Craig DeLauder – Fantasy Sports Contributor: The Wagner Wire
Hello all you fantasy fanatics! I am coming to you today with my assessment on some players that could be called “sleepers”. Even with all the information in today’s fantasy landscape, the term sleeper has become a little antiquated. We can still label these players undervalued or under the radar. With that said, lets get to the list of some players that can make you look like the smartest person at your draft this year.
The All Under Valued Team
Eli Manning: Quarterback – New York Giants
I know you’re thinking, “Eli Manning!” Hear me out. Eli is almost always free in fantasy drafts. You can take him as your 2nd quarterback very late in the draft. As much as I don’t think he’s going to be a top 5 NFL quarterback this year, I do feel he could be in the top 10, finishing anywhere from the 6th to 10th ranked qb at the end of the 2017 campaign. Even in a dismal year last year, Eli still managed to air it out for over 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns. Granted in today’s NFL that isn’t eye-popping, but he wasn’t as bas as people thought he was. If you go back to his 2015 season, Eli had 4,400 yards and 35 touchdowns. Why do I feel that his 2017 season will be closer to his 2015 season? First, the running game is still going to be secondary to the passing game. Especially in the red zone! They don’t really have that bell-cow RB that is going to hog the touchdowns. Second, the weapons they added in the passing game. Brandon Marshall’s numbers were low last year, but he’s going to be a great red zone addition in trading NY green for NY blue. Eli is also armed with weapons like new rookie TE, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard and some other dude named OBJ. Finally, I see Eli improving from his 2016 numbers is because the Giants defense were one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, and while they could be good again in 2017. I just don’t see them being as good, so I could see the Giants being in more high scoring games than they were last year. I think in 2017 he’s going to be very close to 4500 yards and between 32-36 touchdowns. So draft Eli late as your Qb2, and sleep like a baby.
Spencer Ware: Running Back – Kansas City Cheifs
Ware could never seem to get on track in 2016, and he fell short of his owners expectations. That makes him the perfect player as your 4th or 5th running back. If he hits, you hit big. He is going to be much cheaper than his 2016 price. Everyone loves shiny new toys, so Kareem Hunt will be getting all they hype. Most people will forget that Spencer Ware is still the starter, and could keep the job all year. Ware is projected to get 60% of the back field touches on a team that is adamant on rushing the ball. He wasn’t as bad as people think either. I believe Ware will rush for at least 800 yards with 8 touchdowns. Add 40 catches for 350 and another score as well. For his ceiling, I am going to say he can rush for around 1150 yards, with 10-12 touchdowns, along with 50 catches for 475 yards. He’s a pretty good gamble, and even better if you steal him from the person who drafts Kareem Hunt too early in your draft.
Cameron Meredith: Wide Receiver – Chicago Bears
Meredith is really an under rated guy. He really came on in the last part of 2016, and I bet he was on the roster of a lot of fantasy league winners. Here are Meredith’s stats last season during the Fantasy football playoff weeks. Week 14: 6-72-1. Week 15: 9-104. Championship week: 9-135-1. This is exactly the kind of guy you want as your #3 wide receiver during the fantasy playoffs. This year, the Bears are going to stink again on defense, so they will be behind in a lot of games. Also, no teams in the North are projected to have “shut down” defenses, so I think the games in the Bears division will be advantageous for Meredith. I also think Mike Glennon, while he won’t set the world on fire, he will be serviceable, and not kill Meredith’s value. I’d be fine with him as my weekly number 3 wide out, paired with a good #1, and a consistent #2 like Jarvis Landry. Maybe even Golden Tate as well. Meredith has some legitimate upside. I think he could see over 100 targets and catch about 80 balls for about 1100 yards, and 8 Td’s.
Austin Hooper: Tight End – Atlanta Falcons
Now this guy is your classic definition of a sleeper. You could most likely get this Hooper in the last round of your draft. Hooper didn’t wow fantasy football managers during his rookie season, but he showed some flashes of a pretty athletic player. I think he compares well to Hunter Henry, and he’s going to be much cheaper than Henry during drafts. Hooper had a 70% catch rate last year and 14 yards per catch average. Tamme is gone, so Hooper is the starter. The Falcons have an arsenal of weapons, but with so much focus on Julio Jones on the outside of the field, the middle should be good eating for Hooper. I also think Hooper is going to be a favorite target of Matt Ryan in the redone. He’s the perfect player to draft as your #2 tight ends. He could very well end up as your number 1 tight end before the season ends. I am going to be conservative and project him with 51 catches for 675 yards with 8 touchdowns. I really feel like his numbers could be greater, and easily receive double-digit touchdowns.
Favorite “Under The Radar” Player
Last but not least, my favorite under rated player this year. I will have Wee Willie Snead on all my redraft teams. While every one else is going to get all hot and bothered for the overrated Michael Thomas, and draft him way to early, I will draft Snead 5 rounds later. Snead will produce similar numbers, if not better. Yes… I said better. Remember last year Brandin Cooks drew most of the opposing defense’s #1 corner backs, letting Thomas go against weaker corners. Not this year! This year Thomas will be all over opposing defense’s focal points, and that will let Snead carve them up underneath. Snead is also a very under rated red zone receiver, scoring 4 touchdowns. He also had 895 yards, even though he was clearly 3rd in the pecking order. Snead is another great #3 WR. I feel like if you wait on a WR, and build up other spots, you could live with Snead as your #2 WR. I believe Snead finishes the 2017 campaign in the top 20 for wide receivers, and higher than Thomas.
Alright folks that’s some great low-cost guys to target in your draft stay tuned as the draft season starts to heat up and look for some more content from fantasy’s Average Joe.