If there is one thing that doesn't concern me about the Broncos' running back situation, it's that Vance Joseph might start Devontae Booker over Royce Freeman in Week 1. I'm good. It's like when my dad would threaten to turn the car around while my sisters and I were acting up on family vacations. We understood the words coming out of his mouth, but we also knew he wasn't going to follow through on them.
Freeman has done basically everything you could ask of a running back during the preseason. He's outperformed all the running backs in camp. He's scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. He's done so much, I bet he's even letting everyone use his Netflix password to watch GLOW during downtime.
As you would imagine, when Joseph was asked about his running back situation, he said it wasn't a concern because it takes three or four guys. And most of us, including fantasy Hall of Famer Brad Evans, were enraged. We wondered openly what Joseph could possibly be thinking. I mean, this could be like the end of "Poltergeist," where Sam Rockwell thought they had moved the bodies of that cemetery, but really, they had just moved the headstones. (Spoiler alert, they didn't.) So maybe this was just lingering Shanahanigans, left by former coach Mike Shanahan, who was one of the first to embrace a revolving door at running back, ruining us every year.
I'd like to think Joseph is really just doing us a solid. I mean, he could just be saying that stuff so Freeman's ADP remains manageable. So we could go ahead and maybe grab him in the fourth round. And then once the season starts, he gives Freeman like 20-25 touches a game. That's what I would love to believe.
If you doubt Freeman, check out this run.
Love it. So Freeman is my top sleeper headed into the season. I mean, he's rocketing up draft boards, so it's not like I'm giving you some obscure, deep-album cut. But I just wanted to be clear. Here are 10 other sleepers to get you going as the season gets closer.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson's pass attempts have increased in every season of his NFL career, including a high of 553 last year. I'm not sure if you've seen the Seahawks' offensive line, but it's not great. I don't see that number dropping. Other factors at work include a decline in the defense (more shootouts) and the fact that Doug Baldwin isn't going to be 100 percent in 2018. I don't care what Lockett's ADP currently is, draft him in the ninth or 10th round. He's worth the gamble, because there are a lot of available targets.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
Kupp was tied for third in the NFL last season with 23 red-zone targets. That's a figure that shouldn't be affected by the addition of Brandin Cooks. Now, I realize most of those targets came between the 10- and 20-yard line. But I'm still going after the incredible value, and a leap as a second-year receiver.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks
I know I dragged the Seahawks' offensive line earlier. But Carson is the No. 1 running back, and his usage warrants a look. He's one of the guys I've turned to in a lot of drafts if you spend your first two picks on receivers and end up scrambling at the end.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant had 132 targets last season, and Jason Witten had 87. That's a pretty large share available with Bryant and Witten gone, and I'm confident in saying Allen Hurns is probably not going to get all of them. Gallup is absolutely worth a late-round flyer, as he could easily emerge as the team's top-targeted wideout. Don't let his last preseason game against the Cardinals scare you, even though he played just 10 snaps. If anything, take it as a vote of confidence that the Cowboys' coaching staff has seen enough and didn't play him extended minutes to prove himself.
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears
Miller has earned himself a spot as the team's slot receiver. Albert Wilson, the Chiefs' slot receiver last year, had 62 targets with Bears first-year head coach Matt Nagy coordinating the offense. But I look for Miller to thrive with Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel commanding some attention. I even envision Miller as the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler has long been the analytics darling of the Chargers backfield. Especially since Melvin Gordon is way too touchdown-dependent. Ekeler averaged 5.5 yards per rush and 10.3 yards per reception last season. You don't want to get into the dangerous game of thinking that average would hold with more usage. But the fact that he's been so exceptional during the preseason leads me to believe he's going to see more snaps in the regular season.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
Is he really that good? I'll leave you with this.
Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets
The Jets did Darnold a favor by trading Teddy Bridgewater to the Saints. This way, every time Darnold makes a mistake (and let's face it, he's a rookie), he doesn't have to look over his shoulder at Bridgewater, who crushed it this summer. So Darnold should have the job for the year. And if you're in super-flex or two-QB leagues, he's going to be a safe option for you.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Here's another guy who has been cast aside who I love in the same type of situations as listed above. Flacco is healthy, motivated by a rookie behind him and playing with a much more talented cast than in previous seasons.
John Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
I'm bullish on Michael Crabtree, who has seen his ADP grow this summer as Flacco has improved. But the better value might be Brown, who is clearly the best deep-ball threat for the Ravens. If Crabtree is Nordstrom, then Brown is the Nordstrom Rack. And to be honest, I sometimes like the clothes at the Rack much better. Don't @ me about that.