Fantasy Football 2014: Ranking Best Sleepers at Each Skill Position

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Fantasy Football 2014: Ranking Best Sleepers at Each Skill Position
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 Ranking Player ADP Position Ranking
1 Jay Cutler (CHI) 98.4 13
2 Andy Dalton (CIN) 125.6 17
3 Eli Manning (NYG) 142.9 19
4 Carson Palmer (ARI) 148.8 20
5 Ryan Tannehill (MIA) 158.4 22
6 Alex Smith (KC) 161.3 23
7 Johnny Manziel (CLE) 141.7 18
8 Josh McCown (TB) 152.3 21
9 Jake Locker (TEN) - -
10 Ryan 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 Ranking Player ADP Position Ranking
1 Danny Woodhead (SD) 91.7 37
2 Fred Jackson (BUF) 94.4 38
3 Darren McFadden (OAK) 96.7 39
4 Knowshon Moreno (MIA) 100.9 40
5 DeAngelo Williams (CAR) 103.6 42
6 Khiry Robinson (NO) 103.4 41
7 Andre Williams (NYG) 126.9 47
8 LeGarrette Blount (PIT) 129.5 48
9 Andre Brown (HOU) 148.3 53
10 Roy Helu (WAS) 158.2 58

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 Ranking Player ADP Position Rank
1 Brandin Cooks (NO) 88.0 36
2 Eric Decker (NYJ) 89.9 37
3 Riley Cooper (PHI) 95.4 38
4 Tavon Austin (STL) 102.5 41
5 Hakeem Nicks (IND) 104.9 42
6 Mike Evans (TB) 110.7 44
7 Kelvin Benjamin (CAR) 117.0 47
8 Jarrett Boykin (GB) 127.7 51
9 James Jones (OAK) 142.4 55
10 Jarvis Landry (MIA) - -

FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers

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 Ranking Player ADP Position Ranking
1 Charles Clay (MIA) 144.0 15
2 Martellus Bennett (CHI) 133.8 14
3 Ladarius Green (SD) 127.4 13
4 Heath Miller (PIT) 156.2 17
5 Delanie Walker (TEN) - -
6 Tyler Eifert (CIN) - -
7 Dwayne Allen (IND) - -
8 Jared Cook (STL) - -
9 Marcedes Lewis (JAC) - -
10 Travis Kelce (KC) - -

FantasyFootballCalculator.com

 

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

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. 

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