2014 NFL Draft

Fantasy Football 2014: 8 Rookie Sleepers Primed for Big First Season

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IMay 19, 2014

Fantasy Football 2014: 8 Rookie Sleepers Primed for Big First Season

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The 2014 NFL draft saw a remarkable amount of wide receivers, tight ends and running backs drafted in the first couple of rounds.

    But fantasy football owners will be pleased to know that there was also plenty of depth at each of those three positions—something that teams took advantage of later in the draft.

    Fantasy football is all about finding the best value. A lot of question marks and risk come in drafting rookies. However, there is always the potential of finding late-round or undrafted gems—if you look closely enough.

    These eight players were not major stars or headlines leading up to the draft, but they could be great steals for clever fantasy owners this fall.

    Here are eight rookie fantasy football sleepers primed for big first seasons in the NFL

Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Reggie Wayne is recovering from a torn ACL; Hakeem Nicks is unreliable, and T.Y. Hilton is best suited as a deep threat.

    This all means that the Colts' depth chart is crowded with talent at receiver, but there's still room for another player to break in and get some targets.

    Enter Donte Moncrief, Indy's third-round pick from Ole Miss.

    Moncrief—an unbelievable athlete who dominated at the combine—stayed under the radar throughout the whole draft process.

    He'll continue flying beneath the spotlight while fighting with Da'Rick Rogers for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart, but remember: Wayne and Nicks are not sure things, and there could be room for a promotion during the season.

    Andrew Luck will just continue getting better (a scary thought for opponents). After completing 343 passes in 2013, there will be plenty of balls to go around. Moncrief could benefit big time.

James White, RB, New England Patriots

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    White is a bit of a long shot, but that's the point. You just never know with the Patriots, especially with their running back corps.

    Stevan Ridley is one more fumble away from a long-term benching, Brandon Bolden is inconsistent at best and Shane Vereen has only played in five, 13, and eight games in his first three years in the NFL.

    James White may not be the most enthralling prospect, but the sixth-round-pick is a really solid all-around player who can bang between the tackles and grind out some yards.

    But where he really could excel with New England is with his pass-catching ability.

    He's Wisconsin's all-time receiving yards leader for a running back. If he ends up in Tom Brady's good graces, he'll be relevant in fantasy.

Robert Herron, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    When people think about Tampa Bay, wide receivers and the 2014 NFL draft, they will likely focus on Mike Evans—the former Texas A&M star taken seventh overall.

    But Robert Herron is not a guy who should be overlooked.

    A solid pass catcher from Wyoming, Herron has the ability to outplay his sixth-round draft spot. He's an undersized, scrappy playmaker who is a fluid runner and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

    Herron might sneak into the slot and make some noise as a rookie with Vincent Jackson and Evans manning the outside.

Troy Niklas, TE, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    While he was only the fourth tight end taken in the 2014 draft, Notre Dame's Troy Niklas has the build and skill set to step in and be a contributor right away.

    Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd need some help pulling Arizona's offense, and Niklas' 6'6" frame and physical mentality will make him a reliable safety blanket over the middle.

    The Cardinals brought in another former Notre Dame tight end, John Carlson, this offseason, and Niklas will need to earn his snaps. But Carlson has struggled with injuries, and Niklas could end up being the clear-cut No. 1 guy by mid-season.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Jarvis Landry is hardly an unknown name, but he certainly took a backseat to teammate Odell Beckham Jr. throughout the draft process.

    The Miami Dolphins moved back in the second round, but were still able to grab Landry, and he has the potential to make a serious impact on the field right away.

    Landry is a strong, tough receiver with phenomenal hands. He was a reliable weapon for LSU over the past two seasons and is an ideal slot receiver who will compete with Brandon Gibson for the job in Miami.

    Gibson is coming off of a major knee injury, however, and DJ Siddiqi of Rant Sports postulated that he could be the odd man out in Miami's rotation. That means a whole lot of targets for Landry and those sticky hands of his.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons are in a bit of a state of flux after a horrendous 2013 season, but they still have a ton of talent on offense.

    Steven Jackson will be the lead back, but he will be 31 when the season starts and had injury problems again in 2013. He certainly can't be counted on for a full body of work.

    Enter Devonta Freeman—one of the most underrated prospects in the entire 2014 draft class.

    Overshadowed by guys like Carlos Hyde and Tre Mason, Freeman is a well-rounded back who could surprise people in 2014.

    Freeman can catch passes and also gets tough, short yards. The fourth-round pick could become the main guy in Atlanta as soon as Jackson starts slowing.

Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers

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    Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers have essentially become a wide receiver factory over the past half-decade, and Davante Adams looks like he's next in line.

    Adams was the 53rd overall pick, but he got a bit lost in the frenzy of talented receivers.

    Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Jarrett Boykin will start the season as the top three guys on the depth chart, but Adams will fight for catches and could easily surpass Boykin by season's end.

    There are always a lot of targets to go around with Aaron Rodgers in control—even if Adams remains No. 4 on the depth chart.

    Despite being overlooked a bit, his combination of speed and sure hands could help him emerge as one of the most productive rookie receivers in 2014 (and beyond).

Terrance West, RB, Cleveland Browns

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns made some huge upgrades in the 2014 NFL draft.

    Justin Gilbert joins Joe Haden to make one of the most fearsome cornerback combos in the NFL, and Johnny Manziel and Joel Bitonio add a lot of talent on offense.

    But the Browns' sixth pick (No. 96 overall) could end up being the best value of 2014.

    Terrance West is not a household name, but he has all the tools to be a solid running back. The Towson star dominated the FCS last season. He possesses the strength, power, speed and toughness to be productive on a sneakily-talented Cleveland offense.

    Ben Tate will shoulder the load in the beginning, but he has a host of injury concerns. West will be there to spell him early in the season and take over full-time if (or when) Tate goes down.

     

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