Nothing like a little time away with the family to refresh yourself. I have been gone to help my parents celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Once again, Robert and Sandy Latzke, congratulations on your 50 years together. It was very good to see everyone again on such a joyous occasion.
Speaking of reasons to celebrate, let us look at some sleeper candidates that could help you to that fantasy football championship that you have been looking for. In the most recent average draft position (ADP) data, by the 10th round (pick 100), your lineups in 10-team leagues should have 1.4 quarterbacks, 3.8 running backs, 4.0 wide receivers and .8 tight ends. I will give you several options to consider after the 100th pick, helping solidify your team and give you a step up on the rest of your league.
Andy Dalton (ADP 122)
The Cincinnati Bengals made the playoffs last year despite several injuries to the offensive line and not much production from the second wide receiver position. Cincinnati went out and acquired another pass catching tight end in Tyler Eifert and a better pass catching receiver out of the backfield in Giovani Bernard. With improvement expected from Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones in their second year and a healthy offensive line, Dalton should improve in his third year.
Carson Palmer (ADP 168)
Let’s face it, the cast of characters that played quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals last year was awful. That left a very bad taste in the mouth of every fantasy football player who drafted Larry Fitzgerald last year. Arizona decided to try and correct that and bring in Palmer to lead the offense. While Palmer may not be the most mobile of quarterbacks, he does still throw a very nice ball. Fitzgerald fans rejoice!! Word coming of Arizona continues to suggest that Michael Floyd has improved after his nice finish to last season. Many experts also expect improved tight end play with Rob Housler. The hope here is that the offensive line play can improve so that Palmer does not suffer from getting sacked too much. If so, Palmer could flirt with top 10 numbers.
Matt Schaub (ADP 167)
It seems like the Houston Texans have looked for a No. 2 wide receiver forever to lineup opposite Andre Johnson. Their prayers may have been answered during the NFL draft when they select DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson. Hopkins is faster and runs better routes then the departed Kevin Walter and should provide a much better option. Owen Daniels is still a very nice tight end and they should prove to be a nice 1-2-3 punch for Schaub to connect with. There is also word out of Houston that the workload for Arian Foster will decrease this year. Does that mean more for the passing game?? Schaub should find more opportunities in this year’s version of the Texans and could return to posting very nice fantasy numbers for you.
Pierre Thomas (ADP 156)
I know it is hard to look at a running back from a team that focuses so much on the passing game and appears set for a committee approach. It has been suggested that the New Orleans Saints will have a 50/50 type split between Mark Ingram and Thomas, yet Ingram has an ADP of 94 compared to the 156 of Thomas. Thomas also is a better receiver than Ingram. I believe Thomas outrushes, outcatches and outscores Ingram this year. He will prove to be a very nice find for all owners who draft him very late in drafts – you heard it here first!
Danny Woodhead (ADP 147)
Ryan Mathews had been touted as the man to handle the load in San Diego for years, but has yet to reach his potential. Part of that is not his fault; it is a terrible offensive line that the San Diego Chargers have. But let’s be real for a moment. If Mathews gets a pimple, he is out for three weeks. He misses too many games. The guy is fragile. Woodhead has proven himself to be a very effective receiver out of the backfield. Just ask Tom Brady. San Diego should be playing from behind for most of the year, and that suggests more passing. Exit Mathews and enter Woodhead. Woodhead outplays Mathews this year. Take it to the bank!
Joseph Randle (ADP 154)
Just like in the case above with Mathews, DeMarco Murray is a fragile man. Felix Jones has left to play for division rival Philadelphia, leaving the backup, and eventual starter, to Oklahoma State draftee Randle. This is still a high-powered offense, and the opportunities should be there. With Murray missing nine games in two years, you know that Randle will be mixed in regularly anyway, but he should be the starter in some games this year because Murray will most likely get injured again.
Michael Floyd (ADP 116)
As I stated above with Carson Palmer, things could be looking up in Arizona. Floyd improved during the second half of last season and has looked really good early this year. The Notre Dame product was drafted high for a reason, and he is starting to show some of those skills as a professional. In a division that is loaded with good defenses against the run, Arizona may need to pass more because the running game will be very suspect. Expect a big jump in his numbers.
Rueben Randle (ADP 150)
The New York Giants have used a multitude of wide receivers in recent years, and this year will prove the same. They do have two studs in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, but the No. 3 wide receiver plays often in New York, and Randle looks to be the man. So far this spring Randle has been the one lighting it up in camp and the coaching staff has already stated he will be on the field much more this year. Let us also not forget that Nicks has not been the healthiest out there. Randle should greatly improve on his numbers from last season and be a very nice late find in your fantasy drafts.
Ryan Broyles (ADP 140)
Nobody throws more than Detroit. Nobody. It should be that way again this season as the Lions try and keep pace in a very tough division. Calvin Johnson will be double or triple covered and still be the best wide receiver in the game, but those double and triple teams will mean more single coverage for everyone else. Broyles figures to be the No. 2 wide receiver this year and looked very good last year when he was healthy. His quick slants in the middle should prove to be very effective in what could be an explosive offense. Broyles should be the No. 3 wide receiver on most fantasy teams and prove to be a very wise pick late on draft day.