Super-Sleepers: The Late-Round Values Who Will Win Leagues in 2023 test

By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport

The 2023 NFL season is almost here. In just one week, the Detroit Lions will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in the Thursday night opener. And when that game begins, so will another season of fantasy football. Now, most fantasy leagues have already drafted. Their teams are already assembled—for better or worse. But there’s still one big weekend of fantasy drafts left—the biggest one of the year. It’s a weekend of wisdom—fantasy managers who waited as long as possible to draft have both afforded themselves the most time to prepare for draft day and avoided the preseason injuries that have blasted a hole in some squads that drafted earlier. Over the past several months, there have been hundreds, even thousands of articles written about who to target in the early rounds. Value picks in the middle rounds. Sleepers in the late rounds. Just about every inch of ground that could be covered has. But it’s that last group that can really push a team over the top. Hit on a pick in the double-digit rounds, and a so-so draft can become a contender. A good draft can become great. And a great draft can become an unstoppable juggernaut. Each of the players listed here has an average ADP outside the 12th round at Fantasy Pros. And each has the potential to become much more than just a late flier in 2023. They can become the sort of value that helps win fantasy championships.


Sam Howell, QB, Washington Commanders (ADP: 203)

After being picked in the fifth-round of the 2022 draft and making all of one career start in Week 18 last year against the Dallas Cowboys, Howell is hardly a known commodity. But the Commanders have enough faith in Howell to name him the starting quarterback, and Andy Behrens of Yahoo Sports believes that Howell is being sold short by fantasy managers this year. “He's an ideal deep-league stash and a Superflex priority,” Behrens wrote. “Howell has the rushing upside that should elevate him above the rest of the fourth- and fifth-tier fantasy options at his position. He ran for 828 yards and 11 scores in his final collegiate season, so he's a fully accredited member of the dual-threat club.” Terry McLaurin’s toe injury robs a bit of the shine from Howell’s sleeper prospects. But the injury isn’t believed to be overly serious, and once he’s out there Howell and the Commanders have a solid array of passing-game weaponry at his disposal. Should fantasy managers count on Howell as a weekly starter? No. But as a backup to a more established option or a QB2 in Superflex, Howell has the potential to be a difference-maker if a few things break the right way.


Raheem Mostert, RB, MIA (ADP: 145)

Most of the recent news involving disgruntled Colts running back centered around a potential trade to the Miami Dolphins. That trade didn’t materialize—leaving Raheem Mostert as the nominal lead back for the Dolphins in 2023. And Mitchell Blatt of RotoBaller thinks that sets Mostert up to smash his 13th-round ADP. “Mostert set career highs in attempts, rushing yards, receptions, and receiving yards last season en route to a RB27 finish in half-PPR,” he said. “Mike McDaniels' offense emphasizes speed. It's a good fit for Mostert, who ran a 4.34-forty-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. Mostert should still be expected to be given 100 or more carries, even in a committee. He has averaged 5.4 yards per attempt in his career and has never run for less than 4.9 in a season.” Yes, Jeff Wilson is in Miami. The team also drafted diminutive speedster De’Von Achane, And the Dolphins at least kicked the tires on both Dalvin Cook and Taylor. But Mostert quietly eclipsed 1,000 total yards last year and racked up over 200 touches. The Miami Backfield may be a committee, but Mostert is the leader of that committee—whether fantasy managers want to admit it or not.


Kareem Hunt, RB, FA (ADP: 206)

This “sleeper” may not be asleep for long—after the Indianapolis Colts failed to find satisfactory trade compensation for star running back Jonathan Taylor, they not only didn’t deal him but also left on the PUP list, sidelining him for at least the first four games of the season. That, in turn, led to reports that Taylor is done with the Colts—that he flat-out doesn’t intend to play another snap for the team. That leaves the Colts with a combination of Zack Moss, Deon Jackson and rookie Evan Hull at running back. Moss is rehabbing a broken arm. Jackson is a receiving back. Hull is an untested fifth-round rookie. Not exactly the sort of backfield a team wants to take pressure off a rookie quarterback in Anthony Richardson who was a one-year starter in college. Hunt averaged a career-low 3.8 yards per carry last year in Cleveland. But we’re talking about a 28-year-old running back with a three-down skill-set who has topped 1,000 total yards three times and led the NFL in rushing as a rookie. Hunt visited Indy already, but left without a contract. With the Taylor saga spiraling into nightmare territory, it’s not hard to imagine the two sides revisiting getting together for the 2023 campaign.


Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 171)

Expectations for rookie receivers have become inflated in recent years as the likes of Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings, Ja’Marr Chase of the Cincinnati Bengals and Garrett Wilson of the New York Jets went off in their first seasons. Romeo Doubs’ numbers as a rookie were much more modest—but per Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus just because Doubs didn’t have a big 2022 doesn’t mean he can’t step it up in 2023. “Being burned by the failure of Doubs to produce last season has caused an over-correction this offseason,” Monson said. “Just because some rookies can dominate from day one doesn’t mean that should be the expectation in all circumstances. The fact that Doubs flashed what he did a year ago, and is repeating it this offseason, suggests he can be a real playmaker, and that his breakout might just come a year later than people wanted it to. Buy into Romeo Doubs. What your eyes are seeing is very much for real.” Doubs actually had one more target last season from Aaron Rodgers than Christian Watson, who is all over “breakout” lists at the wide receiver position in 2023. Doubs may not be the threat down the field that Watson is, but he’s a big, talented wideout in his own right. There’s a legitimate chance that Doubs (and not Watson) could lead the Packers in receptions this season. That is not a misprint.


D.J. Chark Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 185)

There was a time when it appeared that Chark was a young star in the making—he topped 1,000 receiving yards, scored eight touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl his second season with the Jaguars. Since then, however, Chark has been unable to duplicate that success, in large part due to injuries. But Michelle Bruton of Bleacher Report thinks that Chark’s first season in Carolina presents a fine opportunity to get his career back on track. “Chark should benefit from the retooled offense coach Frank Reich has put together this year to play to rookie Bryce Young's strengths,” he said. “Currently, Chark is slotted in as a starting wideout on the Panthers' depth chart, alongside Adam Thielen and Jonathan Mingo. While he may not win the target share competition, he's certainly a go-to big-play option for Young.” That Chark is already nursing a pulled hamstring doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence given his injury history, but the 26-year-old has expressed optimism he’ll be out there against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. But the Carolina wideout corps is a combination of aging vets (Adam Thielen) and unproven youngsters. If Chark can just stay on the field, he could easily emerge as Carolina’s No. 1 receiver this season.


Greg Dulcich, TE, Denver Broncos (ADP: 164)

Dulcich had his moments as a rookie—in five of his 10 games as a rookie, the third-round pick out of UCLA posted top-12 fantasy numbers. And while speaking to reporters earlier this offseason, new Broncos head coach Sean Payton said that he sees the 6’4”, 245-pounder as a player who can be deployed in a number of ways offensively. "We use the term 'Joker' where we can get matchups," Payton said. "The trick sometimes is trying to predict what you're going to get defensively, if you're either going to get a nickel package or a base package. But man, he can run, [and] he's got good ball skills. ... Then you begin to build on that. Right now, there's an install that's taking place and the players, they go play those spots. When you get into the season, you really get more specific to who's running what route. I think his menu is going to be lengthy in the passing game, and there's enough stuff that we can do in the run game." Technically, Dulcich isn’t even the TE1 on his own team—Adam Trautman’s superior blocking skills have him listed atop Denver’s depth chart. But given the injuries that have savaged the Broncos wideout corps before the season even began, Denver needs Dulcich’s receiving skills and ability to create mismatches over the middle. It may be by necessity, but Dulcich could sneak his way into the back end of TE1 territory by season’s end.


Gary Davenport is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. You can tell Gary how wrong he is about the players listed here on Twitter (X, whatever) @IDPSharks.