Fantasy Fix: 2014 Sleepers


Let us all take a minute to breathe in the fresh air, for it is once again football season.  More importantly, it is fantasy football season, and with games starting this Thursday, your draft is sure to take place sometime this week, if it hasn’t already.  Either way, below are four guys who you’ll want to look for during the draft or even afterwards on the waiver wire.  Without further ado, the Sleepers:

WR Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers – ADP: 129

You heard it here first: Kelvin Benjamin is immediately a rookie of the year contender.  Similar to 2013’s Rookie of the Year, WR Keenan Allen, Benjamin finds himself occupying the spot of a top quarterback’s former favorite target (Steve Smith for Cam Newton, as Vincent Jackson was for Phillip Rivers).  At 6’5, 240 lbs, the FSU alumn – who, by the way, is used to playing with a mobile quarterback – is sure to see the ball a whole lot.  Fellow receivers Jericho Cotchery and Jason Avant are solid veterans who will guide the young man, but they simply don’t possess the same explosive potential.  Rather, Benjamin’s biggest competition for receptions on the Panthers is Tight End Greg Olsen.  As you can see, the already cemented starting WR is poised to play a significant role on the Panthers offense.  You could wait a while to draft him, but take him knowing that you might be snatching up an immediate fantasy starter.

TE Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers – ADP: 135

It’s hard to believe we’re talking about Heath Miller as a sleeper, but fantasy footballers are seriously sleeping on this guy.  Over his 10-year career, Miller has been one of the more consistent Tight Ends in the NFL.  His best season was 2012 during which he amassed 816 yards and 8 touchdowns.  While 31-year olds are not usually good bets for revitalization campaigns, Miller presents an interesting situation given that Emmanuel Sanders is gone and additional targets are to be had.  Plus, according to many, during the pre-season he’s looked “like the ‘Old Heath'”.  Remember that in 2013, Miller was coming off a torn ACL.  As the 14th TE being drafted, he’ll ride the bench on many fantasy teams – for a little while, that is.

QB Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – ADP: 138

Last year, then-11 season veteran Josh McCown threw for 1,829 yards, 13 TDs, and only 1 INT over 8 games played.  This year, he finds the himself the starter on a team with a top Wide Receiver (Vincent Jackson), a top WR draft pick (Mike Evans), and an electrifying running back who can catch (Doug Martin).  Additionally, the Bucs’ o-line is not all that bad, and the front office is constantly looking to improve it (as proof by recently acquired pro-bowler Logan Mankins and meetings with the troubled-but-talented Richie Incognito).  Guarantee you that McCown gets no love this year, but he literally was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in 2013 and arguably has a more explosive offense around him in 2014.

WR Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins – ADP: 147

27-year old Brian Hartline is being picked at the 59th Wide Receiver this year despite finishing last season as fantasy football’s 26th best.  Not to mention that his Yards and Targets numbers each outperformed that final rank.  You might say to yourself, “What about Mike Wallace?”. To that I say: “Don’t worry about him”. Despite the difference in name recognition, Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace are eerily similar players.  Actually, Hartline – who is 2 inches taller – led Wallace in targets (76 – 73) and yards (1,016 – 930), and trailed him by only one TD.  Big play ability what your after?  Wallace is extremely fast, but try finding a guy of Hartline’s size who is more agile.  The rankings will have you believe that Mike Wallace is the #1 WR, but really this is a 1, 1A situation – and who’s ahead is less clear than others might think.  Plus, Ryan Tannehill is turning out to be a pretty solid quarterback, and the Dolphins have an improved offensive line and run game.  In a competitive division, they’re going to air it out – you’ll be happy if Brian Hartline is on your team.