Fantasy football is in full swing and this is the week that everyone is gearing up for their league drafts. The majority of people are in 8 or 10 team leagues, so these players will help round out the last few spots on your bench, but for my fellow FF Nerds that are in 12, 16, and even 24 team leagues here’s a list of sleepers that will win you those extremely close games this season.
1. Carson Palmer ARI – Palmer put up over 4,000 yes last year for a Raiders team that had less talent than the Crimson Tide. Palmer will have much more talent surrounding him in Arizona. Larry Fitzgerald will be a major red zone target for him and Housler is a tight end on the rise in the league. Expect another 4,000 yes from Palmer, which will make him worthy of starting in deeper leagues.
2. Mike Vick PHI – I’m drinking the Chip Kelly kool-aid. Vick will be the starting QB week 1 and his opportunity to post huge numbers will be there due to the Eagles pace. Philly will run close to 75 plays a game when normal offenses barely scratch 60. Vick will turn the ball over but his rushing #s will offset any INTs. Vick ranked 24th and lower in most QB rankings so he’s a great back up option in rounds 8-12.
3. Terrelle Pryor OAK – Flynn has lost his job to a young athletic quarterback before. Pryor may not start the season but the Raiders will struggle to win games and when they do they’ll want to know what they have in Pryor. His duel threat ability will make him an asset later in the fantasy season.
1. Shonn Greene TEN – Greene was paid a good amount of money to back up CJ2K and he will be expected to earn that paycheck. I don’t see Shonn getting over 12 carries a game but I do see him stealing red zone carries from Johnson. Greene should put up 8+ TDs this season and could be a nice flex play in deeper leagues.
2. Andre Brown NYG – Brown will take on the role that Brandon Jacobs had for the Giants for many years. Right now Brown is getting equal carries compared to starter David Wilson and even though he isn’t as explosive he will get more redone carries. Brown is also the 3rd down back because of his pass blocking which may free him up for some receptions this year.
3. Vick Ballard IND – The Colts will look a lot like Stanford did the past 5 years, run first and pass second. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to grab the starting spot but his health is always in question. Ballard has taken all of the 1st team reps and is a proven option on third down. Ballard is a starter in any deep PPR league and will be valuable on bye weeks for other standard leagues.
4. Stepfan Taylor ARI – Taylor is a late add on to this list. Mendenhall hasn’t shown the explosion that made him a good back in Pittsburgh and Taylor has shown that what he did at Stanford wasn’t a fluke. Taylor is already Arizona’s short yardage/goal line back and he will push for equal carries during the regular season. He will be as valuable as other rookies being drafted 3-4 rounds ahead of him.
1. Anquan Boldin SF – Let’s be real… Who else is Kaep going to throw to? Boldin will be the #1 WR for the Niners and he should see 7-8 targets a game. Boldin is currently ranked 70th or lower amongst receivers and could be a steal in the late rounds this year.
2. Cordarelle Patterson MIN – Patterson will be in position to take over many of the same roles Percy Harvin had with the Vikings. His speed and versatility will make him a great flex play and by the end of the season he could work into a starter depending on QB play.
3. Chris Givens STL – Everyone is focused on rookie Tavon Austin but Givens was the best receiver on this Rams team last season and will once again be the number 1 target. He has great deep speed and can change games with a limited amount of targets. we should be a consistent 8-9 point receiver with the ability to explode for double digits a few times.
4. Brian Hartline MIA – Hartline was the best fantasy WR through the first 6 weeks last season. Teams recognized that he was the only threat on the outside for the Miami and shut him down. Mike Wallace will command those double teams this year and Hartline will once again be amongst the better PPR wideouts in the league. He is currently ranked in the 70s in terms of receiving option and is a steal in even the largest of leagues.
1. Jordan Cameron CLE – Cameron is no longer a secret so you should be prepared to take him fairly early. I’d say 8-10th round is where he is being selected and for good reason. Brandon Weeden is showing a lot of growth this preseason and Cameron has become his favorite target. Add the suspension of Josh Gordon and Cameron should have a monster first couple of weeks.
2. Zack Sudfeld NE – Sudfeld has shown his sure hands thie preseason and even though Gronk will return week 6 he should be a weapon all season. The Pats love their two TE sets a which Sudfeld will most likely take the place of ahernandez. He’s a great pick up as a back up or starter in deep leagues.
3. Rob Housler ARI – Carson Palmer made Brandon Myers a 800yd 8 TD TE last season in Oakland, Housler will enjoy those stats as well. Housler may even be more athletic which means he could finish in the top 5 of NFL TEs by seasons end. He’s a great pick up in all leagues and can even be a valuable flex on most weeks.
1. Chiefs – The Chiefs had 6 Pro Bowlers on their team last season and most of those on this defense. A bevy of first round picks on this D and facing the Raiders & Chargers twice each equals huge fantasy points.
2. Colts – The Colts play in one of the easiest divisions in football and their ball control offense will limit opposing teams opportunities. They’ll be a sneaky good defense this year and are perfect for 12 plus team leagues.