Fantasy Football 2015: Latest Buzz, Sleepers and Names to Know

Richard Janvrin@@RichardJanvrinFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2015

Fantasy Football 2015: Latest Buzz, Sleepers and Names to Know

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    Hey! What do you know! There will be football every Sunday until February.

    This Thursday, the NFL and fantasy football seasons will kick off when the New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers. The cover boy of this slideshow, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, has been reinstated and will play.

    Given that the last day to draft your fantasy football team is Wednesday, this slideshow will hopefully enhance your draft, and maybe, just maybe, teach you a thing or two.

    What's better than the latest buzz, sleepers and players to stay away from?

    Pretty much nothing, except a nice three-day weekend.

    All average-draft-position mentions will be courtesy of FantasyPros.

Dallas Cowboys Acquire RB Christine Michael from Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    After all the speculation of pretty much any running back that was on the trading block, waiver wire or basically having a pulse being linked to the Dallas Cowboys, the Cowboys finally made a move to improve their running back depth with the acquisition of now former Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael.

    Almost as important as the actual trade, the rumors of every running back going to Dallas should be done with.

    Michael joins a running back depth chart that has been a huge topic of conversation and has Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar.

    I'll be honest—I'm a Christine Michael believer.

    However, everyone should remain objective because of how crowded this backfield is now. The one bright side, though, is that Michael is the cheapest option among McFadden, Randle and himself.

    Here's how they break down currently:

    Of course, Michael's ADP will be expected to rise since the move to Dallas, but it just goes to show you that you can get him late in your drafts.

    Throughout his career, Michael has only 52 carries, but he has averaged 4.9 yards per carry in his limited attempts.

    As of now, Michael has the most sleeper potential and is the cheapest option. Feel free to watch some of his highlights to get pumped up.

    He's worth a look, but don't get crazy.

New England Patriots Cut RB Jonas Gray

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

    OK, the headline of this slide is a little deceiving. I'll save the analysis of "where could Jonas Gray land?" or really any analysis to do with the former New England Patriots running back. Instead, let's look at who's the Patriots running back to own outside of LeGarrette Blount.

    Believe it or not—it's Dion Lewis.

    When the NFL season kicks off Thursday, the Patriots will be without LeGarrette Blount. I'm sure there are a few people out there who were counting on former Patriots running back Jonas Gray to fill in during Blount's suspension but are now scrambling for another option.

    If you're in a points-per-reception league, give Dion Lewis a look, as he should be the third-down/receiving back. When referring to the Patriots backfield, you have to use "should" because you never know what New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will have up his sleeve.

    During the preseason, Lewis had nine receptions in two games, but he only carried the ball a few times. Remember when I said points-per-reception leagues? That's why.

    It's also been reported that Lewis should have a "decent role" with the team this season, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

    That report also bodes well for Lewis as the season goes on.

    I hope this eased your nerves if you were a Jonas Gray owner.

    Never fear, Dion Lewis is here.

The Emergence of Seattle Seahawks Wide Receiver Tyler Lockett

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    Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

    Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett was about as fun to watch as anyone this preseason.

    With that said, his fantasy value is questionable.

    He's had a pretty good preseason statistically, including a receiving touchdown and a kick-return touchdown, but I don't just don't see it.

    When Lockett was drafted, there were rumblings that he could potentially take over former Seahawks (now Detroit Lions) wide receiver Golden Tate's role.

    While he had a pretty good role with the team, did that translate in to production? No, not really.

    Over Tate's career in Seattle, he averaged just over 41 receptions, approximately 550 yards and just under four touchdowns during the regular season.

    Now, if you ask me, that's not all that productive.

    While I like Lockett as a football player, he unfortunately landed on a team where he won't be utilized a ton.

    Oh yeah, those Golden Tate numbers? Yeah, that didn't include Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham.

    He's worth a stash in deeper leagues, but don't get overly confident.

Arian Foster Avoids Short-Term IR

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    If you haven't drafted yet, well, darn.

    The highway robbery of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster is officially over, as he will avoid short-term injured reserve, according to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport.

    Originally, Foster was supposed to out until November, but reports are he will be out until "early October at the latest", according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

    Right now, Arian Foster's ADP has been climbing since the news, and he is now going as the RB20 in points-per-reception formats.

    If you have a draft coming up and Foster is still there in the third round or later, it's really a no-brainer—draft him.

    While Foster's injury history is a bit concerning, he presents a great value heading into the 2015 season.

Tom Brady Has Been Reinstated

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    I'm not going to talk about Deflategate.

    Did I win you as a reader forever? I hope so.

    With New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady being reinstated amid the whole debacle, this shakes up the fantasy landscape in a huge way.

    With Brady out, you were slightly moving every weapon on the Patriots down the rankings (except tight end Rob Gronkowski), but now, they move right back up.

    No, the difference wasn't that much, but much like Arian Foster, the highway robbery of drafting Tom Brady is over.

    While drafting a quarterback late is the route you should go, Brady has shot up draft boards, going as the QB9 and 62nd overall.

    If you had drafted Brady prior to his reinstatement, you likely got him much later and had a decent QB option.

    Two words of advice regarding Brady:

    1. Trade him. Unless he is your starting quarterback, people will want to scoop him up because he is going to "tear up the league" because of the aftermath of Deflategate. While that may be poor analysis, it really is a narrative floating around—just look at Twitter.
    2. Don't overdraft him. Like I said, in a 12 team league, there is a plethora of quarterback talent so much later. I know he's Tom Brady, but honestly, I wouldn't draft anything but wide receivers and running backs for the first, like, seven rounds.

    Fantasy football isn't real football—it's all value-based. Tom Brady was a good value at one time, and he can get you good value now. It's a win-win.

Five Sleeper Picks in 2015

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Bills (ADP QB28)

    Let the "Tygod" monikers commence! As I mentioned in the previous slide, you can find QBs for good value, and Tyrod Taylor is one of them.

    While he may not be the most prolific passer in the world, he possesses one thing all fantasy owners love to have in their quarterbacks—the ability to run. New Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman has a history with mobile quarterbacks (see Kaepernick, Colin).

    I don't expect Tyrod to experience the same level of success Kaepernick had when he first got started, but where you can get him in drafts presents a tremendous value.

     

    Brandon Coleman, WR, New Orleans Saints (ADP WR72)

    Wide receiver 72? What?

    Man oh, man. Every report on Coleman has been positive.

    Whether it be New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees saying he "has a great comfort level" with Coleman (according to the team's Twitter account), or that Coleman has impressed New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton (according to ESPN's Britt McHenry), it's all great news.

    Brandon Coleman has enjoyed a decent preseason and was even on the field for the first play of the team's preseason finale while fellow New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston was not.

    With Brandin Cooks and Marques Colston being drafted as the WR12 and WR43 respectively, the 6'6" wide receiver presents insane value.

     

    Leonard Hankerson, WR, Atlanta Falcons (ADP WR94)

    After leaving the Washington Redskins, Leonard Hankerson has really caught on in Atlanta.

    With fellow Atlanta Falcons wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones out in the third preseason game, Hankerson caught three balls for 50 yards.

    He's locked in as the Falcons No. 3 wide receiver, and his value would skyrocket should either White or Jones miss significant time.

     

    Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots (ADP RB87)

    He's baaaaaack.

    Earlier in the slideshow, we examined the New England Patriots running back carousel for Week 1 and kind of scratched the surface for season-long.

    Outside of fellow New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, Lewis is the back to own, but only in points-per-reception leagues. To be honest, his value is next to nothing if you play in a standard-scoring league.

    Last season, Patriots running backs garnered 69 total receptions. This season, the remaining running backs from last season equal a mere 11 of those.

    Also take into account that New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell has been placed on the physically unable to perform list, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

    With all of those targets and receptions gone, someone needs to help make up for those, and that man is Dion Lewis.

    Draft him in points-per-reception leagues only.

     

    David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals (ADP RB45)

    It's been well documented that Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington cannot carry a full workload but will be a third-down/receiving back. So who will get the majority of the carries in Arizona? Logic tells me David Johnson. Yes, the Arizona Cardinals added running back Chris Johnson, but I don't see him as a threat.

    During the preseason, we've seen that David Johnson has talent. However, unlike previously mentioned Dion Lewis, David Johnson will take a value hit in PPR, as Ellington is expected to be the receiving back. If David Johnson sees near 200 carries this season, he'll prove to be great value based on where he is being drafted.

Five Players to Avoid in 2015

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers (ADP QB12)

    Cam Newton is a freak of an athlete, but unfortunately, that's not a fantasy football category. It's well known that the Carolina Panthers have lost wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin for the season, and that doesn't make the receiving options on the Panthers look that promising.

    The Panthers have two pretty good running backs—Jonathan Stewart and Cameron Artis-Payne—and we could see them become more utilized as a result of the Benjamin injury.

    It would be a pleasant surprise if Cam Newton finished above QB15.

     

    Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills (ADP WR23)

    I've mentioned Sammy Watkins before as a bust this season, and I'm sticking to it.

    While I like Tyrod Taylor, I think he does potentially hurt his weapons' overall values, while helping his own.

    Sammy Watkins is being drafted over guys like Davante Adams and Allen Robinson, and I just don't agree with that.

    Stay away from Sammy Watkins, or be prepared for a ton of inconsistency (and no, it's not his fault).

     

    Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers (ADP WR41)

    While he's not being drafted terribly high, it's hard to see his value translate to the San Francisco 49ers. One good thing about Smith is his presence will help fellow Niners wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis.

    He has great speed, and he could have a few games in which he catches a bomb or two, but overall, like Sammy Watkins, there will just be too much inconsistency for me.

     

    Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys (ADP RB22)

    While I think Joseph Randle (pictured) will be given the first shot to succeed, the backfield is getting crowded with the addition of former Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael.

    Based on where he's being drafted, there is no way I'm taking my chances. While often injured, Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden isn't a bad talent, and the mystery of Christine Michael still exists.

    I don't know about you, but I don't want my RB2 or even RB1 be involved in such a crowded backfield.

    If you're a gambling man, go for it.

     

    Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints (ADP WR45)

    Like Torrey Smith, he's not being drafted in the top 25 of his position or anything, but each and every draft pick should count.

    As previously mentioned, Brandon Coleman has a strong chance to emerge. While Colston won't be completely irrelevant, he will see a drop in production. Regardless of the Coleman hype, this team clearly wants to run the ball, and they also added former Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller.

Final Thoughts

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    As the season begins, you cannot read enough. In fantasy football, there is a plethora of great resources and bright minds to help formulate a championship-winning season. While I like to think I have a strong grasp on fantasy football, seeking another opinion or additional insight can never hurt.

    Injuries are a part of the game, so be sure to handcuff your top running backs. The last thing you want to happen is for a premier starter on your team to get hurt and not have the guy that takes over for him.

    Speaking of injuries, here's a roundup of some of the top wide receiver updates around the league:

    Here are a few of my predictions for upcoming season (for fantasy):

    Most importantly—have fun! Fantasy football is a ton of fun and a great way to connect with others. Whether it's for money or bragging rights, make sure you're the one crowned champ at the end of the year!

    Follow me on Twitter @RichardJanvrin