Fantasy football owners love when their 15th-round sleeper selection of Alshon Jeffery, Zac Stacy or Cordarrelle Patterson pans out. They love when an early season gamble on Nick Foles, Keenan Allen or T.Y. Hilton makes them look brilliant.
As thousands of those owners prepare for drafts and the 2014 season, there remains a bevy of untapped sleepers that could bring unexpected stability to a tired fantasy lineup come mid-November. While it is unlikely a deep, deep sleeper will scratch the surface set forth by Jeffery, Hilton, Allen or others, these names might be worth keeping tabs on during draft day and the subsequent waiver wire scramble.
Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Matthews, a speedy rookie from Vanderbilt has reportedly landed behind veteran Brad Smith for the No. 3 WR starting spot on the Eagles mid-August depth chart. As many fantasy “experts” were getting ready to shoot Matthews up their draft boards, this unexpected development combined with cloudy expectations from Chip Kelly have resulted in a sub-50 positional ranking.
Fantasy Pros, combining rankings from over 100 websites, including ESPN, Yahoo and CBS Sports, calculated an average positional ranking of 61 for Matthews, leaving him stuck in the 11-14th rounds for most leagues, if he’s lucky.
Do not snag him as your No. 3 WR or even weekly flex play. However, with DeSean Jackson gone, potential inconsistencies again from Riley Cooper, Jeremy’s Maclin’s return from a major injury and unreliable veterans in Brad Smith and Arrelious Benn, Jordan Matthews could easily see 75-80 targets in 2014. His big play potential and ability to run crisp routes could wreak havoc for defenses fixated on stopping LeSean McCoy.
Bryce Brown – Buffalo Bills
Bryce Brown will not and should not be drafted in any fantasy league that does not have 20-man rosters or 14-plus teams. He remains the No. 4 RB behind C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and even Anthony Dixon, although that may change by Week 1.
Brown proved he can carry the rock during that absurd late season dash in 2012 but also proved very useful as a third-down or situational back, something very valuable the Buffalo Bills, a team riddled with RB injuries and unreliable offensive production recently.
Both Spiller and Jackson have missed noteworthy time over the last three seasons, with both battling a variety of nagging injuries, leading to missed games and lack of production. Never assume a player will hit the injury bug again but keeping tabs on Bryce Brown during Week 1 games is in your best interest.
Mohamed Sanu – Cincinnati Bengals
Poor Mohamed Sanu was leapfrogged in the Bengals offense during Marvin Jones’ coming out party in 2014, but with news of Jones’ broken foot, the former Rutgers star might have an opening.
Ranked between 65-90 positionally, Sanu likely will not get drafted unless an A.J. Green owner snags him for insurance. The 3rd-year WR rebounded from a 9-game, 16 reception rookie season with 47 catches for nearly 500 yards in a full 2014 campaign. While the numbers are not fantasy-worthy, it shows he remains a steady No. 3 WR for Andy Dalton.
If Jones’ foot injury lingers or he simply cannot find space to replicate the monster 10 TD output from 2014, look to Sanu as a bye week fill-in. He might be worth a roster spot until news of Jones’ recovery is released.
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