NFL Fantasy: Last minute reminder about the AFC sleepers

Every team has that one guy they think is a secret… until we out them here at RealSport!


It’s draft weekend for millions of NFL fantasy owners around the world. To prove it’s never too late to look for draft bargains, here is one from each team that you can put into play at every level of your draft board. 

Buffalo Bills: Charles Clay, TE

Clay’s name has popped up in late-season streamer discussions the past couple of years. This could be the year he becomes a fantasy stud… at least as far as tight ends can be fantasy studs. A combination of the tight end philosophy of a new offensive coordinator and a dearth of other choices among the wide receiver ranks could have Tyrod Taylor hitting Clay across the middle more than ever. He is not being drafted in many leagues, so hold out until the end and snag a potential TE10. 

Miami Dolphins: DeVante Parker, WR

Yeah, we know. He’s been on this list before. But this time is different! Mainly, this time we have Jay Cutler quarterbacking and Jarvis Landry facing some adversity. Cutler is more likely to go deep and bypass the short option of Landry- the direct opposite of injured Ryan Tannehill’s preference. This is the year. Already with a rising ADP of WR27, Parker could easily be a WR20 at the expense of his teammate in the slot. 

New England Patriots: James White, RB

You never know with the Patriots. Belichick keeps everything close to the vest and his primary weapon changes week-to-week. James White or Dion Lewis could be a coin flip, but I think it will be White lining up as the fourth wide receiver in their open set. He will also be part of the rotation in the backfield, but his receiving skills will be used to offset the loss of Julius Edelman, giving him some lower round potential. But it’s the Patriots. Belichick might use the ball boy instead. We just don’t know. 13th round ADP of RB55 could be closer to 45… or not. 

New York Jets: Bilal Powell, RB 

Even though Matt Forte was allegedly told by the Jets’ owners that he will not be traded, Bilal Powell still stands to be a top-20 running back this season. Josh McCown will look for a deep target first, but will not waste a lot of time before dumping the ball to his check down- more often than not, Powell. That’s when Powell isn’t running with the ball as the workhorse back. A top-ten PPR finish is possible along with a top-20 ranking in standard leagues. 

Denver Broncos: Trevor Siemian, QB

OK- this is a reach, but hear me out! New head coach Vance Joseph is on record as wanting a wide open offense in 2017. Even though he picked the “safe” quarterback to lead the team, it is because he wants extended drives and no mistakes. With the plethora of quality receiving options he has in front of him, Siemian has a golden opportunity. Remember, those guys made Brock Osweiler look like he was worth $16 million per year. I don’t know that I would draft him, but look for Siemian to be a trendy streamer by week five. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Charcandrick West, RB 

If you already drafted and picked up Kareem Hunt, congratulations. He is the Chief’s workhorse. But he is a rookie. He never played as long or as fast as what he is about to experience in the NFL. Coach Andy Reid always feeds his second running back consistent relief work and West can take any short pass or handoff for long yards. Plus, when Hunt slows down eventually, West’s workload will increase. He is worth a late-round handcuff pick. 

Los Angeles Chargers: Branden Oliver, RB

Melvin Gordon is back… and so is Branden Oliver. The word from the Chargers’ camp is that Oliver has regained his status as the number two back. After missing a season and a half to injuries, Oliver again looks like the explosive back who was the first rookie to have a 50-yard catch and a 50-yard rush in the same game in 2014. As the change of pace and backup runner, he is in line to surprise with a top-40 performance, even without an injury to Gordon. Worth a late-round stash for both. 

Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree, WR

How does a veteran receiver who led his team in receptions the past two years get listed as a sleeper? When he finishes as a top-ten receiver one year and then drafts as the WR22 the following. What’s up with that? With all the talk about Marshawn Lynch and who will handcuff him, everyone seems to forget that the Raiders are a pass-first team with a quarterback hitting his prime.  Feel free to reach for this year’s WR11 and laugh at the other owners. 

Baltimore Ravens: Nick Boyle, TE

The last man standing (literally) at tight end will benefit from the Ravens’ habit of making tight ends worth a fantasy play. A healthy Ben Watson might knock Boyle off the top of the pile, but for now, I am betting a team that already uses tight ends a lot will use them even more with an achy quarterback. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Jeremy Hill, RB

Joe who? Amid all the hype about talented rookie Joe Mixon comes news that Jeremy Hill played last season with an undisclosed shoulder injury. Pre-injury, he averaged 5.5 yards-per-carry. Post injury was under 3. Combined with Mixon being a little dinged up and the usage we saw of Hill, Bernard, and Mixon in the preseason, I think rumors of Jeremy Hill’s demise are premature. His ADP of RB43 should be flipped with Mixon’s RB20… or close. I now have Hill at RB24 (due to the time share) and Mixon at RB36. 

Cleveland Browns: David Njoku, TE

Set to emerge as the second-favorite target of rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer, Njoku is a strong receiving threat for the Browns. Corey Coleman will be top dog. But look for Njoku to emerge as a red zone and seam option. He is drafting late but could be a TE 10-12. Certainly, he is a streaming option if not drafted. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: Vance McDonald, TE

There are way too many tight ends on this list, but Vance McDonald is the classic “needs-a-change-of-scenery” employee. He comes from the turmoil of San Francisco, where the value of his contract was a constant debate on sports radio, to the protective family atmosphere of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, he now has a quarterback who can throw the ball within an arm’s reach of him on most occasions. Look for a huge breakout, unless he continues his dropsy tendency and falls out of favor with the big man. (Also a possibility.) 

Houston Texans: D’Onta Foreman, RB

Lamar Miller fans are getting tired of hearing how Foreman is going to eat into Miller’s work, but he will. Miller was used sparingly in Miami before signing with Houston as an expected workhorse last season. He got the carries, but he did not exactly deliver the big bang. Maybe Miami knew what they were doing. Volume keeps him relevant until the dynamic Foreman out gains him with half the touches. Foreman could actually make Miller expendable by the end of the season. He warrants RB40 consideration now, much better than the RB 61 he sits at. 

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Turbin, RB

You thought I was going to pick another tight end, didn’t you? (Doyle needs a quarterback to break out and we are not sure they have one yet in Indy.) There is a lot of conjecture about Frank Gore’s ability to survive the Colts’ porous offensive line and the likelihood of rookie Marlon Mack taking over at some point. But Robert Turbin came out of the preseason as the RB2. He is healthy and running well. He will spell Gore on third down and figures to get a bigger piece of the pie than Mack. I would slot him in ahead of Mack’s current ADP of RB50 and behind Gore’s RB36. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Corey Grant, RB

Leonard Fournette is expected to carry the load for the Jaguars’ run-heavy offense, with Chris Ivory and probably T. J. Yeldon ahead of Corey Grant on the depth chart.  Yeldon is dealing with a nagging hamstring and Ivory is running sideways. Grant, meanwhile, is the only running back to show any signs of brilliance in the preseason. His sole start last season resulted in a 122-yard rushing line with a touchdown. If Yeldon and Ivory don’t show more than they have in relief of Fournette, I expect Doug Marrone to let Grant take a crack at things. Stash him on your roster for a while to see how things go in Jacksonville. 

Tennessee Titans: Rishard Matthews, WR

With all the excitement about Corey Davis and Eric Decker, everyone forgets about the Titans’ leading receiver of 2016, Rishard Matthews. Davis and Decker both missed preseason time with minor injuries. Matthews remains the familiar and trusted target of Marcus Mariota. Current ADPs have Decker at WR36, Davis at WR46, and Matthews at WR49. The actual finish will be closer to Matthews at WR30, while the other two lag behind. 

You can count on these players to help your NFL fantasy draft… then check back with RealSport all season long for the latest updates and waiver advice!

Who are your favorite sleepers? Comment below!

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Pat Opperman

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Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.

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