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The Radar List – Deep Sleepers To Keep On Your Radar
- Updated: August 2, 2013
Training camp is in full swing, which means every team is a champion, every rookie is a potential Hall of Famer, and every Fantasy Football GM is mining the interwebs looking for that next Alfred Morris or Cecil Shorts. Problem is, with such a glut of training camp information out there, its nigh impossible to separate the fantasy gold from fool’s gold.
The key to uncovering that shiny nugget is looking for a combination of opportunity and momentum. Those are the players that make up my Radar List of deep sleepers to keep an eye on. That is to say, these are not necessarily guys you draft in a standard 10 teamer, or even in a deeper league, but rather these are names to know and track heading into Week 1 as potential late-round flyers or waiver wire pickups.
1. Damaris Johnson WR – Eagles
When Jeremy Maclin went down with a serious knee there was immediate speculation on who would replace Maclin in Chip Kelly’s assumedly high-octane offense. The assumption was the fourth year wide-out Riley Cooper would fill the void. Cooper would have been an interesting player, with a nice combination of size and speed and some flashes of production in the past. Unfortunately for Cooper, cell phones have cameras, and now he is taking time off from the team to seek counseling. He may even be a victim of training camp cuts. I don’t think he will be, but when he comes back he may find his starting job gone. That’s because, while Cooper has been apologizing for making racist threats, Damaris Johnson has been busy catching 50 yard TDs in training camp. Johnson, a second-year pro from Temple, is not without his drawbacks. He’s all of 5’9” and wouldn’t have to cut weight to make the welterweight limit. But he was highly productive in college, as a receiver, runner, and returner, and has a unique set of skills that may make a creative coach like Chip drool. Don’t be surprised if Johnson is the one scoring points for fantasy owners, not Cooper.
2. Knowshon Moreno – RB – Broncos
Yeah, that guy again… but hear me out. The Broncos RB picture is confusing. Here’s what we know: combine Willis McGahee (100pts from weeks 1-11) and Moreno’s (77pts from week12-17) stats from last year and you had yourself a Top 20 RB. So, there are certainly points to be had for a RB in the Denver offense. We also know that Peyton Manning calls the shots, and when McGahee went down last year, it was Moreno, not Hillman, who got the surprise work. Why? Because, as mediocre as Knowshon has been in his career as a rusher, he is an adequate blocker and pass-catcher. From all accounts Montee Ball has struggled with blocking in camp. I highly doubt Peyton will want to take the chance with a rookie blocking blitzing linebackers, unless of course he’s interested in a few more fused vertebrae. Hillman, on the other hand, bulked up in the offseason and reports say his blocking has improved. So, he may have the job, but can he keep it? My guess is Ball gets the goal-line carries and Hillman and Moreno split the non-red zone work until one of them plays their way into a position. Hillman may be the better talent here. But it wouldn’t be crazy if Hillman’s blocking got him demoted and Moreno was turned to down the stretch. After-all, it happened last year. Just keep him on your radar to be safe.
3. Kenbrell Thompkins WR – Patriots
The Pats offense didn’t just undergo a face-lift in the offseason, it got major reconstructive surgery. Usually when a team changes this much in the offseason, it’s because they struggled the year before. With the Pats, it’s a combination of things that were out of their control (Hernandez, Gronk) and their own mission to prove that anybody is expendable (Welker, Woodhead, Lloyd, Branch). For what it’s worth, I don’t think Gronk will be there by the start of the season. I also think Welker replacement and all around tough dude Danny Amendola will get banged up regularly. That leaves a lot of ball and very few players ready or available to catch it. Enter undrafted free agent Kenbrell Thompkins, who has outplayed all other receivers thus far at camp. He has decent size (6’1” 196lbs) and speed (4.54 second 40-yard dash) to go with a checkered past that he is trying to leave behind. He could take the No. 2 spot from second rounder Aaron Dobson before the first pre-season game, and be off and running from there.
4. Rob Housler TE – Cardinals
If you don’t know who Rob Housler is you’re not alone. Arizona has been a fantasy wasteland for the last few years as they have trotted out the absolute dregs at quarterback. Carson Palmer is certainly no first team All-Pro, but he is a professional football player, which may not be an accurate description of Ryan Linley, John Skelton or Brian Hoyer. Carson has also taken a liking to throwing to his tight ends. Last year he targeted Brandon Myers 105 times for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns, good for seventh among Fantasy tight ends. Housler is due for a big uptick in targets, and unlike last year some of them may actually be catchable. The 2011 third rounder from Florida Atlantic has enticing measurables (6’5”, 250lbs to go with a blazing 4.55 40) and the talent to be a productive late-round tight end with upside.
5. Da’Rick Rogers WR – Bills
Even before Stevie Johnson made his weekly trip to the sidelines I had been keeping my eye on the Bills wide receiver competition. Perhaps I’m a sucker for punishment, but I think there might be a diamond unearthed from beneath the frozen tundra of northern New York. My optimism is twofold. First, rookie first-rounder EJ Manual looks to be a shoe-in for the starter job. Secondly, there is a new coach in town, Doug Marrone, who worked wonders at lowly Syracuse and previous to that manned the high-powered New Orleans Saints offense. Their offense will be fast, and it they will throw a lot. Rumor has it that the Bills aren’t even huddling in practice, a throw-back to the old K-Gun days. Obviously, this could spell trouble with a rookie at the helm, but there should be plenty of balls to go around. There are a lot of talented guys in the mix to catch them, including second-rounder Robert Wood, third-rounder Marquise Goodwin, undrafted free agent Da’Rick Rogers, and incumbent T.J. Graham. Wood has an interesting all-around skillset, but Goodwin is more of a speed/athleticism project and Graham is a marginal talent at best. The guy who has been the best of the bunch is Rogers. Rogers may have been undrafted, but he isn’t an undrafted talent; he was very productive in college, leading the SEC in receiving in 2011, before running into off-field issues and being forced out of Tennessee. He has been read the riot act by the no-nonsense Marrone and seems to be responding. With the WR2 spot open, chemistry building with new started Manuel, and the always banged-up Johnson on the other side, opportunity might knock for Rodgers.
Thanks for checking out The Radar List – Deep Sleepers To Keep On Your Radar.
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