When you're approaching your fantasy football draft this year, one thing you absolutely have to keep in mind is who your sleepers are. Or, in other words, who are the players that you think can have a good year that everyone else seems to be casting aside?
These are the players that will make up your bench and are a key part of your team. Without depth and players that have the ability to break out, you'll struggle down the stretch, as key players get injured or when you need to deal with bye weeks or whatever the issue may be.
So, here are five sleepers to keep your eye on as the 2012 NFL season nears.
With Roy Helu dealing with injuries and Tim Hightower struggling to come back from a torn ACL, Evan Royster's path is being paved to becoming a starting NFL running back. And for the value that you can get for him (he'll likely go undrafted in your league), he's a can't-miss sleeper.
You may have never heard of him, but Royster is a very good player, and considering that he's getting extra reps in practice and more carries in these preseason games, he's only going to improve and become a greater asset to the Washington offense.
Unfortunately for those who drafted him last season, Amendola wound up missing the entire season due to injury. However, he's finally healthy and is poised to have a big year in 2012. He's not going to be Wes Welker, but with Brian Schottenheimer calling the plays in St. Louis, he could have a very good season.
Amendola definitely has the talent to catch 80 balls for 1,000 yards this year. And with QB Sam Bradford back after his season-ending high ankle sprain, they'll look to get right back where they left off, when Amendola caught 85 passes for nearly 700 yards in 2010 (per ESPN).
Amendola is especially valuable in PPR leagues. If you can get him in the late rounds, draft him with confidence.
This could finally be the year that Greg Olsen breaks out and has a big season. One thing he has going for him is that he doesn't get hurt; he's played in all 16 games four years in a row, which is a big positive for any prospective owner.
Last year, Olsen had 90 targets, while the Panthers' other TE, Jeremy Shockey, had 63 targets. But with the departure of Shockey, and hopefully the improved accuracy of QB Cam Newton, Olsen should absorb at least half of Shockey's targets and have himself a really nice fantasy season.
Ronnie Brown didn't have his best season last year in Philly. He just didn't see the field enough to really find his groove. However, he'll be the backup to Ryan Mathews heading into this season and could see significant playing time over the first few weeks of the season due to Mathew's ailing collarbone.
Add to that the fact that Mathews has shown that he's highly injury prone, and you get a recipe for a Ronnie Brown resurgence in 2012. He's a fantasy handcuff for you at worst in the event that Mathews gets hurt again, which, given his history, he probably will.
It feels strange to call a guy who's the No. 1 WR on his team and is approaching 10,000 career yards a sleeper, but that's exactly what Santana Moss is. He's ranked on the wrong side of No. 50 when it comes to WRs this year, and he's basically being left for dead, fantasy-wise, of course.
But with a QB who can actually throw the ball in RGIII now leading Washington's offense, Moss is set to have a career revival. He's being totally overlooked and is falling to undrafted status, which is insane. I expect him to have a strong year, and he's definitely worth the risk if you're getting him in the later rounds or even as an undrafted FA.
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