The advent of NFL training camps is upon us as teams approach their first preseason games. With the return of football comes the return of our favorite form of legal sports betting, fantasy football. As you scour the internet for the latest news and rankings getting ready for your league’s draft, we’ll be providing you lists of the top fantasy prospects by position for this season. We’ll begin with the most important position on the field and likely on your team: quarterback. (Note: All fantasy stats are based on CBSSports.com scoring/rankings from last season and projections are based on this year’s CBS Sports’ projection)
Every year in fantasy, the search is on for those potential breakout players who can make you look like a genius for drafting them. Most times, this search involves more than a bit of luck and just the right amount of research. So, to try and aid in that search, we’ll take a look at CBS Sports’ ADP (average draft position) and try and pick out ten sleepers, of varying positions, who could make a big impact on your team this season. The guys from CBSSports.com offered some of their picks in the video above.
Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans (ADP 83)
Mariota isn’t necessarily the quintessential definition of a sleeper, I get it. The Titans third-year QB broke out with 3,426 yards, 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions through the air last season while adding 60 carries for 349 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He was 13th among QBs last year in fantasy points with 315 total, and that’s despite missing a game due to injury. He could easily join the top 10 of fantasy QBs especially considering the multiple weapons that the team added to their arsenal this summer. Mariota’s draft position right now is about the end of the sixth round in your typical 12-team draft.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens (ADP 96)
The guys have West as one of their sleepers, and I’m agreeing with them here. I would expect West to get the lion’s share of the carries in the Ravens offense despite the addition of Danny Woodhead. Woodhead will leech potential receptions from West, but he likely won’t get as many opportunities to carry the ball. With an average draft position that has him going in the 8th round, West is a really good value especially when you consider his projections. He’s projected for 220 carries totaling 891 yards and four touchdowns for 129 fantasy points. That’s a solid eight per game averaged which should put West in consideration for your 2nd RB/Flex spot and a sub for any bye weeks for your top guys.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Baltimore Ravens (ADP 105)
Another Raven makes the list as Jeremy Maclin seems to be getting overlooked, at least according to this early ADP number. Granted, he’s coming off a down year in Kansas City where injuries limited him to just twelve games. This season, he joins a Baltimore squad desperate for a No. 1 receiver option and he should fill the role nicely while allowing young guys like Breshad Perriman and Kenny Bell to grow. Mike Wallace is still here, but you never know what he’s going to provide. Plus, Maclin’s more of a possession receiver than Wallace and I’d expect him to get more targets from Joe Flacco (or whoever is playing QB). He projects for 99 fantasy points this year in CBS Sports’ system, so he’s definitely worth a flyer.
Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (ADP 109)
Hunt is a rookie, and he’s one of two on this list of sleepers. There’s always a risk when picking rookies to make an impact in fantasy, so take this with a grain of salt. But, Hunt was ridiculously productive in college, rushing for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns while sporting a 6.3 yards per carry average. The key though, is that he also got to show off his receiving ability in his senior year, hauling in 41 passes for 403 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs backfield features Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West along with veteran CJ Spiller, but Hunt looks capable of carving out a role, especially considering none of those backs have been wildly productive in feature roles. Available in the beginning of the 9th round, Hunt is a rookie that I like.
Pierre Garcon, WR, San Francisco 49ers (ADP 116)
Garcon joins a San Francisco team that was largely bereft of offensive skill position talent last year. He becomes the clear cut No. 1 guy and, despite the likelihood of Brian Hoyer getting starts under center, he’ll get plenty of targets. Somebody has to be the leading receiver on this squad and Garcon is the most likely to do it ahead of Marquise Goodwin and Jeremy Kerley. Garcon is projected for 91 fantasy points with 71 receptions for 796 yards and three touchdowns. As an average 9th round pick, Garcon is worth a spot on the roster.
CJ Prosise, RB, Seattle Seahawks (ADP 121)
Prosise didn’t get to see the field much last year, playing in just six games, but in those six games he showed a diverse skill set that should have him in a nice role in the offense this year. While the Seahawks added Eddie Lacy, Lacy hasn’t been particularly productive the past few years and Thomas Rawls is also coming off injury after not being effective as the starter last year (3.2 YPC). Prosise is a threat in the running game (5.7 YPC) and receiving (12.2 yard per reception) and, if he can stay healthy should be a factor in the Seahawks offense this year. CBS Sports projections have him listed for 92 fantasy points and that number could be surpassed if Lacy and Rawls struggle. Available in the 10th round, Prosise could be worth a flyer behind your starting backs.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts (ADP 139)
Doyle is the primary tight end target now for the Colts with Dwayne Allen departing this offseason. That immediately should make your ears perk up as Colts TEs were targeted 149 times last year and Doyle saw 75 of those targets. That number will likely increase, meaning an increase in his numbers. Andrew Luck’s injury status should be a concern with any Colts skill guys that you’re thinking about drafting, but, with tight ends, they tend to become the security blanket for any new QB that gets thrust into a starting role so Doyle’s projections (51 rec 543 yds 4 TD, 68 points) should be reachable regardless. And, with a healthy Luck, I’d expect him to surpass those.
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings (ADP 140)
Thielen led the Vikings in receiving yards (967), was second in touchdowns (5) and third in receptions (69) last season. Yet, somehow, despite that performance, Thielen is lasting until, on average, the 11th round in drafts. He clearly developed a rapport with Sam Bradford last year with Stefon Diggs battling injuries and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue. Yes, the Vikings brought in Michael Floyd and are hoping for more out of Laquon Treadwell, but Thielen should still get good opportunities. He’s projected to record 91 fantasy points by CBS Sports which is good value late in a draft.
John Ross, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (ADP 144)
Ross is another of this rookie class that could make an immediate impact. He’s slight in stature (5’11”) and has been dealing with a shoulder injury that has kept him out until recently. However, he has blazing speed (4.22) and will look to provide another option for Andy Dalton outside of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. The Bengals do have another young receiver in Tyler Boyd, who was solid in his rookie season last year, so again, there’s risk to Ross. But, CBS Sports is projecting him to post 72 fantasy points and as an 12th round pick, he could be a nice flyer to take in case he breaks out early. That way you won’t have to fight for him on the waiver wire.
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons (ADP 145)
Hooper is part of an Atlanta offense that has a multiplicity of options with receivers Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel along with running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. So, you may wonder where Hooper’s touches will come. That’s fair. But, by some reports coming out of camp, Hooper looks to be featured a bit more this season.
Hooper showed some good things in limited chances in 2016 (19 catches 271 yards 3 TD) and he currently sits atop the depth chart at TE heading into his sophomore season. CBS Sports projects him as the 14th TE in fantasy with 76 total fantasy points. Available in the 12th round, Hooper could be a solid tight end option.
Watch the video above to see how many of these guys are also on Jamey and Dave’s list of sleepers for this season.