Fantasy Football 2012: 5 Sleeper Wide Receivers You Should Target in Your Draft
It's that time of year again! The NFL is back! Oh, and fantasy football is too.
Sorry, but summer's almost over. And it's time for everyone to start doing their homework on their fantasy football draft. Luckily for you, I'll do some of that homework for you.
Every year, there are sleepers at every position who emerge as stars and make whoever drafted them look like geniuses. It happens all the time at wide receiver, and I'm sure it will happen again.
Here are five sleeper wide receivers you should target in your fantasy drafts.
Titus Young, Detroit Lions
When should you draft him? In the middle rounds.
Why should you draft him? The Lions have the best receiver in football in Calvin Johnson. However, that doesn't mean Matthew Stafford can't throw the ball to his other receivers.
As a rookie, Young caught 48 passes for 607 yards and six touchdowns. The athletic receiver knows how to get open and make plays after catching the ball, as we should know from watching him play in Detroit and at Boise State.
In addition to Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson caught more passes than Young in 2011. However, Stafford, who threw for over 5,000 yards last year, will target Young more. He will catch more passes and score more touchdowns in 2012.
Detroit has depth at running back, but they don't have a star ball-carrier. That means the Lions will throw the ball a lot, and Young will have chances to catch passes a lot. Expect Young's stats to be a lot better in 2012, and expect him to catch more passes than every Lions' receiver other than Johnson.
Once Young makes a catch, he can do a lot with the ball. Young averaged almost 13 yards per catch in 2011, and in his final year at Boise State, he averaged over 17 yards per catch. Once his receptions go up, so will everything else.
And that will make Young a great pickup in your draft.
Brian Quick, St Louis Rams
When should you draft him? In the later rounds.
Why should you draft him? Quick isn't as fast as his last name may indicate, but he is a great receiver. The Rams picked him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft and are hoping for him to develop into a star receiver for a team that's in need of one.
Now that Brandon Lloyd is gone, the Rams don't have any star receivers on their team. If Quick can use his strength and hands to catch passes, he could become Sam Bradford's number one target right from the get-go. If he does that, he'll have good stats and will become a fantasy steal.
While Young is skinny and uses his speed to break away from defenders after making a catch, Quick uses his strength and tackle-breaking ability. He can easily shed tackles and break away from defenders, even though he isn't very fast (he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds).
If Quick faces a team without a speedy, athletic corner, you should definitely start him. If he is going to be facing a smaller DB, you should definitely start him. There are defensive backs that will be able to contain Quick, but not too many. Once he gets used to the NFL, Quick will dominate and put up a large amount of points for your fantasy team in the second half of the season.
Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
When should you pick him? At the very end.
Why should you pick him? Jones is a risky pick, but he could definitely put up solid numbers and do a nice job starting some games and adding depth to your bench. The Bengals' receiver got some praise from Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, who said that Jones is "sneaky fast" and can catch long passes.
2011 first-round pick A.J Green was targeted a lot by Andy Dalton, who was also a rookie last year. The two helped guide the Bengals to the playoffs, where they lost to the Texans. Jones will probably see some time opposite Green, and, since opponents will have their best DB cover Green, Jones could emerge as a sleeper.
I watched him play a lot at Cal, and he really impressed me. His ability to catch poorly thrown passes, especially near the sideline, stood out to me. Jones is great at making tough catches and getting his feet down in bounds before taking a hit.
Just like fellow Golden Bear Keenan Allen, who will be a sleeper next year, Jones is athletic and can make adjustments to poor throws. He can go deep, so if A.J. Green is covered, Jones can sneak downfield and haul in a pass from Dalton.
It's possible that Jones doesn't see much playing time. However, if you are in need of a bench receiver or someone to start on a bye week, Jones could be a possible solution. He has the potential to make an immediate impact for a team in need of another great receiver alongside Green.
Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
When should you draft him? In the early or middle rounds.
Why should you draft him? Moore missed three games last year and has had some injury problems over the offseason, but he's definitely someone you should target in your draft.
Last year, Moore averaged almost 19 yards per catch and scored five touchdowns on just 33 catches. Moore will be targeted a lot, and with his speed, tackle-breaking ability and athleticism, it's almost a sure thing that he'll make something happen after every catch.
In addition to his athleticism, Moore also has great hands and can jump very high to make a catch. Now that he's played for a year and has experience, he will be targeted more and will probably be Carson Palmer's top target.
Don't draft Moore in the first few rounds, and don't make him your number one receiver. However, he is definitely someone you should target in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth rounds. As long as Moore stays away from injuries, he will catch a lot of passes.
And, with Moore's athleticism and speed, when he catches a lot of passes, he will score a lot of points.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
When should you draft him? In the early rounds.
Why should you draft him? It's hard to consider Jones a sleeper after watching the way he ended the 2011 season and watching how he performed in minicamps, but Jones flew under the radar and a lot of fantasy owners failed to recognize how well he performed.
Jones has spectacular hands, and he made some fabulous catches at Alabama and with the Falcons. He's also very fast and athletic, just like a lot of other receivers on this list. Jones averaged almost 18 yards per catch last year, and he almost racked up 1,000 receiving yards on just over 50 catches.
While Jones was somewhat inconsistent during the early part of last season, he was dominant in the last few games. In the Falcons' last five games, Jones caught 27 passes for 457 yards and six touchdowns. And his success carried into the offseason.
ESPN NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas said that if he had to pick one player that stood out to him the most during training camp, he'd pick Jones. Yasinskas noted that Jones made some big-time plays against corners like Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson, which makes his feats even more impressive.
Jones is a deep threat, and he and Roddy White will create some chaos for opposing defenses. Expect Jones to catch a lot more passes, and expect his numbers to shoot up. It's almost not fair to call him a sleeper anymore, because he could be your number one receiver and you'd still be fine.