Fantasy Football: Projections for Five Sleepers You Must Draft This Year

Chad Luse@@ChadLuseCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2012

Fantasy Football: Projections for Five Sleepers You Must Draft This Year

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    Fantasy Football Season is coming up on us quick! It is about less than two months until draft day!

    But it is never too early to scout, as the more you scout, the better off you will be.

    Every year, people try to pinpoint who will be the next breakout star like Arian Foster or Jordy Nelson. Each owner has a short list of targeted sleepers they think will have a huge year.

    However, sleepers are the hardest things to predict, as you are just going with your gut feeling.

    Well, I am here to help you predict a few sleepers for this upcoming year. If you disagree with these projections, feel free to leave a comment and say how you think each player will do.

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

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    I think I speak for all fantasy owners when I say that everyone is tired of waiting on Matt Ryan to break out and be a top 5 fantasy QB.

    Ryan has a pair of elite receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones, so there's no excuse for Ryan to only throw for 29 touchdowns like he did last year.

    However, the 2012 season is the best year for Matt Ryan to have a career year for many reasons.

    The Falcons coaching staff has stated that they will cut back a little bit on Michael Turner's load, and let Ryan air the ball out more.

    Also, due to the lockout, this is the first offseason that Ryan will get to work with Julio Jones. They should have a great relationship, and Jones should be open a lot with defenses double covering Roddy White.

    Also, do not forget about Tony Gonzalez. If the wideouts are covered, then the middle should be open for Gonzalez to create some big plays.

    If you end up passing on the elite QBs and you wait until the middle of the draft, Matt Ryan would be a great sleeper pick. He has plenty of weapons in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez to pass the ball to. Ryan should be in for a career year in Atlanta.

    Projection: 4,267 yards, 34 touchdowns

Peyton Hillis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    You can blame it on the Madden Curse or his contract situation, but Peyton Hillis was one of the biggest fantasy busts last season.

    He averaged a low 3.6 yards per carry and he only found the end zone three times. After scoring 13 times two years ago, Hillis pretty much ran himself out of Cleveland after his horrible year.

    However, he could not have found a better situation than the one he is in now. He signed with the Chiefs in the offseason, and their stud running back, Jamaal Charles, is coming off a torn ACL and has proven he cannot carry the ball 25-30 times a game. Hillis will be in the same role as Thomas Jones was two seasons ago.

    Hillis has goal-line carries written all over him, and he should get plenty of chances splitting time with Jamaal Charles. Hillis' value will be low after his bad year last year, so he would be a great third RB for your team. 

    Projection: 942 yards, 11 touchdowns

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Antonio Brown is the one player that I am most excited to draft next year. He has breakout potential written all over him.

    Brown had a great 2011 campaign with 1,108 receiving yards, but his touchdowns were too low with only 2.

    That should change in 2012. Brown led the Steelers in targets last year with 124, as Mike Wallace was targeted 113 times.

    Also, Mike Wallace will get plenty of double coverages thrown his way so Brown will have a fun time of getting open. And the Steelers' have no run game, so Big Ben will have to air the ball out a lot.

    Antonio Brown is a great sleeper pick, and his touchdown total can go nowhere but up. Do not be afraid to take a low risk, high reward pick on Brown, as he can have a career campaign and be a top 20 WR.

    Projection: 81 receptions, 1,163 yards, 7 touchdowns

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders

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    Denarius Moore had an up-and-down season last year, as the Oakland Raiders did not know who was their No. 1 guy.

    However, I think Carson Palmer answered that for them. Palmer has stated that he loves working out with Moore, and the two could do big things next year.

    Moore only caught 33 passes last year but he made them count. He had 618 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.

    Now that Palmer and Moore have a whole offseason to work together, Moore could be poised to have a big year next year. I like to compare him to Mike Wallace, as he loves to run downfield and catch the long ball.

    Moore should be available later in your drafts, so he will be a great late-round sleeper. The Raiders will be losing in a lot of games, so they will be throwing a lot.

    Denarius Moore will be the biggest winner, as Palmer will be looking his way early and often.

    Projection: 64 receptions, 918 yards, 8 touchdowns

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

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    At the tight end position, I was torn to pick between Jermaine Gresham or Jacob Tamme. As you can see, I went with Jermaine Gresham.

    As I am looking at fantasy rankings for the 2012 season, I just do not see how Jermaine Gresham is ranked around the 15-20 area for tight ends. He has so much talent and potential, but the Bengals offensive strategy is what kills Gresham's fantasy value.

    Next year might finally be the year Gresham breaks out and has a great year. As defenses continue to focus on A.J. Green, Gresham usually gets single coverage in the middle all of the time.

    Andy Dalton will have to go to Gresham more than ever next year as defenses will shut down Green, and Dalton will be under pressure to get rid of the ball.

    Gresham will get plenty of targets and he is a big red-zone threat. You can draft him in the last rounds as a No. 2 TE, but by the end of the year, I predict he will finish as a top 10 tight end.

    Projection: 65 receptions, 723 yards, 7 touchdowns