Fantasy Football 2012: Overly-Hyped Sleepers Sure to Disappoint
Everyone's looking for an edge as fantasy football gets underway, at, literally, any cost sometimes.
There's always the classic friend you have—or maybe it's you—that buys all the preview magazines, watches Matthew Berry segments on ESPN six times over and just generally takes things a tad too seriously.
Then you beat them. That is, unless you are that person, then you overanalyze everything and beat yourself.
Don't be that person.
Take this sage, expert advice about the fantasy football sleepers who are sure to disappoint in 2012, then race into your draft war room, guns blazing, eager to seize the rare opportunity to shamelessly cackle at friends making bad decisions.
Andy Dalton, QB Cincinnati Bengals
Yes, the second-year quarterback out of TCU has one of the best receivers in the game in A.J. Green, but outside of him and tight end Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals don't have many viable passing options.
Some combination of Brandon Tate, Armon Binns and rookie Mohamed Sanu will round out the receiving rotation. Tyler Whalen may even see some snaps. Marvin Jones has also been impressive.
The point is the Bengals don't have a clear-cut No. 2 wide receiver and are likely going to pound the rock more with BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the fold this season.
The Law Firm doesn't fumble—never has in his entire NFL career.
The Bengals are more likely to lean on him and play keep away with such a tough schedule.
To start the season, the Bengals travel to Baltimore to take on the Ravens, then host the Cleveland Browns, who had a great pass defense but an abysmal rush defense in 2011.
Then Cincinnati faces three of last season's top-tier defenses which are relatively intact: the Washington Redskins, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Miami Dolphins, with only the latter game being at home.
I smell a sophomore slump for the Red Rifle.
Matt Cassel, QB Kansas City Chiefs
After missing a significant portion of last season along with many fellow key teammates, Cassel and the Chiefs are hyped as a team to watch.
I don't see it.
Although Cassel has two successful seasons in the NFL to draw on, he has been quite the dink-and-dunker and may not have the arm strength to allow Jonathan Baldwin to have the breakout year he could have.
When the Chiefs made the postseason two years ago, tight end Tony Moeaki was a very reliable target but he's coming off of a torn ACL. That's no minor concern. The same is the case with dynamic running back Jamaal Charles.
Also, top receiver Dwayne Bowe held out until last week, so it will take a bit of time for him to get his legs under him and on the same page with Cassel.
Everything points to a big disappointment for the Kansas City QB.
Shonne Greene, RB New York Jets
In his first season as the full-time back, Greene eclipsed 1,000 yards and ran for six touchdowns.
Under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the emphasis will be on the running game.
Whatever the Jets decide to do with Tim Tebow is anyone's guess, but any special appearance for him will likely open up running lanes for Greene.
The problem with that is it's a total wildcard and can't be counted for consistent production since Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback.
Where the real issues lie is the lack of a threat the Jets pose with their aerial attack. The offense will have no choice but to stay grounded while teams will be able to stack the box and stuff the run.
Santonio Holmes is the team's only proven receiver, and Dustin Keller can only help so much in the passing game.
Sanchez doesn't have many options to distribute the ball to, and Tebow is practically incapable of distributing the ball through the air, period.
Greene only has the likes of Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to spell him when he takes on the role of the workhorse back.
I see Greene being gassed by midseason, and the Jets struggling to score points in either facet of the offense. After all, they have yet to find the end zone in the preseason.
Mark Ingram, RB New Orleans Saints
There is simply too much depth at the position to make Ingram a reliable fantasy option.
Ingram averaged just under four yards per carry as a rookie, although he was slowed by injury and not having a full offseason.
Still, the team has established veteran Pierre Thomas and the electric Darren Sproles whom are both capable runners and receivers out of the backfield.
It's still early in his career, but Ingram hasn't proven to be as reliable of a pass-catcher as those two.
The hard-running Chris Ivory and upstart, undrafted free agent Travaris Cadet are also competing for snaps at running back.
Ingram may receive the bulk of red-zone and goal-line carries, but the Saints may not be in those situations too frequently.
Drew Brees and the passing attack are so explosive and are capable of producing long touchdowns at any time. Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Jimmy Graham all provide dangerous deep threats.
The crowded Saints backfield makes Ingram a high-risk, low-reward pick as a sleeper, despite his potential to improve in his second year as a pro.
Sidney Rice, WR Seattle Seahawks
Unfortunately for Rice, he is toeing that dangerous line in today's NFL by putting himself on the field despite multiple concussions.
At only 25 years of age, Rice has all the talent in the world and showed why he was a first-round pick when he broke out in the 2009 season as a Pro Bowler.
In his six-year career, Rice has only made it through all 16 games one time, and head injuries are the latest culprit.
Another big, physical wide receiver in Braylon Edwards was brought in this offseason and has looked exceptional in the preseason.
He has already connected on a couple of big plays with new starting quarterback Russell Wilson. Edwards may take over the role Rice was brought in to play.
Throw in the emergence of Doug Baldwin last year as well as the fact that Golden Tate is primed to prove himself and Rice may be losing opportunities in what is suddenly a fairly deep receiving corps.
Brian Quick, WR St. Louis Rams
The first pick in the second round of this year's draft, Quick is meant to live up to his last name and make an instant impact as Sam Bradford's No. 1 target in St. Louis.
At 6'4", 220 pounds with great hands and speed, the Appalachian State product will be the focal point of the Rams' passing game.
Steven Jackson is always going to produce as the workhorse running back, and that should open up opportunities for Bradford and Quick in the play-action passing game.
Not to be underestimated, though, is the fact that this is Bradford's third offense in three seasons in the league. Quick is being relied on to develop rapidly on a team in serious flux.
Outside of Quick, the Rams don't have any other formidable receivers.
Even if Quick quickly makes a splash in the NFL, defenses will rotate their coverages over to his side and double-team him.
After that, it's unclear where Bradford will go with the ball other than handing it to Jackson or second-round rookie Isaiah Pead.
Dallas Clark, TE Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After missing 17 games in the past two seasons, Clark may be ready to roll once again.
On the strength of a bounce-back season from promising Bucs QB Josh Freeman and a refreshed organization under the new leadership of head coach Greg Schiano, Clark may be able to thrive.
Clark used to be the beneficiary of many Peyton Manning masterpiece missiles in Indianapolis and hasn't seen much action in the preseason.
This Bucs team is different, though. Despite the potential for Freeman to find him as a safety valve, new addition Vincent Jackson has been Freeman's go-to target in the preseason.
Rookie first-round running back Doug Martin was also named the starter, according to Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times:
Doug Martin is your starting RB tonight. This is NOT a result of Blount's groin injury. Based on performance. #Bucs— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) August 24, 2012
With Schiano's defensive mentality, the running game is likely to be a larger point of emphasis. Freeman also forced too many passes last year, which led to a down season for him and the team.
It would be a feel-good story to see Clark bounce back but it doesn't seem feasible with the other options in Tampa's offense.
Fred Davis, TE Washington Redskins
After a career year in 2011, Davis is a trendy sleeper pick who doesn't immediately come to mind in a discussion of the league's top tight ends.
If not for the Redskins going crazy in free agency and aggressively trading to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick, I might buy this.
Then again, you know how owner Dan Snyder operates.
The acquisitions of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan have given Griffin two big targets to hit, in addition to veteran Santana Moss, who will be dangerous coming out of the slot.
I was watching the Redskins' game against the Indianapolis Colts and couldn't help but notice another Redskins' tight end, Niles Paul, returned the opening kickoff.
A tight end returning kicks? What?
If anyone is going to be a dynamic receiving threat at the tight end position, I would put my money on Paul as a deep sleeper, despite how solid Davis was last season.