It is time for fantasy football again.
It is a fun time for those who like to play fantasy football for prize money, trophies, or simply bragging rights. Fantasy football is an inarguable phenomenon that people from all walks of life play. That makes it exciting for those who gather with their friends, or a group of strangers and get invested in the NFL season.
People are studying up which players they should grab in their respective fantasy football drafts. After the top players are selected there is a scrum for players who may or may not make an impact: who to choose when the LeVeon Bells and Aaron Rodgerses of the fantasy football world are off the board. There is a fantasy player at every position who cannot be overlooked.
As in every fantasy football draft, there is an early run on running backs. Players such as the aforementioned LeVeon Bell of the Pittburgh Steelers, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, and Jamaal Charles from the Kansas City Chiefs will all be gone early. Other running backs like Mr. Skittles himself, Marshawn Lynch of Seattle, and Denver’s C.J. Anderson all have first round draft grades. In fact, according to ESPN’s Matthew Berry, nine of the top 10 fantasy football players are running backs.
If you get shut out on the top backs in your fantasy football draft, it would be wise to take a long look at Oakland’s Latavius Murray.
Murray is a big back who gets low to get the tough yards. He has good vision and deceptive speed. Murray will be good for 1,000 yards and anywhere from 8-12 touchdowns on the ground. If you lose out on the big names, do not fret, as Latavius Murray will be available between the third and seventh round on many fantasy football draft boards.
Other fantasy football sleepers at running back includes; Cleveland’s Duke Johnson Jr and Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman.
Quarterback is a different animal when it comes to fantasy football numbers. You always have to consider dual-threat QBs who can score points by throwing touchdowns and running for scores. While most people will look to grab Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, there are other players who are worthy of consideration.
Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, but he is not a surefire pick in the top half of fantasy football leagues. It is difficult to envision Brady as a sleeper, but he normally is not drafted as high as most people would expect. Tom Brady’s fantasy numbers always rank up near the top five in his position. Why he is not selected higher is a head-scratcher?
Instead of reaching for a QB in the first three rounds, why not wait for Brady in the sixth round. In some drafts he has fallen all the way to the 10th and 11th rounds. Anywhere beyond the sixth round is a great value for a player of his caliber. And now that he will avoid the four-game suspension (via the New York Times) levied on him by the NFL, he will start the season calling plays in the huddle, not on his couch.
Look for Tom Brady to throw for 4,000 yards and close to 35 touchdowns.
If Tom Brady is not available, Miami’s Ryan Tannehill is due for a breakout season. Tannehill is also a dual-threat at quarterback who now has several targets to throw to. The Dolphins may not have a strong running game so Tannehill will be attempting a ton of passes.
Another sleeper at QB is Eli Manning. Manning benefits greatly by throwing to Odell Beckham Jr. He is also playing for a new contract that will carry him through the rest of his career.
The position where fantasy football players become divided is the wide receiver / tight end slot. Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Randall Cobb and Rob Gronkowski will all be gone in the first two or three rounds. There are a bevy of sleepers amongst this group.
The first player who comes to mind is the Chicago Bears’ tight end, Martellus Bennett. Bennett will get the same amount of targets that a top receiver usually gets. With the injuries to the Bears’ receivers nothing short of 70 catches, 800 yards and 10 TD’s is expected of him.
Martellus Bennett is a curious case. Depending on the size of the your league, or the roster rules, Bennett may not get drafted until the 10th round at the earliest. While people are going after second and third wideouts, Bennett slides down the draft boards seemingly unnoticed. He provided the output of a No. 2 and No. 3 receiver last season. Somebody has to score for the Bears, and Bennett is one of the best tight ends in the NFL.
Tennessee’s Kendall Wright and Green Bay’s Jeff Janis are additional fantasy football sleepers to consider.
The NFL season starts in less than a week. As you gather with others for your fantasy football drafts, consider these sleepers who cannot be overlooked.
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images Sport)