much as possible, especially if rookie Dwayne Haskins ends up winning the job. The Washington offensive line isn’t bad either, just as long as they stay healthy, which was an issue last year. In short, all the stars are aligning for Guice to have a breakout campaign.
10. Derek Carr, Raiders (Sleeper)
Admittedly, it’s hard to view Carr as a sleeper after he had a career-high in passing yards last season. However, he also had a career-low in touchdown passes. Plus, it’s easy for him to get lost in the shuffle after how bad the Raiders were in 2018.
However, regardless of how the Raiders do in the win column this year, Carr is poised for a bounce-back season fantasy-wise. His supporting cast will be noticeably better, particularly Antonio Brown. The Raiders still may not have much of a running game, but that just means Carr will have to do most of the work. But with Brown capable of making big plays and drawing the attention of the defense, Carr will have a great chance to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback this season.
9. Kalen Ballage, Dolphins (Sleeper)
You’ve never heard of Ballage, have you? Yes, heads will turn and questions will be asked when you draft him, but that’s what makes him the perfect sleeper. Ballage had just 36 carries with the Dolphins last year and he wasn’t even a standout player in college at Arizona State.
However, in what is looking like a transitional year for Miami, Ballage looks likely to share reps with Kenyan Drake in the team’s backfield. Most expect Drake to be the workhorse back, but he’s never played that role before, which should open up plenty of opportunities for Ballage. In 15 against the Vikings last year, Ballage had 123 yards on 12 carries, which shows what he’s capable of doing. He also caught 44 passes for over 400 yards during his junior year of college, so he’ll be the one in the Miami backfield catching passes and racking up fantasy points, especially in PPR leagues.
8. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (Sleeper)
Let’s not sugarcoat this, things got ugly for Winston last season. He only started nine games, in part because he began the season with a suspension but also because he couldn’t outplay Ryan Fitzpatrick. He certainly seems to have regressed some in his four NFL seasons. Questions about turnovers and his maturity linger as well.
That being said, the guy had over 4,000 yards passing and at least 22 touchdowns in his first two NFL seasons. He also ran for six more touchdowns during his rookie year. The hope for both the Bucs and fantasy owners is that Bruce Arians can get Winston back on the right track. Arians knows what he’s doing and the Bucs have some great receiving targets. The risk is admittedly high, but Winston’s fantasy upside in what is a make-or-break year for him is also high if you want to wait until the later rounds to pick a quarterback.