Ranks's 11 Sleepers  

 

Hopkins, Hunter hold high sleeper potential

Not too long ago I was at Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, hanging out on a day bed. Looking at attractive people. Swigging overpriced drinks. And then the thought occurred to me: You know what would make this super rad right now? A football game.

All right, all right. I didn't think that. I wish I would have. Instead some genius in the Jacksonville Jaguars organization did.

Let me back up for a minute in case you missed it. The Jaguars announced recently they were going to add pools replete with cabanas and all you can eat/drink to their stadium offerings. In. The. Stadium.

Whoever that person is, you're the best. What a great concept. Of course, the innovative thinking of the Jaguars was met with a lot of lame jokes about the team and the stadium. Traditionalists will always be threatened by folks who think outside of the box. So go put on your letter sweater and don't let your knickers get caught up in a bunch.

I applaud the Jaguars for the new improvements to the stadium. I even draw inspiration from them. At some point, you need to buck tradition and do something radical. The Jaguars are getting the last laugh too, as the cabanas have already sold out.

So here are some more sleepers to hold you over the American holiday of the Fourth of July. I still love my guys from last month. But here are some more names you need to keep an eye on as we are headed into the drafts.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: I'll be honest, I felt like Hopkins was a bit of a disappointment last year for the Texans. Everybody was HYPED for him. That's right, I went all caps. But what happens when a guy you're geeked on kind of tanks (hell, Trent Richardson. Oh wait, just kidding, Trent. You really tanked!), is that it clouds your perception. Thankfully, I really enjoy reading the work of Chris Wesseling who featured Hopkins in Around the League's "Making the Leap" series. Not many guys would flourish with the Texans quarterbacks last year, so it was unfair to have such high expectations for Hopkins anyway. And honestly, I like Ryan Fitzpatrick more than most.

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans: You're going to need to be cautiously optimistic with Hunter. Remember when he absolutely blew everybody away at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2013, but his hands. Damn those hands. Hunter had a lot of drops. There was a story on the internet recently (I wish I would have bookmarked it, but you weren't going to go read it anyway, so evs) about how Jerry Rice had a bunch of drops during his rookie year and was almost out of the league. (And no, I'm not comparing him to Rice. So please stop your angry tweet before you start. Actually, I'm on vacation and don't give a [expletive] so go ahead anyway.) Terrell Owens was another dude who had a lot of drops. Again, not comparing him to T.O., but Hunter has tons of upside and talent, which is all we're really looking for with sleepers.

Josh McCown, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: He'll feel right at home with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, who will be a poor-man's version of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. And if you're concerned he was just a product of Marc Trestman's excellent coaching, don't be. Jeff Tedford is going to be an absolute boon as an offensive coordinator. Make your Joey Harrington jokes and whatever, but Tedford is a quarterback guru. Think about it, he made Joey Harrington look like a Heisman candidate. (Mind. Blown.)

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Let's put it this way, we all love the Eagles offense. But it can be a bit taxing. I mean, there would be weeks Ertz would be targeted six times, and then nil the following week. (Yes, I'm so into the World Cup, I'm now using 'nil' in my daily life.) One week Ertz had nine targets and a touchdown. He followed that up with only a single target the following week. But I'm going to roll the dice with Ertz later in the draft.

Jarrett Boykin, WR, Green Bay Packers: He's the third-man in the Packers' 3MB (three-man band), but being the third dude for the Packers might be better than being the top guy for some other organizations I won't call out. All right, I'm talking about the Raiders. But all you need to know about Boykin we learned in Week 6 when a couple of the Packers receivers went down with injuries. Aaron Rodgers wasn't scared about going to Boykin as he targeted him six times against the Ravens. He had just one reception, but the faith Rodgers showed in Boykin spoke volumes.


2014 FANTASY FOOTBALL SLEEPERS



Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Here's another receiver who had high expectations (shoot, Ryan Clark compared him to Mike Wallace in training camp last year), but failed to deliver. Although training camp hyperbole shouldn't persuade you one way or the other (all right, it did so sue me), but Wheaton is extremely talented. However, I do see him as the kind of guy who will make his come on big down the stretch, so be patient with him. And I guess you know what that means; he's going to have a monster season right after you say (expletive) it and release him. Just give me a head's up when you do.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints: I know a lot of you didn't spend a lot of time staying up late to watch Cooks dominate for Oregon State. Heck, I could barely stay up that late with an early call time on Sunday for NFL Fantasy Live. But that didn't stop me. And when I looked at mock drafts headed into May, I secretly hoped he went to a great situation. Then he went to possibly the best situation he could have gone to. Drew Brees has already said Cooks could pick up some of the production left behind by Darren Sproles. I understand Saints' receivers can be dodgy, but I'm going to make a bid for this guy. And really, it's an upset that Cooks wasn't included in all of the Pac-12 love I heaped during Rank's 11, the June edition.

Are you still reading with me, or just skimming at this point? Look we have just four more to go, so let's breeze through these.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Hey remember last year when I said Steven Jackson would end up being the MVP of the fantasy season? Yeah. Although, in my defense (SERIOUSLY, in my defense), Jackson was great in Week 15. Sure, he didn't do (expletive) for the rest of the season. But he came through during the playoffs and that was amazing. But yeah, don't expect anything like that this year. Or wait, maybe you should just expect one or two great weeks from Jackson. So make sure Freeman is on your roster, even if you're not using him as a handcuff.

Texans running back: The Texans have a stable of running backs behind Arian Foster, none of them outstanding. Andre Brown, Dennis Johnson and Jonathan Grimes will all battle to be the understudy of Foster. I kind of like Grimes, but it's foolish to try to handicap one guy so why not take the easy way out here? But whoever gets the nod for the gig should definitely be on your radar because I have the feeling this team will run a ton.

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders: But wait, the Raiders have Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden, you say. But what are the Raiders going to do for the remaining 12 games out of the season when both dudes are sidelined? The jokes just sometimes write themselves.

Denard Robinson, offense, Jacksonville Jaguars: We expected too much out of him last year, but I have a feeling they are going to find a use for him. Robinson isn't somebody you're going to need to draft right away, but keep an eye on him. A quick aside here that has nothing to do with fantasy (I know you're shocked by this development, because I'm 24/7 fantasy) but check this out. The Jaguars want to use Shoelace as a running back. He wore No. 16 last year. I'm praying he lines up in the backfield with No. 16. Kind of like Frank Gifford back in the 1950s. This would make me so happy.

All right, are we good? Because I've got a vacation to get to. Maybe even a trip to Jacksonville.

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.

Fan Discussion

NFL News
CONTENT
15