Fantasy Football 2014: 8 Players Whose Stock Has Skyrocketed in Preseason
Does your league hold its fantasy football draft after the last set of preseason games, with the reasoning being to get one good last look at some emerging players who are cementing their stock this summer? If so, the following slideshow may be a good primer for your draft.
Every year there are preseason stars and whether that relates to regular-season success remains to be seen. Some players use the exhibition schedule to ascend the depth chart and in turn up draft boards in the process. But can they sustain their momentum?
Mentioned here are eight sleepers (ranked in order of fantasy relevance) who have seen their stock skyrocket this preseason. So, keep these guys on your radar if you are drafting this weekend.
8. Timothy Wright, New England Patriots
Whether Patriots incumbent tight end extraordinaire Rob Gronkowski stays healthy all year or not, the recent acquisition of Timothy Wright from the Buccaneers could pay off in spades.
If Gronkowski is healthy, Wright can still slot next to him and offer the Patriots another potent 1-2 punch at tight end, much like what they had when Aaron Hernandez was still around. And in the event Gronkowski goes down, Wright's value will jump exponentially. In Thursday's preseason game against the Giants, Wright had a solid game with four receptions for 43 yards.
After a fine rookie year (54 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdown in eight starts), Wright should be be a player to monitor.
7. Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams
Yes, the injury to Sam Bradford is a crushing blow to Kenny Britt's renewed value with the Rams, but let's not write him off completely just yet.
Now playing with his old coach that he had while he was in Tennessee in Jeff Fisher, Britt looks like a new man in St. Louis. Thus far, he has three receptions for 73 yards in three preseason games this summer. With the Rams lacking experience and depth among the receiving corps, he can be the guy new quarterback Shaun Hill trusts as he gets his feet wet with the Rams.
Britt is nothing more than a late-round flier, but at the price you'll get him at, he can pay off huge dividends.
6. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers
Markus Wheaton is suddenly perking up the ears of savvy fantasy players, as he is quickly becoming a trusted weapon for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers this preseason.
With Emmanuel Sanders gone, Roethlisberger will need another weapon beside Antonio Brown to throw to, and Wheaton is looking like he'll be that guy.
When looking for sleepers late, think of Wheaton, as he could be headed for a much bigger role in 2014.
5. Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots
Out of all the Patriots receivers, one of them has to emerge as the trusted option for Tom Brady, and Kenbrell Thompkins is as good as any to emerge as the front-runner.
While Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are nice and all, especially as possession receivers, they are not exactly deep threats and that is where Thompkins can make his mark. Thompkins has done well for himself this preseason, registering 11 receptions for 124 receiving yards and one touchdown.
When it's late in your draft and you're looking for a high-upside player with little risk, Thompkins could be the lottery ticket you cash in
4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans
At 6'4” and 203 pounds, Justin Hunter is a receiver who can just go and get the ball in the red zone.
After an up-and-down rookie season, Hunter is capitalizing on his opportunity this preseason, as he has 10 receptions for 217 yards and two touchdowns. While he may be still behind Nate Washington and Kendall Wright on the depth chart, his big-play ability will not be overlooked and when the Titans are near the red zone they'll look to him.
Hunter has a real good chance to fulfill his potential (he was a second-round pick in 2013) and make his fantasy owners happy in the process.
3. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
Even with Cam Newton banged up and the lack of playmakers beside him, rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin is still impressing nevertheless this preseason.
With his size and speed, Benjamin is quickly endearing himself to Newton and the rest of the Panthers. Benjamin can be much more than a red-zone threat, and he's showing why in the exhibition portion of the schedule. Thus far, he has 12 receptions for 173 yards and one touchdown.
Although you shouldn't project him to be in your starting lineup every week, Benjamin is looking like a solid No. 3 or No. 4 receiver, who also happens to own a ton of upside.
2. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
Although he got dinged up on Thursday (he would return, though, and run amok to the tune of 90 rushing yards on 20 carries, while also hauling in six receptions for 70 receiving yards), word came out on Wednesday, via Geoff Hobson of the Bengals website, that the Bengals plan to split Jeremy Hill's carries with the perceived front-runner for the job as lead back in Cincinnati, Giovani Bernard.
That said, what the team might do is use Bernard between the 20s and utilize Hill when the team gets near the goal line, as Hill is the better downhill runner and touchdown producer. Meanwhile, Bernard is better making plays in open spaces.
With this news, Hill should be a very popular selection on the last weekend of fantasy drafts. He's a guy who should be drafted across the board in all leagues.
1. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
While he hasn't been a total bust in his first three years in the league, Mark Ingram hasn't exactly inspired that much confidence, either.
Although he has a solid career 4.1 YPC clip, Ingram hasn’t fully broken out yet. I say yet, because he looks primed and ready to burst on the scene this year. At least if we count how good he has looked in the preseason.
Thus far in four games, he has 22 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown. With Darren Sproles now gone, Ingram should be in line for more touches in the Saints offense. While it will still be a running back by committee in New Orleans, with Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson figuring to get touches, too, Ingram may finally show us what he is really made of this year.
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