With under two weeks remaining until the start of the 2016 NFL season, rosters are beginning to take shape, and a number of interesting fantasy football sleepers are emerging.
Most of the mid to late round potential fantasy football sleepers have been heavily written about at this point, but there’s still a number of players out there who could ultimately have a big impact for their teams in 2016.
With that in mind, here’s a look at five fantasy football sleepers that no one is talking about.
HC Rex Ryan says Bills RB Mike Gillislee is 'probably' the top backup https://t.co/9l5QGJlPgZ
— TheBillsWire (@TheBillsWire) August 23, 2016
Mike Gillislee, RB – Buffalo Bills
Mike Gillislee showed immense promise with the Buffalo Bills in 2015, tallying 267 rushing yards over 47 carries for a spectacular 5.7 yards per carries and three TDs in just five games.
But Gillislee’s performance was overshadowed by the emergence of Karlos Williams, who became a touchdown machine as LeSean McCoy’s backup. However, now that Williams has been released, Mike only has the veteran Reggie Bush to fight with for touches backing up McCoy in Buffalo.
The Bills called more run plays (509) than all but one team (Carolina Panthers) in 2015 and project to do more of the same this season. Thus, it’s fair to assume Gillislee will get a fair share of chances to prove himself. Keep an eye out for Mike as he might be worth picking up on the fantasy football waiver wire early on in the new campaign.
Shaun Draughn, RB – San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde (concussion) has been riddled with injuries in his young career and is beginning to look like he’s incapable of staying on the field at this level to the dismay of fantasy football enthusiasts. Thus, it’s fair to assume second-stringer Shaun Draughn will get plenty of touches in Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense in 2016.
Draughn admittedly underwhelmed in limited chances in 2015, tallying 275 rushing yards and one rushing TD to go along with 25 receptions and 175 receiving yards in six games. However, the 49ers simply don’t have much talent at the position and he will clearly be the guy they call on when Hyde inevitably misses time this season.
Draughn’s expected to start in Game 4 of the preseason against the San Diego Chargers after missing some time with a rib injury. Monitor this situation and act accordingly.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 29, 2016
Kyle Rudolph, TE – Minnesota Vikings
After two injury-plagued seasons in 2013 and 2014 in which he only started 16 games total and devastated fantasy football owners nationwide, Kyle Rudolph stayed healthy throughout the entire 2015 games for the Minnesota Vikings. While he didn’t overwhelm statistically, he did produce an adequate stat line of 49 receptions for 495 yards and a respectable five TDs.
Let’s face it: Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater struggled to move the ball through the air last season, yet Rudolph still managed to finish with decent statistics. Now that Bridgewater is out for the season with a torn ACL, it’s fair to assume Kyle could see a bump in targets with the journeyman Shaun Hill under center.
Rudolph will go undrafted in most leagues, but could provide tremendous value on the waiver wire.
Victor Cruz, WR – New York Giants
After missing most of the last two NFL campaigns due to injury, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz made his triumphant return in Week 3 of the preseason against the New York Jets. Cruz only tallied one reception for four yards, but as Tom Canavan of NBC New York reported, stats were the last thing on Victor’s mind after spending so much time away from NFL gridirons.
“It felt good to put that jersey on again and go out there with my teammates, from the warmup, the pregame, and then during the game to be in the position to make a play and be out there running routes against an opponent, it felt good,” Cruz said.
New York has the potential to be overwhelmingly explosive on offense in 2016 led by QB Eli Manning. Cruz, along with rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard, stands to benefit from opponents chronically double and triple covering Odell Beckham Jr.
Victor will probably start the season off slow, but if he stays healthy it won’t be long before he’s firing on all cylinders again as a dominant force in the slot.
The rookie. End zone. https://t.co/Jvzd9dnGa6
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) August 28, 2016
DeAndre Washington, RB – Oakland Raiders
Latavius Murray will undoubtedly start and be heavily featured by the Oakland Raiders in 2016, but rookie DeAndre Washington is making a name for himself this summer and is primed for an interesting season.
Washington received first-team reps during Oakland’s third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. DeAndre took advantage, tallying 55 yards over eight carries to go with a receiving touchdown for his first NFL score (see video above).
Clearly, Washington should be targeted as Murray’s handcuff, but could also be an interesting waiver wire target for fantasy football players during the first few weeks of the season.
[Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]