Who is your QB sleeper for 2014?
Johnny Fantasy Football
How could we have a fantasy football sleeper chat without mentioning Johnny Manziel? He's not a traditional sleeper ... unless you live under a rock, you know his name and reputation. But Manziel is a rookie after all, and there are plenty of people out there who think he's too small and too "Hollywood" to thrive at the NFL level. I think he can because of his skills as both a passer and a rusher. During his time at Texas A&M, Manziel rushed for over 2,100 yards and 30 touchdowns. That translates to a boatload of production in fantasy land. So while he's going to be drafted as a QB2 in most leagues, Johnny Football could become a surefire fantasy starter before his rookie campaign is over.
Say yes to Geno
While Josh McCown is tempting in Tampa Bay now that his group of pass-catchers looks like a metropolitan skyline, I still like Geno Smith as a sleeper option late in drafts. The leader of Gang Green was coming into his own late last season, and now has another full offseason under his belt of studying Marty Mornhinweg's system. He's a threat to run and contributes valuable fantasy points from that respect most weeks. Factor in that he has new weapons in Eric Decker, Jace Amaro and Chris Johnson at his disposal and there's no reason the second-year man out of West Virginia can't make a splash in fantasy this season.
Read the Manuel
Since the Jets began making moves in free agency by signing Eric Decker, I've been driving the "Geno Smith as sleeper" train. But now, with so many people jumping on board, I'm going the hipster route and changing to a different AFC East quarterback.
That's right, EJ Manuel is the new QB to keep an eye on this offseason. Yes, he had his struggles last year -- but most of those struggles were connected to injury. In the first three games he played last season, Manuel averaged better than 17 points per game. He posted better than 15 points per game in hs final four contests. Now he has Sammy Watkins and an emerging Robert Woods to throw to. I like where this could go in 2014. Manuel won't be more than a QB2, but he could be the type of late-round pick that has you laughing at the rest of your league.
Get down with McCown
The quarterback position has become so devalued; during a recent mock draft here on NFL.com (cheap pop) I didn't even draft a quarterback. And it's not because I wanted to enter the danger zone. No, we're almost to the point where we can shuffle quarterbacks weekly and still get some pretty good production. So while the draft was in its final moments, I figured I would be able to get a pretty good quarterback off the waiver wire much later.
And the quarterback I want is Josh McCown. The veteran showed what he could do last year when given a chance to start. And he's going to get it in Tampa Bay because new coach Lovie Smith wisely chose to go with him headed into the 2014 season. McCown is going to have a lot of the same type of weapons he had in Chicago with Vincent Jackson and rookie Mike Evans. And if you fear McCown benefitted from Marc Trestman's coaching, take heart, because Jeff Tedford is going to do rather well as an offensive coordinator.
So hear me now, believe me at the end of the season, McCown is going to be a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
Gang Green means go
I get my sleeper comes with the caveat that he actually wins the starting job, but watch out for Geno Smith in 2014. Yes, he has Michael Vick breathing down his neck, but it's Smith's job to lose. Vick will only step in if Smith throws up on himself, which is the pre-arrangement, but that's not going to happen. After his benching last season he "got it" and was a terrific fantasy QB the last four weeks of 2013. The best part about Smith is he's going to make plays with his legs to the tune of 40-plus rushing yards per game with at least eight total rushing TDs. Being conservative, let's say he throws for 200 yards, a TD and an INT every week, play out those numbers: that's an average of 18 points per game, which is fantastic for a number two fantasy QB. Now add in Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Jace Amaro to the list of playmakers? Smith's value goes way up with two big red zone targets and a RB who can turn a five-yard swing pass into a 55-yard TD.