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Thu, July 9, 2015

Early Sleepers

Training camp is just weeks away, but the fantasy offseason has been in full swing long enough to give us a general idea where most players will be taken.  Based on consensus expert rankings and ADP data, I’m seeing a few players that stick out to me as tremendous values as things stand today.  These are my early sleepers.

TE
Delanie Walker – he was top 10 last year with a pretty awful QB situation.  Their defense didn’t improve, while they added Marcus Mariota, who reports are indicating has been more accurate than advertised.  This team will have to throw a lot, and a TE is a rookie QB’s best friend.

Eric Ebron – NOBODY is interested in him, he’s left for dead…just one year after he was drafted in the FIRST ROUND of the NFL draft!  They saw him as a big bodied Gronk-like athletic freak, so if he adds polish off of his first disastrous season, he will become a factor that costs you nothing on draft day.  I've said before, the Lions defense will be much worse, leading to a less controlled offensive approach.  Ebron should figure in the mix. I’d team him up with another cheapie you know is starting like Allen, Fleener or…

Kyle Rudolph – Everything that was true last year when I loved him is still true.  Norv’s offense favors tight ends, he’ll be used in the red zone, and only again has the question of health.  The offense should be scoring more this year with AP back and Mike Wallace around, so I see Rudolph as a TD heavy option. As an added bonus, the Vikings drafted a sneaky rookie Mycole Pruitt, who could shine late in the season if Rudolph does suffer another injury laden season.

WR
Steve Smith is the ONE receiver I have ended up with in literally every single mock I’ve done this offseason.  He’s ranked in the mid-40’s at receiver.  Last year saw an 1100 yard, 6 TD season, that’s easily mid-twenties, and not much has changed except…oh, Torrey Smith left town and Marc Tressman brings in his pass-happy offense.  Breshad Perriman is a nice athlete but so rough around the edges that I think it’s pretty obvious where Flacco will be going with the ball when it really counts. I’m buying in bulk.

Whichever Vikings WR falls, I’m taking.  I’m not talking 6th round, I’m talking 10th round or later, then I’m buying Mike Wallace or Charles Johnson as a value.  Norv has always liked Charles Johnson, hand-picked Mike Wallace for this offense in the off-season, and is one season removed from making Josh Gordon a fantasy diety.  I don’t know which guy will have favor here, but I want some stock in this situation. Add to the conversation, last year’s darling who sunk many a fantasy ship…Cordarelle Patterson.  He’ll be useful in spots and qualifies as a wait and see for me, I’ll take him with my last position player pick.  Remember, this is a former first rounder who was always seen as an athletic specimen lacking in the discipline department.  Maybe he sees his leash running short and turns things around. 

Victor Cruz, if he proves to be healthy, has some nice bounce back potential as the attention swings fully toward stopping Odell Beckham.  Cruz will be in the slot, his natural habitat and matched up against some pretty sub-par corners around the NFC East.  I like that you can get him mid-30’s, and if it bombs out, no big deal.

John Brown is the youngster from last year’s draft that has a chance to pop and exceed both of his teammates (i.e. 2nd year WR breakout).  He is polished, explosive, and fits the mold of the Antonio Brown or Randall Cobb high volume studs that are becoming quite trendy around the league.  The coaches loves him. I love the system, QB, opportunity, and most importantly, the talent.  Going in the 50’s, you can’t go wrong.

QB
Carson Palmer – extremely efficient, has a ton of weapons, and an improved offensive line.  The only bummer is playing the Seahawks and Rams twice, and the age/health problem.  But those are problems you can overcome for the meager price on draft day.

Jay Cutler – yep.  Was a top 10 QB in PPG last year, and aside from the disastrous finish, was on plenty of teams that ran to the playoffs.  He’s cheaper this year, but has just as much going for him in the scheme and weapons department and with the BRUTAL bears D he’s going to be throwing a lot.  He always gets injured, is always a headcase, but you can forgive those things for the 12th round tag it will take to put him on your roster.

Teddy Bridgewater – This one is getting a little out of control.  He’s not top 15 to me, so don’t draft him there.  But he can be fine as a tandem QB or a guy you pick up for a few games at a time when the schedule looks nice.  Love the weapons, the Norv Turner offense, his improved completion percentage on deep throws, and his success when facing the blitz.  Those are great NFL traits, but might not get you more than 3500 yds and 24 TD’s in a season.  If you can pick the spots, though, he’ll put up some big box scores here and there.  Just not for a whole season. 

RB
Frank Gore – I see this as a swan song, and I’m not overpaying.  But he could give you your money back in the 4th round.  He’ll visit the red zone often, should get some of his pass catching chops back, could be playing with some nice leads to salt the clock against a bad division and…ummm…does anything else even matter? 

Bucs backfield – I don’t know who wins this job, and I don’t love either guy with their O-line, but the price is right. Take whoever comes later in your draft. That’s all I have to say about that. 
Giants backfield – Brutal O-line, lots of injuries last year, but Rashad Jennings has the best of both worlds.  If he goes down, Andre Williams and Shane Vereen split the work as Williams gets early down and plunge work, Vereen gets the routes and draw plays on third down.  They won’t last you the year, but will be useful in stretches.

Falcons backfield – It’s pretty clear I’m in on Tevin Coleman, but if things get out of hand and people are reaching, I’ll take Davonte Freeman way later in drafts and see what happens.

Others I’ll be throwing on a few rosters in no particular order:  Duke Johnson (talent over opportunity), David Johnson (Ellington will get hurt), David Cobb (well rounded, not amazing, super cheap, strikes me as this year’s Alf?), Jay Ajaiyi (sensing a theme yet?).

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