We are a little bit away from the official start of free agency, but who is to say it’s too early to talk some fantasy football? If you’re like me, you already have been alerted about scheduling the draft day for your fantasy league and that bit of excitement is slowly settling in.
So with that being said, I decided to share with you my very early 5 potential sleeper picks for the 2016 season.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
While Jarvis Landry gets the majority of the spotlight when discussing the Miami Dolphins receiver corps, and rightfully so, there is no good reason to ignore the potential that DeVante Parker has to have a breakout season this year.
Adam Gase’s arrival will have a big impact on Parker, who is a true red-zone, jump ball threat and has the elite hands that separates him from most receivers in the league. Sure, Parker wasn’t healthy that much last season but when he was he shined.
If Miami can keep Ryan Tannehill upright this year and if Parker can stay healthy he could put on quite the show. Parker likely can be had during the mid-rounds of your fantasy draft.
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland has been singing the praises of their running back group, but I’m not buying that anyone is a real threat to Duke Johnson. Johnson, in my opinion, is the only “special” runner in the group and I expect the Browns to lean heavily on the running game as the help rehabilitate RGIII.
The Browns have said not to expect Johnson to be a 3-down back, but in order to be a valuable fantasy player on your team he doesn’t really need to be.
Johnson also will be involved in the passing game, one that the Browns are looking at to see who indeed will step up as a reliable, game-breaking target.
Johnson has the potential to thrive and, like Parker, should be available later in your fantasy draft.
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
Sure, Carr may not be a sleeper but I doubt many people are picking him to burn up the stat sheet.
Let’s face it; Amari Cooper will have a bigger year after some more polishing and development at the receiver position. That alone automatically makes Carr more appealing as it will benefit his passing numbers.
And despite what others may think, I’m not convinced Latavius Murray is anything to rave about. I also don’t expect Oakland to lean on the running game as much as they may have last season, when Murray posted 1,066 yards running. By today’s standards that’s nothing to rave about.
Maybe another running back steps up or maybe Murray has a breakout season. Both scenarios are possible but I am hedging my bet that Oakland’s aerial attack will be the unit taking the big step forward in 2016.
Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers
I know you’re chuckling, I am too. Jared Cook is on this list? How on Earth did I allow this?
Listen, I know what you’re thinking about Jared Cook and you’re not wrong, I probably have the same train of thought concerning his play (or lack thereof). But Cook has never played with a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or an offensive system such as what the Green Bay Packers employ.
Rodgers has the knack to make everyone around him better and Cook will greatly benefit from association. He could be a great late round pick for your team and one that nobody saw coming.
Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans
As a (former) Miami Dolphins’ season ticket holder and a South Florida resident, I have seen plenty of Rishard Matthews. The dude stood out in a big way last season despite Joe Philbin’s obsession of keeping Matthews in the doghouse. Matthews simply made it impossible for him to do so.
Matthews is tough and plays hard and should be a tremendous, reliable weapon for Marcus Mariota to lean on. I can see him developing into the “safety blanket” of that offense and one who should be able to fill up the stat sheet and score major points for your fantasy team.