NFL Fantasy Sleepers

Any fantasy novice can see that Peyton Manning or LaDanian Tomlinson is a top fantasy player, but it's often the late round sleepers that win fantasy titles. We've analyzed some top fantasy sleepers that may be bargains in the later rounds of your fantasy draft.


Antwaan Randle El – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers

We've watched this guy since he was playing quarterback at Indiana University. Clearly the best athlete on the field in college, the Steelers drafted him and made him a receiver. Randle El is a playmaker on the field and (as we predicted) was recently named to start opposite Hines Ward. In addition to some big receiving TDs this season, expect him to attempt a few passes. As an added bonus, Randle El should also lead all NFL wide receivers in rushing as the Steelers look for him on end around, reverse, and gadget plays.

Kerry Collins – QB – Oakland Raiders

It's difficult to define Collins as a "sleeper" with the well publicized move of top NFL wide receiver Randy Moss to the Raiders, but a few fantasy owners may still be caught off guard. We're not saying that the Raiders are an elite team in the NFL. But owner Al Davis, QB Kerry Collins, and newly acquired Moss love the deep ball. And Collins knows how to throw it. With Moss expected to catch 15 touchdowns and 1500 yards this season, Kerry Collins will put up some fine numbers and should not be overlooked.

Thomas Jones – RB – Chicago Bears
Don't dismiss Thomas Jones just yet. The Bears' offensive scheme focuses heavily on the run. Plus, they have the defense to keep them in a few more games this season. Although the Bears drafted Cedric Benson with their 1st round pick, Jones may be the better back. In a season where the Bears won only five games, Jones put up almost 1500 total yards in his thirteen games last year. Benson signed a contract just last weekend and will have to earn his job (or hope Jones falters) while he watches from the sidelines during September.

Travis Taylor – WR – Minnesota Vikings

Randy Moss left town for Oakland and left Nate Burleson as the number one wide receiver in Minnesota by default. Duante Culpepper is the real deal at QB and will again put up top numbers,...even without Moss. Most have Marcus Robinson as the starter opposite Burleson, but we believe off-season acquisition Travis Taylor has the talent to start and could see a large share of passes thrown his direction. Don't let Taylor's previous performance in Baltimore's abysmal passing offense be a factor.

J. J. Arrington – RB – Arizona Cardinals
Arrington rushed for over 2000 yards in 2004 on his way to Pac-10 MVP honors in his senior season at Cal. Although veteran Marcel Shipp has outplayed Arrington this pre-season, Arrington is expected to get the nod behind a strong Arizona offensive line. Newly acquired former MVP quarterback Kurt Warner has two very strong wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to help ease the running game for Arrington. Averaging seven yards per carry last year, Arrington hopes to be the running back that helps carry Dennis Green and the Arizona Cardinals to the next level.

Charles Rogers – WR – Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions have arguably the most talented trio at the wide receiver position. Charles Rogers may be the most talented of the three, with natural ability rivaling Randy Moss. However, heading into his third season, Rogers' two collarbone fractures have limited him to only a few downs in his first two seasons. The only question with Rogers appears to be his health. He bulked up to 220 this off-season in an attempt to shake the injury bug. Provided Rogers stays healthy, he could put up a monster year in Detroit's loaded offense.

Larry Johnson – RB – Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City has the best offensive line in football, without question. Priest Holmes has everything in place to have another huge season. In 2004, Priest scored 14 touchdowns in his first eight games prior to being sidelined with a knee injury. Larry Johnson came in and scored nine TDs in his last six games in Priest's absence. Holmes may stay healthy all season, but he's 31 and at an age where most RBs begin to tire. KC may start to spell Holmes with Johnson a bit more in 2005. If Holmes goes down for any reason this season, Johnson will step in and perform with numbers comparable to a top three running back.

Greg Lewis – WR – Philadelphia Eagles
Greg Lewis is doing a fine job replacing Todd Pinkston (IR after suffering torn Achilles) as the number two wide receiver in Philadelphia. With Terrell Owens receiving double team coverage on most passing downs, Lewis will become a nice option in Philly. Donovan McNabb is a great quarterback in a conference with little resistance for the Eagles. Even if Owens hauls in 15+ touchdowns from McNabb this season, there will be plenty more to go around. And we think Lewis will get his share.

Matt Jones – WR – Jacksonville Jaguars
How can you not like this guy? Jones was a three year quarterback at Arkansas prior to being selected as a wide receiver with the 21st overall pick. Jones is huge at 6'6" – 242 and is a burner with 4.4 speed. If pre-season is any indication, Jones will have his own highlight film by mid-season. Although listed as number three on the Jaguars' depth chart, we expect Matt Jones to quickly jump into a huge role in the Jacksonville offense.


Kyle Orton – QB – Chicago Bears

Many forget that Kyle Orton was the 2004 leading Heisman candidate prior to being banged up in mid-season. Orton followed Drew Brees in a Purdue shotgun offense that grooms quarterbacks to read defenses and have a strong pocket presence. Orton (like Brees) has an uncanny ability to find the open receiver and is extremely accurate. The Bears felt they found the gem of the draft with the 106th pick prior to Rex Grossman's broken ankle. With Grossman out, Orton has played a solid pre-season and has earned the starting spot. Don't underestimate Orton. He is the quarterback of the Bears' future. Orton may not initially generate strong fantasy numbers in the Bears' run-based offense, but look for the Bears and Orton to put more emphasis on the pass as the season progresses.

Dallas ClarkIndianapolis Colts
Peyton Manning is the quarterback of the Colts and threw a record breaking 49 touchdown passes last season. Manning finds the open receiver and doesn't seem to have favorites. The Colts' other primary receiving tight end (Marcus Pollard) took his six TDs from 2004 and departed for Detroit, leaving Clark as the Colts' sole pass catching TE. With the Colts destined to achieve offensive numbers close to that of last season, there will be plenty of touchdowns to spread around. Dallas Clark is quick, runs a great route, and is in a perfect position to put up huge fantasy stats.

Bobby Engram – WR – Seattle Seahawks

Bobby Engram caught passes for 1136 yards and eight touchdowns over the past two seasons as the number three receiver in Seattle. With the departure of Koren Robinson, Engram moves to a number two role in a pass friendly offense. There is no reason to believe that the Seahawks won't repeat as one of the top ranked teams in pass attempts and touchdowns over the past few seasons. Darrell Jackson is Seattle's primary wide receiver and should take pressure off of Engram with double teams on critical downs. Engram will adjust well to his new role in Seattle's offense and can be expected to double his overall numbers.

Michael Jenkins – WR – Atlanta Falcons

There was some question in Atlanta regarding who would be the number one wide receiver….Peerless Price or Michael Jenkins? That question was answered last week with the release of Price. Jenkins is a former first round pick capable of playing like a true number one receiver. Michael Vick has a cannon for an arm and has worked hard this off-season on his passing, but who knows if it transfers to the field. If Vick can use a bit of patience in Falcons' passing situations, Jenkins could put up surprisingly good fantasy numbers as Atlanta's ‘go to' guy.

Indianapolis Colts – Def/ST
The Indianapolis Colts are known for perhaps one of the greatest offenses to play the game. The irony, however, is that Tony Dungy is known as a defensive coach. Thinking in Indy over the past few seasons has been to outscore opponents if it means scoring on every drive. That train of thought may end this year with the recent signing of powerhouse ex-Eagle Corey Simon (DT), who will line up next to DT Montae Reagor and DE Dwight Freeney (who led the team with 16 sacks). In addition to Simon, the Colts picked up LB Rocky Calmus from the Titans this week. The Colts' went defense in the 2005 draft featuring Marlin Jackson at corner with the 29th pick overall. Bill Polian has built a dynasty in Indianapolis. The added strength on the defensive side of the ball could help boost the Colts to this season's Superbowl.

Kurt Warner – QB – Arizona Cardinals
It's hard to imagine that a former Superbowl MVP would resort to being a supersleeper on a fantasy list. But, Warner has taken a dive since his glory years. He went from ‘The Greatest Show on Turf' to being sacked repeatedly, frequent fumbling, and throwing many interceptions…with few touchdowns. Arizona coach Dennis Green, however, believes in Warner and thinks he still has something left. This may be his last opportunity. Warner has some great young wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and a strong offensive line that should ease his transition. Warner's past makes him worth watching. If he can find any hint of his old form, the Cardinals will surprise in Arizona.

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