2014 Fantasy Football Sleeper Candidate: WR Mike Evans
The entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense heads into the 2014 NFL season as huge sleepers in fantasy football. Quarterback Josh McCown is incredibly underrated and surrounded with a ton of weapons at the skill positions, including the veteran WR Vincent Jackson, who the Buccaneers’ front office found a perfect compliment for in the rookie out of Texas A&M Mike Evans; also known as Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel’s favorite collegiate receiver.
Evans recently made national headlines after TMZ released a video of a nightclub brawl he was involved in this past March. However, it’s fair to assume the incident will not result in much of a suspension, if any, and essentially does not affect his fantasy value, but it’s a scenario worth monitoring.
That said, Evans is primed for a stellar rookie campaign. Tampa Bay’s offense will be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, who will have an incredibly difficult time game planning against it. The Buccaneers have two tight ends in Tim Wright and rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins who will draw attention over the middle of the field while Jackson and Evans spread the field wide on each side.
This will lead to more opportunities in single coverage for the dynamic WR duo, because opponents simply cannot designate double coverage to Evans and Jackson since it will expose them over the middle, and vice versa. Add in the return of RB Doug Martin, and Tampa Bay has the makings of something very special on the offensive side of the ball, which has been a long time coming.
At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds with a 4.50 40-yard dash time, Evans is not overwhelmingly fast, but is quick and particularly long making himself a physically imposing target. A 37-inch vertical leap at the NFL combine means he is going to win most jump balls against NFL cornerbacks who are typically not much taller than six-foot even. Evans will use his intimidating physical presence to box out defensive backs in the same way the leagues best tight ends typically have (Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez) especially in the red zone, further increasing his chances to be a stellar fantasy scoring option.
Currently, Evans is being drafted in the middle of the 10th round (10.06) in most standard drafts and is the WR46 according to the Fantasy Football Calculator charts. There are at least five WRs who are ranked prior who he could outperform at first glance, including Rueben Randle, Tavon Austin, Justin Hunter, Hakeem Nicks and Riley Cooper, among others.
Expecting Evans to accumulate 700 yards over 50 receptions and six TDs is a fair assumption despite some projections in fantasy circles that would low ball those statistics somewhat simply because the Buccaneers’ offense is still unproven as a unit. Evans and company should be firing on all cylinders fairly early into the season, considering they play in an NFC South where none of their rivals’ secondaries are anywhere near dominating forces to worry about.
Evans is a big time sleeper in the tenth-round, and will likely finish closer to WR35 than his WR46 rank currently suggests. Don’t miss out.