The key to winning a fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. «Sleepers» are NFL rookies or players who have not made much of an impact in their NFL careers. In the fantasy football world, this is the path to winning your league championship. Last year, Alfred Morris, as a rookie, was expected to be part of a RB committee, at best, and grabbed control of the number 1 RB position and delivered over 1600 yards and 13 TDs. In his second year, Stevan Ridley impressed Bill Belichick enough to get the full-time RB duties and proved him correct by rushing for 1263 yards and 12 TDs. No one expected either one of those performances and the owner had to really screw up the rest of their team to miss the league playoffs. When you can grab a player as a flier or bench player and he becomes your number 1 producer at a that position, you, my friends, have a true Sleeper. Below are the top fantasy football sleepers by position for the 2013 season.
2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Carson Palmer (AZ) – Palmer leaves Oakland and lands in the same vertical passing attack that he directed in Oakland. He put up very good fantasy football numbers in Oakland and they had limited talent, at best. In Arizona, he has an arsenal of weapons. The big gun is Larry Fitzgerald. This combination, if I may go out on a limb, will rival the numbers that Tom Brady and Randy Moss put up in 2007. On top of Fitz, I expect big seasons out of Michael Floyd (breakout season for him) and Andre Roberts. What amazes me most about this season is that Palmer is the 19th QB drafted, on average, which puts him in the 12th round or later.
Runner-up: Jay Cutler (CHI) – Cutler is in a contract year, has an improved offensive line and a new coach who is focused on offense, unlike his last coach. Cutler is getting drafted ahead of Palmer as the 16th QB taken with an ADP in the 10th round. I believe Palmer has a higher ceiling this year but both will deliver huge numbers for their ADP.
RB: Andre Brown (NYG) – I know he is in a battle with David Wilson for the starting RB position and there is talk of a RB-by-committee, but I love where he is being drafted. It is almost like the public is giving Wilson the starting position already. Even if that happens, at 6′ 227lbs, Brown is the goal-line back, as evidenced by his 8 TDs last year in just over a half-season. With Tom Coughlin being an old-school coach, I believe Brown will be his favorite based on his ball-handling and blocking skills in addition to being a power back. With him being drafted in the 8th round, he is a perfect choice as your 3rd or 4th RB.
Runner-up: DeAngelo Williams (CAR) – Williams closed out 2012 with a 210-yard game and gets the starting role this year with Jonathan Stewart injured. If Williams can show that he can carry the full-time load again, he will be a steal at an ADP of the 10th round.
WR: Golden Tate (SEA) – Tate is entering his 3rd season, which is the classic breakout season for a WR. It also helps that Percy Harvin is out for the season and Sidney Rice is injured, again. Tate had nice chemistry with Russell Wilson last year, which improved steadily as the season wore on. He had 32 catches, 493 yards and 4 TDs in the last 9 games. Tate has a golden chance to secure the number 1 WR spot, which is huge for an ADP of the 12th round… though I expect this will climb rapidly towards the start of the season.
Runner-up: Emmanuel Sanders (PITT) – The Steelers paid to keep Sanders on the squad after losing Mike Wallace to Miami. They plan to get their money’s worth out of him. He is an unknown playmaker, averaging 14.2 ypc last year and just over 5 yac. Big Ben likes playmakers and will look Sanders’ way often, even if Antonio Brown is considered to be the number 1 WR. With an ADP of the 12th round, Sanders makes a great 4th WR who can easily be counted on to start for you every week.
TE: Brandon Myers (NYG) – The Giants lost Martellus Bennett (another Sleeper) to the Bears and replaced him with the underrated Myers. Myers had an amazing 79 catches and 800 yards last year and joined the Giants as a free agent. Huh? Man, Oakland does not know talent. Eli likes his tight ends, in more ways than one, and will utilize Myers as much as possible and get his name known this year. TE is a deep position, which is why Myers has an ADP in the 13th round.
Runner-up: Rob Housler (AZ) – The QB that tossed all those passes to Myers is now Housler’s QB, Carson Palmer. Housler is only being drafted in deep leagues so he is one of the true fantasy football Sleepers. He had 45 catches last year in an anemic Cards offense. With Palmer at the helm, there is no reason not to expect a 50% increase in production from Housler.
D: Cincinnati Bengals- The Bengals have played solid defense the past few seasons but always get overlooked since they are in the same division as the Steelers and Ravens. Truthfully, the Bengals are better than those two squads this season. This group of unknowns is extremely talented. Led by Geno Atkins and his 12.5 sacks last year, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap are right behind him in productivity. In the off-season, they added James Harrison to truly inspire this squad. Drafting a defense always depends on your scoring system. Most leagues don’t award the defense beyond fumbles, INTs and sacks, which Cincy does well at, but it doesn’t allow for much separation in scoring between teams. If your league is configured to also award points based on low yards and points allowed, you want to make the Bengals your first D drafted. Seattle, San Fran, Houston, Chicago and Denver will be drafted too high. You can get the Bengals in the 13th round with ease.
K: Phil Dawson – I am always reluctant to put this position in an article about Sleepers, but I decided that I would this year. The 49ers finally figured out that David Akers hit the wall and cut him at the end of 2012. He missed WAY too many field goals last year. However, he had 94 attempts in the past 2 seasons to lead the league. Dawson is not a name that piques much interest, but he made 54 out of 60 FGs during that timeframe, including 27 of 29 from 40+. With that accuracy and a similar number of attempts, Dawson could easily lead the league in points this year.
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