Can you smell it? That’s pigskin wafting through the air.
With training camp underway and the NFL season just around the corner, it’s time to sit back, crack your knuckles and put on your digital GM hat.
This is fantasy football season, folks. And for some, it’s a matter of life and death.
The difference between the hoisting the riches of a $20 winner-take-all league and walking away empty-handed is often found in the sleeper player. The guy who nobody expects to perform, but ultimately puts league owners on his back and carries them to a championship. Or at the very least serves as an overachiever during a starter’s bye week.
Here are five solid sleeper candidates for you to consider in your fantasy football draft:
Jordan Reed – Tight End – Washington Redskins
Okay, we had to start locally. Reed has proven to be an absolute pass catching beast with Robert Griffin III slinging the ball. However, there are two big knocks on him. First, he’s a big time injury risk that missed a considerable part of last season while battling concussions. Second, Jay Gruden’s arrival means there’s a little bit of uncertainty. Will Gruden rely heavily on his potentially explosive corps of wide receivers and leave Reed with fewer opportunities? Or will Reed prove to be a productive red zone target?
Because of the uncertainty, we’re marking him as a sleeper.
Rueben Randle – Wide Receiver – NY Giants
The arrival of Odell Beckham could mean big things for Randle. We emphasize could because the first-rounder needs to prove that he’s a threat worthy of taking coverage off Beckham and Victor Cruz. If that’s the case, the freed up receiver will post improved numbers for a third consecutive season. If Beckham can’t battle back from a hamstring injury then all bets are off.
Jarvis Landry – Wide Receiver – Miami Dolphins
The LSU product has been a big time standout at Miami’s training camp and could surpass Brandon Gibson on the depth chart to become the go-to slot receiver in South Florida. A lot will be riding on his preseason performance and how quickly he and quarterback Ryan Tannehill can learn a new offense.
Trent Richardson – Running Back – Indianapolis Colts
Okay, okay. We get it. He’s been a huge disappointment in two cities already. But he’s had a full year now to get comfortable in Indianapolis and fully grasp the Colts system. Richardson says he’s ready to rush for 1,000 or more yards and be a three-down back. The goals sound a bit lofty given his lackluster debut, but maybe this is the year all the pieces come together for him.
Matt Schaub – Quarterback – Oakland Raiders
Everything was a huge disappointment in Houston last season, including their quarterback. But Schaub has a new home and will be looking to prove it was a fluke.
In theory, Oakland has upgraded its offensive line and wide receivers, giving him the tools he needs to get the job done. And having second-round pick Derek Carr knocking at the door will serve as motivation to return to form.
Some say Carr will graduate to become the starter at some point this year, but it’d be tough to pull the trigger if Schaub is performing well.
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