Training camps are in full swing and the preseason games are getting underway. Of course, everyone knows Aaron Rodgers, LeVeon Bell and Adrian Peterson will be first round picks in fantasy drafts but the key to a successful fantasy season is finding those diamonds in the rough or what fantasy players call a Sleeper. Players like C.J. Anderson and Odell Beckham Jr. exploded on the scene last year and they helped fantasy owners to Fantasy Glory. Here are a few possible diamonds in the rough at each position to target, a few of which could be available in mid to late rounds of your fantasy draft:
Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings is coming into his second year in the league with a lot of confidence. After coming in to replace an injured Matt Cassel last season, he was 6 and 6 as a starter with only 12 interception and 14 touchdown passes. He gets Adrian Peterson back into the fold this year after his suspension and the Vikings signed the speedy Mike Wallace. The game has slowed down for Bridgewater and this will help his production. The Vikings have the fastest set of receivers in the league. Also, he has a great tight end in Kyle Rudolph and a possible sleeper candidate in Mycole Pruitt. With A.P. back, plenty of weapons and Norv Turner as the Offensive Coordinator, Bridgewater has a chance to shine brightly this season and beyond.
Ryan Tannehill is in his 4th season with the Dolphins. He has increased his production each season. Surprisingly, in the 2nd half of last season, Tannehill was only behind Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Drew Brees in points scored by a quarterback in fantasy. The Dolphins added wide receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jordan Cameron to go along with weapons like running back Lamar Miller and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Greg Jennings. Tannehill has the potential to become a fantasy diamond this season and should be targeted as a starter or a highly valuable backup in all fantasy formats.
Ameer Abdullah is a rookie running back out of Nebraska and now with the Lions. If his 5-9 and 205 pound frame, pass protection or fumble issues in college becomes a problem for Abdullah, he will take a back seat to injured Joique Bell. However, if the back with a high football I.Q. and serious NFL burst decided to become a factor, Abdullah could be the steal of the draft. His Barry Sanders like run during his first NFL preseason games showed his talent and opened the eyes of a lot of fantasy players. I would target him and consider him a serious diamond candidate. He should be considered at least a RB3 in all fantasy formats and shine on this crazy wiggled hipped diamond.
In his third year with the Cowboys, Joseph Randle is poised to take over the starting role behind the Best Offensive Line in the National Football League after the departure of DeMarco Murray. At the same height as Murray and only 7 pounds lighter, Randle is faster than Murray. Even with Darren McFadden in the backfield, it will be a matter of time when McFadden will be on the bench with some type of injury. Randle has gained 12 pounds over the last three seasons and his 6.7 yards per carry last year is setting himself up for a monster year in Big D.
Devin Funchess is a rookie wide receiver out of Michigan and now with the Panthers. With Kelvin Benjamin out for the season with a torn ACL, Funchess has the size (6′ 4″ and 232 pounds) to become Cam Newton’s favorite target in the red zone due to the double coverage Greg Olsen will receive. He will clearly be the diamond out of a mediocre set of receivers such as Jerricho Cotchery, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn and Brenton Bersin.
Breshad Perriman, a rookie receiver for the Ravens is their replacement for Torrey Smith who left for the 49ers. At Central Florida last year he average over 20 yards a catch. He runs a 4.24 40 and he is a big receiver at 6′ 2″ and 210 pounds. His hands could hold him back where he dropped 8 passes last year. Being the son of a former NFL wide out Brett Perriman, he has the potential for over 8 touchdowns this season and he could be Joe Flacco’s number one target. Perriman currently has a strain and damaged tendons in his knee but the Ravens are confident he will be ready for week 1. This injury will clearly drop him down in many drafts. So, you could be the one who looks like a fantasy genius by giving this possible diamond a late flyer in a fantasy drafts.
Josh Hill is a second year player for the Saints. He has the size and athleticism that can replace Jimmy Graham, who was traded to Seattle. He will not receive the same amount of targets like Graham this season but he did score 5 touchdowns in limited action last season. With the increase in playing time, Hill has the potential to be Drew Brees’s favorite target in the red zone.
Delanie Walker is the starting tight end of the Titans. No Titans, since CJ2K, has put the fear of fantasy into opponents and neither will Walker. However, he was third behind Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen in 100 yards games by a tight end in 2014. He has ranked 12th and 9th in the last two season in fantasy points by a tight end and this was with up and down quarterback play. Now with Marcus Mariota at the helm and his potential to keep plays alive, Walker is smart enough to find seams in the defense to be a great complement to Mariota. Walker could end up being a nice shiny diamond at the tight end position.
Randy Bullock of the Texans has the potential to increase last years 8.8 fantasy points per game average. After a horrible 2013 season, he was able to score 130 points last year which was ninth in the league among kickers. He did convert on 4 field goals over 50 yards last season. With Bill O’Brien as head coach and better quarterback play, the Texans are going into the right direction. Bullock could have a chance to increase his chances this year.
Minnesota Vikings have the potential to be a very good defensive team this season. Head coach Mike Zimmer has led quality defenses such as the Cowboys and Bengals over the years. Last year’s defense recorded 40 sacks, but the turnovers were lacking. With 1st round pick Trae Waynes and the potential of linebacker Anthony Barr and defensive end Everson Griffen, the Vikings defense could shoot up to the top of the list. Also, special teams has a shot to shine with speedy Cordarrelle Patterson running back kick off this year and possibly Stefon Diggs (a rookie wide receiver and stud returner out of Maryland) running back punts. Points could come in bunches from this possible diamond in the rough.
The key to taking a fantasy team to the championship in any league takes luck and knowledge. The key is to find a diamond or two in the late rounds of your draft. These are some of my possible sleepers; Who do you feel are some possible Diamonds in the Rough? List yours in the comment section below.
Need more football analysis, position battles, injury news, waiver wire pick-ups, etc.., head on over to Fantasy Rundown. And don’t forget the rankings page with positional breakdowns from the top sites on the web.
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