INDIANAPOLIS --- #ColtsCamp is over. We are into the 2nd weekend of preseason football. Most of us will be drafting our fantasy teams in the next two weeks, and it is crucial to draft the late rounds with as much knowledge and research as you draft the early rounds, if you want to improve your chances of winning a fantasy championship.
Don’t sleep on those later rounds (see what I did there?).
Alex Gelhar from NFL.com had a great chart on the top-10 most owned players on fantasy championship teams last year. Guess what. Seven of those ten players were drafted in the 12th round or later:
1. Jamaal Charles, KC - Round 1
2. Peyton Manning, DEN - Round 3
3. Julius Thomas, DEN - Round 15
4. Zac Stacy, STL - Undrafted
5. Nick Foles, PHI - Undrafted
6. Knowshon Moreno, DEN - Round 15
7. Chiefs D/ST - Round 15
8. DeMarco Murray, DAL - Round 5
9. Le’Veon Bell, PIT - Round 12
10. Panthers D/ST - Round 15
So with this in mind, Colts.com beat writer Kevin Bowen and I picked our two top sleepers. We defined sleeper as somebody being taken in the 10th round or later. We also chose the top Colts sleeper.
WR Tavon Austin - I’m going with Tavon Austin from the Rams. He was a bust last year, but Colts fans clearly know how the electric receiver/returner can change a game. The Rams offense has minimal weapons, and Austin is clearly their most dynamic player. Receivers Chris Givens and Austin Pettis don’t strike fear in a defense like Austin does from a variety of positions.
Austin is currently being taken in the 13th round of 10-team standard leagues on NFL.com.
RB Terrance West - Another name I like is Cleveland running back Terrance West, who has drawn rave reviews from Browns camp. The AFC North wants to pound the rock, and West will challenge Ben Tate for carries in Cleveland. West is currently being taken in the 13th or 14th round on NFL.com.
TE Zach Ertz - Ertz is 6’5’’, 250 pounds in a prolific Chip Kelly offense that cut WR DeSean Jackson. The reports out of Philadelphia are he’s a “mismatch nightmare” not only against his own defense but in joint practices with the Patriots. At his size, he’s got redzone weapon written all over him. He’s currently being taken in the 14th round, the 14th TE off the board. He should also see more snaps with the Eagles reportedly going more 2 TE sets, as they try to fill the void left by Jackson. I’d take him a round early to make sure I get him as a back-up TE with big upside. In that offense, he could be this year’s Julius Thomas or Jordan Cameron.
RB Lamar Miller - NFL.com took my Devonta Freeman pick, so I’ll go with Miller. I know what you’re going to say. He stunk last year. I agree. You’re also going to say the Dolphins signed Knowshon Moreno, but he’s not healthy. Right now, Miller is the Dolphins feature back. Once upon a time, I drafted a guy named Arian Foster late in a draft. He was unproven, but all the reports out of Houston were he was the starting running back. The rest of my league wasn’t hip to that, and we all know what happened to Foster after that. I’m not saying Miller is going to produce vintage Foster numbers. However, I am saying if you can draft a running back who will likely be the starter for their team in the 11th or 12th round (where Miller is currently going on NFL.com), then that is absolutely worth taking a chance on him. It’s a low risk proposition.
Sleeper Tip of the Week: Don’t reach for rookie WRs and TEs! Rarely do they ever live up to the fantasy hype. Notice none of our picks are rookies. Target second year guys with upside at these positions. Rookie RBs (Freeman/West/Carlos Hyde), however, with competition that may be injury prone/less talented is where you should also be looking for keepers. Remember the Alfred Morris and Zac Stacy’s of yester-fantasy-year.