By Derek of The Sportmeisters
Hello again sports fans! Sportmeister Derek here and I am ready for some football. After watching some preseason games and seeing all of the different players that were playing in the game, it had me thinking of who were the guys to watch out for this year that you don't hear very much about. In fantasy terms, who are your fantasy sleepers for the 2009 fantasy season?
Today, I am going to tell you who are your top five fantasy sleeper TEs to look for in your fantasy drafts. When I say sleeper, I don't mean a guy like Jason Witten or Dallas Clark (who are being taken in Rounds Five and Six on average in ESPN drafts). I am talking about guys who you can find in the middle to late rounds. Let's get started!
1. Greg Olsen—Chicago Bears—Projection: 70 Receptions, 800 Yards, 7 TD
Olsen had career highs last year in receptions, yards, and touchdowns with 54, 574, and five. Now, he has Jay Cutler at QB and is poised for a breakout season. It is said they have a terrific connection so far this off-season and the Bears don't have a real number one receiver. Cutler can throw the deep ball very well, and Olsen can run routes like a wide receiver.
Look for Olsen to put up new career highs this year and, in my opinion, he should be taken higher than his current ADP of 82 (Round 9) in ESPN drafts and 68 (Round 7) in CBS Sports drafts. Remember, Olsen was a top 10 TE last year and I expect him to be a top five this year. You should definitely look to draft this super sleeper.
2. Dustin Keller—New York Jets–Projection: 66 Receptions, 675 Yards, 5 TD
Keller was good in his rookie year, but not great. He was invisible in the first eight games, catching 13 balls for 147 yards and two touchdowns, but then exploded for 27 catches for 313 yards in the next four games, but just one touchdown and became invisible again for the last four games (8 catches for 75 yards). With a new head coach, no Laveranues Coles, and a young QB, I expect Keller to be a more prominent player in the Offense.
My opinion was on display in the Jets first preseason game, as he caught three balls for 52 Yards. The QB factor will make some owners wary of drafting him, as his current ADP of 128 (Round 13) in ESPN drafts and 96 (Round 10) in CBS Sports drafts show. Remember, he had those four games where he had six or more receptions and three games with 75 or more yards. If you don’t want to take a TE early, you can grab him later and get a super TE sleeper.
3. Jeremy Shockey—New Orleans Saints—Projection: 60 Receptions, 625 Yards, 4 TD
This is a bold statement, but I think Shockey is due for a bounce back year. He was poised to breakout last year, until he had issues with an ankle injury, a sports hernia, and QB Drew Brees. Now, he appears to be fully healed and on the same page with his QB and still has the talent to improve in his zero TD bust of 2008. He showed that talent in his first preseason game, catching three passes for 61 Yards and a 22-yard touchdown.
The fact that Brees looked for him in the Red Zone is a great sign. He will last until the later rounds, as his current ADP of 120 (Round 12) in ESPN drafts and 117 (Round 12) in CBS Sports drafts shows. Remember, he had 60+ receptions and 7 touchdowns in 2005 and 2006, so we know he has the ability to be a fantasy stud. He could be a serious sleeper this year and you may get TE1 numbers at a TE2 draft position.
4. Kevin Boss–New York Giants—Projection: 50 Receptions, 525 Yards, 6 TD
Boss was decent in his first full year as a full-time player in the offense. He was almost completely unused in the first six games, catching six passes for 84 yards and one touchdown, but picked it up after that, catching 27 balls for 300 yards and five touchdowns.
This year, the Giants don't have a true number one receiver, and QB Eli Manning may have to rely more on his big TE. He has lasted until the later rounds in most drafts, as his ADP of 126 (Round 13) in ESPN drafts and 112 (Round 12) in CBS Sports drafts shows. Remember, he was a Top 15 TE last year and caught six Touchdowns. You can feel free to draft him and expect borderline TE1/TE2 numbers, which is great coming from such a low draft position.
5. Randy McMichael—St. Louis Rams—Projection: 45 Receptions, 475 Yards, 4 TD
I know, you must think I'm crazy, but let me explain. McMichael started well last year, with a five-reception, 77-yard game in Week One, but then only caught six balls for 62 yards in the next three. He then broke his tibia and tore a ligament in his right leg, ending his season. However, the Rams have no receivers, aside from Donnie Avery, and he is out for at least the first game of the regular season with a stress fracture in his left foot. The Rams also just lost QB Marc Bulger for the rest of the preseason with a broken pinkie finger. Bulger should be back by Week One and the Rams are running a new offense this year, which will look to include the tight end in the passing game.
Remember, he had 73 receptions for 791 yards and four touchdowns in 2004 and 60 receptions for 582 yards and five touchdowns in 2005, so he is capable of putting up good numbers. He is currently going undrafted in all formats and you can wait to grab him off the waiver wire or take a really late round flier on him, but don’t be surprised if you get a good TE2 with that late round flier.
Those are my top five sleeper TEs of the 2009 fantasy season. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email them to me at Derek@Sportmeisters.com.