A happy Wednesday, or whichever day of the week you’re reading, to all my faithful followers and readers! It’s been quite the week thus far, and there are a few things I’d love to share before we get started. Our new home is also nearly built, with a settlement date of June 27th, and plan on moving July 5th. Moving means three weeks of packing, splurging and eating at all my favorite restaurants in my current area. Let’s be honest, discovering a solid restaurant in a new area is one of the joys of moving. Life changes are continuing to mount up and I’m very excited at all the new prospects!
How about that “Orange is the New Black” season 2? I’m only two episodes in, and already not sure how I feel about the changes. I know, I know, it’s a bit early to render judgment on a sophomore season of a very good show; however I’m hoping they get their feet settled and the show returns to form. Finally, Game of Thrones continues to be a fantastic show. It pains me to know there is only one episode left, and I can’t figure out why they don’t have more than 10 episodes in a season. It’s not like we wouldn’t watch, right?
Before we start discussing four gentlemen whom I believe to be very solid investments at their respective positions, I would like to discuss some of the conversation from my prior column.
I was incredibly surprised at the hate spewed forth by Bears fans. I stand by my belief that Jay Cutler has top 5 upside. I’ve yet to see another prognosticator who believes Mr. Cavallari has as much potential as I had stated. When you look at the freakish abilities of Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall, I don’t understand why there isn’t more belief in Cutler. Yes, he makes some bad decisions, but that trend is going to change this season. Remember, you heard it here first. I will acknowledge that I was a bit low on my yardage projection. For that, I apologize for some inaccuracy. It should have been higher, and my math was sketchy. As to those who were e-raged about me calling him “S-A-W-F-T Sawwwwft”, to you I say, “Oh well.” The knock on Cutler by many people I’ve spoken to, whether they are fans of the Bears or not, was his inability to stay healthy. That Cutler was a victim of odd injuries and carries the soft label. I read every word that you said and plan on devoting more attention to Jay Cutler this season. I want to see what you, the Reddit Bears fans, see in him which has you calling him tough.
Again, I very much appreciate the feedback whether it be constructive, supportive or trolling.
I did want to express that my recent views, rankings and opinions are based in Standard scoring leagues. I wanted to make that statement, as we have a wide range of readers and varying levels of skill. Each writer seems to have their niche when it comes to fantasy writings and it’s good to make sure the reader knows what our main focus is. Once the fantasy year gets closer, some of those opinions will change from Standard/PPR to the more expert level scoring systems. However, as I have yet to play in one of those leagues, I’m going to do a little mixture of both. Hopefully, the more people we can appeal to, the more traffic the site gets and the more ambitious, creative and driven our writers will become.
Now that we have that taken care of, we can get to the crux of my writings. This week, I would like to discuss four players who I feel are sleepers and must be taken into consideration when drafting. These are players you snag later in the draft that end up finding a spot on the starting roster and help you win your league!
QB – Josh McCown
I’ve always had this love for Josh McCown dating back (ding) to 2003 when the Cards knocked the Vikings out of the playoffs with McCown connected with Nate Poole on the final play of the game. Throughout the course of that game, I thought the young QB showed toughness and poise not usually seen in a back-up quarterback. He has shown steady progression throughout his career, but had always been relegated as a 2nd tier back-up QB. Those perceptions changed dramatically after Jay Cutler suffered a groin injury (no surprise there) and McCown (the only other active QB on their roster) was given the keys to the ship. He responded by having a huge 5 game stretch with a 66.5 completion percentage, 1829 yards and a 13-1 touchdown to interception ratio. The back-up became so beloved in Chicago that Cutler’s return sparked a huge controversy as to who should be the starting QB in the Windy City.
The story wrote itself as Cutler returned, unperformed and ‘Da Bears missed the playoffs. A few months later, McCown was packing his bags to head to beautiful Tampa Bay. In Tampa, McCown should be the clear-cut starter as Mike Glennon did a fine job, but not solid enough to convince the Bucs brass to not sign a competitive back-up. In Tampa, McCown will look to be the starter and have a very solid offense around him. The dual threat of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will terrorize defenses this season, while a healthy offensive line and much improved running game will give him time to do what needs to be done. My projection, Josh McCown finishes in the top 15 of quarterbacks and offers a remarkable #2 on your roster. Look for McCown to finish with 3800 yards, 32 TD’s, 14 Interceptions and 270 completions.
RB – Ray Rice*
As of this writing, the NFL has not issued any suspension or punishment against Ray Rice. The expectation, so says the internet, is a suspension of 4-6 games. As such, this will still allow Ray Rice to provide immense value to any fantasy roster. What we need to do is look at the big picture vs. a single season of poor performance. Keep in mind faithful, that from 2009-2011 Ray Rice led the league in total yardage. While 2012 was a slight reduction from his league leading stats the years before, he still put up respectable numbers and was a top 10 selection in almost all drafts. The big question became, “Where was Amy Dunne?” No, that’s not right. The big question was what exactly happened to the former elite back in 2013. What we do know is Rice battled an early season hip flexor injury and later suffered an injury to his quadriceps. Additionally, the Ravens had one of the league’s worst run blocking offenses and only averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Those things, along with rumors of turmoil in the locker room over the handling of Joe Flacco and various free agents, left Rice with a bad taste in his mouth. The poor rushing allowed the Ravens to part ways with Jim Caldwell and bring in Gary Kubiak. The former Texans head coach worked very closely with Arian Foster, and that pairing resulted in elite numbers for Foster. The addition of Kubiak, a refined focus towards running, and re-solidification of the offensive line mean a return to form by Ray Rice. I look for Rice to have 800 rushing yards, 250 passing yards, and 12-14 touchdowns. Those numbers are also reflective of Rice missing 4-6 games.
*I recognize he may not be viewed as a deep sleeper, so we will call him a sleeper.
WR – Marvin Jones
I didn’t have a lot of knowledge of Marvin Jones, until a recent addition to the IFFL (My home fantasy league) called his name in the late rounds of our draft. Sean was new to my fantasy league so I wasn’t quite sure of his skill level, meaning his drafting of relatively unknown Marvin Jones turned a few heads. I knew he was a Bengals fan, so I assumed he was drafting Marvin Jones simply because he played for his favorite team. When he picked him, I exclaimed, “Marvin Jones!?” He looked at me and said, “Just you wait.” And wait I did, and produce Jones did. That sentence was very poorly structured, but it conveys the underlining sentiment in relation to Marvin Jones. Marvin Jones was a breakout stud in 2013. Last year, he emerged from his shell producing 10 touchdowns, 712 yards and 51 receptions on 80 targets. Andy Dalton has progressively gotten stronger, and the emergence of Marvin Jones certainly attributes to that improvement. In Jones, Dalton finally has that reliable #2 threat when AJ Green cannot create separation, or faces extreme double teaming. Jones has, in his two-year career, already set a franchise record of four touchdowns in a single game as well as a playoff record of 130 yards on 8 receptions in the playoffs. This is only the beginning for Marvin Jones as he will continue to receive looks and the end result will be a top-tier receiver. Look for him to finish well inside the top 20 with 1000 yards, 11 touchdowns and 68 receptions.
TE – Garrett Graham
I’m actually shocked at how low the professionals have Graham ranked. Graham did finish 16th overall of fantasy TE’s, but that was while sharing duty with Owen Daniels. This year, Garrett Graham will be the #1 TE on the Houston Texans, and with that change, you can expect to tack on additional numbers. The Texans new head coach Bill O’Brien has also stated his respect of Ryan Fitzpatrick and how he wants Fitzpatrick to make intelligent plays with the ball, specifically passing to the tight end or checking down to the running back when the first option is not available. Knowing the coach is encouraging the QB to look to his TE often is a very telling statement on the potential output for Garrett Graham. If we assume that Graham will assume all production that Daniels had, the resulting numbers would have placed Garrett Graham in the top 7 of fantasy tight ends. I understand that practice is not always accurate, but I’m basing it on tight end production and cheating a little. Regardless, Graham looks to be a lock for 800 yards and 8 touchdowns which is very respectable for a very late round starting tight end.
As with all columns, thank you for taking the time to read my opinions. I welcome any comments or critiques on what I’ve written above. Do you agree? Am I insane? Would you like to send me a gift for my unborn child and/or a house-warming gift? Let me know and keep supporting the sites and the other authors. Cheers and have a great week.
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