Sleepers and busts. We love reading and sharing our opinions on who we think will surprise and fail this year. Basically what I am going to give you today is a list of guys I like more than most of you. Yes, I recognize that some of you like these guys too. Point is, I am willing to draft them higher than what the going rate is. They are my sleepers.
The definition of a sleeper varies based on the size of your league and roster. I play in a 10-team league that starts 2QB, 3RB, 5WR, TE, 2K, and 2DEF. So you have to go pretty deep to come up with sleepers. But if you play in a more standard QB, 2RB, 2WR, TE, Flex, K, DEF league then some of my sleepers won’t be drafted or will be bench players.
There is no right or wrong way to do a league, but understanding what we are saying when we talk sleepers can vary widely. A sleeper can simply be a player being drafted high, that you think should go much higher. So with that mind, I’ll try to incorporate the idea of why you should draft a certain player higher than what he is going, or why you should keep an eye on certain guys who may go undrafted altogether. Okay, with all that said, here is a list of guys I like this year more than most.
QB Matt Stafford, Lions– They throw. A LOT. 4500 yards is a minimum for him, and his 20 TD season is an abaration. He had 41 the year before. If he hits 30, then he’s a top 5 guy.
QB Brandon Weeden, Browns- For 2QB leagues, I have Weeden ranked 21st. With a new coach and a coordinator that well emphasize the things he does well, not too mention a pretty explosive (albeit not the best of hands) receiving group I think Weeden could be a sneaky 4000-22 possibility.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, Cardinals– Last year in Arizona, Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling combined for 9 TD and 600 yards on just 200 carries. Replace those stiffs with Mendenhall behind an improved offensive line and with a better quarterback under center and boom: I think you’re looking at a 1000-10 season in his sleep. That’s much better than where he ranks (late 20’s) on most boards for RB’s.
RB Chris Ivory, Jets- There is nothing flashy or exciting about this pick or the Jets. Most people won’t care you just added a guy with injury issues on a crappy team. The uninspiring combo of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 1500-12 last year. Ivory, physically is an upgrade on both of them, and if he gets most of those stats for the run-heavy Jets, then you got yourself quite a bargain. I think he’ll be a top 15 running back.
WR Jordy Nelson, Packers- He’s hurt right now. That makes him an even bigger sleeper. He says he’ll be fine for week one. Nelson started out last year going 40-532-5 over the first 7 weeks. Then he got hurt. The year before he went 68-1263-15 and was a top 3 WR. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver are gone and he is the fastest of the Packers receivers. I think he is a top ten WR this year and he is being drafted as the third Packers WR and about the 30th WR overall.
WR Golden Tate, Seahawks- Loved him coming out of Notre Dame. He is tough, gains yards after the catch, and has speed to get deep. Sidney Rice is a health question mark, Percy Harvin is out, and Doug Baldwin is nothing more than a #3 WR. Russell Wilson and Tate will make sweet music together this year. I think he’ll be a major breakout star this year with numbers around 70-1000-10 making him a top 20 WR.
WR TY Hilton, Colts- Only 12 players had 5 or more 100-yard receiving games last year. Hilton did that as a rookie with a rookie quarterback. Expect this year, even with a more conservative offense that he adds 15-20 more catches, and therefore is looking at a 65-1000-10 kind of year with the possibility of more if he can wrestle away more of Reggie Wayne’s load. He’s a top 20 guy that people like around 30-35.
TE Brandon Myers, Giants- He went 79-806-4 last year with Oakland and goes to play with Eli Manning and the Giants who have always loved using the tight end. Touchdown totals for NY TE the last 5 years: 6, 5, 7, 7, and 8. Whether it was Martellus Bennett, Jake Ballard, Kevin Boss, or even back to Jeremy Shockey it’s been a reliable part of the offense. If you like to wait on drafting tight ends, here is your guy very late that will give you starters numbers.
Guys I like really, really late, or off the waiver wire
QB EJ Manuel, Bills
QB Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
RB Giovanni Bernard, Bengals
RB Andre Brown, Giants
RB Bernard Pierce, Ravens
RB Kendall Hunter, 49ers
WR Chris Givens, Rams
WR Brandon LaFell, Panthers
WR Jacoby Jones, Ravens
TE Ed Dickson, Ravens
TE Fred Davis, Redskins