Fantasy Football 2015: Biggest Sleeper to Target at Every Position

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2015

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant (10) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons free safety Dwight Lowery (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Get your draft boards ready, think of the wittiest team name possible and start trash-talking because it is fantasy football season. 

As you examine your mock drafts, it's easy to piece together the best possible team by choosing the best ranked players available. But be sure to keep an eye out for some of these names who I think could be the biggest sleepers of 2015:

Quarterback: Eli Manning

It's difficult to say that Eli Manning is a sleeper after putting up 4,410 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2014, but when looking to draft a No. 1 quarterback, it's often that Manning does not break the top-10. 

That might change this year after a successful 2014 season despite the New York Giants' 6-10 record. Manning is going to have his two-best receivers healthy at the same time in Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz

Both are capable of putting up over 1,300 yards receiving while third receiver Rueben Randle can also put up big numbers if Cruz and Beckham are shut down. 

Putting Manning's age aside, SI.com's Michael Beller sees a big year for the two-time Super Bowl MVP:

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It’s not often that a quarterback has his best statistical season at the age of 34, but everything is in place for Manning to be the exception. He has had three top-10 fantasy quarterback seasons in his career, the last of which came in 2011. Don’t be surprised if he breaks that drought in 2015.

Manning will be entering his second season in Giants coach Ben McAdoo's West Coast offense, which allows him to get the ball out of his hand quickly. He now has a reliable screen option coming out of the backfield in Shane Vereen to complement Rashad Jennings. The more quickly he gets his pass off, the less likely he is to be sacked, which has been a problem the past two seasons. From 2013-2014, Manning was sacked 67 times. 

2015 Season Predictions

4,600 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 17 interceptions

Running Back: Isaiah Crowell

Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell looks like he is going to be the starting man for one of the AFC North's weaker teams. With Terrance West falling out of favor and battling injury, rookie Duke Johnson is going to get touches, but Crowell will see the bulk of the touches. 

It won't need to worry about finding another after seeing Crowell take over. Entering his second season in the NFL, Crowell averaged a little over four yards per carry in his rookie season while splitting time with West. But he was a touchdown machine, scoring eight times on 148 carries. 

ESPN.com's Joe Kaiser has no problem taking Crowell:

If he sees his time increase, so will those touchdown numbers, especially with a decent offensive line that should open up plenty of running lanes for him. 

2015 Season Predictions

1,050 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns

Wide Receiver: Martavis Bryant

Pittsburgh Steelers second-year man Martavis Bryant, like Crowell, put up nice scoring numbers despite limited receptions. Bryant recorded eight touchdowns on just 26 receptions in 2014 while recording 549 yards. 

Bryant has big-play capabilities and will be the second wide receiver behind Antonio Brown, as Ben Roethlisberger should be looking his way plenty of times come September. 

He also has been hitting the gym, as he told NFL Network's Albert Breer:

But Bryant is not just going to be that wide receiver who will be running fly routes down the sidelines every other snap as his speed is going to be taken advantage of in the short-game as well. He is going to develop into a target that can run any route Roethlisberger. Not only will he be that home run threat, but he is also going to pick up plenty of yards on shorter routes. 

Opposing teams are going to key in on Bryant once he has a couple big games which will re-open things for Brown, but this will help him mature into an elite receiver that has to find a way to get his touches.

With an even better build and more touches in his future, Bryant is going to have a breakout season.

2015 Season Predictions

65 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, 11 touchdowns

Tight End: Tyler Eifert

Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert is coming back healthy and will not have to compete with Jermaine Gresham for the starting role. 

He is going to be a part of a Bengals offense that is dangerous when healthy, which it wasn't last year. Quarterback Andy Dalton will have the likes of A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu to throw to, and when they're covered—and they will draw plenty of attention—Eifert is going to be open and should be hit often.

And in the early parts of camp, he's looking solid, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr:

I wouldn't be surprised if Dalton and Eifert can develop a Tony Romo/Jason Witten-like relationship, though it's far too early to call that. 

2015 Predictions

60 receptions, 820 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns

Kicker: Connor Barth

The Denver Broncos have found their new starting kicker in Connor Barth, who is sure to flourish with his new side. 

He showed he is capable of being the man in Denver, after hitting 15 of 16 field goals in five games last season. Playing in a high-powered Broncos offense that will find itself in the red zone often, Barth should have plenty of opportunities to put points on the board. 

Add that with the thin air of Denver and he should have some long field goals converted, too. 

2015 Predictions

39 of 42 field goals made

Team Defense: Miami Dolphins

Miami made one of the biggest signings of the offseason in acquiring Ndamukong Suh, which will help an already feared defensive line become a bit scarier. 

With defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon already in Miami disturbing the backfield, the Dolphins are going to be a top sacking squad in 2015. Early on, their defense is looking solid, according to CBSSports.com's Dave Richard:

They also have a solid secondary which recorded 14 interceptions last season. With more pressure on the quarterback coming, bad throws will be plentiful. Don't be surprised if the Dolphins lead the league in interceptions this season. 

2015 Predictions

45 sacks, 21 interceptions, four touchdowns

While you start planning your draft, dreaming of a team stacked with the game's biggest stars, you should also take some time to focus on these players flying under the radar.

A well-rounded team wins championships, but superior drafting and the occasional steal in those last few rounds can be the difference between a title and hearing your former classmate who watches three games a year and auto-drafts bragging about how he knows more about football than you.

Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com