I do a lot of Mock Drafts, mostly using Yahoo! Fantasy Football, as such I have come up with a list of players I believe can give you a good return this season based on their Average Draft Position (ADP). These players are not necessarily sleepers, but could outperform their draft position.
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QB Matt Stafford (DET) 63 ADP – Despite throwing only 20 touchdowns last year, Stafford still came out as the number ten quarterback in fantasy production, thanks in part to his 4967 yards passing. If Stafford can improve his touchdown total, which I believe he will, he COULD be a top-5 quarterback.
QB Tony Romo (DAL) 89 ADP – Coming off a season with more than 4900 yards and 29 touchdown passes, Romo is again be drafted in the mid to late rounds of drafts, giving him excellent draft day value. While he is unlikely to compete for a spot as a top-5 quarterback, with a budding Dez Bryant at his disposal he could throw for 30 or more scores for the third time in his career.
QB Eli Manning (NYG) 103 ADP – Eli certainly had an off year by his standards, having multiple games of less than ten fantasy points and getting much of his stats late in the season. In a largely fantasy pointless week 17 game Eli threw five of his 26 total touchdowns for the season. To think that Eli will have another year like this is unlikely, and while he may not throw for 5000 yards like he did in 2011, he should be somewhere in the 4000 yard range with about 30 touchdowns.
QB Andy Dalton (CIN) 124 ADP – With the help of all star teammate AJ Green, Dalton improved in basically every stat last year, improving by almost 300 yards and adding ten more scores (7 passing, 3 rushing). AJ Green should only continue to grow as an elite-level receiver in the league and Mohamed Sanu showed the potential of being a quality second option for the red headed slinger.
RB Darren McFadden (OAK) 59 ADP – McFadden couldn’t have been more disappointing in 2012, scoring a measly three total touchdowns and rushing for only 700 yards in 12 games. I do still have my doubts about McFadden and his health, but the talent is undeniable. With Palmer now gone the Raiders should (and have talked about) using a zone-blocking scheme that better caters to McFadden and his running style, and the guy is also in a contract year. I am considering drafting McFadden as a #2 running back this season, hoping he can run more like he did in 2010.
RB Darren Sproles (NO) 86 ADP – When looking for a running back in the middle rounds of the draft, I can’t think of many that come with more upside than Darren Sproles. He has the ability to make the long play, can get touches as a runner as well as a pass catcher and seems to be a big part of the Saints success in the past few seasons. I think he can rebound from last season when he missed a career-high three games and should be able to have at least 1000 total yards once again.
RB Ben Tate (HOU) 125 ADP – With Arian Foster coming off another stellar season that included a career-high 351 carries and 40 receptions, his body might not be ready for another full workload like that. Should Arian be in for a lesser workload this coming season Tate could see touches closer to the amount he saw in 2011 when he ran for 942 yards. And hey, if Arian gets hurt he becomes a star.
RB Daryl Richardson (STL) 124 ADP – With Steven Jackson finally out of St. Louis and on a contender, the Rams are left to now find his replacement. The competition is currently between Richardson, second year runner Isaiah Pead whom he outplayed last season and rookie Zac Stacy. The teams official website reported that Richardson is currently the teams projected starter and if he is he could present some good draft day value to your bench.
WR Kenny Britt (TEN) 113 ADP – From the sounds of it Britt is currently healthy and finally behaving himself. He is going into a contract season and could be maturing and ready to realize his potential. My biggest concern with Britt now is his quarterback, currently Jake Locker. Britt was targeted a career-high 90 times last season in 14 games but was only able to bring in 45 of them. His success in 2013 could be tied to the growth of Locker.
WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI) 135 ADP – As a rookie, Jeffery made a few headlines in week one with a 5-catch, 80 yards with a touchdown effort against the Colts. The rest of the season he would be slowed by injuries, playing in only 10 games total. Going into the 2013 season he has the chance for a breakout season, playing across from all-star wide receiver Brandon Marshall. The Bears need more than just Brandon Marshall catching balls if they want to take the next step and Jeffery could be poised to be that player.
WR Julian Edelman (NE) Undrafted – With Welker out Edelman is currently being billed as the #2 wide receiver for the Patriots. Aaron Dobson, a first round draft pick by the Patriots this year is currently being drafted late in mock draft while Edelman is seemingly being forgotten about. Brady is going to need to find targets this year with a much of his cast from 2012 gone or injured and Edelman has been in the system for a few years already.
TE Jermichael Finley (GB) 120 ADP – Finley had a down year in 2012 with only two touchdown catches after having a career-high eight in 2011. He had a career-low in yards per catch at 10.9 but was able to haul in a career-best 61 catches for 667 yards. With Gronk hurt and Hernandez out for the year the TE position is not as deep as had been. Unless you are planning on drafting a tight tend in the middle rounds such as Witten or Gonzalez, the late round options are pretty up in the air. Finley could outplay his draft day value and have stats similar to those of 2011.
TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) 127 ADP – Finley took a small step forward in 2012, catching one less touchdown pass than he did in 2011 but adding 141 yards to his season total. First round draft pick Tyler Eifert is being rumored as a possible replacement for Gresham, but that is unlikely to happen this year as Gresham is currently the more talented TE and in a contract year. I don’t expect Gresham to take a huge leap forward but he could take another step going for 800 yards and 6 or so scores.
TE Jordan Cameron (CLE) 136 ADP – Largely unknown a year ago, Cameron is poised to make a real name for himself this season. Going into his third season is the league Cameron is getting his first shot at being the Browns starter at tight end. Norv Turner is now with the Browns, which should help their struggling offence, and if Weedon continues to develop Cameron could be a breakout player this season.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Givens, Michael Floyd, Giovani Bernard, Fred Jackson, Fred Davis.