Fantasy Football 2012: Sleepers Who Will Win Your League Easily
The 2012 fantasy football season is upon us and everyone will be looking for this year's sleepers.
Sleepers in recent memory include Peyton Hillis, Arian Foster and Cam Newton. Each of these players not only took the league by storm in their respective seasons, but each one did so in such a dominant fashion that they almost single-handedly won leagues for fantasy owners.
This year will be no different as some unknown player or someone who struggled last season will come into 2012 ready to make his name known to the football world.
The trick is always trying to figure out who that sleeper will be. To guess wrong may do little harm, but the reward of guessing right is too great to pass up.
No one knows who the next great sleeper will be, but here are a few players to keep an eye on.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Last year featured great rookie receivers in A.J. Green and Julio Jones, but this was expected of two players taken within the first six picks of the draft.
What was unexpected was the stellar production provided by Stanford wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
Baldwin had a surprisingly good rookie year with 788 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
This is even more impressive considering his quarterbacks were Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson.
Baldwin led the team in receiving yards and receptions, quickly establishing himself as the best receiver on the Seattle Seahawks.
Look for Baldwin to explode this season as Rice is still an injury risk and the Seahawks may have an improved quarterback in Matt Flynn.
Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall goes down, so in comes running back Isaac Redman.
Redman is a prime candidate to have a breakout year, especially as he is part of a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that is known for its rushing attack.
As a fill-in, Redman rushed for 479 yards with three touchdowns and 4.4 average yards per carry.
The schedule is not favorable with the Steelers having to play the NFC East and AFC West, but with so many backfields consisting of two or more starting backs, Redman carries the benefit of being the main back with little competition behind him.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Not only is receiver Antonio Brown $42.5 million richer, he has also become a solid fantasy receiver worthy of being drafted as a No. 2.
In his second year in the league, Brown had 69 receptions with 1,108 yards receiving.
These are good stats and it may seem like he has already had his breakout year, but his breakout year may actually be in 2012.
Last season, Brown only scored two touchdowns. Plus, Mike Wallace has not signed his franchise tender offer and is not currently working with the offense.
While ESPN's Jamison Hensley has reported that Wallace is expected to be ready to go by the start of the season, he is not currently with the team. If Wallace is not with the team, Brown is the go-to guy and he may become Ben Roethlisberger's favorite target due to the extra time spent together.
Brown has speed and hands, but what separates him from Wallace is Brown will go over the middle.
Brown is coming into his own and he could be a guy who goes over 1,200 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
Matt Flynn, QB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks' main free-agent signing was quarterback Matt Flynn.
Flynn has been the backup to Aaron Rodgers his entire career and will now look to make a name for himself.
Flynn was a risky signing because he's only had a few starts here and there.
While Flynn was working with Green Bay's amazing receiving corps, those are still very impressive numbers.
Now, Flynn gets his chance with a team that actually runs the ball with Marshawn Lynch, has potentially two solid receivers in Doug Baldwin and Sidney Rice, and a very deep tight end group featuring the newly-acquired Kellen Winslow Jr.
With the potential the offense has, and the defense's ability to force turnovers, Flynn and the Seahawks could be on the rise in the NFC West.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Running back Ben Tate is another player who did well last season, but he has only scratched his potential.
In his rookie year, the Auburn alum rushed for 942 yards with four touchdowns and over 1,000 yards from the line of scrimmage. He also averaged 5.4 yards per carry.
Paired with Arian Foster, Tate helped form one of the best duos in the NFL, but it is time for Tate to take the next step.
Tate does have Foster taking away much of his value, but with the continuous health problems of receiver Andre Johnson and quarterback Matt Schaub, it would not be surprising to see the Texans run the ball more.
With an increased emphasis on the running game, Tate would have the opportunity for more carries, especially seeing that Foster was also injured last season.
He can be had late and he can be a 1,000-yard back. Do not let the threat of Foster overshadow what Tate's impact can be.
Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers
Wide receiver Malcom Floyd is the best sleeper candidate of all the receivers.
He is 6'5" with a great leaping ability and solid hands.
What has set him up for greatness this year is the fact Vincent Jackson is no longer going to be quarterback Phillip Rivers' favorite target, and the fact that receiver Robert Meachem was a backup last season for the Saints.
The No. 1 receiver job is his for the taking and the San Diego Chargers are a team that likes to throw the football.
Last season, Floyd already had gained notice from Rivers as evidence by his 856 yards receiving, with about half those yards coming in four 100-yard games. He also had two games where he had 96- and 95-yards receiving.
Furthermore, he is a deep threat, as is apparent by his 19.9 yards per catch average.
As long as Floyd stays healthy, there is no reason he cannot be a No.1 fantasy target this season.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
The fantasy sleeper with the best chance of carrying a fantasy team is quarterback Jay Cutler.
He was injured last season and plays in a tough NFC North division that features pass rushers such as Jared Allen, Clay Matthews and Ndamukong Suh.
What people need to see is that Cutler not only led the Chicago bears to a 7-3 record in the 10 games he played in, he was winning with Matt Forte as his best receiver.
This year, Jay Cutler is going to look to establish himself as en elite quarterback, and for once he will have the talent around him to do so.
Cutler reconnecting with Marshall is bad news for opposing defenses. Back in Denver, these two dominated in a pass-heavy offense that led to Marshall's 2009 record for most receptions in a game with 21.
This could be like Yin getting his Yang, but Jeffery provides a third piece. The 6'3" South Carolina receiver not only provides another big target for Cutler to throw to, but his 1,517 yards in 2010 shows he has the potential to be a game-changer.
This offseason was like Christmas for Cutler, and now it is time for him to play with his toys.