Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Good Value Picks on Bad Teams
Winning at fantasy football takes a deep knowledge of all the teams in the league—even the bad ones.
Given that opportunity is everything when it comes to fantasy, players who can be found on middling teams can wind up being a nice value. Everyone knows that drafting a receiver like Lance Moore — who has Drew Brees throwing to him — will wind up scoring points, but other receivers can be found later who will see more targets.
Fantasy football is won by a player's individual stats, not whether or not their team wins (in most leagues). These are a few players whose teams are unheralded but will contribute in spite of their team's ineptitude.
Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns
Little is the perfect example of a receiver who gets overlooked because of his team situation.
The Browns offense was pathetic last season, and with a new, young core of players this year they should expect a lot of growing pains. Despite that, Little offers a ton of value and upside for where he is currently being drafted. According to his ESPN.com average draft position, Little is going around the 142nd pick in drafts.
Depending upon the size of the league, that is somewhere between rounds 10 and 14.
Spending a pick much earlier than that on Little may be a mistake, but if you can snag him in the late rounds he's well worth the look. Little had an impact as a rookie last season, but comes back as the team's No. 1 option out of a group of wide receivers that is extremely young.
Little is in the perfect position to breakout and be a receiver that turns out to be a starting option. Last season, he saw a staggering 121 targets. Little only came up with the catch on 61 of those targets, but with Brandon Weeden having a stronger arm than McCoy, and Little with a full year and training camp behind him, the upside is definitely there.
Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Given Andrew Luck's encouraging preseason, the Colts could surprise people this year; but even if they don't, Donald Brown is definitely worth a flier in the middle rounds of your draft.
Brown has been a bit of a disappointment since being drafted in the first round by the Colts in 2009, but 2012 gives him a whole new opportunity to break out. Truth be told, Brown showed inklings of a breakout season in 2011 that should have shrewd owners ready to snag him this season.
Brown improved his yards per carry by a yard last season, when he ran for a respectable 4.8 yards per carry, to the tune of 645 yards. With Brown in line to earn the lion's share of carries in 2012, he could see a lot more of the ball.
With Luck sure to look like a rookie at times, the Colts will be reliant on Brown to control the clock and take pressure off of the rookie QB. The Colts may not win a ton of games, but you will if you're able to get Brown in the middle rounds.
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
If you're going to draft someone catching passes from Blaine Gabbert this season, it might as well be Marcedes Lewis.
Last season he was a trendy pick at tight end, coming off of a 10-touchdown and 700-yard performance. It appeared as though Lewis was ready to enter the upper-echelon of fantasy tight ends.
He was not.
Lewis struggled mightily as the Jaguars used the 6'6", 272-pound tight end as primarily a blocker, and he failed to see a single touchdown pass thrown his way.
Coming into 2012, Lewis is going undrafted in a ton of leagues. After last season's debacle, it's plain to see why, but here are a few things to keep in mind that could make Lewis a viable candidate for a bounce-back season:
Lewis' lack of production wasn't entirely his fault. Gabbert playing as a rookie made it difficult for any Jaguar not named Maurice Jones-Drew to hold any value.
There are more weapons this season.
The addition of Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon give a much-improved Gabbert more targets to throw to and two threats that defenses must account for instead of just Lewis.
MJD could be gone.
Anytime the Jags have found themselves inside the 10, it's been MJD time. If MJD's holdout extends much longer or he is traded, the Jags will have to mix things up near the goal line which should mean that Lewis sees a lot more targets where it counts most for fantasy owners.
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