The fantasy football landscape was set on its ear with rookie standouts O’dell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin in 2014. In what has become a pass first league with rules designed to favor quarterbacks and receivers it is more commonplace that rookie wide-outs have an instant impact where historically rookies at the position have struggled to find their footing in their first year in the NFL. Sammy Watkins, Jarvis Landry and Jordan Matthews also had strong rookie campaigns and with the 2015 draft class shaping up to be another receiver rich litter there are also a pair of quarterbacks and a loaded running back class that fantasy football owners are salivating over. However, the shrewd fantasy football owner will keep an eye out for what is called the “post hype sleeper.” We at CPGM take absolutely no credit for the phrase itself but implore you to make certain that the following players are in your draft queue come your fantasy league’s draft.
Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings – Some may prefer Derek Carr but Bridgewater is the best 2nd year quarterback (2015) in the league and has the highest fantasy floor and ceiling. Teddy had fewer passing attempts than Blake Bortles but ended up with more passing yards and touchdowns. Johnny Manziel….well he’s in rehab. Derek Carr started all 16 games and exceeded all expectations with his 21:12 TD/INT ratio. However, in 2015 Bridgewater will have the benefit of a better supporting cast compared to Oakland even if Adrian Peterson moves on. That 2014 Pro Day is old news, and if you saw the way Bridgewater played down the stretch last season you would do well to select him before either Jameis Winston (no offensive line in Tampa Bay) or Marcus Mariota (will struggle to function in a pro-style system).
Carlos Hyde San Francisco 49ers – Jeremy Hill stole the show among rookie running backs in 2014 and once the Rams’ coaching staff trusted Tre Mason in pass protection he got a lot of run. However, albeit in limited opportunities, Carlos Hyde flashed impressive ability spelling veteran Frank Gore. Gore however, is no longer in San Fran and Hyde is slated to get the early down work and goal-line touches for the 49ers. The addition of Reggie Bush will usurp some receiving opportunities for Hyde but Bush’s age (30-years-old) and injury history should set you at ease regarding how much playing time he costs the young running back in year two. We won’t fault you for taking Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon or whoever the Dallas Cowboys select at running back before Hyde but understand the value of Hyde’s clearly defined role and opportunity out west.
Note: Very high on Isaiah Crowell in Cleveland but I expect a fairly even workload between him and Terrance West.
Martavis Bryant Pittsburgh Steelers – I’d just like to say I drafted Odell Beckham Jr. in the last round of an IDP keeper league (27 rounds…. Hahahahah!!!!). The deepest position in fantasy football is receiver, by far. I previously mentioned the litany of rookie wide-outs who made huge impressions in year one. Not to mention the plethora of veterans at the position still in the prime of their careers. Oh, and the 2015 class is stacked as well. I offer this warning… DO NOT forget about Martavis Bryant. He has a terrific quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger, he’ll never be double-covered playing opposite Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Brown requires a village to stop him. Bryant only played in 10 games and wasn’t a full time starter but he finished with a 26/549/8 line. That’s one touchdown grab every 3.25 catches and more than 20 yards per catch. While your fantasy league rivals try to figure out who is the next O’dell Beckham focus on the known quantities and invest a late round pick in Bryant. You’ll thank me…or not.
Eric Ebron Detroit Lions – Ebron was inconsistent on the field and his playing time fluctuated accordingly in his rookie season. Fantasy owners may be gun shy considering Ebron’s disappointing performance in year one but the tight end position is far too lean to ignore the talented move tight end. His size-speed combination is a recipe for fantasy goodness and I expect him to take a substantial step forward in his sophomore campaign as he continues to adjust to the speed of the pro game. Clive Walford and MyCole Pruitt are interesting rookie prospects but where they land respectively will ultimately determine their fantasy value. In Detroit, Ebron should be able to run freely through the middle of opposing defenses as he will be flanked by Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. And if there is one thing Matthew Stafford can do, it’s wing it.