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Payne's Perspective: Late-Round Sleepers

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

The S word. We all know it, we all love it. Sleepers. It's what can make a person in the industry look very smart or very dumb and can be a lightning rod for conversation. Nevertheless, they're always fun to talk about. I came out with my list of sleepers for the RotoWire magazine which you can find here. This week I'll talk a little more about other players I'll be targeting in the later rounds, going position by position.


Brandon Weeden, CLE – It's rare to find a 29-year-old who is a sophomore in the NFL but that's exactly what Weeden is. That helps his fantasy value for this season considering he should be in his prime. I've always that felt Norv Turner was an excellent offensive coordinator, as a head coach not so much. The Browns have the best receiving corps they've had in a while with Josh Gordon, Greg Little, Davone Bess and David Nelson. Jordan Cameron is being touted as a sleeper by some in the industry, and Trent Richardson is a capable pass-catching running back who had just under 400 receiving yards last season. Early reports out of Browns camp have been positive on Weeden, and he had three 300-yard games last season, a number that should improve in year 2.


Bryce Brown, PHI - I've long been a fan of Brown (ok, less than a year), and if you watched him play last season, he passes the eye test. Head coach Chip Kelly doesn't have any allegiance to LeSean McCoy and reports out of Eagles camp indicate both running backs will be heavily involved. It won't hurt to have a running quarterback in Michael Vick, and Oregon had three running backs with at least 700 rushing yards last season. I fully expect him to get 10-15 touches a game which makes him a flex option in most leagues.

Latavius Murray, OAK – OK, be honest. How many games do you have Darren McFadden penciled in to play this season? Murray is something of a wild card and should likely come at a minimal cost. Oddly, he wasn't invited to the NFL Scouting Combine but had an extremely impressive pro day at Central Florida where he was timed at 4.38 for the 40-yard dash. At 6-3, 220 there's some concern about Murray's durability given his lankiness, and he's already dealing with a foot injury. Despite that, he has the most upside of any Oakland runner not named McFadden.


Rob Housler, ARI – I almost included Michael Floyd in this column as I expect the Cardinals passing attack to be vastly improved this season. They revamped the offensive line (which was highly accountable for their shoddy quarterback play last season), and Carson Palmer is an upgrade under center. I remember sending an email to Chris Liss last season about how I was going to do an outlook for a guy no one was very familiar with, Brandon Myers. Since he was atop of the Raiders depth chart, I figured he might have an occasional game of fantasy relevance. Myers went on to have over 800 yards receiving, but his 105 targets is the number that's really eye-catching. Housler is a more athletic tight end, and he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine, showing the upside is there for him to surpass our current projection of 601 receiving yards and four touchdowns.


Aaron Dobson, NE – First, if anyone cracks an Aaron Hernandez joke at your draft throw something at them. As a Bills fan, I've learned over the years to never bet against Tom Brady or head coach Bill Belichick. Dobson has prototypical wide receiver size and speed, and the stat that caught my eye the most on him was his zero drops on 92 targets during his senior season at Marshall. A strong running game will keep defenses honest, and it's not hard to envision a scenario where he opens the season as the second receiving option behind Danny Amendola with Rob Gronkowski's (back/forearm) status up in the air.

Alshon Jeffery, CHI – Jeffery's rookie season was a little disappointing as he dealt with both hand and knee issues. When on the field, Jeffery looked like a nice complement to Brandon Marshall and showed the ability to stretch the field with his speed. Marc Trestman has had success in the NFL as a quarterback coach and should call plenty of passing plays. Playing opposite Marshall and having a healthy Matt Forte should provide Jeffery plenty of favorable matchups. Don't be surprised if Marshall isn't the only 1,000-yard receiver on the Bears this season.

Joseph Morgan, NO – Morgan is an intriguing pick if he can carve out a starting role in the Saint's offense. He probably isn't going to get a ton of targets, which hurts his value in PPR formats, but he might be the fastest player the Saints have. In a limited role (21 targets), he managed to score three touchdowns and 37.9 yards per catch. Devery Henderson is no longer on the roster, and with Lance Moore best suited to play in the slot, Morgan should start opposite Marques Colston.


Tampa Bay – It's easy to peg the Bucs as a sleeper given their offseason acquisition of Darrelle Revis but take a closer look at the rest of the defense. They signed Dashon Goldson to a five-year deal, a player who at 28 years old is in the prime of his career. Mark Barron and Levante David both have a year of experience under their belts, and second round pick Johnthan Banks could see a lot of playing time as a rookie. Gerald McCoy has reportedly looked outstanding in camp so far and Da'Quan Bowers could finally live up to his potential. My point is that there are a few other reasons outside of Revis why this team could be one of the top defenses in the league.


Kai Forbath, WAS – I know it's odd to mention a kicker in a “sleeper” column, but humor me. I don't see any reason why Robert Griffin III won't be ready for Week 1, meaning this should be one of the better offenses in the league. Forbath was outstanding last season, making 17-of-18 field goal attempts including 12-for-12 from 40-plus yards. His history of accuracy dates back to his days at UCLA, where he had a streak of 40 made in a row from inside of 50 yards and won the Lou Groza Award in 2009. Obviously, don't reach for him, but if he's there, grab him with one of your last two picks.