It’s hard to pinpoint just who is going to have a fantasy breakout season every year. I’ve hit and missed myself each year, but for every Arian Foster draft pick I hang my hat on, I have a Louis Murphy. My point being that with sleepers you draft based off of potential due to a good system, possible injuries, or just raw athleticism you that you hope becomes a great value pick late in a draft. Either way sleepers are usually some owners favorite picks because you put more stock into these players and they are truly your pick, as opposed to the more predetermined top flight players that are more obvious choices. So here’s a list of some sleepers I’m eying.
Matt Cassel – Cassel found a connection with Dwayne Bowe last season and has Steve Breaston, who should adapt quickly into Todd Haley’s system from when Haley was in Arizona. Along with an up and coming back like Jamaal Charles and reliable tight end Tony Moeaki, Cassel has the tools. He now will have to show he can hold his own against a tougher schedule. Cassel will be a under the radar and will probably be available in the late rounds. He may be best suited as a back up QB, and keep in mind that weeks 11-15 he faces the Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets, and Packers.
Sam Bradford – He had a very average year, nothing to brag about or really beat him down for. However, with a slew of young talent like Austin Pettis, Danny Amendola, Lance Kendricks, and Danario Alexander there is some big upside for Bradford who is in an already weak division. With the Cardinals, Seahawks, and 49ers all in the bottom rankings against the pass along with the departure of Nate Celments and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the division, the Rams passing game is looking to have a good chance to improve.
Jacoby Ford – I drew comparisons to a young, faster Steve Smith(the Carolina one that is) when watching Ford play. At 5 foot 9 he was very willing and capable of snatching the ball out of the air. He has that fight to be good, and from a glance at Ford’s stats most people would not think there is much to gain in fantasy with only 470 yards and 2 TDs. However, he had 2 rushing TDs and 3 return TDs. Ford’s multidimensional abilities make him a threat to score from all over the field in many way. He was recently declared a starter coming into the preseason opposite Darius Heyward-Bey, but may be overlooked until very late in drafts.
Mario Manningham – With Steve Smith gone, Manningham has a chance to shine in New York. Though more quick than fast, Manningham showed an ability to get the deep ball last season, as well as come up big on short routes. With all the spotlight on Hakeem Nicks, Manningham may be looked down upon, but keep in mind that as good as Nicks is, he is also shown signs of being injury prone. Last season
Fred Davis – Chris Cooley had surgery on his knee this off-season and has had issues with it during practices. A shortened off-season could effect Cooley and if he were to go down Davis is a very capable replacement as he showed in 2009. Cooley fought through injuries late last season, and Davis at times looked like the better receiver. Cooley will likely start the season, but keep an eye out injury reports are showing that the knee is becoming more bothersome for Cooley. The Skins are a wasteland in terms of fantasy this year, but Fred Davis could be one of those diamonds in the rough your looking for late in drafts.
Ryan Grant – He has become an afterthought after the Packers won the Superbowl without him last season, but Grant is looking healthy in camp and could be overlooked in many drafts. Though he won’t produce elite numbers, he could be a solid late grab as a 3rd back in your fantasy rotation. He is taking all the first string snaps in practice and word could get out soon, that is slated to be the man in Packers high powered offense. Keep an eye on James Starks through preseason too, as his performance will either help or hurt Grant’s cause.
Rashad Jennings – Jennings may be better labeled as a handcuff than a sleeper, however, with the recent word that MJD may have cartilage issues in his knees Jennings becomes a more intriguing pick. With cartilage issues Jones-Drew could be dealing with bone on bone problems which could spell trouble for the back. Jennings has shown that he can handle the load and could be a must own if MJD goes down for any period of time.
Robert Meachem – More knee problems for Marques Coltson could leave Meachem as the top wide out in New Orleans, and in a pass heavy system like that he could be fantasy gold. Meach has had his fair share of injuries since coming into the league, but he is looking healthy as of now and make a big splash even if Colston is healthy. Keep and eye on him.
Mark Ingram – The Saints pass first offense along with a committee approach to their run game has led many to look down on rookie Mark Ingram and has left him lower on draft boards. However, the Saints now have a true between the tackles power runner in Ingram, who has capable hands. Though he may not have the speed, he does have the ability to be an every down back in the Big Easy, and his ability to catch may be the one thing that keeps him in longer over Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. He may not start off as the lone back, but if has a good showing early on he could slowly attain more of a lion’s share of the touches and looks to be the goal line guy.
About the Author
Written by David Willow
My name is David Willow. Your NFL and Fantasy Jedi. I have lived in Dallas, TX most of my life. I have been following both football and basketball since I was a child. I love being able to research and analyze different players and teams. I've been a fantasy sports enthusiast for around 8 years with some titles to back that. I have a Bachelors degree in History with a minor in English. Other hobbies include me being part of an acting workshop for five years, playing guitar, and working out. Hit me up with any comments, questions or opinions.