2008 All Sleeper Team

4 08 2008

Fantasy Championships are won with value picks in the middle to late rounds and the big question is always…who will be those late round gems?  Here’s a complete starting fantasy lineup.   I’ve taken into account that many leagues use a flex position.  All players are compared using their average draft positions.

Jay Cutler– QB, Denver Broncos – 20 touchdown passes and nearly 3,500 yards last year and still it seemed Cutler underachieved in his first full season as the Broncos starter.  He has a whole new slew of receivers including Keary Colbert, Eddie Royal, and Darrell Jackson.  Add them to the mix with Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley and you’ve a got a star studded receiving corps.  Ryan Clady of Boise State was drafted #12 overall in round 1 by the Broncos and has already earned the confidence of the coaches along with the starting left tackle job.  With a little more time in the pocket, Jay should be able to utilize his down-field passing strength and should easily break into the top 10 quarterback rankings this season.  He’s currently being drafted #81 overall and is the #11 Quarterback off the boards according to Antsports average draft positions.  Look for him to outperform both Marc Bulger and Matt Hasselbeck, who are both being taken ahead of him.

Thomas Jones– RB, New York Jets – Jones is undoubtedly the feature back for the New York Jets.  His 310 carries accounted for 3/4 of all rushing attempts for the team last year.  The departure of Pete Kendall left a gaping hole on the left side and the run game suffered all season long, while Jones accounted for just two touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air.  After adding left guard Alan Faneca and picking up veteran FB Tony Richardson, all signs point to Jones bouncing back and having a very productive 2008 campaign.  Jones is being drafted #43 overall and #22 among running backs.  Michael Turner, Ronnie Brown, Earnest Graham, and Willie Parker are all being selected ahead of Jones, who could easily outperform them all.

Chris Johnson– RB, Tennessee Titans – Johnson has been one of the biggest stars of training camp and his role is already being defined much differently than originally anticipated.  “I am just looking at him as a tailback,” offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger said. “What we do outside of turning and handing him the ball is a bonus. He can do a lot of things, but I want to find out if we can turn and hand him the ball and how many times we can do that. I look at it different than all the ‘experts.’ I expect to see him out there on first and second down.”  Johnson is a speed demon and is a threat to take it to the house each time he touches the football.  Johnson is being selected #122 overall and 45th among running backs.  If you’re really considering taking the OTHER Adrian Peterson ahead of him, you should have your head examined!

Larry Johnson– RB, Kansas City Chiefs – Chiefs RB Larry Johnson dissapointed legions of fantasy owners in 2007, ending the year on Injured Reserve with a broken bone in his foot after stumbling through eight games with very un-Larry-like stats. Reportedly, he looked like his old self in offseason minicamps, though there are reports that he will never again be the workhorse we’ve seen in the past.  While Kolby Smith may steal some carries, Branden Albert was added through the draft and should be enough of an improvement on the offensive line to make Johnson worthy of a first round selection.  Johnson is slipping out of round #1 in many drafts.  His current adp is #13 and he is the tenth running back being selected.  If Johnson stays healthy, I find it hard to see how he doesn’t outperform Clinton Portis, who’s universally being selected ahead of him.

Vincent Jackson– WR, San Diego Chargers- I know, I know…you’ve been hearing for three years that this guy’s a sleeper!  After yet another lackluster regular season, Jackson came alive in the playoffs, with 18 catches for 300 yards and two touchdowns in the postseason.  He’s getting rave reviews in training camp this year and the time has finally come for this 6’5 athletic freak.  Jackson is being drafted #36 amongst receivers.  If you’re one of the buffoons taking Anthony Gonzalez and Bobby Engram ahead of him, please give me a call…I’d love to get in your league.

Sidney Rice – WR, Minnesota Vikings – Loved this kid coming out of college in South Carolina.  Rice went on to show flashes for the Vikings in 2007, but flamed out during the last several game.  In just his second season, Rice is expected to start opposite newcomer Bernard Berrian.  At 6’4, Rice is a nice red zone target and as he showed last season, he can catch the deep ball.  Rice is being taken as the 45th WR off the board, behind fart nuggets such as Ted Ginn Jr. and Bryant Johnson.

Greg Olsen – TE, Chicago Bears – Bears TE Greg Olsen is a fantasy beast in waiting.  In limited playing time, Olsen excelled in his rookie season and should make significant strides in his sophomore year.  Rex Grossman is expected to win the qb job once again and he likes throwing to his tight end.  Olsen is a deep sleeper and is going undrafted in many leagues, take a flier on him…the upside is huge!

Matt Prater – Kicker, Denver Broncos – Thin Air!  The Rocky Mountain News is reporting that Matt Prater has gotten an early vote of confidence as the team’s replacement for Jason Elam. “We better be confident because he’s the only one we got,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “We want to give him all the reps, we want to see what he can do, we want him to know he’s our guy. We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. He’s done a great job in practice thus far and, hopefully, he can carry over into the preseason and, obviously, the regular season.”  Thin Air = Big Stats and Prater isn’t even being drafted in many leagues.  Don’t be surprised if he ends up among the top five kickers in the league.

Philadelphia Eagles – The Eagles DST, thanks to defensive coordinator Jim Johnson’s crazy blitzing schedmes, will always register their share of sacks.  Expect the interceptions to rise as well with the addition of ball hawk Asante Samuel.  The biggest area of improvement is special teams, where rookie WR/KR DeSean Jackson is a collasal upgrade from Reno Mahe.  Jackson has gamebreaking speed and may very well be the home run threat the Birds so desperately have needed in the return game.  Unbelievably, this unit is going 17th overall among DSTs…behind the Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers.

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