Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Must-Have Talent That Will Fall to Later Rounds
What do Denarius Moore, Rob Gronkowski, DeMarco Murray and Torrey Smith all have in common? They were last year's headlining candidates that exceeded any and all expectations for 2011.
Fantasy football is a lifestyle. Some say it is a skill, while others say it is simply luck of the draw. As for myself, I'd like to think of it is an art.
Finding a sleeper involves a heavy dose of planning and schematically weighing out options that could be valuable in the dying rounds. This is the addictive facet of the fantasy world.
It is easy to grab a seasoned fantasy veteran like Drew Brees or Tom Brady as the backbone of your offense. But to have the intuition to take a chance on unproven talent remains the art of the game where owners thrive. The element of surprise is invaluable, and owners take great pride in their risky selections.
As we enter the 2012 season, here is a list of potential five-star talents to watch out for as the draft looks toward the later rounds. When the following studs reel of jaw-dropping fantasy numbers, don't come running to me. You can't say I didn't tell you so.
Assuming the fill-in role in his rookie campaign last season, Brown collected a rather impressive season. He hauled in 19 receptions for 329 yards and two touchdowns.
After the Chargers saw the likes of their ridiculously talented headcase hit the road for Tampa Bay, the only one cheering his loss was Mr. Brown.
Brown showed glimpses of his fine hands and route running abilities in his minimal opportunities given.
After the Bolts reeled in the likes of Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, Brown’s value seemingly disappeared from the draft board.
However, that is not the case for his gunslinger, Philip Rivers. Brown will be a virtual threat competing for the No. 3 position on the receiving depth chart.
After having already formulated their relationship last season, Rivers knows the sky is the limit for Brown's improvement. In football-related terms, they will look to take their relationship to the next level in year two.
Brown is a proven security blanket and a reserve receiver for Rivers when he reaches panic mode. He isn't a flashy receiver. He simply gets the job done when called upon, and has the ability to tack on the extra yardage with his sturdy frame.
Regardless of where he winds up on the depth chart, Brown will be implemented effectively. You will have a better team knowing that Brown is on your side.
This is one guy you don't exactly want to irritate. As an attempt to arouse Blount, the Bucs went after Doug Martin with their first pick in April's draft.
After Blount went undrafted in 2010, he helped create his own expectations by racking up 1,007 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. However, in year two, the flashes of his rookie season appeared to be too lofty as his performance regressed toward 781 yards and five touchdowns.
An alarming statistic for fantasy owners has been the issuing threat of ball security. In his young career, Blount has coughed the ball up six times.
With the challenge of Martin breathing down Blount's neck, expect Blount to fight his way as the No. 1 ball carrier every week. The Bucs come to the table new and improved this year, and Blount appears to be turning out in the same way.
He has fallen down the draft board because of last season's woes, but don't write him off entirely.
Blount can turn a routine trap into a highlight reel for six. He is a lethal weapon. Be sure to use him with caution because you never know what you may get.
In the soft Mountain West division, Ronnie Hillman helped resurrect the lifeless offense of his San Diego State Aztecs back to the revered days of Marshall Faulk.
At 5'9'', 200 lbs., Hillman's size doesn't justify his ruthless style of play. He isn't the type of back that will overpower you but he will run you over if you second guess him.
Hillman's hard-nosed running mentality allows him to challenge oncoming defenders between the tackles. Despite his fearless attack, Hillman will be most productive in the NFL by harnessing his breaking speed and lateral quickness.
For safety reasons, you wouldn't want to lace up in a foot race against him because you might hurt yourself.
With age becoming an apparent factor with Willis McGahee as the lead man, Knowshon Moreno coming off a torn ACL and Lance Ball lurking into the back-up equation, somebody has to give.
Moreno might not make the final roster which would only leave the door wide open for Hillman to take. We will definitely see production come from Hillman's way this season.
His playing time will be determined by his pass-blocking abilities. If he can hold up that end of the bargain, Peyton will be sure to replenish him with carries.
He isn't flying on any owner's radar at the moment, but he is a sure fit as a fixture in the tail end of your reserve arsenal of utility players.
The Lions are firing everything and their kitchen sink from the receiving position this season. The pool of talent runs deep in Detroit. From the spectacle of Madden's recent cover boy to Titus Young, and now Nate Burleson to Ryan Broyles, Matthew Stafford is sitting pretty.
Broyles has the poise and potential to do big things in his return to the gridiron. With the likes of Megatron and Young on the outer wing, Broyles will perfect the slot receiver role.
Production doesn't even begin to describe his tenure in Oklahoma. However, what is distracting buyers from hopping aboard the Ryan Broyles train is his knee injury he suffered last season. Don't listen.
His exceptional hands and proficient route running abilities will send Broyles to the second tier in his coming years. These are two elements of his game that remind me of a comparable talent and fellow player on this list, Vincent Brown.
The fine line that owners should know is that they should not be afraid of losing out on another Detroit receiver once No. 81 is taken. Just a reminder, there are other options available in Detroit.
Johnson's overshadowing dominance will bode well for his teammate's draft value as a late to back-end selection.
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