Look, I get it. The calendar hasn't even turned over to 2015, yet here we are ranting and raving about fantasy football sleepers for the 2015 NFL season. We must be crazy, right? Well, yes, but that's the case every day. In reality, we know that plenty of fantasy players have been ousted from the playoffs and might be looking ahead to next year. Or you're all just fantasy degenerates and need yet another distraction from your 9-to-5 day job. Well, fear not. This is the first of three "Way Too Early" fantasy pieces we'll spin out prior to the new year looking ahead at the 2015 season. Next week we'll give you our busts, and the week after that a mock draft. So sit back, relax and continue to pretend like you're actually working in case your boss walks by.
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins: In the year of the rookie wide receiver, Landry was the 12th receiver taken in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he currently owns the third-highest rating per Pro Football Focus' metrics and is the eighth in fantasy scoring among his rookie brethren. Landry didn't see the field as much as the rest of this lauded rookie class, but has become Ryan Tannehill's go-to target in the passing game in recent weeks. Landry will be an excellent sleeper to target later in fantasy drafts next year who could follow the trend of second-year breakout wide receivers.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons: I loved Freeman this offseason after watching him at Florida State and then seeing him put on a show in the preseason. The Falcons, however, thought otherwise and this trendy offseason sleeper pick crumbled into fantasy dust. Nevertheless, I'm doubling down in 2015 with Freeman as a sleeper. Jacquizz Rodgers' contract is up after this year, Antone Smith is coming off a broken leg and doesn't have a contract for 2015, and Steven Jackson will have one more year of wear and tear on his once powerful legs that are starting to resemble a set of balding tires. The offense will need a spark out of the backfield to help Matt Ryan and the passing attack, and odds are Freeman will provide that spark. He'll be able to be had at a bargain unless the offseason hype train gets back on the rails again.
WAY TOO EARLY 2015 FANTASY FOOTBALL SLEEPERS
Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans Saints: Many fantasy pundits liked Robinson this year but once the pads came on it was clear that Mark Ingram was going to run away with the Saints backfield. Ingram could parlay this successful season into a moderate contract on a different team, which would pave the way for Robinson to become the early down thumper/workhorse, while Pierre Thomas continues his superb work on passing downs. Robinson stands out on game tape, and was one of Around the NFL's "Making the Leap" candidates this offseason (before they saw Ingram take over the job). In an always high-powered Saints offense, Robinson could provide great RB2 or flex value in fantasy drafts next fall.
Crockett Gillmore, TE, Baltimore Ravens: We're diving a little deeper into the rosters here, but given the relative disaster of the tight end position this season, it's anyone's guess as to whom will emerge as a viable starter. I like Gilmore's odds as a 6-foot-6, 251-pound target in a Gary Kubiak offensive system. Owen Daniels, while great, is getting up there in age and next year the Ravens might start turning to their younger talent.
Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints: All of the talk this offseason was about Brandin Cooks, but with Cooks landing on IR and hitting his fair share of rookie slumps, 2014 turned out to be Kenny Stills' coming out party. In his rookie year, Stills basically ran nothing but go routes for the Saints which made him a total boom or bust fantasy play. This year, however, he has improved his route-running ability and has been able to get open on short and intermediate routes that aren't solely dependent on his speed. With Marques Colston slowing down, 2015 could be the year where Stills cements his status as the No. 1 wide receiver in the Saints high-octane offense.
Christine Michael, RB, Seattle Seahawks: I know several of my colleagues picked Turbin as a sleeper, but I'm still putting my eggs in Michael's basket. He's the more purely talented runner of the two, and has the skill set to be a featured back in the NFL. This will be a situation to monitor all offseason as neither of these guys will truly be a sleeper if Beast Mode is still in Seattle.
Lorenzo Taliaferro, RB, Baltimore RavensJustin Forsett's success in Baltimore has been one of the better feel-good stories of the season, and while the journeyman would love a long-term contract with the Ravens, I have a hard time seeing that happen since 29-year-old running backs don't typically get long-term deals. Especially with talented and young players like Taliaferro waiting in the wings. Taliaferro has shown he can produce in the NFL, and if he can square away his ball security issues he very well could secure himself the starting job in the Ravens' backfield in 2015. And if Forsett does return, Taliaferro could still have plenty of value as the thunder to Forsett's lightning in a committee situation.
Adrien Robinson, TE, New York Giants: Robinson was drafted in the fourth round by the Giants back in 2012 as a physically gifted prospect. He's been described as the "JPP (Jason Pierre Paul) of tight ends" by Giants GM Jerry Reese, but he's yet to live up to the potential of his immense physical gifts due in part to nagging injuries during his earlier seasons. With Larry Donnell an exclusive rights free agent in 2015, the time might be right for the Giants to truly see if Robinson can be their guy, rather than sign Donnell back for more money after he's put together an average season that includes four lost fumbles (by far the most among tight ends).
Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers: Adams has had the benefit of learning how to be an NFL receiver alongside two of the best in the game in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Oh, and he catches passes from that Aaron Rodgers guy, who I hear is pretty good. There are plenty of targets to go around in the Green Bay offense, and while I imagine the team will re-sign Cobb this offseason, as we saw recently against New England, the Packers aren't afraid of exploiting specific matchups at the expense of other players' production. With teams keying in on Nelson and Cobb again next year, Adams could turn in a sneakily productive season as the third wideout in a high-powered offense. He'll be a bargain in drafts next year.
Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Speaking of talented rookies, Moncrief is a size-speed freak who has strangely been buried on the Colts' bench all season behind the walking husk of Hakeem Nicks. Moncrief has been seeing more snaps lately and has landed firmly on the fantasy radar. Regardless of what the Colts do with their aging wide receivers next year (Nicks, Reggie Wayne), Moncrief will have excellent value as a sleeper. Much like with Adams, the guy throwing Moncrief the rock (Andrew Luck) is pretty good at what he does. That makes Moncrief an even more attractive sleeper candidate for 2015.