Everyone in the Fantasy Football community has their idea of a sleeper. This could mean they are loaded with potential, finally have a starting gig, use extrapolated statistics to predict “what could have been”, or simply a guy feeling. My idea of a sleeper is a bit of all of those.
From here on until I run out, I’m going to write a weekly piece in regards to one sleeper to keep on your watch list per position. My list will include 1 QB, 1 WR, 1 RB, and 1 TE.
Throughout this process I will likely run out of quarterback sleepers and other positions, so to give you the four sleepers you’ll be looking forward to, I’ll fill that spot in with an extra position.
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So let’s get this started with the first installment of sleepers.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins – I’m not entirely sure how guys like E.J. Manuel, Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, and Sam Bradford are getting drafted in leagues ahead of Tannehill (Note: this is according to the ADP on fantasyfootballcalulator.com). Ryan Tannehill finally has a No. 1 wide-out in Mike Wallace, who can stretch the field and is a blur with the ball in his hands. He also has Brian Hartline, who appeared to be one of his top targets last season, averaging 8.2 targets per game and totaling 131, and they added Brandon Gibson to the WR stable also. He has new tight end option in Dustin Keller and rookie Dion Sims, too. Don’t overlook the back-field of Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislie, either.
Last season Tannehill totaled 12 TDs and 13 INTs with an average 58.9 completion percentage. He had his share of rookie struggles, but mightily improved as the season went on. From Week 13 until the end of the season he had 5 TDs and 1 INT and totaled 735 yards.
What makes the Tannehill-Wallace pairing intriguing is that Mike Wallace is fast, he can get down the field and Tannehill has an absolute cannon for an arm. Cannon + speed = lots of deep plays.
Tannehill will likely be solid QB2 or a streaming QB if you decide to go that route.
Ryan Tannehill is currently ranked 20th in my rankings.
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Projections: 3561 yards, 23 TDs, 13 INTs.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints – It might be tough when you look at his numbers to consider Lance Moore a sleeper, but in the New Orleans offense, he is. He’s by far the third target in an offensive attack headed by TE Jimmy Graham and WR Marques Colston.
Right now, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Lance Moore is being drafted at around 111th overall in PPR formats behind guys like Kenny Britt and Jeremy Maclin. Yes, I understand Britt has top-5 WR potential if he can act like a 24-year-old, but I don’t understand why Maclin is ahead of him.
Let’s take a look at Moore’s 2012 campaign…
In 2012, Lance Moore totaled 65 catches for 1041 yards and 6 TDs. Pretty damn good if you ask me. He totaled more yards than guys like Jason Witten, Randall Cobb, and his New Orleans counterpart, Jimmy Graham. He also had 105 targets, which is one more than Randall Cobb, who is going miles ahead of him in drafts.
There’s tons of talk of the New Orleans offense improving with Head Coach Sean Payton back at the helm, and that should result in Lance Moore improving also.
He’ll be drafted as a WR4 or later, but could be used regularly in most leagues. Don’t make the same mistake that many are making in mock drafts recently by drafting Jeremy Maclin ahead of Lance Moore. He’ll have multiple huge weeks. If an injury happens to Graham and/or Colston, Lance Moore is going to have one hell of a season. You heard it here first.
Lance Moore is currently ranked 41st in my rankings, but could without a doubt be a top-25 WR at years end.
Projections: 70 receptions, 1067 yards, 6 TDs
Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys – Now, now, no I’m not saying DeMarco Murray’s starting role is in jeopardy, but year-in, year-out, Murray’s health is a cause for concern. If Murray is to go down again, Randle will likely see the starting role. Over the past two seasons, Murray has missed 9 games.
Randle is by no means a tough runner, and one of his biggest issues is being able to keep a run going after contact, but he has great ball security and is a monster inside the 10-yard line. To add to his value, he’s also a great pass catcher out of the backfield.
Randle is a very exciting prospect, especially in Dynasty formats, but keep an eye on him in re-draft leagues due to DeMarco Murray’s durability concerns.
In my top-50 RB ranks, Randle is currently unranked.
Projections: 397 rushing yards, 3 TDs, 22 receptions, 1 TD.
Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns – Yup, I’m hopping aboard the Jordan Cameron bandwagon. How can you not? Physically, Cameron is a match-up nightmare at 6-foot-5 and over 250 pounds and a 4.59 40-yard dash that he ran in the 2011 Scouting Combine.
This season, Cameron will be pushed into the starting TE role in the Cleveland Browns young offense. I think, as the season progresses, he could be as high as third on the pass catching pecking order behind WR Josh Gordon and RB Trent Richardson.
Take a look at the Browns coaching staff. This coaching staff is headed by Rob Chudzinski who was the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator during Cam Newton’s first two seasons. What did Carolina have? A big tight end receiving option in Greg Olsen. In the two seasons Greg Olsen and Cam Newton played together, Olsen totaled 114 receptions for 1,383 yards and 10 TDs. That’s an average of 57 receptions for 692 yards and 5 TDs per season. That cannot be overlooked.
Now let’s look at their Offensive Coordinator, Norv Turner. Yes, it’s widely recognized Norv loves to throw to his RBs, but he knows a thing or two in utilizing his tight end. He had a guy named Antonio Gates during his time in San Diego, though Gates struggled to stay healthy and is a better player than Cameron, he was widely regarded for some time as the best tight end in the league.
I know it’s Cleveland, and Matthew Berry of ESPN used the phrase, “can’t escape the Cleveland-ness” when talking about Trent Richardson’s rookie season, but in this system and with Brandon Weeden getting a year under his belt, look for Cameron to play a decent role in this offense. He will likely serve as a bye-week fill-in most weeks.
In my top-50 TE rankings, Jordan Cameron is currently 20th.
Projections: 39 receptions, 458 yards, 4 TDs.
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