Top 5 Late-Round Fantasy Football Picks for 2015 Drafts
When it comes to the late rounds of any fantasy football draft, the goal is to get a guy that ends up being a starter. You want to outsmart your fellow league mates, but let's be honest: that's everyone's strategy. The key to drafting is knowing when to grab a player so you can get the maximum value. If you're debating between two guys and the guy you didn't pick is available to you in the next round, you now know you were reaching.
Let's take a look at some players that you shouldn’t have to reach for, and can pay off throughout the season. Instead of using the term "sleeper," let's call these players the guys that you should target because their value should exceed their draft position.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for SoCalledFantasyExperts.com among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins
Current ADP (per FantasyFootballCalculator.com): 9th round
In his three seasons in the league, Tannehill has continually improved. He broke 4,000 yards in 2014 and also set a career high for touchdown passes with 27. His completion percentage was the highest it has been and the number of interceptions were the fewest he's thrown.
The word out of Miami is that he has improved even from last year, which bodes well for fantasy owners. He's not a big name, he's historically been a QB2, but on draft day, count on your league mates to have that impression. In reality, Tannehill ranked fifth in completions and completion percentage in 2014. He had the 11th-most yards, which, coupled with a tie for the 12th-most touchdowns, puts him squarely in QB1 territory (assuming standard, 12-team leagues). He's currently being drafted as the 13th quarterback off the board, but expect him to finish the 2015 season as a top-8 quarterback.
I'd rather have Tannehill over: Tom Brady (7th round), Tony Romo (7th round)
Stevan Ridley, RB, New York Jets
Current ADP (per FantasyFootballCalculator.com): 13th round
In Week 6 of the 2014 season, Ridley went down with a torn ACL. He had surgery and has been rehabbing. Since not everyone can be Adrian Peterson and return for the beginning of the season like nothing ever happened, we should look realistically at Ridley. It is likely that he starts the season on the PUP list (if this is announced, look for his draft value to plummet even from the 13th round).
Here's why you shouldn't ignore him, however: 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns. Those are his 2012 numbers. He is capable of repeating those numbers, even in a different uniform. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are the other two backs on the Jets that would compete with Ridley for the starting gig. While the talk is that this may end up being a true committee, Ridley has more running talent than any of the others. How he progresses in his recovery is the key, but if you're in the 13th round, why not take a gamble on someone that has the potential to give you borderline RB1 numbers?
I'd rather have Ridley over: Darren Sproles (12th round), Terrance West (13th round), Fred Jackson (13th round)
(Ridley photo courtesy of www.newyorkjets.com)
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants
Current ADP (per FantasyFootballCalculator.com): 12th round
Sure, he was benched last year. But Randle also had just under 1,000 yards and three touchdowns playing in the shadow of guys like Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. Yes, Cruz and ODB are expected back this year, so that should leave Randle in the doghouse, right? Not so fast. Randle will likely be the No. 2 receiver for the Giants and has spent a ton of time training with Eli Manning.
Manning has sung his praises to the media, which everyone knows to take with a grain of salt. However, Randle, is coming off of career highs in both receptions (71) and receiving yards (938). It’s the three touchdowns that have so many fantasy owners putting him in the “disappointment” category. He is a red-zone threat, and someone that Manning will look to when the Giants enter that territory. It's not clear how well Cruz will come back from his injury, and it certainly is possible ODB won't perform up to the hype. Defenses will have had an entire offseason to try to devise ways to cover him. While they're doing that, look for Randle to get the ball.
I'd rather have Randle over: Larry Fitzgerald (9th round), Brian Quick (11th round), Anquan Boldin (11th round).
Eric Decker, WR, New York Jets
Current ADP (per FantasyFootballCalculator.com): 11th round
If Decker was still playing for the Denver Broncos, he would never drop to the 11th round. Obviously the quarterback makes a difference, but at the end of the day, the player's talent should shine through as well.
In his first season with the Jets, Decker had 74 receptions for 962 yards and five touchdowns. He averaged about five receptions for 65 yards a game. While that is still down from averaging 80 yards a game in 2013 (in Denver), it is almost exactly on par with his ‘12 season. The difference is in the touchdowns. Again, Geno Smith is likely the starting quarterback, but the addition of Brandon Marshall to the team will help Decker. Think of Denver: Decker's best season was alongside Demaryius Thomas. Defenses will double-cover Marshall, leaving Decker open. Look for an improvement in 2015 over his ‘14 numbers.
I'd rather have Decker over: Terrance Williams (10th round), Marques Colston (10th round) and Davante Adams (8th round).
Owen Daniels, TE, Denver Broncos
Current ADP (per FantasyFootballCalculator.com): 8th round
Daniels is currently being drafted as the seventh tight end off the board. However, he is now in Denver, reunited with coach Gary Kubiak, and he has Peyton Manning throwing him the ball. While it's not fair to directly compare Daniels to Julius Thomas, look just for a minute at Thomas' numbers: 43/489/12 in 2014 and 65/788/12 in 2013. Did Manning really like Thomas in the red zone or did the Broncos game plan for the tight end to get the ball in those situations? Probably a little bit of both, but it was a formula that worked. Was this because of Thomas' skill or was it a product of Manning and the game plan? That is the question that will be answered this season.
At 32, Daniels looked to be washed up after a down season in 2014. However, if you believe that Kubiak and Manning will look to get their tight end involved in the red zone, don't be afraid to grab Daniels. It's not a flashy pick, but you'll feel comfortable putting him in your lineup each week.
I'd rather have Daniels over: Zach Ertz (8th round), Jordan Cameron (8th round)
(Daniels photo by Eric Lars Bakke for www.denverbroncos.com)