Take down a huge tournament with these top five fantasy football sleepers for week one!
Are you ready for some football? Of course you are. If you’re looking for some action starting tonight, The Frenzy (Primetime) is a $20 buy-in game that includes Thursday night’s game. Don’t stop there, join me in the Third and Short game with a few rosters and the single entry Favre $ Footlong.
Top Five Fantasy Football Sleepers - Week One
5- Andre Caldwell, Denver Broncos, $4,450
My initial reaction, which is chronicled on Twitter, after the Wes Welker suspension was to celebrate the opportunity presented to Cody Latimer. After some time to let things process, and some discussion with some smart Twitter folks, Caldwell is the guy who looks better out of the gate, if for no other reason than the fact he’s been in the offense longer and worked with Peyton Manning. I wouldn’t rule out Latimer seeing meaningful playing time, but Caldwell gets the first crack. In a week 15 loss to the Chargers last year, Caldwell saw extra playing time in the absence of Welker and made the most of the opportunity, leading the team in receptions, six, receiving yards, 59, targets, 10, and touchdown receptions, two. Those numbers came sharing the field with Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas, as well as the now departed Eric Decker and a backfield combo of Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno. More than anything, his performance speaks to Manning’s willingness to work through his reads and use his secondary options. The Broncos will score a bunch of points in their season opener against the Colts, and taking a flyer on any pass catcher expected to see regular playing time with The Sheriff gets two thumbs up from me. Caldwell’s tiny cost allows truck loads of cash to be spent elsewhere on your DraftDay rosters.
4- Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders, $5,350
I wrote about Derek Carr as a value pick in yesterday’s quarterbacks piece, and I highlighted how bad the Jets secondary is. If Carr is going to take advantage of the Jets defensive weakness, someone is going to have to step up in the receiving corps. Moore might not lead the team in targets or receptions, but he’s the home run hitter of the bunch with blazing speed (4.45 40-yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine in 2011). Carr has a big arm capable of stretching the field, and Moore offers him the top flight speed to show off his cannon. Also, while I put almost no stock in the preseason, it’s promising to see two of Carr’s touchdown passes in the Raiders’ final preseason game going to Moore. The second was a fortunate tipped ball, but the first was a beautiful deep ball that can be seen here. Wide receiver is a volatile position, and gambling on a home run hitter is a risk, without doubt, but the monetary flexibility Moore offers makes it worth gambling on him in some tourney contests.
3- Knowshon Moreno, Miami Dolphins, $5,300
Moreno is listed behind Lamar Miller on the Dolphins depth chart, but as the better pass catcher he figures to serve as the third down pass catching back, and he could also be the preferred goal-line back. Last year Miller ceded goal-line duties to Daniel Thomas, and with Thomas no longer around and Moreno coming off a 10 rushing touchdown season, the free agent acquisition seems to be the logical choice for touchdown vulture work. That strange combination of usage makes Moreno well worth his tiny price tag even in a backfield timeshare.
2- Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts, $7,950
Richardson had a horrific 2013 season. He was acquired by the Colts in-season for the cost of a first round pick, and was thrust into action immediately. He faltered and Donald Brown proved to be the more effective Colts runner by a wide margin. Brown has moved on and signed a multi-year deal with the Chargers, and Richardson has had an entire offseason to acclimate himself to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s offense. Having some time to digest the offense without being tossed into the fire should help. Also, digging into the numbers reveals that Richardson isn’t a total turd. According to Pro Football Focus, among 55 running backs that played 25% of their team’s snaps, Richardson ranked tied for 15th in missed tackles forced. He has some wiggle. The former top-five pick also gets positive marks in the passing game too. Also, let’s not forget he had a promising rookie season. In 2012 Richardson scored the 13th highest run rating at Pro Football Focus of 59 qualified running backs in 2012, and his missed tackle total was even more impressive having forced the sixth most, one more than LeSean McCoy. Richardson is an unquestioned starter that will get every down work in a game that projects to provide fireworks in the opening week, that’s a steal at under $8,000.
1- Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, $6,600
I’m doubling down on Kelce. He was my value pick at the tight end position earlier in the week, and he’s my favorite sleeper in week one as well. We have literally zero meaningful game data to analyze due to Kelce missing his entire rookie season after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. That said, he is healthy and played in the preseason. Not only did he play in the preseason, he played extremely well and earned the highest pass rating grade at Pro Football Focus. He caught 11 of 14 passes thrown toward him, dropped zero, reeled in two touchdowns, and forced nine missed tackles. No other tight end forced more than four. With Dwayne Bowe out, Kelce will join Jamal Charles as Alex Smith’s most targeted and most talented receiving options. Furthermore, Kelce is a matchup nightmare. Once again I’ll offer a hat tip to Davis Mattek for his in-depth piece comparing the measurables of Kelce coming out of college to those of Rob Gronkowski. The similarities are startling. Take advantage of Kelce’s low price now, because starting as soon as week two you can expect to spend a little more coin on him.
Discover top plays at every position below:
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Top Five Fantasy Football Tight Ends
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Top Five Fantasy Football Quarterbacks
Top Five Fantasy Football Sleepers