The NFL preseason is in full swing, which means fantasy football season is right around the corner and the time is now to study up before diving into your first mock drafts.
Unheralded players come out of nowhere to break out in fantasy year after year, and 2014 will be no exception. There are a number of sleepers to keep your eye on as you navigate through the deep rounds.
Here's a look at an overall rankings list for fantasy highlighting the top picks to make. Also, take a look at each of my top sleepers below.
|1||Jamaal Charles, KC||RB||2.0|
|2||Adrian Peterson, MIN||RB||2.0|
|3||LeSean McCoy, PHI||RB||2.0|
|4||Peyton Manning, DEN||QB||7.0|
|5||Eddie Lacy, GB||RB||6.3|
|6||Matt Forte, CHI||RB||4.5|
|7||Calvin Johnson, DET||WR||6.5|
|8||Jimmy Graham, NO||TE||8.8|
|9||A.J. Green, CIN||WR||15.5|
|10||Aaron Rodgers, GB||QB||15.8|
|11||Dez Bryant, DAL||WR||14.3|
|12||Demaryius Thomas, DEN||WR||8.5|
|13||Marshawn Lynch, SEA||RB||8.5|
|14||Brandon Marshall, CHI||WR||18.3|
|15||Drew Brees, NO||QB||13.8|
|16||Arian Foster, HOU||RB||12.8|
|17||Montee Ball, DEN||RB||15.5|
|18||Julio Jones, ATL||WR||20.5|
|19||DeMarco Murray, DAL||RB||14.3|
|20||Doug Martin, TB||RB||23.3|
|21||Antonio Brown, PIT||WR||25.8|
|22||Le'Veon Bell, PIT||RB||17.0|
|23||Zac Stacy, STL||RB||25.0|
|24||Giovani Bernard, CIN||RB||20.3|
|25||Alfred Morris, WAS||RB||23.0|
|26||Rob Gronkowski, NE||TE||32.0|
|27||Alshon Jeffery, CHI||WR||25.8|
|28||Julius Thomas, DEN||TE||30.3|
|29||Randall Cobb, GB||WR||30.8|
|30||Andre Ellington, ARI||RB||34.0|
Steven Cook's rankings
Note: Average Draft Position (ADP) rankings are courtesy of Fantasy Pros' composite rankings of Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS and NFL fantasy leagues.
Top Sleepers at Each Position
Quarterback: Philip Rivers, Chargers
It's just another year of fantasy experts sleeping on Philip Michael Rivers.
ESPN's fantasy staff ranked Rivers as the No. 23 quarterback in the league last season. How did he finish? Oh, a measly sixth overall, with nearly 4,500 passing yards and 32 touchdowns.
He faces a transition on offense with offensive coordinator Frank Reich replacing the departed Ken Whisenhunt, who took the Titans' head coaching job over the offseason. But it's been seamless so far, per Marty Caswell of The Mighty 1090:
Philip Rivers on 1st game w/Reich as OC "It was really smooth...And that's not a surprise. He's been doing this kind of stuff a long time."— Marty Caswell (@MartyCaswell) August 12, 2014
ESPN's Chris Harris has Rivers as the 13th-ranked quarterback this season, so he's receiving a bit more love—but still not enough.
If other players in your league don't jump at Rivers, you could nab him after adding more than a couple of formidable flex options for your bench.
Running Back: Khiry Robinson, Saints
It's becoming less and less of a secret, but Khiry Robinson could become one of the top fantasy backs by the time the 2014 season is over with.
Robinson only has 224 career rushing yards, all of which came in his 2013 debut season. But this season, he's set to take on a much larger role with Darren Sproles heading for the exits and a massive hole at his position that Robinson is perfect to fill.
The 6'0", 220-pounder offers a different skill set at the position, but his elite speed will allow for him to make an impact in Drew Brees' wide-open offense. If he becomes the No. 1 back on top of his duties in the passing game, his stock will explode.
Wide Receiver: Kendall Wright, Titans
The writing has been on the wall, but now it's officially Kendall Wright time in Tennessee.
The former first-round pick has made an impact in both of his opening two seasons since being drafted in 2012. His role should expand heading into this season, with Kenny Britt exiting and father time catching up to Nate Washington.
He's been showing out in training camp so far this preseason, per Joe Fann of TitansOnline.com:
Justin Hunter will join Wright as emerging wideouts for the Titans, but Wright's added experience along with an ability to escape for yards after the catch will make him a fantasy stud in 2014.
Tight End: Zach Ertz, Eagles
Zach Ertz's strides came slow upon entering the league in 2013 as an early second-round pick, but he's ready to blow up in 2014.
Ertz played second fiddle to Brent Celek as a rookie last season, but now he's bound to make the leap with one year under his belt. He's finally taking full advantage of his unique size and skill-set blend that puts him on par with the athletic breed of tight ends making waves in the league.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah added his two cents on Ertz:
Fantasy tip: Draft Zach Ertz one round higher than you think you should. He'll be worth it.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) June 21, 2014
Ertz gives the Eagles a much-needed vertical mismatch in the middle of the field, which should combine with Philadelphia's many other offensive tools to produce success this season and beyond.
Defense: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Much more than Lovie Smith's arrival in Tampa Bay makes the Bucs defense a top sleeper choice in 2014.
Alterraun Verner was brought in on a big-money contract to lock down the cornerback spot, and Dashon Goldson should continue preventing big plays in the secondary. Add that to Lavonte David evolving into a dominating linebacker, and the Bucs should greatly improve a defense that was below average last year.
Kicker: Dan Carpenter, Bills
It's tough to really call any kicker a sleeper considering the types of options you can find in the waiver wire. But if you're in the mood to put off drafting a kicker and taking a more affordable option, look Dan Carpenter's way when things are said and done.
The Bills kicker finished with double-digit points in ESPN leagues eight times in 16 games last season, finishing with the fourth-most points from field goals. The Bills offense should improve drastically with E.J. Manuel entering his sophomore season healthy and the addition of Sammy Watkins to go along with a stout running game.