One of the keys to winning your fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. “Sleepers” are NFL players who are drafted in much lower rounds in your fantasy football drafts than their ending statistics warrant. In shopping terms, this is like getting a 22oz bottle of Not Your Father’s Root Beer (the 19.9% version….mmmmm, mmmm) for A&W prices. In the full-season fantasy football world, this is the avenue to the league championship. We have seen championships won on the heels of Sleepers every year. They have come out of nowhere to register monster years after being double-digit or waiver wire picks. When you can grab a player at the end of your draft that becomes your number 1 producer at a certain position, you, my friends, have a true Sleeper. Below are a few projected fantasy football sleepers by position for the 2015 season.
2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota) – Teddy took over the reins from Matt Cassel in Minny in Week 4 in 2014 and never looked back. He was poised, confident and productive and he is back in 2015 as the opening game starter with experience and new toys. He had a trio of running backs to hand the ball off to last year but none of them were named Adrian Peterson. One might think that the Vikings will run Peterson into the ground since he has fresh legs, which they may, but having him in the backfield will open up the passing game far more than last year’s timeshare did. The Vikings also upgraded at WR by swapping out aging Greg Jennings and adding field-stretcher Mike Wallace. On top of that, the Vikings will have a healthy TE Kyle Rudolph to add to the mix. Teddy is being drafted in double digit rounds as a QB2 but there is no reason not to believe that you won’t find more games than not that you will want to start him.
Also consider: Derek Carr (Oakland), Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo)
RB: Joseph Randle (Dallas) – Though owner Jerry Jones is an idiot, there is no way that he lets DeMarco Murray go and is satisfied with bringing in RB Darren McFadden to replace him unless he was confident on his backup RBs from 2014. I believe the McFadden move was a sympathy move from a fellow Razorback alumnus as McFadden has been a true bust since he was drafted by Oakland in 2008, though injuries are the main reason why. He was very talented in college but one has to wonder how much of a toll his slew of injuries has taken on his speed. With McFadden already battling hamstring injuries, Randle is strengthening his position as the opening game starter as Dallas realizes that McFadden is as far from a reliable workhorse back as I am. Randle is only 23 years old and has a great combination of size and speed. Even if Randle starts the season off with a mere 15 carries a game, I expect good things as I could probably get 100 yards per game behind that massive Cowboys offensive line.
Also consider: David Cobb (Tennessee), David Johnson (Arizona)
WR: Nick Toon (New Orleans) – We featured Brandin Cooks from the Saints in the spot last season and he made us look smart….until he was lost to injury. He is back this season and healthy but the Saints have rebuilt their offense and, in the process, lost TE Jimmy Graham and WR Kenny Stills. With WR Marques Colston getting older, Cooks is going to need a running mate and we expect Toon to be that mate. He is entering his third year in the league and seemed to get in tune with QB Drew Brees towards the end of 2014 when he pulled in 17 of his career 23 catches in the final 6 games of the season. Even though the Saints began to rely more on the running game last season, there is no way that they don’t keep Brees’ throwing arm active and we see Toon MUCH more involved than he ever has been in the past. You should be able to grab him with your last WR selection and not risk much for huge upside.
Also consider: Allen Robinson (Jacksonville), Davante Adams (Green Bay)
TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Tampa Bay) – Jenkins was thought highly of going into his 2014 rookie season, but he limped through the season with foot, ankle and back issues and made little impact. He comes into 2015 healthy and with a rookie QB, which is often good for a pass-catching tight end as a rookie QB often checks down quickly and finds his TE when the pass rush gets close. At 6’6” 262lbs, Jenkins will be easy for QB Jameis Winston to find on the field. The Bucs did add new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter this season from Atlanta. Atlanta put the ball in the air more than all but two teams last season so there should be plenty of opportunities to get that ball in Austin’s big hands in Tampa.
Also consider: Rob Housler (Cleveland), Josh Hill (New Orleans)
K: Connor Barth (Tampa) – Barth came aboard in 2014 after the Broncos kicked Brandon McManus to the curb and promptly hit 15 of 16 field goal attempts and all of his extra points. Barth didn’t line up for any real long field goal attempts but had proven the strength of his leg over his four seasons in Tampa so I would expect to see those opportunities present themselves in Denver’s thin air this season. Denver’s offense may not be the powerhouse this season that it has been since QB Peyton Manning joined the team, but they will provide Barth with more than ample opportunities for him to compete for the league scoring title. UPDATE: somehow, Denver let Barth go and went back to Brandon McManus, who they cut last year for being inaccurate. Well, I am staying with Barth, who becomes more of a Sleeper in Tampa than he was in Denver.
Also consider: Greg Zuerlein (St. Louis), Blair Walsh (Minnesota)
D: Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins were slightly above average last season with DEs Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon wreaking a bit of havoc. In the off-season, the Fins added Ndamukong Suh and now this defensive line is one of the top 2 or 3 units in the league. With the added pressure, you can also expect a rise in fumbles and interceptions. Expect the defense to really rack up the points in the first half of the season as no opponent has an offense that is scary expect for one game in Foxboro and, truthfully, I am expecting the Patriots to step down a notch this year.
Also consider: New York Jets, Minnesota