2015 Fantasy Football Sleepers Part II

Finding Fantasy Football Sleepers

Part II

This is the second in a series of articles that will look at how personnel changes can increase or decrease the value of players.

I recently came across an article online that stated that you can quit searching for the next fantasy sleeper at your draft because since everyone does it, there are basically no sleepers available anymore.

I beg to differ with this opinion, not in the fact that the true fantasy sleeper no longer exists, but that the research necessary to locate sleepers has changed. I am almost begrudgingly writing this article since I know that some of my fellow fantasy competitors read my work and this will provide insight into where I look to find value in the upcoming fantasy football draft, but this is the type of information that separates the good teams from the playoff teams come December.

It is usually pretty apparent on draft day which players are being selected to come in and hopefully make a meaningful offensive contribution to their team. Just this year five of the top ten selections were offensive playmakers and four are expected to start on their teams first regular season game.

  1. Jameis Winston QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. Marcus Mariota QB – Tennessee Titans
  3. Amari Cooper WR – Oakland Raiders
  4. Kevin White WR – Chicago Bears
  5. Todd Gurley RB – St. Louis Rams

Do not get me wrong, I don’t expect any of these players to come in and make a major fantasy impact in their first season. The question you should be asking is how these players improve the players around them? You can also use this type of rationalization when it comes to free agent additions as well as defections that can have positive effects on player statistics.

In Part I we examined how the arrival of Jameis Winston will affect the players around him on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Today we will look at how the player selected immediately after Winston, Marcus Mariota, will impact the values of his fellow Tennessee Titans.

At this point of training camp, Mariota finds himself at the top of the depth chart after the Titans started three quarterbacks during the 2014 campaign. His only competition is Zach Mettenberger who is entering his second NFL season after being a 6th round pick out of LSU. While Mariota exhibited the tools to be a NFL quarterback during his time at Oregon, he is not the prototypical pocket QB that head coach, Ken Wisenhunt had previously with Ben Roethlisberger and more recently Philip Rivers. While Wisenhunt has proven in the past his ability to adjust his offense for the personnel he has, Mariota is not surrounded by a talented cast of skilled players the way Jameis Winston is in Tampa Bay and I expect him, and the Titans to struggle again this season.

I would not target any of the Titans skilled players as regular starters on my fantasy squad. Former first round selection Kendall Wright has shown flashes of his ability, but in three seasons he has only scored 12 TD, with 6 of those coming last year. At the other WR position you will find Harry Douglas who signed after spending 7 seasons in Atlanta. Douglas is more of a possession receiver than a deep threat so he may see more passes coming his way but he will not be a factor in leagues where scoring is emphasized.

At running back, Bishop Sankey enters his second season after being a second round choice in the 2014 draft. Granted he plays behind a poor offensive line, but Sankey never gained more than 74 yards in a game last season, and his pass protection is poor which is never good with a rookie quarterback. Until Sankey and the Titans prove otherwise he is nothing more than a backup and bye week substitute.

Neither of the Titans starting tight ends have proven to be valuable pass catchers. Both Craig Stevens and Delanie Walker are more valued for their blocking ability than their receiving skills. Neither warrants a spot on your roster.

Unlike the positive impact we expect from Winston to his supporting cast in Tampa Bay, we don’t feel that Mariota will have the same type of impact on Tennessee this season.

In part three we will examine the impact that wide receivers Amari Cooper and Kevin White will have on their new teams, and see what players may see their value affected by the new arrivals.

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