The term “sleeper” has different meanings for different people in the world of fantasy football. Some folks believe it’s simply a player who will outperform his draft position. Others think it’s a relatively unknown or once-forgotten player who unexpectedly emerges or re-emerges into a useful fantasy option.
In my opinion, both definitions are true but with a caveat. I don’t see a player as a sleeper if he’s already been a valuable fantasy asset during his career. For example, Aaron Rodgers and D’Andre Swift aren’t “sleepers” to me. Is Rodgers coming off a down year? Yes, but that doesn’t make him a sleeper. The same goes for Swift, who has been considered a top-30 overall pick in the past.
Could these players be labeled as bargains in upcoming fantasy drafts? Absolutely. But they’re certainly not “sleepers” based on my definition. I also consider some rookies to be sleepers, as these players could outperform their draft position and have obviously never yet produced in the pros.
With that in mind, here are five sleeper quarterbacks to target in the late rounds who could be better than we’re expecting in 2023.
Kenny Pickett, Steelers
Pickett didn’t have a great rookie season in the stat sheets, but that’s been the norm historically speaking for first-year quarterbacks. Heck, even Peyton Manning wasn’t good as a rookie. Not that Pickett will be Manning, but the Steelers improved the offensive line and added Allen Robinson to the passing game in the offseason. In addition, I could see Pickett rushing for around 350-400 yards.
C.J. Stroud, Texans
Stroud is expected to be thrown right into the fire and be the Week 1 starter for the Texans. Considered the most NFL-ready quarterback in the 2023 class, Stroud is an athletic, accurate passer who possesses good decision-making skills and could be a useful fantasy option in redrafts when the matchup is right. He’ll be worth a late pick in drafts for fantasy managers looking for a sleeper option.
Mac Jones, Patriots
Jones regressed badly last season, posting just 12.2 fantasy points a game as a sophomore. In his defense, he played without a true offensive coordinator. That won’t happen this season, as the Patriots added Bill O’Brien to fill that role. New England also added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki in the offseason, so I can see Jones bouncing back in the stat sheets.
Desmond Ridder, Falcons
Ridder is more of a “deep sleeper,” as he’s not being selected in the majority of traditional, one-quarterback leagues. The second-year field general has been given the keys to the Falcons offense, though, and he’ll have Bijan Robinson, Drake London and Kyle Pitts at his disposal. Ridder will also face one of the five best schedules among quarterbacks in 2023.
Sam Howell, Commanders
Moore, like Ridder, has been handed the starting job in Year 2. The Commanders aren’t short of weapons in the passing game, either, with a strong trio in Terry McLaurin, sleeper Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. Howell is an accurate passer with good arm strength, and he’s also mobile. In fact, he rushed for 828 yards and 11 touchdowns in his final collegiate season.