Five Fantasy Football Sleepers Who Can Lead Your Team to a Championship
Every season, players taken in the seventh round or later prove to be the difference between a .500 team and one that makes a run towards a fantasy championship.
For the sake of this discussion, we'll consider a sleeper someone whose average draft position on ESPN currently sits at the 75th pick or later that has the potential to be starting for your fantasy team by the middle of the season.
Note: I won't be including anyone from my fantasy football risks column, as the goal here is to provide you with five other players that seem to be off the radar of most drafters.
5. Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
Average Draft Position - 82.0
Griffin carries a good deal of risk with him but also has a ton of potential that you want in a mid-round quarterback.
Despite lacking the elite receiving options that often help make a sleeper quarterback, Griffin's ability to pile up the rushing yards helps balance out what may end up being mediocre passing numbers.
Griffin is already locked into the starting position and provides Mike Shanahan with the perfect mix of arm strength and playmaking ability that he loves to have under center. For leagues that favor rushing yards over passing yards, RGIII is worth a flier in the sixth round, in the hopes that he can be the player the Washington front office expects him to be.
2012 Projection: 3,300 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 800 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns.
4. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders
Average Draft Position - 123.4
The boos and looks of shock on the faces of those in attendance in New York when Heyward-Bey was selected in the top ten have followed DHB throughout the first few years of his career.
However, his production towards the tail end of 2011 should help fantasy drafters look past the early struggles.
With a full training camp as the starting wide receiver and months of working with Carson Palmer, Heyward-Bey has a chance to break out in a big way this year.
Palmer still has a strong arm and Heyward-Bey has the ability to get downfield as quickly as any player in football. If the two can develop chemistry, it could really be a match made in heaven for the Raiders.
2012 Projection: 72 receptions, 1,100 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns.
3. Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
Average Draft Position - 103.7
Once you get past the top two tight ends, there is a lot of clutter at the position.
Last season, Davis was on pace for over 1,000 yards before being suspended for the final four games. With a new quarterback and a head coach that utilizes the tight end spot, Davis has the ability to not just pick up where he left off, but to actually build on those numbers.
Robert Griffin III will be looking to get the ball to whoever is open. Not only can Davis get separation and cause matchup problems, he can also serve as a safety valve when RGIII inevitably starts scrambling for his life.
Davis may not match Gronkowski or Graham, but he has top-five tight end potential while currently being the 9th TE coming off the board.
2012 Projection: 78 receptions, 1,050 yards, 6 touchdowns.
2. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Average Draft Position - 77.4
Over the last two seasons, Tampa has gotten all they are going to get out of LeGarrette Blount.
After moving up to take Martin in the draft, Tampa appears to be willing to hand over Martin the starting job right out of training camp. If reports out of Florida can be believed, Martin has flashed the ability to make defenders miss and catch the ball out of the backfield.
Though running back may be the toughest position in all of fantasy football to project, any running back that has the potential to see 240 or more carries in a season is worth taking in the first 60 picks, as they are almost a lock to work almost weekly as a No. 2 running back or a flex option.
2012 Projection: 260 carries, 1,150 rushing yards, 35 receptions, 300 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns.
1. Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego Chargers
Average Draft Position - 86.3
Despite never breaking out in New Orleans, Meachem has flashed the ability to create big plays downfield.
With Vincent Jackson now out of the picture, Meachem has the opportunity to become the new No.1 target for Philip Rivers, who will look to recover from a disappointing season.
In an offense that is predicated around throwing the football, Meachem should see more opportunities than he ever did with Brees throwing him the ball.
Though he will face some competition from Malcolm Floyd, Meachem has looked great in camp and has the chance to break out in a big way. If things click between him and Rivers, he has the potential to become a top-10 fantasy wide receiver.
2012 Projection: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 10 touchdowns.
One last note: If you have any comments on the article, anything you'd like to see in my next piece or you simply have any fantasy related questions as we move towards draft season, either comment on the bottom of this page or hit me up on twitter @QuinnCretton and I will make sure to get back to you.
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