The fantasy football season is right around the corner and fantasy drafts will start taking place any day now. And whether you're a casual participant in a league or a self-proclaimed expert, the key to winning your league is finding the best sleepers in the draft.
Today we'll take a look at the top sleepers at the major offensive positions that will help you win your league and make you look like a true pro.
Quarterback: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
While Smith has been expected to "breakout" for the past few years, he finally took a major step forward during the 2011 season. He posted career highs in yards (3,144), QB rating (90.7), completion percentage (61.3) and TD-INT ratio (+12).
Now Smith enters the 2012 season with a load of brand new weapons to play with. At wide receiver, the 49ers brought in Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and rookie A.J. Jenkins. We also can't forget about third-round pick LaMichael James and the dynamic playmaking ability he brings to the field.
If Smith was ever poised to have a "breakout" year, this would be it. And considering he won't be taken in the first few rounds since his last name isn't Brady, Brees or Rodgers, he could be quite the steal and lead your team to a championship.
Running Back: Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
While Brown definitely doesn't belong in the same league as LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice, he is definitely a candidate for a huge fantasy season in 2012. In fact, his value as a late-round pick might make him one of the more valuable fantasy players.
Brown put up career rushing statistics during the 2011 season, while increasing his yards per carry from 3.9 to 4.8. His workload will likely increase with the departure of Joseph Addai, and even though Addai was injured some of last year, he still took away 118 carries from Brown.
With a rookie quarterback in Indianapolis for the first time since 1998, the Colts will take their time breaking in Andrew Luck. Look for Brown to get plenty of carries and become quite the weapon for an offense likely to struggle under a first year quarterback.
Wide Receiver: Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
Moore put together an impressive rookie season last year and was one of the top waiver wire pickups late in the year. While it's unlikely that Moore will go undrafted in fantasy drafts this year, due to the amount of receivers in Oakland and questions about Carson Palmer's arm, he will definitely be a late-round pick.
However, Moore has the overall skills to become the top target for Palmer and to increase on his 33 receptions, 618 yards and five touchdowns from last year. Even just a slight increase in production would make Moore a decent third option as a receiver on your team.
With that said, if Moore breaks out as a legitimate No. 1 receiver for the Raiders, he could end up being the sleeper for the 2012 season.
Tight End: Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans
Many expected Cook to become one of the top tight ends last year because of his size and athleticism, and while he definitely put up solid numbers (49 receptions, 759 yards, three TDs), he just never seems reach expectations.
Even with the Titans getting back their top receiver in Kenny Britt and drafting Kendall Wright in the first round, Cook should still see plenty of opportunities to produce, especially in the red zone. He's simply too big and too talented to not become a top target for whoever ends up being the quarterback in Tennessee.
In fact, if Jake Locker wins the starting position from Matt Hasselbeck, Cook will likely see an increase in production. Young quarterbacks love a tight end that can catch, and Cook can definitely be a safety valve for Locker.
With Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Jermichael Finley receiving the majority of love at tight end, Cook should be available late in the draft but could put up similar numbers as the top tight ends in fantasy football.
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