Fantasy Football 2013: Sleepers At Each Position
Fantasy owners are constantly looking for value in their draft picks.
If they can find someone deep in the draft that will be a solid performer throughout the season, they will jump on him.
Those players, for all the non-fantasy gurus out there, are called “sleepers.” Like many others will tell you, the word “sleeper” in fantasy football refers to unknown players who are poised to break out or guys who are being undervalued by the fantasy market.
While some names on the list may be familiar to the casual NFL fans, others may not.
So without further ado, here is one “sleeper” from each position on a fantasy team.
Quarterback: Sam Bradford – St. Louis Rams
After three seasons in the NFL, I believe it is finally time for Sam Bradford to live up to his first overall selection.
After posting career highs in passing yards (3,702), touchdowns (21) and QBR rating (82.6) last season, you have to think that he is poised for a breakout season in 2013-14.
Bradford finally has a core of receivers who he can pass to — in rookie Tavon Austin and young stud Chris Givens. The Rams also picked up veteran tight end Jared Cook to strengthen Bradford’s targets.
The running back situation for St. Louis is a bit shaky due to the leaving of Steven Jackson, proving that the team will have to rely on Sam Bradford’s arm this season.
If you are in the later rounds of your fantasy draft and you need a solid backup quarterback, trust Bradford to create some noise this year.
Running Back: Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts
Ahmad Bradshaw is known for his high-volume workload on the football field — and that’s what the Colts will be looking for in him.
Indianapolis was awful in the run game last season. The tailback tandem of Vick Ballard and Donald Brown only averaged 72.0 rushing yards per game — which was 27th in the league.
Last season behind a terrible offensive line in New York, Bradshaw managed only 1,015 yards and 6 touchdowns all season.
The Colts have bolstered their offense line and their offense balance has improved due to outstanding rookie QB Andrew Luck — showing that Bradshaw can prosper with the team.
While he may be an injury risk, Bradshaw could be a good FLEX ( extra RB/WR/TE in most leagues) or backup running back on your fantasy team that could end the season with 1,200 rushing yards and 8-10 touchdowns (if he can stay healthy).
Wide Receiver: Vincent Brown – San Diego Chargers
If you aren’t aware of who Vincent Brown is, you may want to get to know him now so you can look smart to all your friends.
With starting receivers Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd both looking at possible season-ending injuries, Brown is going to have to step up for a team who finished 22nd overall in receiving yards per game last season.
While Vincent Brown hasn’t produced well on the pro-level yet, he is itching for a chance to breakout — and this is his chance.
Even if only one of the receivers is out for the season, Brown will still get starting time because of Eddie Royal’s and Robert Meachem’s decline.
And with Philip Rivers primed to finally have a good season, the young receiver will have tons of fantasy value.
Brown will certainly be a good FLEX or backup receiver that eventually may be able to start on your fantasy roster — so jump on him with no shame.
Tight End: Fred Davis – Washington Redskins
Fred Davis scored 12 touchdowns from 2009-2011 and posted career-high totals in receptions (59) and receiving yards (796) in 2011.
Everybody was primed for Davis to breakout with rookie phenom QB Robert Griffin III arriving in Washington. However, Davis’ season was cut short when he came down with a torn Achilles tendon in Week 7.
Now that Davis and Griffin III are back and healthy, look for the tandem to create some chemistry together throughout the season.
In the first six weeks of the 2012-13 season, Davis averaged 52 receiving yards per game — just 8 yards less than what Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez averaged all season.
While I would suggest that you select Davis as your backup tight end due to his injury risks, he has the ability to become a starting fantasy TE once he proves he can stay healthy.
Defense and Special Teams: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If run defense was the only thing that mattered in fantasy football, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have been the first defense of the board in every fantasy draft last season.
The Bucs had the best run defense in the league last season, holding opponents to only 3.6 yards per carry.
However, Tampa Bay was absolutely awful on their pass defense — ranking last in the league by allowing 309.2 passing yards per game in 2012-13.
The best news is that the Tampa Bay management focused on improving the secondary this offseason. The Buccaneers traded for star cornerback Darrelle Revis, drafted young stud Johnthan Banks and signed former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson – all of whom will contribute greatly to the pass defense.
While the defense may be better, whether or not strengthening their secondary will translate to turnovers remains to be seen. But, I would still use one of my draft picks on this improved defense.
Kicker: Matt Prater – Denver Broncos
While you can pretty much take any kicker that starts and be safe for the season, some kickers do have some extra value over others.
When I select kickers, I look at who has the most explosive offense in the NFL.
With no doubt, the Denver Broncos have the best offensive unit in the entire league. Future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning throwing bullets to productive WRs Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker really excites me.
Kicker Matt Prater will have so many opportunities to put some points on the board — whether it is extra points or field goals.
And you have to think that the Broncos will be the highest scoring team this season — so right there is a lot of extra points worth 1 point (in most leagues). Plus, we can’t forget about the drives that might get cut short in the red zone — that eventually end in 3 more points for Matt Prater.
If Matt Prater is available, take him. If not, pretty much any starter will do.
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