Fantasy Football 2012: Scorers You'd Be Smart to Have on Your Bench
With fantasy draft preparation underway, owners across the fantasy spectrum will be looking to gain an edge on their opponents.
Big names dominate the early and mid-rounds, but it's well known that bench players and sleepers can propel your squad to a league title.
With training camps set to begin in just three weeks, here are seven scoring options you should target for your bench.
Robert Griffin III, Quarterback, Washington Redskins
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The No. 2 overall pick of the 2012 NFL draft, Robert Griffin III will enter training camp as the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.
With one of the best arms we've seen on a young quarterback, Griffin will be a threat to post solid numbers through the air.
Although Griffin is already drawing comparisons to last year's No. 1 overall selection Cam Newton, it's unlikely Griffin will post similar numbers. In his rookie campaign, Newton threw for over 4,000 yards and 21 touchdowns while running for a breathtaking 14 touchdowns.
Griffin has the arm strength and speed that make him an intriguing dual threat, and although he may not start for many fantasy teams, he could emerge as a solid No. 2 quarterback.
Ben Tate, Running Back, Houston Texans
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Last season, Houston Texans' running back Ben Tate was thought to be a logical handcuff for Arian Foster.
If owners of Foster were smart enough to pick up Tate, they were rewarded handsomely.
In 2011, Tate ran for 942 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry en route to four touchdowns. Although he didn't post as many touchdowns as owners would have liked, Tate's consistent production was a pleasant surprise.
Foster may be one of the league's best backs, but he has shown to be quite injury-prone over the last two seasons.
Expect Tate to get plenty of touches as the Texans attempt to keep Foster fresh throughout the 2012 season.
Isaac Redman, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Owners would be wise to scoop up Pittsburgh Steelers running back Isaac Redman after starter Rashard Mendenhall went down with an ACL injury at the end of last season.
As Sports Illustrated's Peter King notes, Mendenhall is likely to miss the first six games of the 2012 season.
While Redman is not the most versatile back out there, he's a solid runner who is capable of grabbing scores for your fantasy team at the goal line.
Redman averaged 4.4 yards per carry last season, besting the 4.1 average that Mendenhall posted.
Not only could Redman be a nice scoring option to stash on your bench, but he could have added trade value if Mendenhall is shelved longer than expected.
Michael Bush, Running Back, Chicago Bears
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A longtime backup of Darren McFadden out in Oakland, Michael Bush has relocated to Chicago.
If and when Forte does return to his starring role with the Bears, Bush should still see regular work as a change-of-pace back.
A threat to vulture touchdowns from Forte, Bush would be a wise option for fantasy players looking for low-risk, high-reward running backs.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens
A rookie out of the University of Maryland in 2011, Baltimore Ravens receiver Torrey Smith emerged as a nice complement to fellow wideout Anquan Boldin.
While Boldin worked underneath, Smith emerged as the team's deep threat, catching 50 balls for a total of 841 yards and seven touchdowns.
Smith posted one of the league's highest yard per catch averages (16.8) and should see some extended playing time as the Ravens' No. 2 wide receiver this season.
Because Smith is so reliant on the long ball it makes him a bit of a gamble, but his upside must be taken into account. He may not be a starter for your team right away, but Smith has serious breakout potential.
Brandon LaFell, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers
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While Steve Smith burst on the scene as Carolina's top wideout last season, Brandon LaFell's emergence should not be overlooked.
Just 25 years old, LaFell will enter training camp as the Panthers' No. 2 receiver, a year after posting a career-best 613 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Fantasy owners should be intrigued by any wideout receiving passes from Cam Newton, and LaFell is no different.
A sleeper pick, LaFell will likely be picked in the latter stages of fantasy drafts, if he's selected at all. With Smith likely to see more double-teams this season, LaFell could be in line for an increase in targets.
Brent Celek, Tight End, Philadelphia Eagles
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Just like the Philadelphia Eagles, Brent Celek struggled in the early stages of the 2011 season.
It took Celek seven weeks to top 50 yards receiving in a single game, when he eventually hauled in seven passes for 94 yards and a score against the Cowboys.
Although he was inconsistent last season, Celek finished the year with 62 receptions, 811 yards and five touchdowns.
Throughout the first two months of the season Celek was used primarily as a pass and run blocker, but once his role expanded, so did the Eagles' offense.
Celek was a key piece to the Eagles' 4-0 finish last season, and you can expect Michael Vick to look his way plenty in 2012.