We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.
To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:
- Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
- Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
- Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.
Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Allen Robinson or C.J. Anderson, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Alfred Morris is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
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Marlon Brown, WR BAL (Sleeper)
Generally it’s in a wide receiver’s third season when they finally hit their stride. Brown has shown flashes in his first two seasons, but lacked consistency. Now, Torrey Smith has moved on to San Francisco, tight end Owen Daniels is in Denver, wideout/kick return specialist Jacoby Jones went to San Diego and old man Steve Smith has to slow down at some point, right? (Don’t tell him I said that.I don’t want to have to ice up.)
Yes, the Ravens took Breshad Perriman in the first round, but he has a history of drops and as it was pointed out above, it can wideouts a few seasons to completely grasp the NFL game.
Brown could be in for a healthy bump this season. In 2013 he had 524 receiving yards, but those dipped to just 255 last season thanks to a more robust receiving corps and missing two games with an injury. He has only one career touchdown, but it was memorable – a last second catch to beat the Vikings in the snow. In his career he has caught 64.6% of his passes. With the departure of of Torrey Smith and Daniels, Brown’s numbers should be in line for a rebound. Also in 2014, the 6-foot-5, 214 pound receiver did not have a single target in the red zone. That fact should definitely change in 2015 which would lead to better fantasy numbers.
Also in Brown’s favor is new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman. The former Chicago Bears head coach is more inclined to throw the football which can only mean good things for Brown. Couple that with Joe Flacco’s big arm and there is reason to be optimistic.
Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore Ravens (Deep sleeper)
Aiken is in the midst of a nomadic career but seems to have found a home in Baltimore. In fact, he wasn’t even on an NFL roster in 2013 after playing in two games for Buffalo in 2011 and one in New England in 2012, both stops without a catch. In fact, he was released six times during his first three season. Despite that, his 2014 numbers were pedestrian 24 catches, 267 yards, and three touchdowns. But for a guy with his backstory, those are very fortunate. Even with all of his good 2014 fortune, he still went five games without a catch.
The fact that the 6-foot-2, 215 pound Aiken has bounced around and landed in Baltimore shows a hunger and a willingness to fight for a job. The fact he has done this before may give him a leg up on other who are facing their first competition for a starting spot. There are reports he was practicing with the first-team offense during OTAs.
The third wide receiver job will come down to either Brown or Aiken and the Ravens don’t really seem to have much of a preference and each man has a shot at stealing the starting job from the rookie Perriman. Both had similar numbers last season and seemed to alternate playing time. While Brown has the measurables, it could be perceived as telling that Aiken, who until that point had done very little in his career, was treated similarly. Both men were undrafted free agents out of college. Brown went to Georgia, while Aiken attended UCF.
At this stage of the game, I would probably lean more towards the Brown side of this equation, but I would not be shocked at all to see Aiken win the job. There is a steep drop off from the WR2 to the WR3 in a Trestman offense, so if one of these players can secure that job for the 2015 season while Perriman gets his feet under him, either Brown’s or Aiken’s dynasty value could go up significantly.