Football season is almost here folks. It’s time to start scrambling for information on which fantasy guys are going to make or break your team. Making the right picks toward the end of the draft can take your team from mediocre to league champs.
These “sleepers” are guys that are flying way too far under the radar. They could be the gems of the draft and potentially play their way into your starting lineup.
Kerryon Johnson (RB Detroit Lions)
- This guys could be Le’Veon 2.0. Now I’m not saying he is going to be a top 5, or even top 10 running back (especially in pass-happy Detroit), but he will have RB2 and Flex worthy numbers. He is currently ranked as the #31 running back by Matthew Berry, which is way too low.
- He has a unique, patient running style that has to remind you of Pittsburgh’s horse of a tail back. If Johnson can stay healthy the whole season, look for him to do big things. He has a great chance to be the back Detroit has been missing for nearly a decade.
The Denver Broncos passing game
- Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have been decent over the last couple years with a rotation of clown quarterbacks and no running game. If Case Keenum can be half as good as he was in Minnesota, this passing game will have some life for the first time since Peyton. Look for Sanders and Keenum toward the end of the draft. They both are capable of playing their way into your starting lineup.
- ESPN has Sanders as the 26th receiver and Keenum as the 25th QB, which are both too low.
Mike Williams (WR Los Angeles Chargers)
- Williams had his rookie season plagued by injuries last year. He has the chance to do big things this season though. He will have a solid shot to become LA’s #2 receiver, and play opposite of Keenan Allen. The Chargers are without a doubt a pass-happy offense and Williams could become Phillip Rivers new favorite receiver to yell at, I mean throw to. Keenan Allen is also a wee bit injury prone, so if he were to go down at any point, Williams would have a good shot to become the top dog of the remaining receivers.
- Mike Williams is a guy who will probably go undrafted in most leagues, so don’t be afraid to gamble on him in a league or two with your last pick. If he doesn’t get drafted in your league, make sure to keep an eye on him on the waiver wire.
Marquise Goodwin (WR San Francisco 49ers)
- Goodwin is a speedster who is constantly waiting to make a big play. In his first season with the horrendous 49ers last season, he racked up nearly 1,000 receiving yards. Having Pierre Garcon back in the lineup should help Goodwin get freed up more often. Look for him to have at least 1,200 receiving yards this season. Last year with Jimmy G at the helm for the last 5 games, Goodwin posted these stat lines:
- 8 catches for 99 yards
- 6 catches for 106 yards
- 10 catches for 114 yards, along with 1 rush for 10 yards
- 3 catches for 37 yards
- 2 catches for 28 yards and a TD, along with 1 rush for 10 yard
- Marquise Goodwin torches Richard Sherman
Patrick Mahomes (QB Kansas City Chiefs)
- Pat Mahomes could be a dangerous man next season. He only sat one year behind Alex Smith, and the Chiefs rushed Smith out of town after his best season ever. KC and Andy Reid obviously see huge potential in Mahomes, or Smith would still be there.
- There are plenty of offensive weapons in place for Mahomes to utilize. His gun-slinging arm that can throw 60+ yard bombs is perfect for Tyreke Hill (who is so fast that he would occasionally over-run Smith’s long balls). The Chiefs also have premier tight end Travis Kelce, stud running back Kareem Hunt, and they also just brought in Sammy Watkins this offseason. All signs point to Mahomes being a star and having real fantasy value next season.
D’Onta Foreman (RB Houston Texans)
- I fully, 100%, without a doubt guarantee that D’Onta Foreman will become the lead back for the Houston Texans at some point this season (barring a serious injury). If it weren’t for an achilles injury that shut him down last season, he probably would be the guy going into this year.
- During his rookie season last year, Foreman was averaging well over 4 yards a carry, compared to Lamar Miller’s 3.7 yards per carry. Foreman is made to run between tackles, while Miller is more of a pass-catching back. Expect Miller to transition to the third down back over the season, while Foreman will see his workload steadily increase.
- In the game that he got knocked out for the season last year, D’onta had 10 carries for 65 yards, 2 TD’s, along with 3 receptions for 15 yards. That game was going to be Foreman’s breakout performance and probably earn him a solid share of the carries for the rest of the season. Do not pass on D’Onta Foreman, even if he is not ready to play the first game or 2 for Houston.
Josh Doctson (WR Washington Redskins)
- Doctson is looking like he will be the Redskins #1 receiver next season. Even if he somehow is not, he will without a doubt be the top red zone target for Alex Smith. This team is really a huge question mark as of right now. I am not expecting them to win too many games, which means they are going to probably be attempting to throw their way back into many games.
- Over the course of last season, Doctson worked his way into the starting lineup and proved to be a real red zone target. He found his way into the end zone 6 times over the last 14 games last season. Expect that number to increase this season by at least 2 or 3 touchdowns. Doctson could very easily end up being Alex Smith favorite target.
Jimmy Graham (TE Green Bay Packers)
- ESPN has Jimmy Graham ranked as the 90th overall player and 7th tight end. I am going to tell you right now that there is now way in hell the Packers were willing to part ways with Jordy Nelson and trade for Graham without the intention of getting him the ball a lot. He does not block well, he is strictly a pass catching tight end. Maybe Matthew Berry is so low on Jimmy because Martellus Bennett didn’t work out in Green Bay, but he was injured all year and much more of a blocking tight end.
- Jimmy Graham will be one of three top targets on possibly the best passing offense in the league. Other top targets on the team (Davante Adams and Randall Cobb) have had injury problems over the last couple years. Expect Jimmy Graham to play a large role in this offense, that could turn into a massive role if Cobb or Adams go down. He is worth taking in the sixth, seventh, or eighth round.
Martavis Bryant (WR Oakland Raiders)
- Here is a guy who is only 26 and has all the physical tools needed to be a star receiver in the league. He’s had trouble off the field though and there are serious questions about what kind of guy he is in the locker room. He has a fresh start now though after Pittsburg traded him to Oakland. John Gruden very well might be able to help Bryant get his act together and live up to his potential.
- If Jordy Nelson struggles or gets hurt, Bryant will be playing opposite of Amari Cooper and get a ton of balls thrown his way from Derek Carr. Martavis Bryant will probably go undrafted in most leagues, but he is worth a look late in the draft. If he goes undrafted, keep an eye on him and be ready to claim him on the waiver wire.
Tyler Lockett (WR Seattle Seahawks)
- Lockett seems to have a somewhat disappointing season every year, whether it’s due to either injury or underwhelming production. This could be his breakout season though if he can stay healthy.
- The Seahawks shipped out Jimmy Graham, and Paul Richardson left in free agency, which leaves Doug Baldwin as the only major competitor for targets from Russell Wilson. Yes they did bring in aging Brandon Marshall who can’t stay healthy, but he will more than likely only see significant targets in the red zone. Lockett could be a PPR monster this next season, especially if the Seahawks trail frequently and are forced to throw their way back into games. Don’t get your hopes up or bank on him having a great season though, he’s more of a long shot sleeper.
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