Top 10 fantasy football sleepers for 2016
Jan 3, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) throws the ball during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
As Fantasy Football will be here before we know it, these top 10 sleepers will make owners everywhere happy for what they bring to the table.
Fantasy football draft day is coming. The usual suspects will top everyone’s draft boards. Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr. and Le’Veon Bell won’t sneak up on anyone. The only thing that will shock people is if they don’t succeed.
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Last season’s sleepers won’t sneak up on anyone either. Unlike in the actual game, your fantasy football championship won’t be won on the backs of the stars. It will be based on your ability to pick players that no one sees coming.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 sleepers to consider drafting heading into the upcoming fantasy football season.
Next: 10. A rookie that can help you at two positions
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Charone Peake (19) warms up before playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
10. Charone Peake
Peake might be used by the New York Jets primarily in is special teams role. He has amazing speed and he can be used as their deep threat.
His best position will be flex as a rookie and he must be used there in a standard league. If you play in a PPR league, stay away because his catches may be limited.
However, he can help you at flex and D/ST. So if you take him, make sure you can can land or have landed the D/ST of the Jets.
Having that dual threat option to help you is good in fantasy. Take Peake late if he’s available come draft time.
Next: 9. A quarterback ready to thrive
Dec 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) looks to pass against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
9. Geno Smith
That’s not a typo or a misprint. Smith is on this list and it’s because of who his offensive coordinator is, Chan Gailey.
Let’s look at some quarterbacks who’ve played under Gailey as offensive coordinator:
Gailey seems to have to propensity of getting the best out of his quarterbacks, regardless of their history. Smith’s rookie season was better than his second season:
Smith has a much better arm than Fitzpatrick, and he can attack opposing defenses when the Jets; defense forces turnovers. Expect big things from him in 2016.
Next: 8. A must pick kicker
Nov 28, 2015; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles place kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks a field goal against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida State defeated Florida 27-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
8. Roberto Aguayo
Normally rookies and kickers are not on sleeper lists and Aguayo is both. When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, it shocked everyone, but you need to look to the Buccaneers as your example.
Maybe you shouldn’t take him early, but he’s the best kicker you can draft. He’s the first kicker that should be off the board without question.
Like completion percentage for quarterbacks, field goal percentage is a good marker for kickers. He had converted 88.5% of his field goals in his college career, including all of his field goals inside 40 yards.
Extra points were moved back and they are no longer a guaranteed point after touchdown, as only five teams converted all of their extra points in 2015. Aguayo should be on your radar and is a must draft thanks to his overall consistency.
Next: 7. Rookie dual threat running back
Sep 26, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) runs for a touchdown in front of Massachusetts Minutemen cornerback Kelton Brackett (1) in the second quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won 62-27. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
7. C.J. Prosise
He entered Notre Dame as a wide receiver. He ended his college career as a 1000-yard, 10+ touchdown running back.
If you can pick him up late, he will make a great flex player, because he can run the routes well, run up the middle and even outside. The Seattle Seahawks got a steal in the third round in this year’s draft.
Expect Prosise to be a more polished version of running back Bilal Powell, because he has the experience as a receiver to run more routes. The Seahawks can also use him in the slot if need be.
He will do great things this year so be sure to draft him late if you need it.
Next: 6. Keep an eye on this Jacksonville Jaguar
6. Blake Bortles
In 2014, Bortles had one 300-yard game and two multiple touchdown games. He followed that up in 2015, with six 300-yard games and 11 multiple touchdown games.
With those numbers, you may be asking why he’s on this list. There’s one glaring hole in his game, interceptions.
In his first two seasons, he has had five multiple interception games in each season. He will have to fix that and should this upcoming season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were unable to fix their offensive line problems, which could be the impetus for the interceptions. He has been sacked 106 times in his first two seasons, but he should be able to continue to improve. Keep an eye on him as he can have a breakout season in 2016.
Next: 5. A WR2 ready to break out
Jan 3, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty (32) moves in as Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker (11) makes a catch this second quarter touchdown at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports
5. DeVante Parker
Parker was a no-show early last season, and that’s speaking literally. He had zero catches and targets in seven of the Dolphins’ games through Week 11.
He began to show signs of life in the final six weeks of the regular season. He had 42 targets with 22 catches, 448 yards and three touchdowns.
With a new head coach in town with Adam Gase, their offense should be much-improved which bodes well for Parker.
Parker can breakout this season and he’d make a good WR2, especially with quarterback Ryan Tannehill making big improvements in his game.
Next: 4. A running back to prove naysayers wrong
May 18, 2016; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson Jr, (29) runs with the ball during official training activities at the Cleveland Browns training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
4. Duke Johnson
Normally, a running back entering his second season wouldn’t be this high on my board, but Johnson is coming in with something to prove. He must prove his doubters wrong.
Johnson is entering a running back by committee approach with the Cleveland Browns which means he should see a platoon role in 2016. However, you want a running back with his skill-set with a chip on his shoulder on your fantasy team.
He has blazing speed and with the Browns looking to put their city on the map like their NBA counterpart has done this year, expect to see them use him to his potential.
Anyone with that kind of breakaway speed is crucial. With those skills, he should be viewed as an RB2 or flex option.
Next: 3. Second year receiver due to breakout
Nov 29, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper (89) has a pass broken up by Tennessee Titans defensive back Perrish Cox (29) during the second half at Nissan Stadium. The Raiders won 24-21. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
3. Amari Copper
Last year in his rookie season, Cooper had a 1000-yard season. He added six touchdowns to his 1,070 yards on 72 catches.
Cooper and quarterback Derek Carr seemed to have a connection. It’s a good sign that a young wide receiver and a young quarterback have a connection early in their careers.
Entering his sophomore season, Cooper should have an even bigger year as the Raiders are early favorites to win the AFC West.
Cooper will make the next step undoubtedly. Carr will make him better and that combo could lead the Raiders to major success for years to come.
Next: 2. A gunslinger ready to breakout
Nov 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) prepares to throw a pass against the New York Jets in the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Jets 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
2. Derek Carr
He’s certainly no David Carr. He doesn’t seem to get rattled and he improved tremendously in his second season.
In 2014, Carr had one 300-yard passing game and six multiple touchdown games. He followed that up with six 300-yard games and 11 multiple touchdown games and all of which had multiple touchdowns in all of his 300-yard contests.
Of his six multiple touchdown games in 2014, two included three or more touchdowns. In 2015, he had five games in which he threw at least three touchdowns.
One thing he will have to work on is multiple interception games, because in his first two seasons he has had seven games with multiple interceptions (four in 2014 and three last season). Carr should be on the radar to be a starting quarterback for fantasy leagues everywhere.
Next: 1. Rookie quarterback on a championship team
Feb 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch throws a pass during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1. Paxton Lynch
It may sound crazy having a rookie quarterback at No. 1 on this list, especially one that might not even be the starter. He will start for the Denver Broncos though, because Mark Sanchez‘s role is best as a backup.
Last season with Memphis, he completed 66.8% of his passes, which generally is a good sign, even against the American Athletic Conference. Completion percentage is the best barometer of a quarterback’s performance and his completion percentage improved in both his sophomore and junior seasons.
In addition to his completion percentage (296-443), Lynch added 28 touchdowns and only threw four interceptions. He did okay against quality competition with mixed results, going for 384 passing yards and two touchdowns against Ole Miss and 108 and zero touchdowns against Auburn in the bowl game.
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He can make all the NFL throws and will prove that he can learn the game by the time training camp breaks. The Broncos have good talent around him, so he should be able to deliver when his number is called upon at some point this upcoming season.