While deep sleepers can be fun to speculate, they are mostly a long-shot. What separates one “deep sleeper” from another really comes down to so many variables that it would be hard to call picking deep sleepers accurately a skill. Most deep sleepers are crowned such because there is little supportive information to call them starters. If that information was not so speculative, they wouldn’t be “deep” sleepers. Because of the luck surrounding late round sleepers, I want to shift the focus to shallow sleepers. The guys I am talking about are either bottom tier starters or top bench guys who, in my opinion, will finish the season as clear starters/studs.
I’m going to start my shallow sleeper list with the running back position, the most important position because of its own shallowness. We all know it’s a passing league and WR and even TE is deep after the first tiers, but the RB position this year has gotten pretty interesting. The top guys are all on similar ground, with no clear runaway tier. I want to focus on the guys after them, who I think have the potential to finish in the top 10 RB this season.
The first guy is Jonathan Stewart.
Jonathan Stewart has never started more than 8 games in a season. He has never averaged more than 14 carries a game in a season. Barring injury, both of those facts will change this season.
Point 1: In 2014, there were 10 games which DeAngelo Williams was out (including playoffs). In those 10 games, Stewart averages 89 yards a game and 18 touches with .4 TD per game. Those numbers are high end RB2.
Point 2: The Panthers have the #2 easiest Strength of Schedule at the RB position. This schedule is highlighted by the fact that their division (NO, TB, ATL) ranked in the bottom half of the league last year in Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game (29th, 19th, 21st).
Point 3: In each season since his rookie campaign, Cam Newton has seen a decrease in rushing TDs. Since Mike Shula took over as the Panthers Offensive Coordinator in 2013, Cam has scored half as many TDs as in his first two seasons.
Final Point: Second-round pick Devin Funchess gives Cam another big target in the passing game. Along with Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, Cam might just have his best receiving core to date. Not only does this open up room for the running game, but a better offense means more scoring, and more scoring means more clock management which means more potential carries for Stewart.
I am a big fan of Jonathan Stewart this season, with a lock on the starting position, and a better offense, I think the 28 year old will have his best season of his career and finish in the top 10 RB. I have no problem snagging him ahead of his ADP in the late 3rd or early 4th round.