Patrick Daugherty: We’ll go with one of Adam Levitan’s favorite subjects — late-round fliers, or “sleepers” if you must. Levitan usually goes by players going 115 or lower, and that’s what we’ll do here.
First guy who stands out to me is Silva’s mancrush Rueben Randle at No. 123. Evan could put it in much better words than me, but he’s opening the year as a starter and as perhaps the Giants’ only legitimate red-zone target.
Mark Ingram at No. 132 is the next guy who stands out. He’s the RB43. I know no one is head over heels for Ingram’s talent at this stage of the game, but RB43? Behind Darren McFadden and Danny Woodhead? Good luck with that. All sorts of other interesting names. Justin Hunter at 135, Ladarius Green at 156, Ryan Tannehill at 163, so on and so forth.
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Raymond Summerlin: Rueben Randle was a player I really liked. I wrote in late July that Randle was a great value in the ninth or 10th round because of his touchdown potential. Only nine of Victor Cruz's 23 career touchdown receptions have come within the red zone, Odell Beckham cannot get healthy and the tight end situation is a disaster, which leaves Randle as really the only red-zone threat on the team. My one concern with Randle was that a good preseason would see his ADP climb to the point where he no longer represented value. The Giants' offense has been putrid, however, and Randle's ADP has actually fallen as a result. Normally a falling ADP would be good news for a sleeper, but the reason for the fall is very concerning. It is fair to worry if poor offensive line play could once again derail New York's offense. I still think Randle is a value, but I am not as bullish as I once was.
A player I am taking a chance on in the 12th is Chris Ivory. His history with hamstring injuries is concerning, and that concern is compounded by the fact that he has already had a minor hamstring issue this preseason. It is important to remember, though, that despite being on the injury report throughout most of the year, Ivory was effective on 188 rushes last season in 15 games played. He certainly could miss 4-6 games with a balky hamstring, but it is far from impossible that he plays a full season. He almost did it last season.
The question then moves to how effective Ivory can be when he is healthy. If you think Chris Johnson will dominate the carries in New York, then the answer is probably not very, but I see very little reason to think Johnson will out-carry Ivory if both players are
healthy. Ivory is simply a better player at this point in each’s career, and he is actually more explosive, as well. Over the last two seasons, Ivory only has two fewer runs of 20-plus yards despite having 333 fewer carries. I think Ivory will be used as the
early-down and goal-line back when healthy with Johnson as more of a COP and third-down option. That usage would give Ivory weekly flex value with touchdown upside.
Adam Levitan: I like all the names mentioned so far, especially Randle and Hunter.
Another guy teetering toward from a massive role is Cody Latimer. If Wes Welker takes another headshot (he suffered his third concussion in 10 months on Saturday) or Emmanuel Sanders doesn't work on the outside, Latimer is going to be a weekly WR2 candidate while catching passes from Peyton Manning. He just has to beat out low-upside veteran Andre Caldwell. Caldwell may be the player to own initially if Welker misses real time, but eventually it will be Latimer.
Keeping with receivers, Mike Wallace comp Markus Wheaton is now locked in as the starting "X" for Ben Roethlisberger. I don't think it's far-fetched to think he can do more with that job than Emmanuel Sanders did with it last year (67-740-6). Do yourself a favor and watch Wheaton roast Stephon Gilmore on a post-corner from preseason Week 2.
Two other guys I can't leave out: Travis Kelce looks like Rob Gronkowski this preseason, and that's not hyperbole. The Chiefs' top-three wide receivers in Week 1 will be Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams. Kelce needs to get promoted to the first team and start getting fed immediately. Also, Rotoworld NCAA guru Josh Norris brought us Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy last year. This year, his RB is Devonta Freeman, and Steven Jackson has 1.99999 feet in the bucket.
Summerlin: I am more than happy to grab Jordan Matthews at 176 overall. Matthews is not a "first-teamer" yet in Philadelphia, but he will face little friction on his rise up the depth chart. Jeremy Maclin is already dealing with health issues as he attempts to come back from the ACL tear that cost him 2013, raising questions about how long he can stay on the field this season, and Riley Cooper is still an average player at best. Matthews may not open the season as a starting fantasy option, but he should become a big part of the Eagles' offense as the season wears on. One of my favorite wideouts in a super deep draft class, betting on Matthews' talent is an easy decision late in the draft.
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Mike Clay: I’ve been getting Randle way too often as my No. 4 receiver (at worst). I think his bubble burst when the Giants took Odell Beckham, but, like Ray said, he’s way behind the eight ball due to injury. Add in Jerrel Jernigan’s struggles and the poor tight end play and it all but guarantees a massive workload for Randle. He’s a WR3 with upside.
I like Ingram a lot. He’s underrated because he’s had to run against so many base defenses and stacked boxes. I often wonder how Sean Payton would do without Drew Brees because his personnel usage is insanely predictable. Heck, they called pass on all 15 of Pierre Thomas’ snaps last week.
I’ve seen Hunter go in the seventh round of recent drafts. He’s my favorite breakout candidate of 2014, but he’s not even starting or playing every down right now. That’s too rich even for me.
I agree that Latimer and Matthews are excellent targets as the elusive worthwhile wide receiver handcuffs. Add Donte Moncrief and Davante Adams to that list.
I’m writing too much, so I’ll only add two names the list. Two backs I’ve been getting late in nearly every draft are Lance Dunbar and James White. Dunbar is clearly going to be used a lot behind (or alongside?) DeMarco Murray. Like we saw in Detroit last year, Scott Linehan can make two backs relevant. Is Dunbar this year’s Joique Bell? And James White looks bad on tape, but this is the Bill Belichick-led New England offense. With Stevan Ridley still fumbling and Shane Vereen not getting carries, White is a no-brainer late-round target.
Summerlin: I am more upset than I should be that I forgot to mention Dunbar. He is not a handcuff in that I assume Joseph Randle assumes a decent workload if DeMarco Murray was to go down, but he has stand-alone PPR value right now. Joique Bell and Reggie Bush both averaged over 13 touches a game in 2013, but more importantly both players had double-digit touches in nine of the 14 games they played together. It is not inconceivable Dunbar averages 10 touches a game even with Murray healthy.
Daugherty: I want to be excited about Dunbar as sort of a poor man's 2013 Joique, but I'm highly skeptical Linehan will make his 2014 backfield like his 2013 attack in Detroit. Murray is simply better suited to play all three downs than Reggie Bush, and goes way back with Romo. I think people will be disappointed if they're planning to use Dunbar as anything other than a bench stash in deeper leagues. I don't doubt that he'll have a role, but the split isn't going to be anywhere close to Reggie/Joique.
Nick Mensio: Tons of great names, so far. I love Justin Hunter, Rueben Randle and Mark Ingram. Touchdowns are king. I'll add another to the mix. Heath Miller at 155. Dude was a top-4 fantasy tight end in 2012 and wrecked his knee at the end of that season. Obviously wasn't completely healed in 2013, but is a year-plus removed and looks like the Heath Miller of old. He's a Ben Roethlisberger favorite and should see plenty of red-zone targets with every prominent Steelers WR being under 6-foot tall. Can regularly snag Miller in the 13th round of fantasy drafts. Robbery. He'll keep you competitive at the position.
This is digging deep. But I also like Jermaine Kearse. Unless I missed his name the several times I looked over the list, he's going undrafted. With Golden Tate out of the picture, Kearse is locked into a top-three receiver role in Seattle and is the biggest of the bunch at 6'1/207. Obviously Seattle is a run-first team, but Kearse can high-point the football and is a big playmaker. He has a real shot to lead the team in TD catches. Kearse is on the WR5 map, but will undoubtedly struggle for consistency. There'll be a couple big weeks from him, though.
Daugherty: Levitan alluded to this, but Travis Kelce is a guy who’s going undrafted in most leagues. Anthony Fasano isn’t that big of a road block. As Levitan said, Kelce has looked Gronk-ian on the exhibition field. Dirt-cheap flier who could end up being a huge part of your team.
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