While the definition of a sleeper is open to debate and opinion, for the sake of this column we’ll define a sleeper simply as a player that will outperform their draft position. Let’s take a look at several 2014 fantasy football sleepers or undervalued players that are safe bets to provide good value for where you will be able to get them on draft day. If you have any draft day questions feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.
JOHNNY FOOTBALL! I am pumped to see the excitement that Johnny brings to the field and I would be shocked if he doesn’t win the starting job this preseason. However, I am not expecting him to throw for many yards in 2014, his value is going to be with his legs. The Browns offense lacks weapons and I expect to see Johnny running for his life out on the field as he tries to make plays for his team. If he can run for 700+ yards then he will not have to throw much to crack the top 12 for fantasy quarterbacks this year.
Robert Griffin III
Coming back from his knee injury from 2012 it was clear that RGIII wasn’t himself. The brace that we wore seemed to slow him down a bit and the Redskins offense clearly wasn’t in sync last year. The brace is now off, he has a new toy with DeSean Jackson and I think the Redskins will look like a different offense this year. I expect RGIII to look much more like he did during his rookie year and he could be a top 5 quarterback this year.
I think Ertz is going to take his game to the next level this season and I would be surprised if he doesn’t end the year as a top ten tight end. With the departure of DeSean Jackson there will be a few more targets to go around and I think Ertz is going to be a big part of the Chip Kelly offense in 2014. He had a productive season as a rookie last year and for the most part he was a consistent part of the Eagles offense.
The Lions have been looking for a solid WR2 to play along side Calvin Johnson for many years now and I think they found him with Tate. With his time with the Seahawks he proved that he is a solid receiver and he couldn’t be headed into a better situation. The Lions love to throw the ball and opposing defensives have to give a ton of attention to Calvin Johnson. This is going to leave Tate running around with single coverage the entire season and this should mean to a career year for him.
When Maclin first came into the league it looked like he had a bright future. After various injuries and illnesses over the last couple of years though, he has lost the faith of many fantasy owners. This means he will slip a bit in most drafts and it should make him an interesting gamble in the middle rounds. He is going to be the best receiver on the high powered Eagles offense and if he is able to stay healthy then he could be a top 15 receiver.
Sanders is entering his 5th season and he couldn’t have landed in a much better situation. He is now with Peyton Manning and the rest of the high powered Broncos offense and this should make him more fantasy relevant. Sanders has certainly improved over the last few seasons and it’s possible that he puts up numbers similar to what Decker did for the Broncos last year.
Spiller was one of the biggest disappointments last season and he isn’t on a lot of fantasy owners good side. My advice though is to have a short memory with Spiller, because I think he could return to his old form in 2014. He was banged up a bit last year and he still had a decent season. The Bills offense should improve with the addition of Sammy Watkins (taking pressure off the running game) and I can’t imagine that the aging Fred Jackson has much left in the tank (meaning more carries for Spiller).
Sankey is going to be the first rookie running back taken off the draft boards this year and for good reason. He finds himself in a great situation with the Titans and he should get a ton of touches. He will have to share some carries with Shonn Greene or Jackie Battle, but I would be shocked if Sankey doesn’t dominate the amount of touches in that potential timeshare.
Now that Richardson has had an offseason with the Colts to learn their offense, I have much more confidence that he will be more productive in 2014. When he first went over to the Colts last year many people felt he would have instant success, however that wasn’t the case. He struggled to get anything going and he left his owners confused and frustrated. I am expecting things to be much better for him this season and the Colts could have one of the best overall offenses in the league.
We all know that the Patriots love to throw the ball and at this point you have to ask yourself, is Vereen a running back or a wide receiver. In 8 games last year he rushed the ball 44 times and he had 47 receptions. Obviously this means that Vereen is going to have the most value in PPR leagues, but if he can stay healthy all year, he should have no problem reaching 1,000 total yards with decent touchdown totals. I think he is a great gamble in the middle rounds and there is even a chance he gets move involved in the running game in 2014.