Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills (84) pulls in a touchdown pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
It’s never too soon to talk fantasy football. I mean, it’s the offseason what else can we do? As every fantasy football aficionado knows, it’s hard to get a lot of fantasy points from rookie players. Of course there are players that can produce from day 1 like Giovani Bernard, Eddie Lacy or Keenan Allen but we already know we’re gonna draft those players so let’s focus on some possible 2nd-year fantasy sleeper.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s your 2014 all-sophomore fantasy team!
QB – EJ Manuel
2013 Numbers: 180/306, 1972 yds, 11 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, 9 INTs.
Last year it was Geno Smith the better fantasy quarterback but don’t forget that the Buffalo Bills signal caller missed 6 games due to injury. Manuel racked up 133.48 fantasy points in 2013, averaging 13 points per game but that number is definitely going up in my opinion, as Sammy Watkins, even if he’s a rookie, should be an impact player right from the start.
Should you draft EJ Manuel? Probably not, but keep an eye on him if your starting fantasy QB is forced to miss one or more games.
RB1 – Andre Ellington
2013 Numbers: 118 car, 652 rushing yds, 371 rec yds, 3 rushing TDs, 1 rec TD, 1 fumble.
Ellington is a great breakout candidate for next year: NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano has him ranked as the 14th best running back going in 2014, ahead of players like Darren Sproles, C.J. Spiller and Frank Gore. He averaged 5.5 yards/carry last year when he was given the ball just 118 times: now that he’s clearly on top of the depth chart that number will (at least) double.
A lot of people are talking about Ellington as a must-have fantasy player and I think he’s worth a reach in the late-second round. Great value in the third round.
RB2 – Khiry Robinson
2013 Numbers: 54 car, 224 rushing yds, 0 rec yds, 1 rushing TD, o rec TDs, 0 fumble.
Watch out Mark Ingram, Khiry is coming. I know 54 carries aren’t enough to judge Robinson but I honestly believe he can climb the depth chart fast. He should be a high-priority free agent in most leagues so be sure to keep an eye on him.
WR1 – Cordarelle Patterson
2013 Numbers: 45 rec, 469 rec yds, 4 rec TDs, 158 rushing yds, 3 rushing TDs, 0 fumble.
Another potential breakout candidate, Patterson will have a bigger role in the Vikings’ offense next season as veteran Greg Jennings anticipated:” As a rookie, not being given a whole lot of opportunities and then coming on strong at the end of the year, the expectation of Eight-Four went to another level. I’m going to be honest: Once I saw him make a couple plays, I’m like, ‘We’ve got to get him the ball. He does too much well for us not to get him the ball.’ “
Those are strong words but personally I’m not as excited about Patterson as a lot of other writers because of these two key factors:
1. Adrian Peterson
2. Who’s throwing him the ball?
Despite that I believe he can be a good WR3 in most leagues.
WR2 – Kenny Stills
2013 Numbers: 32 rec, 641 rec yds, 5 rec TDs, 10 rushing yds, 0 rushing TDs, 0 fumble.
Even if the Saints drafted speedster wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the first round Kenny Stills “will take on a more well-rounded offensive role in 2014 after an inconsistent, yet promising rookie campaign in which he averaged 20 yards per catch in 2013” as Times-Picayune’s writer Larry Holder said.
Stills will likely be a late-round pick in most leagues and should be considered as a good WR4, probably even a decent WR3 in 12-men leagues.
TE – Jordan Reed
2013 Numbers: 45 rec, 499 rec yds, 3 rec TDs, 18 rushing yds, 0 rushing TDs, 0 fumble.
Reed is a player with great potential but a lot of injury concerns: last year he played 9 games, starting only 4 of them. Considering the three seasons he played at Florida, Reed had four concussions in four years. When fully healthy he’s able to put up Jimmy-Graham type of numbers, as he showed last year in the week 7 game against the Chicago Bears when he catched 9 balls for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Reed could see a lot of targets since opposing defenses will have to focus on DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon but having him as your TE1 is risky so be sure to have a good backup if you’re willing to draft Reed.
K – Caleb Sturgis
2013 Numbers: 26/34 FGs, 33/33 XPs, longest FG 54 yds.
It’s not like I had much of a choice since Sturgis is the only sophomore starting kicker in the league.