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Fantasy Football Sleepers for Every Position
Fantasy Football 2014
A Quarterback driven league
While running backs are popular for the early picks in the first round of fantasy drafts, the NFL has shifted to being a league where the quarterback becomes the greatest producer on an offense. Running backs like LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson are still most likely to be selected in the top three picks of the majority of fantasy drafts, but the possibility exists that a quarterback this season could challenge the production of Peyton Manning from last season. Given the overall depth at the quarterback position in the NFL today, it is not at a premium in fantasy drafts. With that said, the goal of every fantasy owner is to draft the most productive team possible. In some cases this may require going with an unconventional pick that may have some risk to it. To help take some of that risk away, some sleeper players across the board have been identified for fantasy football owners. While it may not be easy to get every one of these players, one or two of them could boost a fantasy team to greatness in 2014.
Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns - Hoyer makes a great bench option at quarterback as an accurate passer, and the 35th ranked quarterback in ESPN's fantasy quarterback rankings. There are some concerns about Hoyer coming off an inconsistent preseason, but he has the talent to overcome that as he makes his return from ACL surgery. As a quarterback who is largely a pocket passer, the limitations he faces coming back from ACL surgery, will not be the same as what Robert Griffin faced last season as a scrambling quarterback returning from the same injury. Behind a strong offensive line for the Cleveland Browns, Hoyer should be able to put together a strong season as he holds off Johnny Manziel for all of 2014.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings - Like Hoyer, Bridgewater is also an accurate passer, but has yet to gain experience in an NFL regular season game. Bridgewater may not win the starting job out training camp for the Vikings as a rookie, however he will get the starting job at some point in the 2014 season. When the Vikings go with Bridgewater as their starting quarterback, that is the time to for your fantasy team to go with him as your backup quarterback. After monitoring his performance early, it will become likely that Bridgewater could start outperforming a fantasy starting quarterback that is ranked outside the top ten in ESPN's fantasy quarterback rankings.
Chris Johnson, New York Jets - After being released by the Tennessee Titans in the offseason, Chris Johnson has something to prove with the Jets. Being on a run first team helps ESPN's 25th ranked fantasy running back, and he should be able to show some of that form that allowed him to run for two thousand yards in 2009. As the Jets feature back, Chris Johnson is likely to get close to 300 carries this season and once again should be able to go well over 1,000 yards. With young quarterback Geno Smith at the helm for the Jets, Chris Johnson will likely become one of his favorite targets when pass plays break down. Chris Johnson does not figure to get all of the goal line carries for the Jets, but his speed should allow him to break free for touchdowns often enough that his touchdown total allows him to be among the top fantasy running backs in 2014.
Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens - While Ray Rice is suspended for two games in 2014, he will return with something to prove after having a career worst season for the Ravens last year. Rice has a nose for the goal line, so he rarely comes out of the game for the Ravens in red zone opportunities. Before last season, Ray Rice was among the best at catching passes out of the backfield, and he should return to that form for the Ravens this year. Look for Rice to gain over 1,000 yards for the Ravens on the ground, as well as adding points to your fantasy team with a significant number of receptions. As a great goal line runner, Rice should once again reach the 10 touchdown mark in the 14 games he expected to play for the Ravens this season.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles - The Eagles are looking for a dependable target to help replace the production lost by the departure of DeSean Jackson. Jeremy Maclin continues to deal with setbacks as he tries to return from a torn ACL last season, and Riley Cooper is currently injured as well. The dependable target that the Eagles are looking for, is on their roster in the form of rookie Jordan Matthews out of Vanderbilt. Matthews has already produced a 100 yard receiving game during the preseason, while displaying the ability to run crisp routes, gain separation and bring down the highlight reel catch. These qualities make him a great second option as a fantasy wide receiver, or a dependable player who can be slotted into the flex spot in the lineup.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings - As the 24th ranked receiver in ESPN's fantasy wide receiver rankings, Patterson represents good value in a player that should emerge as a number one receiver for what could be a dynamic Vikings passing attack. Patterson is a big target at 6'2" 220 pounds, who has break away speed if given room to run after the catch. Starting opposite Greg Jennings should allow Patterson to become the most targeted wide receiver on the Vikings squad in 2014. Patterson's size and leaping ability make him a great red zone threat which should make for a lethal combination in fantasy football this season.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams - With Shaun Hill filling in for the injured Sam Bradford, he will likely find his comfort zone by throwing to his big target at tight end early and often. The Rams do face some bad passing matchups within the NFC West, but with Cook likely to be matched up against linebackers and safeties, Seattle is the only defense that poses much of a threat to him in fantasy. Jared Cook possesses the size and speed that it takes to be a star at the tight end position, and fortunately for thorough fantasy owners he has not yet had his breakout season.
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles - While Brent Celek's playing time is threatened by the looming emergence of teammate Zach Ertz, he still remains as the Eagles starting tight end. In an offense that plays at a very high pace, Celek should be able to produce a big season for fantasy owners due to being targeted more often than tight ends that play in a more traditional offense. Even with the emerging of Zach Ertz, Brent Celek as the 39th ranked tight end in ESPN's fantasy rankings, still remains as one of the Eagles most dependable red zone targets which should allow him to produce a significant point per game average in 2014.
Highlighted here are the strengths of some of the NFL players that could be the difference between winning and losing a fantasy football championship for some of more dedicated fantasy football players. For beginners or some of the more casual fantasy football players, these players could be the difference between having your team out of the race early, to having your team playing meaningful matchups late into football season. Ultimately it is up to the fantasy owner how they choose to manage their rosters, but each and every one of these players are names that could slip past just about everyone else in any given league.