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Fantasy Football 2014: Pinpointing Sleepers Poised for Big Seasons

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Fantasy Football 2014: Pinpointing Sleepers Poised for Big Seasons
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The draft is over, free agents have been signed and trades have been completed. There's only one thing left to do before the start of the 2014 NFL season: scrutinize every player who could possibly have fantasy football implications this year.

Fantasy football season generally begins with rankings. Everyone is spending hours looking over numerous big boards promising can't-miss prospects for the coming season.

Although, we can't overlook the end of the draft, either. After all, many championship teams are made with brilliant—or just lucky—selections in these rounds.

With that in mind, let's take a look at a few late-round sleepers sure to bolster your fantasy football roster this season.

 

Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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Usually a team's No. 2 wide receiver isn't generally considered a sleeper. However, that's exactly what Marvin Jones appears to be.

Ranked at the 54th position by NFL.com, Jones doesn't appear to be getting much love—but he should.

Last season, Jones entered training camp as just another receiver on the roster. He wasn't in any danger of getting cut, but he was in no way solidified as the complement to A.J. Green.

Well, after catching 51 balls for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns, that's changed in a big way this year.

Take this analysis by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com into consideration:

Jones is a joy to watch. (It was hard to narrow down the highlights for this article.) I expected to see a pure vertical receiver when firing up NFL Game Rewind, but Jones was a complete player with few holes.

He never gives up on a pass, no matter how wayward the throw from Andy Dalton. He can make sensational diving catches, and grab passes in traffic. He is a natural, fluid runner after the catch or when he's given the ball on a handoff.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Jones only started two games last season. Expect him to see much more time on the field this year, boosting his numbers significantly.

Adam Levitan of Rotoworld put an improved rep count for Jones into perspective:

Draft him with confidence.

 

Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans Saints

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Could this finally be the year Mark Ingram breaks out?

After three disappointing seasons, the former college phenom seems to almost be an afterthought when considering the Saints backfield.

That will change this season.

With Darren Sproles now departed to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Saints will be looking for a big receiving threat out of the backfield—especially due to the team's shaky wide receiver corps.

New Orleans will get that receiving production from Pierre Thomas this season. Thomas quietly caught 77 passes last season—leading all NFL running backs. With Thomas focusing on that aspect of the game more often, a bigger need for a bruiser in the backfield is needed.

Last season, Ingram began to prove he can fill that role for the Saints.

Ingram may have only carried 78 times in 2013, but those carries went for 386 yards—an average of 4.9 yards per carry. He only seemed to get stronger in the postseason, carrying another 28 times for 146 yards—an average of 5.2 yards per carry.

In fact, according to this tweet from the Saints' official Twitter account, it appears Ingram may be doing more than just rushing this season:

This year, Ingram isn't just a handcuff.

 

Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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It's generally not easy to find sleeper quarterbacks, but sleeper may as well be Josh McCown's middle name for the upcoming season.

Last year, McCown broke out in dramatic fashion with the Chicago Bears, passing for 1,829 yards and 13 touchdowns against just one interception for a passer rating of 109.0 in eight games. Sure, it looks a bit fluky considering he never achieved a passer rating greater than 74.9 in any previous season.

But here's the thing. For the first time in his career, McCown threw to two very tall, very talented wide receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in 2013. Marshall is 6'4" and Jeffery is 6'3" with hands like glue.

This year, McCown gets the start with the Buccaneers and will be throwing to a big veteran in the 6'5" Vincent Jackson and the 6'5" Mike Evans. That size is simply unfair to opposing defensive backs.

With a healthy Doug Martin returning to revamp the team's running game, McCown will get plenty of shots downfield against man coverage to his huge receivers.

According to a tweet from NFL on ESPN, McCown is already making quite an impression on his teammates:

He took advantage of that same situation last season, and he'll do it again in 2014.

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