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Top 10 Fantasy Football Sleepers You Should Draft

August 17, 2015

As the NFL regular season approaches, preseason games are being played, experts are moving players up and down their draft boards and fantasy drafts are beginning to occur. Below are my top 10 sleeper picks.

1. Charles Johnson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

When: Rounds 7-8

Why: Johnson is an athletic freak who finally received a change after winding up in Minnesota last year. He averaged 3.6 catches and almost 59 yards per game during the final seven weeks of the regular season. In a points-per-reception (PPR) format, those numbers fall in line with a No. 3 fantasy receiver.  

Advice: If you play in a PPR format, Johnson has to be on your list of players to target. He should be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy receiver all season.

2. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

NFL 2015: Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)

When: Rounds 15-16 or undrafted free agent

Why: With the addition of rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper and veteran wideout Michael Crabtree, Carr should have the most talented offensive weapons of his young career. The continued emergence of running back Latavius Murray should keep defenses honest.

Advice: If you take a top quarterback during the first two rounds, keep an eye on Carr, as he could surprise this year.

3. Stedman Bailey, WR, St. Louis Rams

When: Rounds 12-14

Why: Bailey is the ideal PPR receiver. He will play in the slot and be on the field a lot for St. Louis. He started to emerge last season and had some solid performances. If Nick Foles can bring some consistency to the quarterback position for the Rams, I expect Bailey to approach 60 catches this year.

Advice: Once St. Louis started throwing him the ball after Week Eight, Bailey was a weekly consideration for fantasy owners. He is an ideal No. 4 or No. 5 receiver for your fantasy team.

4. Lance Dunbar, RB, Dallas Cowboys

When: Rounds 11-13

Why: Running back Darren McFadden is already hurt, and the Cowboys are expecting Joseph Randle to carry the load behind the NFL's best offensive line. Dunbar is in line to be the team's No. 2 running back and a third-down darling. He is one play away from being a fantasy stud.

Advice: You have to take some sleepers or lottery tickets late during the draft, and Dunbar is the perfect fit for that role.

5. Roy Helu Jr., RB, Oakland Raiders

When: Rounds 10-12

Why: Helu should be the change-of-pace running back right from the start for Oakland. Helu makes a great PPR target for owners who go with wide receivers early during the draft.

Advice: I love Oakland running back Latavius Murray, but he has a small sample size, and if he struggles, Helu will be ready.

6. Danny Woodhead, RB, San Diego Chargers

When: Rounds 8-10

Why: You may have forgotten that two years ago, Woodhead caught 76 passes for more than 600 yards and six touchdowns. After an ankle injury cost Woodhead most of last season, he is back, healthy and ready to perform.

Advice: Woodhead could be a top-20 PPR running back in 2015 and well worth drafting during the eighth round or later.

7. Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers

NFL 2014: San Francisco 49ers: Anquan Boldin (preseason)
Photo Credit: Sabina Moran/PressBox

When: Rounds 9-11

Why: Boldin is the forgotten old man. Did you know that Boldin caught 85 and 83 passes during the last two years, respectively? Apparently, not many did. Boldin is going way too low in all league formats, but he has top 15 potential in PPR formats. He has been a top 30 wide receiver during each of the last three years.

Advice: A player like Boldin is why I never worry about not getting wide receivers early during drafts. Because you can pick a receiver like Boldin during rounds 9-11, you can focus on picking running backs earlier during the draft. 

8. Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions

When: Rounds 14-16

Why: All Ebron does is drop balls. He did it in college, and he did it last year as a rookie, but you can't ignore the athletic freak he is. Ebron and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford worked to build their chemistry this offseason. Fellow wide receiver Calvin Johnson will draw defensive focus, as he seems healthy.

Advice: After the top four tight ends (New England's Rob Gronkowski, Seattle's Jimmy  Graham, Kansas City's Travis Kelce and Carolina's Greg Olsen), it's a total guessing game. Why not take a flyer on Ebron late?

9. Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis Rams

When: Rounds 6-8

Why: Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley is all we hear about with St. Louis, and rightfully so, as he may be the most talented running back drafted since the Vikings' Adrian Peterson in 2007. Gurley seems to be healthy after tearing his ACL at Georgia last season, and he may avoid the Physically Unable to Perform list, but Mason can't be ignored. Mason was tremendous last year and should be used early and often during the 2015 season.

Advice: The Rams are likely not going to give Gurley 25 touches a game, so Mason could and should be a solid flex option for at least the first half of the season.

10. Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

When: Rounds 5-6

Why: Robinson could be the most talked-about wide receiver of the offseason, and for good reason. He was having a Rookie of the Year type season in 2014 before a foot injury ended his campaign.

Advice: The Allen train may be out of control, but the talent is there, and before the injury last season, he looked the part of a No. 1 receiver. You may have to select Robinson earlier than you think during the draft, but he will be worth it.

Honorable Mention:

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville

Travaris Cadet, RB, New England Patriots

Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

David Cobb, RB, Tennessee Titans

David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Carolina Panthers

Nick Toon, WR, New Orleans Saints

Marvin Jones, WR, Cincinnati Bengals 

Issue 212: August 2015