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Sleepers are all about value baby. The better the value you get out of your draft picks, the better chances you have to win. Sleepers are an important part of your draft and make all the difference in fantasy football. Here are a few players I think will quietly become some of the best at their position in fantasy football this season. Most of the names on this list can be drafted beyond round 10 and therefore offer tremendous value. The List:
Philip Rivers: Change can be a good thing and I still believe in Rivers as a franchise QB. The Charger’s apparent lack of a running game should guarentee Rivers is once again hucking the ball all over the place. New head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt are both great offensive minds with an excellent track record. Assuming the offensive line improves at least a little bit, Rivers should cut back on those turn-overs. The QB class this year is very deep and I wouldn’t draft Rivers as your #1 QB. However, he is a very solid back up with the potential to become your starter.
Fantasy forecast: 4300 passing yards, 27 TD, 13 INT.
Sam Bradford: Bradford’s development as a QB has been slow and at times painful. However, Sam is a former #1 overall draft pick and still boasts big potential. Jeff Fisher offers stability Bradford has yet to experience in his career. Jake Long’s signing should offer Bradford better protection to find his developing young receivers and new weapons; Jared Cook and Tavon Austin. Bradford should be a solid back up this season.
Fantasy forecast: 3800 yards passing, 25 TD – 12 INT.
Rashard Mendenhall: Mendenhall has faced a lot of scrutiny over the past two seasons and rightfully so, but the guy is still a talented back. Mendenhall should sit atop Arizona’s depth chart at RB. He’ll also be reunited with Bruce Arians, his offensive cooridinator during his most successful years as a pro.
Fantasy forecast: 1100 rushing yards, 7 TD, 170 receiving yards, 1 TD.
LeVeon Bell: Bell is a bruising back with versatility and the ability to play receiver out of the back field. The Steelers are expected to run the ball more this season and Bell fits perfectly into their system. He’s my pick for offensive rookie of the year this season.
Fantasy forecast: 1150 rushing yards, 9 TD, 330 receiving yards.
Vincent Brown: Remember when Vincent Brown was supposed to have a breakout season last year? It was post-poned due to injury. Brown is a physical receiver with the goods to be very productive and should prove it in his 2013 campaign. I expect him to become Philip Rivers favourite target, and early. The Chargers should once again favour the pass this season which bodes will for Brown.
Fantasy forecast: 1004 yards, 8 TD.
Reuben Randle: Randle was the last pick of the second round in the 2012 draft, which was considered a steal at the time. Entering his second season, Randle is poised to make a splash. Considering Victor Cruz’s contract issues, Hakeem Nicks’ susceptibility to injury and the wide range of 3 receiver sets used in today’s NFL, Randle will get lots of balls thrown his way.
Fantasy forecast: 840 yards, 6 TD.
Justin Blackmon: Justin Blackmon was one of the hottest receivers towards the end of last season. As a top draft pick in 2012, Blackmon has all the physical tools to become elite. Many people will be deterred to draft Blackmon due to his 4 game suspension at the start of the 2013 season. I view his suspension as an excellent opportunity to draft him at a bargain rate. Blackmon should be highly productive just in time for fantasy playoffs.
Fantasy forecast: 960 yards, 8 TD. – Remember, this is over a 12 game span.
Denarius Moore: Moore is a talented receiver and should sit atop Oakland’s depth chart at wide receiver. Oakland will most likely be one of the worst teams in the league on both sides of the ball. Regardless, Denarius Moore is one of the only passing options for a team that will be playing a lot of catch up.
Fantasy forecast: 895 yards, 7 TD.
DeAndre Hopkins: Tavon Austin seems to be getting most of the love out of the rookie wide receivers. While Austin is a talent, I believe DeAndre Hopkins is in a far better situation to succeed early. He is in a better offense with an established ground attack, more polished quarterback, and will reap the benefits of playing opposite Andre Johnson. Hopkins also benefits from playing in the AFC South, where he will face 3 of the softer defenses two times a year. Austin, meanwhile, plays in a division with 3 of the toughest defenses in the league; the NFC West.
Fantasy forecast: 810 yards, 6 TD.
Jared Cook: Jared Cook’s size and athleticism have been overlooked due to inconsistent quarterback play while he was a member of the Titans. Cook has the potential to develop into Sam Bradford’s safety valve and should see a big increase in his numbers, while also helping out Bradford.
Fantasy forecast: 780 yards, 6 TD.
Tyler Eifert: Eifert is a big bodied, athletic tight end with excellent hands. Although Eifert will play opposite Jermaine Gresham, a talent in himself, Cincinnati should boast a potent offense this season. Eifert’s versatility and athleticism will surely create tons of mis-matches. Look for Eifert to become a safety valve for Andy Dalton and red zone threat by the end of the season.
Fantasy forecast: 690 yards, 8 TD.
Brandon Myers: Myers was one of the most productive tight ends towards the end of last season and he played for the RAIDERS. Eli always gets the ball out and his tight ends over the years are typically pretty productive – expect Myers to be no different and potentially make a name for himself this season.
Fantasy forecast: 650 yards, 5 TD.
Heath Miller: Heath Miller has been a household name for so long it’s a little silly the guy’s a sleeper – but I haven’t seen too many people drafting him in mocks. The dude is as consistent and tough as they come at the position, next to Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten of course. Despite the injury, Heath Miller is Roethlisberger’ undisputable safety valve and should see as many targets as always, especially considering Mike Wallace’s departure.
Fantasy forecast: 740 yards, 6 TD.
Dwayne Allen/Coby Fleener: Both tight ends are young and promising and will develop into important pieces of the Colts offense. Who’s more likely to become Luck’s favourite target? It may be too early to tell but I would learn towards Allen due to his athleticism and versatility. I think both TEs are worth consideration for a (very) late draft round pick with the potential for a huge pay off. Choose the right one ;).
Fantasy forecast: A COMBINED 1200 yards, 11 TD.
Minnesota DST: Minnesota’s defense has gotten much younger over the past couple of seasons. The Vikings became one of the stingier defenses throughout the 2012 season. I see them continuing that momentum and gelling more as a squad. Highly touted first round draft picks Xavier Rhodes and Sharif Floyd should make a big impact down the stretch.
Tampa Bay DST: Last years best rushing defense with the addition of Darrell Revis and Dashon Goldson. Need I say more? On paper this defense looks scary. If Revis returns to form this defense WILL be scary. Just look at the turnover differential for the Jets when Revis is on the field vs. when he is off the field. You’ll be impressed.