Fantasy Football 2014: Ranking Best Sleepers at Each Skill Position

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistAugust 7, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh McCown throws a pass during an NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

At this point in the fantasy football season, we have enough data from drafts that have already occurred to get a sense of where players are coming off the board, but there's still time for fantasy owners who have not yet drafted to adjust their strategy. 

Identifying the best sleepers and selecting them in the right round is a key to owners building bench depth and getting a win when their best players are on a bye.

Below, we've identified the top 10 sleepers at each skill position, their average draft positions and their ranking within their position group, including a breakdown of the most intriguing prospects. To be considered a "sleeper," prospects had to have a position ranking higher than 12 for quarterbacks or 36 for running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, assuming a 12-team league. 

 

QBs

Top 10 QB Sleepers
Michelle's RankingPlayerADPPosition Ranking
1Jay Cutler (CHI)98.413
2Andy Dalton (CIN)125.617
3Eli Manning (NYG)142.919
4Carson Palmer (ARI)148.820
5Ryan Tannehill (MIA)158.422
6Alex Smith (KC)161.323
7Johnny Manziel (CLE)141.718
8Josh McCown (TB)152.321
9Jake Locker (TEN)--
10Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU)--
FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

With an average draft position of 152.3 (21st among quarterbacks), it appears that some fantasy owners in 12-team leagues are selecting Josh McCown as their No. 2. But his production could surprise this season. 

McCown shined in Chicago in 2013 with the supporting cast he had there, which included receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and running back Matt Forte. In eight games, he posted the third-highest passer rating (109.0) among all quarterbacks and had a completion percentage of 66.5 percent with 13 touchdowns to just one interception.

He'll have another tall, talented group of weapons in Tampa Bay, with rookies Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Vincent Jackson. McCown and Evans have already developed chemistry, as the above Vine from the team's official account shows. Add in Doug Martin, who is returning from an injury, and a return to the Lovie Smith system McCown knew in Chicago and McCown is set up to produce in 2014. 

 

RBs

Top 10 RB Sleepers
Michelle's RankingPlayerADPPosition Ranking
1Danny Woodhead (SD)91.737
2Fred Jackson (BUF)94.438
3Darren McFadden (OAK)96.739
4Knowshon Moreno (MIA)100.940
5DeAngelo Williams (CAR)103.642
6Khiry Robinson (NO)103.441
7Andre Williams (NYG)126.947
8LeGarrette Blount (PIT)129.548
9Andre Brown (HOU)148.353
10Roy Helu (WAS)158.258
FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins

Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Moreno's sleeper status comes from his ADP as the 40th running back off the board in 12-team leagues, putting him just out of the top three for most owners. 

However, that could be in part to the fact that Moreno was on the PUP list after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in June. He practiced for the first time on Wednesday, according to Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Though Moreno is listed as the Dolphins fourth-string running back, he is "expected to battle incumbent Lamar Miller for the starting job," Fialkov reported. Having just returned from the PUP list, it's not surprising this early unofficial depth chart, which is fluid throughout the offseason, would list Moreno at No. 4. He was expected to start when the Dolphins signed him in March, before he was placed on PUP list in July

Moreno set career highs in yards (1,038) and touchdowns (10) with the Denver Broncos in 2013.

 

WRs

Top 10 WR Sleepers
Michelle's RankingPlayerADPPosition Rank
1Brandin Cooks (NO)88.036
2Eric Decker (NYJ)89.937
3Riley Cooper (PHI)95.438
4Tavon Austin (STL)102.541
5Hakeem Nicks (IND)104.942
6Mike Evans (TB)110.744
7Kelvin Benjamin (CAR)117.047
8Jarrett Boykin (GB)127.751
9James Jones (OAK)142.455
10Jarvis Landry (MIA)--
FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22:  Jarrett Boykin #11 of the Green Bay Packers reaches out but misses a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Steelers defeated the Packers 38-31.  (Photo by Wes
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

If Jarrett Boykin is good enough to be Aaron Rodgers' No. 3, then he has enough talent to be fantasy owners' third receiver. 

With injuries to Randall Cobb and James Jones in 2013, Boykin stepped up and demanded attention after having zero targets in the first four games, including two games with 100-plus yards and three scores.

Now that Jones signed with the Oakland Raiders in free agency, the Packers, who regularly run four and five-receiver sets, need a strong outside target for Rodgers. And many, including Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, are predicting that player will be Boykin in 2014. 

 

TEs

Top 10 TE Sleepers
Michelle's RankingPlayerADPPosition Ranking
1Charles Clay (MIA)144.015
2Martellus Bennett (CHI)133.814
3Ladarius Green (SD)127.413
4Heath Miller (PIT)156.217
5Delanie Walker (TEN)--
6Tyler Eifert (CIN)--
7Dwayne Allen (IND)--
8Jared Cook (STL)--
9Marcedes Lewis (JAC)--
10Travis Kelce (KC)--
FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 08:  Dwayne Allen #83 of the Indianapolis Colts runs for a touchdown while defended by Kevin Burnett #94 of the Oakland Raiders during the Colts 21-17 win at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (P
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Colts released their first unofficial depth chart, via Colts.com writer Kevin Bowen, on Aug. 4 ahead of the preseason opener, and Dwayne Allen was listed as the No. 1 tight end ahead of Coby Fleener.

As Kevin Bowen pointed out, the current depth chart shows a base formation of two receivers, one tight end, one running back and one fullback, so if it were to hold true, Allen would be on the receiving end of a lot of Andrew Luck passes in 2014. 

Allen sat out of practice on July 30, perhaps causing fantasy owners to fear that he was injured again after missing the 2013 season with a hip injury. But with his return, not only to practice but to the team, Indianapolis is going to have more options for a dynamic passing attack. 

Per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, with Allen's return, the Colts will increase their use of two-tight end sets, creating a matchup nightmare for opponents. That will allow Allen to thrive in 2014. 

 

All average draft positions courtesy of FantasyFootballCalculator.com.