Fantasy Advice

Sleepers to Stash Before Week 1

By September 2, 20147 Comments

By now most fantasy drafts have been completed and you can't take your eyes off of your roster. That's for good reason of course, you likely just drafted the best team you've ever had. However the issue becomes that sometimes we're too close to the situation to realize the truth.

Most of us didn't have the perfect draft. That means there's room for improvement.

I'm not talking about improving the guys you took in the early rounds, but rather the guys from later on in the draft.

You need to be looking for upside players. Sleepers that can be sitting on your bench when they go off for the first time.

Sure you don't want to miss out on those points, but it's better than having to fight on the waiver wire with everyone else once they go off.

Let's be honest with each other for just a second. The players I'm recommending below have zero guarantee that they'll become fantasy relevant in 2014. However, I believe there is enough evidence out there, in stats and other fantasy experts opinions, that I'm comfortable saying you should go get these guys.

If you want a chance to win a championship you need to play the wire right and find value before everyone else does. This is how you'll do that before week 1 of the 2014 fantasy football season.

Players to Claim Before Week 1

1. Travis Kelce - TE - Kansas City Chiefs 

Travis Kelce has been mentioned by fantasy experts all over the industry over the past several weeks. After having a very nice preseason people are beginning to take notice that Kelce could turn into a viable fantasy option.

You could consider Kelce a good investment due to Andy Reid's love for the passing game, the lack of receiving talent on the Chiefs (Bowe is out week 1) and Alex Smith's tendency to throw the ball between the hashes.

Kelce has already demonstrated great playmaking ability and I don't believe that Anthony Fasano is a true roadblock to playing time in Kansas City. In fact, with Dwayne Bowe out for the first game of the season I think we could see Travis Kelce burst onto the scene.

I don't advise starting him week 1, but you'll be happy you own him after he explodes and everyone is clamoring for him. He's worth the roster spot before the first week of the fantasy season.

2.  Benny Cunningham - RB - St. Louis Rams

Benny (ha. like we're on a first name basis), has been getting glowing reviews out of camp this preseason. Of course we can't believe everything we hear, however he's looked good in the games he has played so far.

The Rams were expected to be run heavy prior to losing Sam Bradford and it appears that Tre Mason holds the third spot on the depth chart. That means Cunningham has a shot at significant carries, and if Zac Stacy goes down he's immediately in line for significant work.

Zac Stacy became a great lottery ticket in 2013. It's possible that Benny Cunningham becomes that lottery ticket in 2014. With an improved offensive line in St. Louis the running backs are going to score fantasy points. The question is, can Benny Cunningham be the next Zac Stacy.

3.Lance Dunbar - RB - Dallas Cowboys

We've been pretty vocal via our fantasy podcasts and other posts that we're supporters of the Cowboys in 2014, at least for fantasy purposes. We expect big years from all of their offensive players and we've continued to harp on the addition of Scott Linehan (which has been overplayed by both us and all other fantasy experts).

Dunbar, if healthy, has the chance to be a viable flex option for fantasy owners in 2014. Linehan made two running backs fantasy relevant with the Lions in 2013, and I believe he can do the same in Dallas. Joique Bell produced almost 1,200 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2013 with Scott there. Although I think that's easily the ceiling for Dunbar, I think he can get in the neighborhood of that.

Those numbers make him worth owning. Even if he's starting on the bench.

4. Antone Smith - RB - Atlanta Falcons

Antone Smith is the guy that everyone continues to skip over in Atlanta. Listen, I get that Jacquizz and Devonta Freeman are there. I've seen the fantasy analysis and the listened to why they're the guys, but what about Smith.

In his only 5 carries of 2013 he had: an 8-yard run, 50-yards TD, 38-yard run, 11-yard run and a 38-yard TD. Those numbers put him at 29-yards-per-carry.

Of course that isn't sustainable you say. I agree it isn't.But look at this preseason and he continues to impress.

A 75-yard TD run canceled out by a penalty, a 40-yard run called back via penalty and a 66-yard receiving touchdown. Sure it was in the preseason against what was likely 2nd and 3rd string defenses. I'm not here to say these stats are repeatable on the scale he's produced. I'm simply saying he is showing big play ability.

This guy is special and should be on more rosters than he is. If Steven Jackson goes down, this guy could have a chance to shine.

Maybe I'm a year too early on a kid who is buried on the depth chart. But god damn do those numbers inspire me.

5. Miles Austin - WR - Cleveland Browns

I hate writing this name almost as much as you hate reading it.

Miles Austin, the king of injured hamstrings is at it again. He could be fantasy relevant in 2014 if he stays healthy. Which is always a huge if.

The guy is the best receiver on the Browns and is only a few years removed from being a top-15ish WR.

This is more about the opportunity and the player he once was. Just don't be surprised if he puts up passable numbers. Miles Austin could turn into a fantasy relevant player once again.

Preparing for Week 1 of Fantasy Football

All 5 of the guys I've touched on above are not guys I would advise starting this week. In fact, you're absolutely nuts for putting them into your lineup.

However, these guys could provide value down the road. They could become starters, trade bait or remain mediocre options. All I'm saying is that they have potential. When you're looking at the waiver wire prior to seeing a single regular season game played you should be looking for potential.

Don't think you're so smart that you drafted the perfect team. Consider these options and you'll work on making your team even better.

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Nick Schreck