By Nick Villano @nick_villano on July 1, 2014
Fantasy football can be so finicky sometimes. Entire leagues have been swayed by players who came into training camp as backups. They end up taking the starting job, and taking their owner's team to new heights. You have to do major research to try to predict these sleepers. These 15 camp battles could produce those sleepers.
Ray Rice's offseason has been filled with negative publicity. After his worst season as a professional, a video was released with his soon-to-be wife collapsing out of an elevator in Atlantic City, NJ. He says that the incident is behind him and he is ready to move on. What is also behind him is Bernard Pierce. The Temple product has been waiting for his chance, and it could come this season.
I understand that Giovani Bernard has already been named the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals, but what percentage of the carries will he get? Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis is still curiously on the team. What will his role end up being? They also selected Jeremy Hill in the second round of the draft. This might not be as cut and dry as it seems.
Eli Manning has been known to make tight ends a lot of money. They come to the Giants, have a good season, then get paid elsewhere. When you look at the current TE roster, it is a curious bunch. If one of them could break out, then it could be one of the biggest sleepers in the league.
Greg Jennings has said that Cordarrelle Patterson is ready to become the No. 1 receiver in Minnesota. That was a curious statement from a player who just received a massive contract. While the QB situation may be a reason to be cautious, these two have too much talent to be ignored.
Who knows what is going on with the Rams running back situation? They take a new guy every year, and they change their mind on him.
David Akers was a band-aid for the Detroit Lions last season. They knew he wouldn't last long. Now the team will choose between Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio.
When you have Drew Brees as your quarterback, that means you are going to be fantasy relevant. There are seasons where four receivers are must-starts, depending on the opponent. With the Jimmy Graham situation in flux, that makes the rest of the team that much more valuable.
With news coming out that Knowshon Moreno may have an injury that is holding him back, that makes the Dolphins running back situation wide open. Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller will look to take advantage of the situation.
Brian Hoyer was amazing for the two weeks that he was the starter for the Cleveland Browns. Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing name in the NFL today. These two will fight for the week one starting job until the final day of the preseason. Whoever wins may be worth a backup spot on your team.
The Arizona Cardinals running back position has been a carousel of players for what seems like a decade now. They will find a guy to take the role for a season or two, but can't seem to keep them going. Can Andre Ellington buck that trend, or will someone else emerge and become the starter in Arizona?
With the addition of DeSean Jackson to the mix, the Redskins WR corps has become crowded. Pierre Garcon is still most likely going to be the most important guy, but there is no way to know. You also have to wonder how healthy Robert Griffin III will be heading into the season.
Chris Johnson was brought into the Jets with the hope that he could find some of that former magic he once had. He is going to battle Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell for carries. Are you going to take a chance on Johnson again? (At this point he has tricked us all into drafting him at some point.)
The Panthers got rid of pretty much every one of their wide receivers from last season. Career Panther Steve Smith was cut, Ted Ginn left through free agency, as did Brandon Lafell. Who is left to catch passes from Cam Newton? Who could possibly be a 4,000 yard QB?
Everyone knows that Antonio Brown is the No. 1 guy in Pittsburgh, but who is behind him? In years past, the second in command to a Ben Roethlisberger-led offense has been fantasy relevant. Will Markus Wheaton seize that position, or will someone else overtake him?
The New England Patriots have five wide receivers who could conceivably end the season leading the team in main categories. Between Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Josh Boyce, Kembrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, you would think that one of these players will take on the role as No. 1 for Tom Brady.
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