5 Fantasy Football Sleepers

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Tevin Coleman (RB — ATL)
With the retirement of Steven Jackson and departure of Jacquizz Rogers, the ATL backfield is wide open for a new lead workhorse. Rookie RB Tevin Coleman will be competing for the starting job against second year RB Devonta Freeman. Coleman is a change-of pace RB with uncanny patience behind the run block, which he combines with game-breaking speed and acceleration (4.35 40-yard dash). As the Big Ten’s #2 RB last year (behind only fellow rookie, Melvin Gordon), Tevin Coleman rushed for 2,036 yards and 15 TDs. Of particular note, he did this on only 270 attempts, translating to an eye-popping 7.5 yards per carry. Coleman is expected to split duties with Freeman to start, but if he can continue to showcase the type of running that left scouts in awe, then we could be looking at ATL’s feature back a few weeks into the season.

Chris Ivory (RB — NYJ)
A shaky QB situation in New York means the Jets will be forced to rely on a heavy dose of the run game. Under Rex Ryan, the Jets ran the ball 507 times last year, good for #2 in the AFC. Unless Geno Smith somehow miraculously morphs into 2013 Peyton Manning, we do not expect this to change under new coach Todd Bowles; meaning plenty of rush opportunities to go around. The Jets undoubtedly have a crowded backfield with Ivory, Ridley, Powell, and Stacy; but for now the job is Ivory’s to lose. Ridley is coming back from an ACL injury, Powell will likely be limited to passing sets, and Zac Stacy is an after-thought in the rotation. A top defense helping to keep the offense on the field doesn’t hurt either.

Markus Wheaton (WR — PIT)
Pittsburgh has a trifecta of talented receivers, with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. While Martavis Bryant has been the one shooting up pre-season ADP rankings, Markus Wheaton may very well be the team’s breakout star. In his first season as a starter last year, Wheaton caught 53 passes for 644 yards. With Brown and Bryant drawing much of the attention, Wheaton will likely see his fair share of one-on-one coverage — advantage, Wheaton. It also doesn’t hurt to have your QB singing your praises. Appearing on Sirius XM Radio, Ben Roethlisberger stated that Markus Wheaton will be the Steelers’ No. 2 wide receiver this season and predicted Wheaton will be Pittsburgh’s “breakout player.” “I think Markus Wheaton is our breakout player of the year,” said Ben. “I want that. I want him to have that pressure. Because when we’re in two wide receivers, he’s our No. 2. And we’re asking him to play outside. And we go three wide receivers, we ask him to move inside.”

John Brown (WR — ARI)
John Brown caught 48 passes, for 696 yards and 5 TDs last year as a rookie. These totals were good for 2nd in receptions and 3rd in receiving yards on the team, despite a revolving door at the QB position. Carson Palmer is back and healthy this year, which should provide much needed stability to the passing game. With an aging Larry Fitzgerald, its very likely John Brown slides in as Palmer’s #2 option behind Michael Floyd (update: who just went down yesterday with 3 broken fingers during practice).

Teddy Bridgewater (QB — MIN)
Teddy Bridgewater ended his rookie season on a tear. Over the last four games of the season, he threw for 1,092 yards (average of 273 ypg) and 6 TDs, converting on 72% of his pass attempts over that span. He seemed to hit his stride as the season progressed, learning and adapting to the complexity of NFL defenses much earlier than expected of a first-year signal caller. Signs point to continued improvement in the off-season for Bridgewater, and he is expected to benefit immensely from the return of Adrian Peterson and addition of Mike Wallace into the offense.

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