Let’s talk rankings. And sleepers. And value picks. And let’s do it for every position. (Well, except for defense and kicker because, darn it, you should be waiting until the very end of your draft to select both positions.)
Let’s talk fantasy, folks.
If Sam Bradford stays healthy this year, I think he could easily be a top-10 quarterback. That’s a big if, yes, but Philly’s explosive spread offense is perfect for Bradford’s skill set.
He certainly seems to be enjoying his collection of weapons, as he told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News:
We have playmakers all over the field, and my job as quarterback is simply to distribute and get them the ball and let them make plays in space. It’s really comforting as a quarterback when you look out there and all five of your receiving options are really good players and have the ability to turn a 5- or 6-yard completion into a 60-yard touchdown.
He was on fire in the team’s third preseason game against the Packers, completing all 10 of his passes while throwing for three touchdowns.
The preseason doesn’t mean much, generally, but when you are looking for clues about how an oft-injured player is shaking off the rust or adjusting to his new scheme, it can give you valuable insights about a player’s potential. And Bradford flashed big potential against the Packers.
As for Cam Newton, he’s currently being selected No. 93 overall in ESPN fantasy drafts, meaning he’s available in the ninth round in 10-team leagues. That’s a pretty amazing value for a player who was a top-five option at the position three years in a row before a down year last season.
Yes, losing Kelvin Benjamin is a killer. But he didn’t have Benjamin before last season and still put up a ton of fantasy points. Waiting on Newton while you stack your roster at the other positions is a very smart play.
- Sleeper Pick: Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions
- Value Pick: Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals
I still think Joique Bell is likely to earn a ton of touches with the Detroit Lions—and will likely get all of the touches by the goal line, giving him value for that reason alone—but it sounds as though Abdullah will be a huge part of Detroit’s offense this season.
In fact, he may even end up being the starter, per Nerdy Football’s Jason Cole:
Abdullah may not be a sleeper for long, so make sure you nab this kid. After an impressive training camp, he could be primed for a huge season.
As for Andre Ellington, his injury concerns have resulted in his ADP in ESPN leagues falling to 59.3. That’s a pretty great value for a lead back who has shown an ability to make big plays in the past. Yes, the Cardinals will likely rotate in other backs to keep Ellington fresh, but he remains the team’s most dangerous offensive playmaker in space.
Expect Arizona to keep him heavily involved in the offense, and expect a resurgent fantasy season from the talented running back. The fact that you can pick him up in the sixth round and that he could end up being a very nice RB2 for your team makes him very valuable.
- Sleeper Pick: Victor Cruz, New York Giants
- Value Pick: Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins
The fact that you can get Victor Cruz in the 12th round in ESPN leagues (ADP: 117.5) is astonishing to me. Yes, Odell Beckham Jr. is the main target in the passing game now. Yes, injuries are a major concern. But this is still the player who had 3,626 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns from 2011-13 and is just 28 years old.
I’m not willing to give up on Cruz yet, and you shouldn’t either. He still has the potential to be a top-25 receiver if he can stay healthy, so nab him in the late rounds.
As for Landry, the fact that he’s being picked, on average, 72nd overall makes him a great value selection in the eighth round. He showed a ton of promise as a rookie, and with Mike Wallace now gone, he becomes Ryan Tannehill‘s top option in the passing game.
Yes, he has even more value in PPR leagues, but Landry is poised to make a big jump in his second season. His 84 receptions for 758 yards and five touchdowns was an impressive debut, but expect the second act to have fantasy owners yelling “encore” each week.
- Sleeper Pick: Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers
- Value Pick: Jordan Cameron, Miami Dolphins
How do you go from 13 touchdowns in 2013 to just two scores in 2014 while only exceeding five fantasy points once in an entire season?
A bad back, that’s how.
Yes, gambling on Vernon Davis after such a poor 2014 isn’t for the feint of heart, but you’ll be adding him as your TE2 anyway, so it’s not as though the risk is great. The reward could be quite substantial, however, if he once again regains his place as Colin Kaepernick‘s favorite target.
As for Cameron, his injury history makes him a frightening prospect, but he’s a very talented tight end who finally has a good quarterback throwing him the ball. He could be an absolute menace for opposing teams when running down the seam and offers Tannehill another reliable target to go alongside Landry. If you miss out on the early wave of tight ends, Cameron is a nice consolation prize.
You really shouldn’t be selecting a defense before the last two rounds, so I’m not sure you should be all that worried about sleepers or value selections at this position. Chances are, if you nab one of the top 10 players in my rankings, you’ll be fine.
Like defenses, kickers shouldn’t be prioritized until the final two rounds. Take a consistent kicker on a good offense and you’ll be good to go.
All average draft position information via ESPN.
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