As Fantasy Football is finally upon us, keep an eye on these top 10 sleepers heading into Week 1 action.
Aug 13, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) carries the ball against the Seattle Seahawks in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
It is finally Week 1 of the 2016 fantasy football season! With injuries, suspensions and NFL cuts still impacting lineups, it’s time to do a little re-routing with your roster.
Keep in mind it’s not always about the name! Actually, it’s usually the players we don’t know that end up making the biggest impact on our leagues; that’s why they’re called sleepers!
Week 1 has a few familiar names, but several of the players I have identified are definitely players to take a gamble with. But hey, it’s fantasy football; the entire game is a gamble.
Keep in mind player status’ will change all week, probably even through early Sunday morning. So, keep an eye on these 10 sleepers for the rest of the week.
Next: 10. This Brown is ready to deliver
Aug 26, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) runs with the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
10. Robert Griffin III, QB Cleveland Browns
Robert Griffin III is one of those quarterbacks that want to believe, but you just can’t bring yourself to committing to all season. Not to mention, his star receiver, wide receiver Josh Gordon, is on a four-game suspension.
However, this week’s season opener offers Griffin an ideal matchup as he takes on the Philadelphia Eagles. As long as he can find Gary Barnidge, Terrelle Pryor, and Corey Coleman, Griffin should see double-digit fantasy points.
In earlier years, Griffin averaged 24 points per game against the Eagles, which is not far from the 20 he is projected in the Week 1 game. The Eagles rank 30th to the position which also increases his fantasy value.
If there was ever a week to take a gamble with Griffin, it’s now! He’s owned in less than 50 percent of leagues; don’t miss out on this Week 1 sleeper.
Next: 9. This Chief is taking charge in Week 1
Aug 27, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware (32) celebrates after his team scored against the Chicago Bears during the first half of the preseason game at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
9. Spencer Ware, RB Kansas City Chiefs
Head coach Andy Reid, of the Kansas City Chiefs, stated running back Jamaal Charles won’t be ready for the season opener against the San Diego Chargers. With the Chiefs main running back not in this week’s lineup, their plan is to use a running back-by-committee tactic.
However, the two backs that would be altering downs are Ware and Charcandrick West whose battling an elbow injury. With that in mind, Ware has an opportunity to earn a starting role should West not be healthy.
It is safe to assume whether the Chiefs use the running back-by-committee method or not, Ware will have the starting role and the majority of carries. For this reason, Ware is projected to earn double-digit fantasy points in this week’s match-up.
Ware is up for grabs in most fantasy leagues, as he is only owned in about 53 percent of leagues. With the Chargers ranking 27th against the position, he should definitely go above and beyond any expectations.
Next: 8. This Eagle is looking to soar
Aug 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Josh Huff (13) reaches for a pass as Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Doran Grant (24) defends during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
8. Josh Huff, WR Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Huff’s preseason performance earned him a spot on this week’s sleeper list. It still isn’t known if he will get a ton of playing time, but he definitely deserves honorable mention and should be tracked all week.
Huff not only offers value as a wide receiver, but he has the potential to earn points for his special teams’ performance as well. In last week’s preseason game, he completed 2-of-2 targets for the team high of 60 yards. He also added 10 yards and a touchdown which would have definitely satisfied fantasy owners.
On the upside, starting wide receiver Jordan Matthews was battling a knee injury during preseason which could offer Huff more playing time. Especially against a team who ranks 30th against the position.
Huff is projected to earn less than 10 fantasy points this week. However, if he gets more playing time that number will definitely increase. Huff is a player to keep your eye on until game day!
Next: 7. This tight end has the best matchup in Week 1
Dec 13, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Oakland Raiders tight end Clive Walford (88) catches a 25-yard reception in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos during an NFL football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Raiders defeated the Broncos 15-12. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
7. Clive Walford, TE Oakland Raiders
Last season, I cannot recall ever speaking about Clive Walford. However, in a league where high scoring tight ends are hard to come by, he is a definite sleeper for Week 1.
This week Walford and the Oakland Raiders play the New Orleans Saints. The Saints were not only the worst pass defense in 2015.
The Saints allowed the most passing touchdowns in NFL history and the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. This week’s matchup offers Walford an opportunity to dominate and show owners he is a fantasy value.
Just keep in mind the Raiders do target their wide receivers more than their tight ends but, Walford is still a great TE1/2 option and an even better flex player; he should earn double-digit points. Don’t fall short, start Walford!
Next: 6. A rookie will make this D/ST look incredible
Oct 19, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball against the New York Giants defense at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
6. New York Giants D/ST
I thought long and hard about this pick. Actually, it’s probably the longest I’ve ever thought about the New York Giants.
The Giants’ defense hasn’t produced much in the last few seasons. The team is only owned in about 40 percent of fantasy leagues this year.
But, the Giants stacked up during the offseason! Their preseason games showed more athleticism than we have seen in years. But, aside from all that, their weekly matchup is more than ideal.
The Giants take on division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Starting quarterback Dak Prescott may have had an impressive preseason, but if preseason doesn’t count then what do we have?
We have a fourth-round draft pick who was a third-string quarterback before several injuries canceled people out. Prescott is going to make the Giants’ defense look more than amazing this weekend, and they should definitely be considered in your lineup!
Next: 5. A new team offers this receiver high fantasy value
5. Rishard Matthews, WR Tennessee Titans
Rishard Matthews had an on and off season last year. Entering this year with a new team, Matthews is expected to offer a bit more consistency and fantasy value.
Although many owners are still hesitant to draft or start him, he is expected to start in Week 1 with Kendall Wright still suffering from a hamstring injury. Although Matthews will be sharing snaps with Tajae Sharpe, Matthews has an increased workload.
Head coach Mike Mularkey has stated he is impressed with Matthews and is expecting him to have more on his plate. If Matthews shows up, chances are he could keep his starting role.
This week he is projected to earn double-digit points against the Minnesota Vikings who rank 12th against the position. Matthews is a sure sleeper pick for Week 1.
Next: 4. This quarterback has a huge fantasy value
August 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes the football against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
4. Derek Carr, QB Oakland Raiders
When I analyzed this week’s matchups, I had to add quarterback Derek Carr to the list especially because many analysts still don’t trust Carr; even after a breakout 2015 season. With the Oakland Raiders taking on the New Orleans Saints, Carr’s fantasy value has skyrocketed this week!
His fantasy performance last season should have already been enough to start or draft him. He finished the season with almost 4,000 yards and 32 touchdowns.
This week’s matchup won’t be a challenge for Carr. The Saints rank last in the league against quarterbacks.
Carr is a solid QB1 option and is projected to earn almost 24 fantasy points in Week 1. One thing I just can’t figure out, why is he only owned in 80 percent of leagues?
Next: 3. This Titan received the Heisman Trophy
August 27, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (2) runs with the football against Oakland Raiders cornerback Keith McGill (39) during the second quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
3. Derrick Henry, RB Tennessee Titans
Rookie Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry is ready for his NFL début. Normally, I wouldn’t suggest starting a rookie Week 1 unless it’s Ezekiel Elliott, but Henry’s preseason performance left coaches, fans, and analysts speechless
Henry dominated the NFL preseason. He carried the ball 24 times for a total of 216 yards. He also completed three rushing touchdowns which tied for first among running backs during the preseason.
Henry will be playing second to DeMarco Murray but, will see time on the field; there’s no denying those stats. I also believe as soon as Murray slips up Henry will receive an increased workload.
Henry is projected to earn slightly under 10 fantasy points but, if he is given the opportunity to increase his snaps, his projected points should increase. Don’t sleep on this Week 1 sleeper.
Next: 2. This Bengals rookie is looking forward to his NFL debut
Aug 12, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) makes a catch against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Jabari Price (25) of the first half of a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
2. Tyler Boyd, WR Cincinnati Bengals
As a diehard New York Jets fan it kills me to start a weekly opponent. Unfortunately, this week, I cannot deny Tyler Boyd a spot on this list.
The Cincinnati Bengals lost two of their star receivers in the offseason, and tight end Tyler Eifert is ruled out of Week 1. Although Boyd will be playing behind Brandon LaFell, LaFell has a tendency to not show up and Boyd will most likely surpass him in the team’s lineup.
During his college career, Boyd beat Larry Fitzgerald’s record and now holds the highest receptions at 229. This rookie is going to be fierce, expect to see a show-stopping performance.
Next: 1. This Giant looks to end his two-year drought?
1. Victor Cruz, WR New York Giants
Many people will read this list and think Victor Cruz is not a sleeper, he was drafted in my league. However, Cruz is only owned in about 20 percent of fantasy leagues; I still can’t believe that!
Nobody trusts Cruz! A player who once dominated the fantasy football world hasn’t stepped onto a football field in two years.
But, Cruz is starting for the New York Giants in the season opener. Yes, the Giants have mega star Odell Beckham Jr. but, if he’s tag teamed by cornerbacks, safeties and anyone else that can stop him, quarterback Eli Manning will resort to Cruz.
As he steps back out on the field this weekend, Cruz has one intention; domination! He is looking for a comeback year, and a comeback year he will have! Start this week’s No. 1 sleeper while he’s still available.