2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers That Will Wake Your League Up
In order to understand the value of 2014 fantasy football sleepers, it’s important to know just what the term means. Sleepers are generally players that can be had in the late rounds that are going to be relatively high scoring based on their draft position. Sleeper picks offer you the chance to draft points compilers early in the draft without risking talent at other positions. Every league has that guy who takes (and brags about) his pre-ranked sleeper in the 2nd round, therefore contradicting the very intention of the term. Here is a list of players in 2014 that can be had late in the draft but still have a great chance at being the upper-tier scorers at their position.
Running backs in the Bruce Arians offense are generally better off untouched but Ellington could be one of the few exceptions to the rule in 2014. The second year pro split carries in his rookie year but still averaged over 5.5 yards per carry and added 39 receptions. Ellington has added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason for a more expanded role and Arians vows to get him 25-30 touches per game. With Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd on the outside to stretch the defenses, Ellington should have value if he slips in the draft.
He needs to avoid the concussion issues that ended his rookie season a year ago but if Reed stays healthy he could be one of the most productive TE’s in the NFL. There’s a lot of signs pointing to success for the 2nd year player. For one, new head coach Jay Gruden has a tendency to send tight ends downfield as he showed with Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham in Cincinnati last season. The Redskins addition of DeSean Jackson to pair with Pierre Garcon should also expand defenses while a hopefully healthy Robert Griffin III gets the Washington offense back on track.
Hunter snagged only 18 balls in his rookie season a year ago which has landed him outside the top 50 for wide receivers in most preseason rankings. Those expectations could be blown out of the water if Hunter sees the ball more in 2014, as Tennessee has vowed to do. The 6’3” wideout has 4.44 speed and averaged almost 20 yards a catch in 2013. Hunter added muscle in the offseason which will lead to a more physical approach that gets him open for more balls in 2014.
Austin had high hopes for his rookie year in 2013, especially as the #8 pick in the draft. Owners who took a chance on the wideout were likely greatly disappointed as Austin snagged only 40 catches on the year. What was really frustrating was the fact that Austin was seemingly handcuffed by his own offensive coordinator, catching 6 balls in each of the first three games but only 22 total in the next 10. When Austin started getting the ball in different phases of the offense over the last 4 games of 2013 he had 2 runs of over 50 yards as well as a 98-yard punt return TD. With a year of experience in how NFL offenses work Austin should produce much more than his 45th or higher preseason ranking.
Ertz drew comparisons to Cowboys TE Jason Witten when he came into the league but reactions were mixed about his rookie season a year ago. Ertz didn’t come into the best situation having to pick up to the increased speed of the NFL while also learning Chip Kelly‘s complicated offense. Either way the tight end managed 36 catches for 469 yards and 4 TD last year. 2014 should see a high ceiling in the second year in Philadelphia’s offense, especially since they’ve vowed to be even more fast paced with more plays run per game in 2014. In Ertz’s final 6 games of last season he had 5+ catches three times including a 5 catch, 68-yard, 2-TD performance in week 12.
Jake Locker / QB / Tennessee Titans
Locker is playing for a payday in 2014 in which could be his final season to prove he can stay healthy, in Tennessee at least. Locker has value to owners as both a passer and a runner, although sometimes its his running tendencies that lead to injuries. The 4th year QB has shown flashes in 2013, including 68 yards rushing and a TD in week 3 followed by 3TD passes in week 4. If Locker can stay on the field he has weapons in Tennessee which could prove a value to the 25th-plus ranked QB.
You know you’ve found a sleeper when the other owners in your draft room simultaneously shout, “Who?” after your draft pick. One perfect example of that this year could be the selection of Green Bay TE Andrew Quarless. The tight end earned a new contract in the offseason which will instantly give him the first opportunity to be the Packers replacement for Jermichael Finley. The Green Bay offense is very productive to a TE, with Finley continuously being one of the top fantasy performers at the position. Quarless isn’t a bad flier for a backup TE with big potential late in your draft.
Nobody is expecting the 2nd year TE Toilolo to put up the numbers of his hall of fame predecessor Tony Gonzalez but the sleeper potential is definitely there. Toilolo caught only 11 balls for 55 yards last year but did have 2 TD. The 6’8” Toilolo is a popular red zone target and with Gonzalez and his 83 catches off to enjoy the sandy beaches of retirement, there should be balls available in the Altanta offense. The return of Julio Jones to stretch out the defense only helps Toilolo get open underneath.
Williams moves into a starting role in 2014 opposite Dez Bryant in the Cowboys’ offense and could be prone to some quality production. The 6’2” receiver had a relatively productive rookie year in 2013, snaring 44 balls for 736 yards and 5 TD, almost 17 yards per catch. After a year of adjusting to life in the NFL and an increased role in the Cowboys’ offense Williams is a legitimate 75-catch, 1,200 yard candidate.
Owners have definitely soured on Flacco which could have him available late. Granted in 2014 the Ravens face some running back insecurity and a shaky offensive line but Flacco’s numbers should improve at least. The team brought in WR Steve Smith from Carolina to see if he has any fumes in the tank but to mostly be a leader for the offense. New coordinator Gary Kubiak has simplified and streamlined the playbook to allow players to perform what they do best and Flacco should be the main beneficiary.