Fantasy Football: Identifying 4 sleepers for 2024 using PFF stable metrics

2T1XN89 Houston, TX, USA. 15th Oct, 2023. New Orleans Saints running back Kendre Miller (25) runs after making a catch during a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Houston Texans in Houston, TX. Trask Smith/CSM/Alamy Live News

• Second-year RB Kendre Miller showed promise: Despite managing a slew of injuries throughout his rookie season, advanced statistics identify Miller as a potential breakout candidate for 2024.

Jonnu Smith gets a fresh start with the Miami Dolphins: Despite ranking fourth in team targets, Smith managed career-highs in both receptions and receiving yards in 2023, ranking as one of the league’s most efficient tight ends in two key metrics.

• Check out PFF's fantasy football rankings: PFF’s fantasy football rankings include ranks from our experts, projections and our strength of schedule metric.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

Ahead of the 2024 fantasy football season, analysts will comb through an endless pile of statistics to predict the performance of hundreds of players around the league. However, some of those statistics are more predictive of future performance than others. Here are four fantasy football sleepers identified using PFF stable metrics who could be in for a big 2024 season.

RB Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans signed free agent running back Tony Pollard to a big-time contract amidst the departure of workhorse Derrick Henry in free agency this offseason. Since then, the public has largely cooled on the potential of a breakout for second-year running back Tyjae Spears. However, a look at the numbers (and conjecture about a potential two-back system) could give fantasy managers some hope of a breakout in 2024. 

Working in a change-of-pace role behind Henry last season, Spears averaged an impressive 26% missed forced tackle rate on rush attempts, which ranked fourth among running backs. He ranked in the 81st percentile or higher in his yards after contact per attempt average, missed forced tackle rate on receptions and yards per route run.

Unfortunately, Spears doesn’t project for an every-down role with Pollard in the mix, but having ranked fourth among running backs (min. 50% of snaps) with 1.01 fantasy points per touch last season, he might not need 250-plus touches to provide fantasy managers with some value.

RB Kendre Miller, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints drafted Kendre Miller with the 72nd pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, a slew of injuries limited his efficiency and availability throughout the year, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. However, the advanced metrics tell a different tale.

In his limited playing time as a rookie, Miller did manage to impress, ranking in the 78th percentile or missed forced tackles per attempt (0.24), yards after contact per attempt (3.12), receiving grade (72.7) and yards per route run among running backs (2.17). Heading into the 2024 season now healthy, with an aging Alvin Kamara whose own rushing efficiency has significantly declined in the past three seasons, should provide Miller some opportunity that will pleasantly surprise fantasy managers willing to take a shot.

WR Dontayvion Wicks, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers’ receiving corps has been a hot topic as of late, with fantasy football managers doing their best to identify the WR1 of this ascending offense. At this point, you could make an argument for almost any of them, but today, it’s Dontayvion Wicks’ turn. The former 2023 fifth-round pick totaled 581 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 39 receptions in 2023, which won’t excite many fantasy football managers, but his stable metrics provide an exciting outlook heading into Year 2.

In addition to ranking 70th percentile or higher among wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception, yards per route run, open target rate and PFF receiving grade, Wicks managed to average a whopping 2.06 fantasy points per target (18th among WRs). 

Wicks (and the rest of these Packers receivers) will have plenty of competition for target amongst themselves, but his advanced metrics point to some tremendous potential heading into his second NFL season.

TE Jonnu Smith, Miami Dolphins

It’s not often that you’ll hear me touting a 28-year-old tight end as a potential breakout, but the former third-round pick has a prime opportunity to make his mark in the uber-efficient Miami Dolphins’ passing game. After two years with the New England Patriots between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Smith quietly managed the breakout campaign fans were waiting for, managing career-highs with 50 catches and 582 receiving yards while ranking fourth on the team in total targets. Still, Smith was efficient with the opportunities he did see, averaging 1.77 fantasy points per target that ranked sixth among tight ends on the season. 

In 2023, Smith managed 1.55 yards per route run (tied for 10th among TEs with 50+ targets) and 7.3 yards after the catch per reception – tied with George Kittle for the second-highest YAC per reception average among tight ends. Consider the opportunity to catch passes from Tua Tagovailoa, one of the league’s most efficient quarterbacks averaging 8.2 yards per attempt over the past two seasons, a huge opportunity. Even if he emerges as the third receiving option for the Dolphins, Smith could have a sneaky season.


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