Today's lesson from the Aaron Hernandez Saga: Papa Bledsoe's compassion, voice of reason
Some players are victims of the void of humanity that is the demographic "fantasy football team owner." What did they do to deserve so much less attention than your favorite sleepers this year? Until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes, they say. Some just need an advocate.
Joshua Morgan, Washington Redskins
Folks are tired of him, aren't they? The sixth-year pass-catcher started 15 of 16 games and led his team in catches in 2012, his first in the nation's capital. Prior, Morgan was little more than a guy on a San Francisco 49ers offense quarterbacked regularly by Alex Smith. Washington's aerial O may not be much more prolific than those Niners units, but Mike Shanahan would probably like to see Robert Griffin III remain in the pocket more often.
Third-year man Leonard Hankerson is a threat to Morgan's spot in the long term, but the former Hurricane probably isn't polished enough to unseat the former Hokie. Morgan is completely recovered from the broken right ankle he suffered several weeks into the 2011 campaign. It's Pierre Garcon's place to lead the 'Skins in receiving, but Morgan might not be so far behind.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Binns there, chance to do that
Despite the fact that New England has made a transition to an offense with more emphasis on the running game, they still need someone to catch passes. Rob Gronkowski (a surgeon's dream) will do some of that, I'm sure. Danny Amendola, of course, too. Probably that Jake Ballard a little, yeah. And then?
This Hot off the Wire post citing a Mike Reiss (ESPNBoston.com) mailbag piece pretty much sums it up. Edelman would seem to be similar to Amendola in terms of the type of role he'd fill, but the Pats of the early 2000s were stocked with Smurfy wideouts. Edelman is a little less fragile, too. His knowledge of the playbook and Brady's trust in him will count for a lot.
Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs
Frankly, I'm not all that jazzed about the prospect to pick him. Baldwin might end up a one-trick pony, for all intents and purposes, leaving Donnie Avery to be KC's foil -- the drag decoy, bubble-screen target and occasional top-taker-off-er -- for Dwayne Bowe.
I don't think that it's fair to ignore Baldwin completely, however. The third-year receiver from Pitt has a first-round pedigree. He simply didn't take advantage of a good opportunity last year. He has another, even better one this year.
A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco 49ers
Michael Crabtree tore his right Achilles' tendon in late May. Mario Manningham tore two ligaments in his left knee at the end of last regular season. The Niners need someone to be the flashy deep threat to complement Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin for their exuberant dual-threat passer, Colin Kaepernick.
Jenkins disappeared somewhere near Alcatraz not long after the 2012 draft, but his body floated ashore this past spring. Jim Harbaugh couldn't help but notice. The 6-foot, 192-pounder figured to take awhile to adapt to life in the NFL, anyway, given the offense his college program ran.
Of course, 2013 fourth-rounder Quinton Patton may prompt San Fran to forget about Jenkins.
Armon Binns, Miami Dolphins
I'm a sucker for a story like this 2011 undrafted rookie's. The Cincinnati Bengals waived Binns last December because they needed to create room on their 53-man roster, but they'd hoped to stash him on their practice squad. Miami prevented that possibility by claiming him.
The former Cincinnati Bearcat has done nothing but make plays when given opportunities. The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has again picked up a playbook -- his third in less than three years -- quickly and will almost certainly move ahead of Brandon Gibson for the No. 3 receiver spot if things continue to go as they did this offseason.
Donald Jones, New England Patriots
It seems too easy to pick a bunch of no-names from the Pats' roster and label them sleepers, doesn't it? Still, Aaron Dobson is really smart and may force his way into the mix, but I'm not picking him. Or the other rookie, Josh Boyce. Definitely not Michael Jenkins.
Jones worked under the radar (of the opposing defense, not the collective conscience) as a member of the Buffalo Bills. He's versatile, like Troy Brown was. He's always struck me as a heady, hardworking player. Jones seems like a good fit with his new team, and that may well translate into modest statistical production.
Jarrett Boykin, Green Bay Packers
This second-year receiver is the favorite to be Green Bay's No. 4 receiver, a spot that on most other teams isn't an avenue to decent statistical output. The Pack, of course, isn't most other teams, what with a net of more than 4,000 yards through the air and 40 touchdown passes last season.
Boykin isn't just the only member of a half-dozen or so players competing for the top spot behind Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones to have recorded a reception in an NFL game (five of them, actually). He's a good player who does just about everything except run fast. When someone from the top trio inevitably misses a game or three, Boykin should be there to pick up some of the slack.
Similarly, it'll be interesting to see which of Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and Kenny Stills emerges for the New Orleans Saints. I have a hard time picking a favorite there, although Morgan certainly has an edge because of the occasional, big-time plays he made last season.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.