Fantasy Football 2014: Breaking Down Latest Rankings and Deep Sleepers

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
Fantasy Football 2014: Breaking Down Latest Rankings and Deep Sleepers
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Those of you who haven't had your fantasy drafts yet are smart. You waited for the first three preseason weeks to play out. You've seen the trends, you know who has been lost to injury and you've added a week or two of research time as you build your fantasy team. 

Slow and steady wins the race, as they say.

But hey, every little tidbit of information or morsel of opinion can help when planning a draft strategy, so I'm here to lend my hand as you prepare to pick your team. I'll offer up my top 150 rankings and some deep sleepers for you to target too.

It's everything a smart owner needs to own his or her draft.

 

Fantasy Rankings

Timothy Rapp's Top 150 Players
Rank Player Team Position
1 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles RB
2 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings RB
3 Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs RB
4 Matt Forte Chicago Bears RB
5 Eddie Lacy Green Bay Packers RB
6 Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints TE
7 Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions WR
8 Peyton Manning Denver Broncos QB
9 Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks RB
10 Drew Brees New Orleans Saints QB
11 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay Packers QB
12 Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos WR
13 Doug Martin Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
14 A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals WR
15 Arian Foster Houston Texans RB
16 Zac Stacy St. Louis Rams RB
17 Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys WR
18 Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears WR
19 DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys RB
20 Alfred Morris Washington RB
21 Julio Jones Atlanta Falcons WR
22 Matt Stafford Detroit Lions QB
23 Cam Newton Carolina Panthers QB
24 Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers RB
25 Jordy Nelson Green Bay Packers WR
26 Montee Ball Denver Broncos RB
27 Randall Cobb Green Bay Packers WR
28 Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers WR
29 Julius Thomas Denver Broncos TE
30 Alshon Jeffery Chicago Bears WR
31 Andre Ellington Arizona Cardinals RB
32 Rob Gronkowski New England Patriots TE
33 Andre Johnson Houston Texans WR
34 Vincent Jackson Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
35 Giovani Bernard Cincinnati Bengals RB
36 Victor Cruz New York Giants WR
37 Reggie Bush Detroit Lions RB
38 Andrew Luck Indianapolis Colts QB
39 Toby Gerhart Jacksonville Jaguars RB
40 Keenan Allen San Diego Chargers WR
41 Ryan Mathews San Diego Chargers RB
42 Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers TE
43 Wes Welker Denver Broncos WR
44 C.J. Spiller Buffalo Bills RB
45 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers RB
46 Larry Fitzgerald Arizona Cardinals WR
47 Ray Rice Baltimore Ravens RB
48 Rashad Jennings New York Giants RB
49 DeSean Jackson Washington WR
50 Pierre Garcon Washington WR
51 Ben Tate Houston Texans RB
52 Torrey Smith Baltimore Ravens WR
53 Trent Richardson Indianapolis Colts RB
54 Jeremy Maclin Philadelphia Eagles WR
55 Michael Floyd Arizona Cardinals WR
56 Robert Griffin III Washington QB
57 Nick Foles Philadelphia Eagles QB
58 Bishop Sankey Tennessee Titans RB
59 Roddy White Atlanta Falcons WR
60 Michael Crabtree San Francisco 49ers WR
61 T.Y. Hilton Indianapolis Colts WR
62 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys TE
63 Kendall Wright Tennessee Titans WR
64 Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers RB
65 Percy Harvin Seattle Seahawks WR
66 Emmanuel Sanders Denver Broncos WR
67 Joique Bell Detroit Lions RB
68 Chris Johnson New York Jets RB
69 Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings WR
70 Shane Vereen New England Patriots RB
71 Marques Colston New Orleans Saints WR
72 Eric Decker New York Jets WR
73 Terrance Williams Dallas Cowboys WR
74 Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns TE
75 Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons QB
76 Golden Tate Detroit Lions WR
77 Julian Edelman New England Patriots WR
78 Reggie Wayne Indianapolis Colts WR
79 Stevan Ridley New England Patriots RB
80 Sammy Watkins Buffalo Bills WR
81 Colin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers QB
82 Chris Johnson New York Jets RB
83 Mike Wallace Miami Dolphins WR
84 Cecil Shorts Jacksonville Jaguars WR
85 Lamar Miller Miami Dolphins RB
86 Fred Jackson Buffalo Bills RB
87 Steven Jackson Atlanta Falcons RB
88 Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers WR
89 Pierre Thomas New Orleans Saints RB
90 DeAndre Hopkins Houston Texans WR
91 Darren McFadden Oakland Raiders RB
92 Maurice Jones-Drew Oakland Raiders RB
93 Darren Sproles Philadelphia Eagles RB
94 DeAngelo Williams Carolina Panthers RB
95 Knowshon Moreno Miami Dolphins RB
96 Riley Cooper Philadelphia Eagles WR
97 Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks QB
98 Khiry Robinson New Orleans Saints RB
99 Chris Ivory New York Jets RB
100 Danny Woodhead San Diego Chargers RB
101 Mark Ingram New Orleans Saints
102 Danny Amendola New England Patriots RB
103 Seattle D/ST - -
104 Greg Olsen Carolina Panthers TE
105 Jordan Reed Washington TE
106 Dennis Pitta Baltimore Ravens TE
107 Tom Brady New England Patriots QB
108 Tony Romo Dallas Cowboys QB
109 Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers QB
110 Jay Cutler Chicago Bears QB
111 LeGarrette Blount Pittsburgh Steelers RB
112 Hakeem Nicks Indianapolis Colts WR
113 Jeremy Hill Cincinnati Bengals RB
114 Rueben Randle New York Giants WR
115 Dwayne Bowe Kansas City Chiefs WR
116 Steve Smith Baltimore Ravens WR
117 Bernard Pierce Baltimore Ravens RB
118 Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers RB
119 Greg Jennings Minnesota Vikings WR
120 Shonn Greene Tennessee Titans RB
121 Mike Evans Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR
122 Tavon Austin St. Louis Rams WR
123 Terrance West Cleveland Browns RB
124 Justin Hunter Tennessee Titans WR
125 Devonta Freeman Atlanta Falcons RB
126 Kelvin Benjamin Carolina Panthers WR
127 Brandin Cooks New Orleans Saints WR
128 Carolina Panthers D/ST - -
129 San Francisco 49ers D/ST - -
130 Denver Broncos D/ST -- -
131 Arizona Cardinals D/ST - -
132 Cincinnati Bengals D/ST - -
133 James Starks Green Bay Packers RB
134 Andy Dalton Cincinnati Bengals QB
135 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers QB
136 St. Louis Rams D/ST - -
137 Knile Davis Kansas City Chiefs RB
138 Andre Williams New York Giants RB
139 Jarrett Boykin Green Bay Packers WR
140 Eli Manning New York Giants QB
141 Markus Wheaton Pittsburgh Steelers WR
142 Kyle Rudolph Minnesota Vikings TE
143 Kansas City Chiefs D/ST - -
144 New England Patriots D/ST - -
145 James Jones Oakland Raiders WR
146 Jordan Todman Jacksonville Jaguars RB
147 Martellus Bennett Chicago Bears TE
148 Charles Clay Miami Dolphins TE
149 Jonathan Grimes Houston Texans RB
150 Zach Ertz Philadelphia Eagles TE

 

Deep Sleepers

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Yes, you guessed it—with the trade of Tim Wright to the New England Patriots, I think he becomes a fascinating deep sleeper at the tight end position. You can read my more in-depth thoughts on him here, but the general though process is as follows:

  • He's a fast, athletic player for his size and isn't much of an in-line blocker, so he could settle nicely into the "move" tight end role that Aaron Hernandez used to fill. That could lead to very nice numbers for Wright.
  • The Patriots don't exactly have elite playmakers at wide receiver, so Wright has the chance to carve out a role for himself in this offense.
  • If nothing else, he's depth at the position behind a player in Rob Gronkowski who has a hard time avoiding injury. In other words, the worst-case scenario for Wright is that he's a very tantalizing handcuff.
  • He finished last year with 54 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns, but three of them came in the last four weeks. He was a rookie last year, remember, so he showed solid growth. 
  • Again, you're drafting him as a late-round TE2, namely in deeper leagues. It's not like this guy is someone you are targeting as a starter. 

But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. Albert Breer of NFL.com should convince you:

So there you have it. 

There are a few other tight ends I like as deep sleepers, such as Ladarius Green (a freakish athlete who will overtake Antonio Gates soon enough in San Diego), Zach Ertz (though everyone seems keen on him this year, so he isn't coming terribly cheap) and Travis Kelce (though Kansas City's stubborn loyalty to Anthony Fasano could end up being frustrating).

All are players with big-time talent who are essentially waiting for their teams to lean on them heavily. In two-tight end leagues, all should be owned and are high upside TE2s worth rostering in most formats. 

At quarterback, I'm not so sure you should be worrying about deep sleepers since there are about 15 players I would feel comfortable starting this season (I'm always a little nervous about players like Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick and Jay Cutler, but each has QB1 potential).

If you think Johnny Manziel will eventually start this year—and honestly, he should—there's your deep sleeper right there. He could give you Robert Griffin III-lite numbers this year.

David Richard/Associated Press

But beyond that, there isn't much reason to get cute at quarterback.

At running back, well, a whole lot of folks feel like they could end up contributing this season. The first group of players you should be looking at is the crop of rookie runners who likely will start the season as handcuffs:

  • Carlos Hyde is a Frank Gore injury away from being an RB2 candidate. Seeing as Gore is 31 and has carried a heavy load for the San Francisco 49ers over the last three years (at least 250 carries in each campaign), Hyde is the handcuff you absolutely want.
  • Devonta Freeman is behind Steven Jackson in Atlanta's backfield and is a far more talented runner than Jacquizz Rodgers. Jackson too is 31 and has already battled injuries in camp after battling injuries last season. Freeman is going to be the starter at some point this year.
  • Here's how many games Ben Tate has played in the last four years: 40. Here's how many games he's missed: 24. There's a very good chance Terrance West will be called upon in relief of Tate, who simply has durability issues.
  • Rashad Jennings is the starter in New York, but the fact that he's earned his first starting gig at the age of 29 should tell you something. With Andre Williams lurking, nabbing the rookie runner to handcuff Williams makes a ton of sense.

If you want really, really deep sleepers at the position, I have two guys for you, both currently third-string players. The first is Bryce Brown of the Buffalo Bills, currently behind C.J. Spiller (injury-prone) and Fred Jackson (33 years old). I've watched a lot of Brown during his stint with the Philadelphia Eagles, and outside of his fumbling tendencies, I've always been impressed.

He's a downhill, one-cut runner with good balance, solid vision and sneaky speed. He's a guy who could absolutely blow up if one of the two guys in front of him (or both) goes down to injury.

Don Wright/Associated Press

The other is Latavius Murray for the Oakland Raiders. Murray is big and fast, and the two players in front of him, Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, represent a gigantic injury risk and a player in the twilight of his career, respectively. If Murray gets the chance to play, he could be this year's Rashad Jennings but with even more home run hitting potential. 

And then there is wide receiver, where every year a few deep sleepers take us all by surprise. John Brown is a name to remember. He's behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in the pecking order for now, but the dynamic rookie could carve out a nice role for himself in the slot.

Just consider the following, from Peter King's weekly MMQB.com column:

John Brown this, John Brown that. John Brown out wide, John Brown in the slot, John Brown at the top of bunch formations. Forget Sammy Watkins, we got John Brown! The 91st pick of the 2014 draft, from that big NFL feeder Pittsburg (Kans.) State, is the hit of Cardinals training camp, forcing his way into first-team dialogue ('I’d say we could use him about 60 percent of the offensive snaps,' coach Bruce Arians said), just a few months after he took the gridiron against Emporia State and Nebraska-Kearney.

Excited yet?

Forget about Brandin Cooks for a moment—everybody seems to be in love with him, despite the fact that New Orleans Saints receivers not named Marques Colston traditionally don't produce for fantasy owners in the Sean Payton era—and turn your attention to Kelvin Benjamin instead.

The Carolina Panthers receiver is a big body, a major red-zone threat and, let's be honest, probably the best option in the passing game Cam Newton has outside of Greg Olsen. I think Benjamin could shock everyone and snag 10 touchdowns this season (I'm not saying he will, just that it is his upside). I don't think Cooks will get anywhere close to that number.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Benjamin's catches and yards won't be as high as Cooks, of course, but I'd rather have him as a top option in the passing attack as opposed to Cook, who is one of many mouths Drew Brees has to feed. 

Oh, and don't forget about Rueben Randle. The third-year man didn't show huge growth a season ago (41 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns), but the entire New York Giants offense was a mess. If Eli Manning can limit the turnovers, Randle's going to be the No. 2 receiver in an offense that once was known for airing it out. 

With Victor Cruz likely to play in the slot whenever possible and Hakeem Nicks now in Indianapolis, Randle enters the season as New York's top receiver out wide. That should translate to much bigger numbers this year.

 

Follow TRappaRT on Twitter

Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

Out of Bounds

NFL

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.