The goal with any fantasy football draft is simple: Get the best collection of players, starters, and bench — in short, whomever can help you score a lot of points and win a championship. Everyone has a good read on the early-round studs to target, but the real top value comes from finding potential sleepers throughout your draft. These draft-day steals are the key to putting your team over the top, and no cheat sheet is complete without a list of potential breakout targets.
When you examine the consensus overall rankings in 2020, you will find some underrated players. You can find even more when realizing their average draft position (ADP) on Fantasy Pros doesn’t correspond to how productive they really can be in 2020.
DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2020 cheat sheet
Using half-point points per reception (PPR) as our scoring format to help split the difference between standard and full PPR leagues, here are the best breakout players across positions who have too low of an ADP this year:
2020 STANDARD FANTASY RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker | Superflex | Top 200
Fantasy Football Value Picks 2020: Quarterbacks
Kyler Murray, Cardinals (ADP: 56)
Murray is ranked as the QB5 after finishing as QB7 as a rookie. He’s also going ahead of his ranking in the fifth round. He’s still being undervalued with the chance to put up massive passing and rushing numbers in his second season in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, now armed with a true No. 1 in DeAndre Hopkins. Murray has a chance to be this year’s Lamar Jackson with his dual-threat skill set.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers (ADP: 83)
Jameis Winston finished as QB3 thanks in big part to elite wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. This is the same-but-adjusted Bruce Arians/Byron Leftwich offense for Brady, with the addition of Rob Gronkowski at tight end, an upgrade at right tackle, more options at running back, and a healthy, promising Scotty Miller to fill the Julian Edelman role. Brady can be lifted higher than QB11 after finishing QB15 in average points per game last season.
Carson Wentz, Eagles (ADP: 88)
Wentz finished as a solid starter, staying healthy for the entire season to end up as QB9. It’s strange he’s ranked right there despite a deeper, healthier and more versatile receiving corps. Like Brady, he’s the ideal Round 7 or Round 8 target at the position.
2020 PPR RANKINGS:
Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Superflex | Top 200
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (ADP: 115)
Roethlisberger finished as QB3 in 2018 before having last season wiped out by his early right elbow injury. Although it will be difficult for him to chuck for 5,000 yards again at 38, between JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, and Eric Ebron, there are a lot of targets who can allow him to rebound well statistically. The Steelers also remain an overrated rushing team with James Conner. Roethlisberger would be ideal to lead a matchup-based platoon of QB2s.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (ADP: 137)
The 49ers’ receiving issues are overblown. Off the top, Jimmy G has an elite tight end in George Kittle and a quickly healing big-play wideout in Deebo Samuel (foot). This is a highly effective rushing offense, but San Francisco has plenty of playmaking receivers, with exciting rookie first-rounder Brandon Aiyuk replacing Emmanuel Sanders. Garoppolo was QB14 a year ago, and it seems silly to drop him all the way to QB23 in the rankings.
Cam Newton, Patriots (ADP: 160)
Newton is ranked as an 11th-rounder in fantasy and going as a 13th-rounder while there’s uncertainty about his status in New England. He still should end up starting over Jarrett Stidham, and there’s too much value in a Josh McDaniels offense to ignore, especially with Newton’s running ability. Taking him late vs. taking Josh Allen much earlier is better value. Newton, for now, is a deep QB2 who could easily finish as a QB1.
2020 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
6 QBs | 16 RBs | 14 WRs | 10 TEs | 5 D/STs | One from each team
Fantasy Football Breakout Picks: Running backs
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs (ADP: 18)
Edwards-Helaire, the only real first-rounder among rookie backs, is going right where he’s ranked as the last RB1. That’s even too low for him as an ace pass-catcher and drive finisher for the Chiefs’ awesome offense with Patrick Mahomes. Heavy-touch Andy Reid backs always come through in fantasy, and Edwards-Helaire’s skill set and role with no Damien Williams doesn’t make him an exception. He can be exceptional enough to finish in the top half of RB1s instead of at the bottom.
Miles Sanders, Eagles (ADP: 23)
Sanders is ranked as RB8 yet he’s going as RB13 at the end of the second round. As Philadelphia’s lead back with Boston Scott as the receiving-tailored change-of-pace, Sanders’ second-year upside isn’t being overhyped in a balanced and explosive offense.
David Johnson, Texans (ADP: 50)
Sometimes the perception of a player being a bust helps his value. Johnson has a much-needed change of scenery in Houston, where it loads up the top backs with touches under Bill O’Brien. The Texans’ defense stinks and Deshaun Watson will be passing often to Johnson right along with others. Johnson also has a 20-TD season in his past that can’t be ignored. He can surprise as a high-end RB2 — just make sure you get Duke Johnson later to hedge your bets and feel very comfortable about the pick.
David Montgomery, Bears (ADP: 63)
Montgomery is in better shape and knows he needs to be more decisive and confident running in his second season. The Bears also have worked to upgrade their run blocking and want to deploy him in the right way often enough. Montgomery is ranked RB24 in half-point PPR despite improving physically from the RB25 he was. (Update: Montgomery suffered a groin injury on Aug. 26 and is expected to miss two-to-four weeks from that date. That puts his status for the first two games of the season in doubt. That actually makes him even better value after he comes back, as his draft value is sure to tumble.)
DRAFT STRATEGY AND RANKINGS TIERS:
Quarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver | Tight End | D/ST
Cam Akers, Rams (ADP: 70)
Akers should be going as an RB2, too. The Rams’ running game tends to lean toward one back, despite Sean McVay trying to sell more of a committee this season. Akers is super talented and has way more blocking and skill support than he had at Florida State. Plus, Darrell Henderson (hamstring) is hurting again in a new way, and Malcolm Brown is just a guy.
JK Dobbins, Ravens (ADP: 95)
File Dobbins under Akers as another super talented rookie being underrated. Mark Ingram was solid for Baltimore’s run-friendly offense, but Dobbins can be downright spectacular as a complementary home-run hitter to Lamar Jackson. Dobbins is having a terrific camp, explosive as advertised. The Ravens want to use their luxury pick as they pursue more big plays around Jackson.
Zack Moss, Bills (ADP: 127)
Don’t be afraid of rookie backs. Embrace them when the class is so deep and so good. Moss keeps gaining steam as the ideal power complement to Devin Singletary. Then consider Singletary is going in the sixth round and Moss is going in the 12th in what could easily be a situational split that puts both closer in value as RB3s.
Darrynton Evans, Titans (ADP: 229)
Evans is a high-end insurance policy for Derrick Henry as a major rookie upgrade from Dion Lewis. He is a home-run hitter with good receiving skills, but he also can handle lead-like duties should something happen to Henry coming off a huge volume campaign. Evans should be coming off the board much earlier.
Joshua Kelley, Chargers (ADP: 248)
The rookie theme continues with our last choice. Justin Jackson has a tenuous grip on the complementary power back role to Austin Ekeler, replacing Melvin Gordon. Jackson has a low ceiling while Kelley has much more big-run upside. He should be the one going in Round 15 or 16 over Jackson.
FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGIES:
Snake draft | Auction | Best ball | Dynasty | IDP
Fantasy Football Draft Steals: Wide receivers
Calvin Ridley, Falcons (ADP: 43)
Ridley, through his 13 games last season, was on pace for 78 catches, 1,066 yards and nine TDs working off Julio Jones. He became even more effective in that role after the trade of Mohamed Sanu gave him more opportunity to stretch his routes into the slot. This is a high-volume passing game where he can consistently make plays everywhere through the red zone. Ridley has mid-WR1 potential.
Robert Woods, Rams (ADP: 58)
Woods is ranked No. 37 but going 20 spots lower as a fifth-round pick while Cooper Kupp, with an ADP of 39, continues to get the top love in the Rams’ passing game minus Brandin Cooks. Kupp has been huge, boosted by his TDs, but the scoring is overdue to tip into Woods’ favor. The emergence of tight end Tyler Higbee also was correlated to Kupp having a second-half production dip. Woods is easily the better value later.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals (ADP: 75)
There has been little buzz about Boyd with Joe Burrow, with the attention on second-rookie Tee Higgins and the return of A.J. Green. But Boyd plays the money slot in Zac Taylor’s offense, the same place Burrow loves to throw from his monstrous last LSU season. The targets can remain voluminous, and Boyd can be trusted to stay healthy and productive all over the field with smooth route-running and hands. He’s more of a WR2.
Brandin Cooks, Texans (ADP: 93)
Whom do you trust to stay healthy as the potential top target for Watson with Hopkins gone? Cooks had the concussion concerns last season, but history says he is very consistent with borderline WR1 return, while Will Fuller, coming off core muscle surgery, has proved he can’t stay healthy. Cooks is more of a solid WR3 than a back-end one.
Diontae Johnson, Steelers (ADP: 106)
As Roethlisberger returns, James Washington and Chase Claypool have done good work in camp, and JuJu around Smith-Schuster. is clearly going to be the No. 1. But Johnson has the most all-around upside as the surefire No. 2 wideout, with his similar profile to past Steelers stars Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.
Jamison Crowder, Jets (ADP: 120)
Breshad Perriman has looked good so far as the new outside big-play threat for Sam Darnold while rookie Denzel Mims quickly became hamstrung. Crowder remains the most reliable source of wide receiver production in New York, playing the old Jarvis Landry role for Adam Gase. Crowder won’t be a big yardage guy, but the catches and short TDs can be rather pleasing in the WR3 range.
Sterling Shepard, Giants (ADP: 130)
If there’s one Giants wide receiver in which to invest at any point in the draft, it would be the most complete and talented one ahead of Darius Slayton a little earlier and Golden Tate a little later. Shepard is the best bet to emerge as a solid WR3 with Daniel Jones.
MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL:
Auction values | IDP Rankings | Projections | Mock draft simulator | Team names
Anthony Miller, Bears (ADP: 155)
The arrow is pointing up for Miller now that Allen Robinson has re-established himself as an attention-getting No. 1, and there’s a good chance he’ll have a better downfield-throwing QB in Nick Foles. Miller is going nearly three rounds after his consensus ranking. He has a good chance to bump up to 75 catches, which would lift him into the WR3 realm.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers (ADP: 172)
Watch Samuel and that hamstring in camp, but there’s every intention for the new coaching staff to taking advantage of his speed and quickness playing off D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey. Ian Thomas is fading as an option for tight end, and Robby Anderson should be more of a calculated deep threat for Teddy Bridgewater. Samuel is going as a WR5 but also carries WR3 upside.
Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (ADP: 184)
Pittman is being drafted as a WR6 despite his glowing rookie reviews and fast track to a starting role for Frank Reich as a tough, strong receiver with some big-play ability. He’s a much better value and bet for production with Philip Rivers vs. taking T.Y. Hilton much earlier or young slot man Parris Campbell much later.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (ADP: 211)
Aiyuk has been throwing down in San Francisco’s camp, taking advantage of all the opportunities that have come with Deebo Samuel sidelined by a foot injury. The rookie is headed to be on the field regularly in an injury-riddled wideout corps with limited upside after Samuel. Aiyuk is trending to high-upside WR4 status.
Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends
Hunter Henry, Chargers (ADP: 66)
Henry appeared on this list last year. Despite missing four more games post torn ACL, Henry posted 55 catches for 652 yards and five TDs. That was a full-season pace of 73 catches, 869 yards and seven TDs. He’s somehow being over-downgraded as a TE8 because of misconceptions about the QB change to Tyrod Taylor. Henry is too talented of a tight end not to produce when healthy and be a bigger part of the offense with his injury issues behind him.
Hayden Hurst, Falcons (ADP: 112)
Hurst is playing the exact vacated role of Austin Hooper in the same offense. He gets a chance to break free from Mark Andrews’ shadow and live up to his first-round real draft status. Hurst is a solid TE1 value to be had on the cheap.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (ADP: 122)
The Dolphins are turning to a spread offense with Chan Gailey, which hasn’t been great for tight ends in the past, but keep in mind Gesicki is really their best glorified slot option between DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. He can easily outscore his TE12 rank with that role.
Jonnu Smith, Titans (ADP: 152)
Smith has the position more to himself with Delanie Walker retired and Anthony Firkser settled into the backup role. Smith has worked hard to develop more chemistry with Ryan Tannehill. The Titans also need a reliable second option after A.J. Brown. Smith is a good way to go as part of a TE platoon or streaming situation.
Chris Herndon, Jets (ADP: 201)
Herndon is being touted for a breakout season again after his 2019 was wiped out because of suspension and injury. Ryan Griffin had flashes of production and decent returns, but there’s a feeling that Gase wants to get Herndon going as a key target. He would be, at worst, a late TE2 dart throw if you’re not thrilled with your starting situation.
Irv Smith Jr., Vikings (ADP: 214)
Smith should be busier in his second year for a team that uses a lot of 12 and 13 personnel. He still needs to contend with Kyle Rudolph being ahead him on the depth chart, but the Vikings would be smart to deploy Smith more in the intermediate passing game for Kirk Cousins. Here’s another lottery ticket at TE2.
Dan Arnold, Cardinals (ADP: 349)
Let’s close with one very deep sleeper, shall we? Kingsbury wants to rev up his receiving production at the position and landed the skilled Saints castoff. Arnold has had a glowing offseason, and the wideout committee behind Hopkins opens up some chances for Murray, who relied plenty on Mark Andrews in college.