Fantasy Football: 2014 Deep Sleeper Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant Clemson Tigers Pittsburgh Steelers

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A lot of people are excited about Sammy Watkins’ arrival in the NFL as well as what he can offer as a fantasy football prospect. On the other hand, many people have never heard of the WR who played opposite Watkins at Clemson University, Martavis Bryant. Here’s why Bryant is also an interesting WR candidate in fantasy.

Ben Roethlisberger isn’t a flashy fantasy QB to own, but he has consistently put up points year after year. In 2013, Roethlisberger was the 12th-ranked QB in standard scoring. He threw for over 4,200 yards and 28 TDs despite an underwhelming offensive line and poor pass protection. With the departure of Emmanuel Sanders to the Denver Broncos and Jerricho Cotchery to the Carolina Panthers, there is opportunity for a rookie WR like Bryant to make his mark.

Last year, Sanders and Cotchery combined for 1,300 yards and 16 TDs. With the two of them gone, there are a lot of receptions up for grabs, literally. Of course, second-year WR Markus Wheaton looks to fill Sanders’ role, and the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Lance Moore following his release from the New Orleans Saints to fill Cotchery’s position in the slot. However, there is an outside chance that Bryant could start in the X receiver role opposite Antonio Brown instead of Wheaton.

Wheaton’s skillset is very similar to that of Sanders, and the two players are almost clones in terms of their abilities. Both players are 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds. Sanders ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine, and Wheaton ran a 4.45. Sanders has a 39.5-inch vertical jump and a 126.0-inch broad jump, and Wheaton has a 37.0-inch vertical and a 120.0-inch broad jump.

Wheaton clearly has the ability to fill Sanders’ shoes, and Moore is a more-than-capable slot receiver to replace Cotchery. The problem is that the Steelers don’t have a legitimate red zone threat outside of TE Heath Miller. Brown, the Steelers’ WR1, is 5-foot-10. Wheaton is one inch taller than Brown, and Moore is an inch shorter than Brown.

Enter Martavis Bryant. He is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds. He has the lengthy frame to edge out cornerbacks in jump ball situations and end zone targets, and Bryant has surprising speed for his build, running a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine. He could be the perfect outside complement to Brown.

The main issue with Bryant is his reliability as a receiver. He had quite a few drops at Clemson and can afford to improve his catching skills. Bryant also had trouble breaking in his routes and finding separation from defenders. However, both skills are coachable, and Bryant could develop into a capable WR with his physical measurables if he puts in the work.

As of now, Bryant is only a WR to be drafted in deeper leagues or in dynasty formats. However, he has the physical prowess to emerge as a future stud if he continues to develop his ball skills and improve his route running. Watkins may be the favorite WR of his draft class, but his former Clemson teammate Bryant has the potential to become just as big of a star in the NFL and in fantasy football.

Meng Song is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ms0ng, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your Google+ network.


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