Fantasy Football 2012: 5 NFC Studs Your Opponents Won't Think About
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Early draft picks and powerhouses are not the keys to winning fantasy football bragging rights. It is tactically chosen "sleeper picks" that separate the elite teams from the bottom of the barrel.
The fact of the matter is, powerhouses are evenly dispersed and, in many cases, cancel each other out.
What doesn't cancel out? Picking up a sleeper in the 100th+ round overall that has the ability to match the performance of a player picked half as early.
Sleeper picks exist annually, and only so many fantasy teams are fortunate to snag one. Players who can feed off the skill of those around them, up-and-comers and young breakout rookies all have the potential to be fantasy sleepers.
Here are five NFC studs who could be sneaking under the radar as potential sleepers this season.
Green Bay Packers: Randall Cobb (WR)
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Wide Receiver Randall Cobb is not the first on this list because he is the top sleeper. He is first, because he is quickly losing his covert sleeper status; hurry up and pick him!
With Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers near the top of the ranks, it won't be long until people start considering who he will be throwing to.
Cobb did not have a tremendous amount of catches last year, but that should change with Donald Driver out of the way. As a shoe-in for the third receiving job, Cobb's productivity should increase as the season goes on.
Normally, a number three wide receiver would be nothing to sneeze at, but Cobb is an exception. Cobb's fortunate situation gives him tremendous fantasy upside.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin (RB)
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Tampa Bay Buccaneer Doug Martin has all the tell-tale signs of a sleeper. The buzz that has followed Martin could dethrone his sleeper status, but he has remained low on fantasy rankings.
Martin is a rookie with skill, who will be playing under new head coach Greg Schiano.
Schiano has told the media that Martin reminds him of Baltimore Raven running back Ray Rice (h/t NFL Huddle). That is high praise from the former 11-year head coach at Rutgers.
Current Buccaneer running back LeGarrette Blount has shown disciplinary concerns in the past couple of seasons. With a coaching change in Tampa Bay, Blount's tardiness to practice and lack of focus will not be tolerated.
This could open up more playing time for the promising rookie. Martin has shown potential at Boise State, where he accumulated 3,152 total yards in his last two seasons.
The Buccaneers grabbed in with their first-round draft pick and will be sure to play him throughout the season.
Carolina Panthers: Brandon LaFell (WR)
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As somewhat of a late-season sleeper during the 2011 season, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell has secured yet another sleeper status. His slight rise in the Panthers' passing attack should increase his productivity.
With Legedu Naanee's departure to Miami, LaFell became the Panthers' number two wide receiver. LaFell will play behind Steve Smith, providing support in grinding situations up the field.
LaFell is not likely to notch too many touchdowns playing behind Smith. However, LaFell can still be counted on to earn a notable amount of yards.
In timely situations of relief, LaFell can make the most of the play time he is given.
Arizona Cardinals: Ryan Williams (RB)
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Arizona Cardinals Ryan Williams regains the same sleeper status he achieved in 2011.
The reason for this? A torn patella tendon in his right knee that sidelined him during his entire rookie season (via NFL.com).
Williams' situation is a combination of Brandon LaFell's and Doug Martin's sleeper situations.
Similar to LaFell, Williams will be counted on by his team to take over on passing downs.
Williams has shown that he is a sturdy alternative to Beanie Wells. Much like Martin, Williams could earn himself a bigger role, depending on the performance and health of the two players.
Atlanta Falcons: Jacquizz Rodgers (RB)
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Rodgers will fit well into the Falcons' new passing offense, but current running back Michael Turner might have trouble with it. Turner will go from being solely relied on for rush yards to more of a strong alternative role for Atlanta.
Ultimately, the Falcons' diversified offense could mean less of an individual effort from Turner. Rodgers is expected to be the Falcons' weapon during their passing game.
Rodgers will get a substantial opportunity to assume a big role in Atlanta's offense. If Turner struggles and Rodgers thrives, Rodgers could take over the lead role for Atlanta.