As the fantasy sports industry has grown, the coverage of fantasy football has blown up exponentially. There are countless websites offering insights on virtually every player who has donned a helmet and shoulder pads this summer. If you take your fantasy prep work seriously, then you know all there is to know about every team, every player, what each team depth chart looks like and who is going to see the touches needed to give you the necessary production to win. Yet every year, the cries for that late-round sleeper grow louder. Who is going to be the difference-maker this season?
The news today is riddled with names few people were looking at over the summer and, for all intents and purposes, didn’t need to either. Wayne Gallman stayed under the radar while in 49ers camp, but now that he was cut and signed by the Falcons to back up Mike Davis, he suddenly seems noteworthy. It’s the same with Royce Freeman, who was let go by the Broncos but now lands in Carolina to join rookie Chuba Hubbard as Christian McCaffrey’s backup. But in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, these are not the sleepers you are looking for.
If you are looking for a 15th-round pick who can move the needle for you, then look no further than Juwan Johnson of the Saints. The former wide receiver converted to tight end this summer — sort of a reverse Marques Colston, who began as a Saints tight end and converted to wide receiver more than a decade ago.
Now, Johnson suddenly finds himself in a spot to make a difference when Week 1 arrives.
Michael Thomas won’t be around to collect all the targets for at least six weeks, and tight ends Adam Trautman and Nick Vannett are still dealing with injuries that could keep them sidelined early in the season. That leaves Johnson in a strong pass-catching role on a team desperate for pass-catchers.
The best part about Johnson is his position eligibility. Some sites have him as a wide receiver and some have him as a tight end. There are even some that have granted him eligibility at both. If you can land Johnson as a tight end late in your draft, you could be onto the next Darren Waller, a tight end who plays like a wideout.
There isn’t strong competition for targets in New Orleans, and if Johnson can become a go-to pass-catcher for Jameis Winston, we could see major production in the early weeks of the season. And if you have him as a tight end, that impact will be compounded.
So, whether you still have to draft or you’re looking for a waiver claim to make before the season opens, a sneaky grab of an unheralded tight end could be just what your team needs.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.