Whether you’ve already picked your fantasy football team or your draft is coming up this weekend, you can benefit from today’s post. We’ve pulled together six hardcore fantasy football “experts” into a panel and asked them all the same question. With their insight, you just might find that one pick or trade that’s a total steal.
Let’s get started. Who are YOUR top five sleeper picks?
Panel Member – Timothy Leckie
1. QB Trent Edwards of the buffalo Bills, with his new favorite receiver, is looking to have some career numbers this year! As long as T.O. resist toe injuries and quitting on routes and yelling at offensive coordinators, look for him to get some big yards and and maybe 13 touchdowns this year!
2. TE Martellus Bennet of the Dallas Cowboys. (not just cause i’m an Aggie fan, WHOOP!) All training camp long, the main story has been Marty B. With this being his second year, and being more confidant with the offense and Dallas showing a lot of two tight end sets, I see the possibility for some break out plays!
3. WR Miles Austin, also of the Dallas Cowboys. with the loss of T.O. and with Roy Williams not being that “big play” receiver, look for Austin to be the “speedy” deep threat, possibly catching the long touchdown pass from Tony Romo.
4. WR Donnie Avery, of the St. Louis Rams. The rams second round draft pick in 2008, had almost 700 yards receiving last year and three touchdowns. he has blazing speed, and look for veteran Q.B. Marc Bulger to find him! Avery likely becomes the number 1 receiver since Holt isn’t there.
5. WR Devin Hester, of the Chicago Bears. Not just punt returns this year. With new Q.B. Jay Cutler on the scene, i see Hester having a big year, proving to be the big play maker as expected.
Panel Member – Steve Plunkett
1. D. Heyward-Bey – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom… JaMarcus has the Garcia monkey on his back… Look for the Terps Speedster to rack up some catches and some yards.
2. RB Darren McFadden – This is the year…. no more committee…Look for him to gather most of the catches while Fargas and Bush eat the leftovers.
3. RB Felix Jones – Zoom Zoom Zoom… Barber will get the goal line touches tho… Look for Jones to start banking the yards on those times he gets past the defense.
4. QB/RB Michael Vick – The eagles have embraced him… will the wildcat offense come to philly? Will Donovan McNabb stay healthy, only the shadow knows…
5. WR Randy Moss – He’s going out with a bang! Look for Tom Brady to connect with Randy Moss to break NFL records and score many touchdowns.
BONUS: WR Terrell Owens – he’s got something to prove. Buffalo seems to embrace him because of the legendary player he is.. and of course there is that Cowboys chip on his shoulder.
Panel Member – Steve Hartline
1. QB Trent Edwards, Buffalo. DUH! Owens always enjoys a honeymoon his first season with a new team, so why should Buffalo be any different? Edwards will have both Owens and Evans to toss to a his first and second read.
2. WR Kevin Walter, Houston Texans. Great #2 or #3 option who racked up 900 yards and 8 TDs last year. Has a knack for getting open when Andre Johnson was double covered.
3. RB Donald Brown, Indianapolis. If Addai goes down, and he will at some point, look for Brown to be stellar. Also, too many coaches in Indy this year, so running and ball control will be paramount in a 2 back attack.
4. RB Ahmad Bradshaw, New York. With the departure of Burress, so too is gone the deep threat of a #1 (even a #2) flanker. Therefore, Eli may be looking short on his first reads on passing plays. Also, there is no longer a 3 headed beast at the running game with the departure of Ward.
5. QB Kurt Warner, Arizona. I see no drop of in his performance, and he has only gotten better with age, unlike Favre. True, he is 38, but he doesn’t have the normal wear and tear since he has spent long periods of time backing up other QB these past several years.
Panel Member – Ryan Ritter
1. RB Pierre Thomas NO – Reggie Bush might be the bigger name, but Thomas is poised to have a bigger impact this season. When the injury bug hit the Saints backfield, Thomas went to the starting role in week 11 and found paydirt in every week until he too was out in week 17. His average yards in those weeks: 79.1 (and that’s with a poor 34 yard outing against Tampa Bay). He is also a receiving threat, and during those weeks he compiled 19 receptions, 202 receiving yards (average: 33.7), and 3 receiving TDs.The Saints are ready to make Thomas their feature back this season and he will get far more touches than Bush; furthermore, he has also been running the Wildcat as the QB, meaning you may be able to find yourself with a passing TD here and there on top of his normal production. He has been projected as a solid #2 RB in most leagues, but I feel that after this year he will be a no-brainer #1 RB pick in nearly all league formats. He isn’t that big of a name…yet. So grab him before he is.
2. WR Devin Hester CHI – Yes, he hasn’t put up anything near impressive stats recently, but you need to consider the sub-par QBs that have been throwing the ball his way. With Cutler in Chicago, Hester should be poised to be a major deep threat and be a favorite target of Cutler. There has been a lot of talk about Hester and Cutler “getting on the same page” and when they do, I expect big things.There is a reason that Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal were so big in fantasy last season, while their talent does contribute, it helps to have a good QB getting you the ball. Hester will likely be hit or miss in the early weeks, but it will only take one big pass from Cutler to allow Hester to put up a solid fantasy score week to week. With that deep threat potential, and the likelihood of Hester of being the top target for Cutler, he is a definite risk worth taking and will likely be a good late round steal.
3. WR DeSean Jackson PHI – Pop quiz: name the last top tier receiver that the Eagles have had that isn’t currently freezing his rear end off in Buffalo. The Eagles and McNabb have been waiting a long time to get a major receiving threat that isn’t coming out of the backfield ala Westbrook and Jackson is the man for the job. Jackson had a superb rookie debut last season with 62 receptions, 912 yards, and 2 TDs. While most people in your league will likely have Jackson on their radar, much like Pierre Thomas, he isn’t being valued that high at all, again being thought more as a #2 choice at best. McNabb should be far more comfortable with Jackson this season, and with Westbrook almost guaranteed to go down with an annual injury, someone needs to be a big scoring threat. I expect Jackson to find the end zone much more this season and put up a 1,000 yard season without a problem. Add on to this he will return punts and also get a rushing opportunity here and there — in short the Eagles will be getting the ball into his hands as much as possible — get him on your roster.
4. TE John Carlson SEA – Alright, no I’m not just picking him because he is a fellow Domer and yes, seeing someone from Seattle on a sleeper list might be giving some of you a chuckle out there. But answer me this, do you know who the leading receiver was for the abysmal Seattle offense last year? None other than Carlson — oh and by the way, he did that only starting nine games. People might shy away from Carlson because Houshmandzadeh is now a Seahawk and would, in those people’s minds, steal too many looks from Carlson; however, I would say this would be to your advantage in drafting Carlson.Think Jason Witten and T.O. in Dallas — T.O. would draw the double coverage, leaving just Witten with easy mismatches all season long. Defenses will definitely key on Houshmandzadeh and Carlson will easily get his chances. This year he will start, and this year he will be in third down packages. The numbers will definitely come this season. In most leagues, he likely be drafted as a backup in the late rounds making him very low risk in your draft. At worst, he’ll be your BYE week replacement, at best, he’ll be in your starting lineup every week mid-season.
5. RB Felix Jones DAL – Yeah, yeah, I know, first a Domer now a Cowboy. No, my homer colors aren’t showing (I promise), Jones is on this list for a good reason. It wasn’t just Romo’s thumb that marked a nose-dive for the Dallas offense last season, but also the loss of Jones being part of the 1-2 punch with Marion Barber. Sure, Barber is going to be the back in goal line situations, but there is one thing that has been clear from Cowboys training camp: get Jones the ball.The Cowboys have been toying around with 2 RB sets and even the Wildcat during training camp for this very reason. There have even been rumblings around the area wondering if Jones wouldn’t be better as the main back and Barber going back to being the #2 in the 1-2 punch in the running game. The fact of the matter is that Jones has huge potential and the Cowboys definitely know it. Unlike most people on this list (whom are viewed as decent, and I project to be at or near the top tier by seasons end), Jones is more of your stereotypical sleeper pick.
The ball will end up in his hands far more often this season (and everyone in PPR leagues should definitely keep this in mind, he is a great Flex option every week), and every time the ball is in his hands, the big play potential is there. Make no mistake, Barber will still be the goal line option even if Jones is slated as the #1 RB during the season; however, Jones’ upside is still to large to ignore.
6. QB Michael Vick – If and when McNabb gets benched, look for Vick to step in and utilize Philly’s offensive weapons. Will probably get some snaps in the wildcat formation, as well.
7. RB Chester Taylor – He will spell Adrian Peterson at least ten times a game. Taylor can step in and play effectively if Peterson gets hurt, and put up decent numbers.
8. WR Earl Bennett – If he stays healthy, he can provide a good receiving option for Cutler amongst mediocre receiving corps. Big frame will make him an asset in the redzone.
9. TE Martellus Bennett – Dangerous in the redzone last year with huge frame and freakish speed, look for Romo to go to him more with T.O. gone. Will get more snaps this year with Dallas running more double tight end sets.
10. RB Rashard Mendenhall – He will be the thunder to Willie Parker’s lightning if he stays healthy. Would project to get many carries in the redzone because of his big frame and ability to bang the ball in between the tackles.
Panel Member – Nathan Holman
Although there are varying degrees of what someone might consider a sleeper and probably lots of articles out there where anyone and everyone picks Earl Bennett as a sleeper this year, I promise not to do that to you. If everyone targets Earl Bennett, you’ll likely have to take him higher than originally anticipated for the honor of rostering him – really negating the whole “sleeper” concept.
Really, what we’re talking about here is the value returned for the least investment. Here are some players outside the top 150 or so I think will outperform their draft spot. In the average league, we could probably call these “deep DEEP sleepers”:
1. QB Shaun Hill – pretty confident this guy will either go undrafted or you can grab him as the last guy in your draft to take a back-up QB. As of a couple of days ago, it seems like Hill has locked up the starting job. Depending on your scoring system of choice he’s averaged about 19 points per game that he’s started in the last 2 seasons which projected over a full season would easily land him in the top 10 fantasy QBs.
2. RB Mike Goodson – In my most long standing league – we’re pretty deep with the option to start 3 RBs in your lineup each week. If you aren’t that deep this sleeper might not come into play. But with with Jonathan Stewart’s nagging achilles looking more and more like it will cost him some real playing time during the season and Deangelo coming off a career year that I just don’t think he can repeat – Goodson looks like a good value at least as a late round pickup for a Jonathan Stewart owner.
3. RB Rashad Jennings – Same disclaimer as above, but the guy has been impressive in camp. I’m a believer in what Maurice Jones-Drew brings to the table, but if things go right for Rashard he could carve out small Fred Taylor-like role where he nabs 500 or so yards with a handful of scores. A decent option at RB3 or bye week fill-in with good upside if MJD goes down.
4. WR Mike Walker – We’ll go a little less deep with this one here – probably won’t get him as late since Mike seems to be a perennial sleeper, but this just might be the year. All the talent of college teammate Brandon Marshall, with a touch less speed and a touch less crazy.
5. WR Limas Sweed – last seen with a pretty weak injury and dropping a pass, but he represents good value with an ADP of around WR70. He’s being asked to fill Nate Washinton’s role which last year netted Nate WR40 at season’s end.