Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Late-Round Picks That You Will Regret Passing on

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 30: Running back Isaiah Pead #24 of the St. Louis Rams attempts to outrun defensive back Corey Graham #24 of the Baltimore Ravens to the outside during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome on August 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams defeated the Baltimore Ravens 31-17. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
David Welker/Getty Images

By now you've already drafted your squad and have begun the long-standing tradition of staring aimlessly at your roster with nothing but projected stats to pore over, slowly slipping into the madness that comes with playing fantasy football.

I'm not here to tell you that you are wrong in doing so, because we all do it: trying to figure out what player—or players—currently sitting on the waiver wire in your league will turn out to be impact players in 2012 before they step on the field.

Allow me to try and steer your gaze towards this group, a few players who will be more valuable to your team than you'd think.


Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams

Owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues, Isaiah Pead has been named as Stephen Jackson's primary backup—and the Rams' primary kick returner.

The MVP of last year's senior bowl, Pead isn't a bruiser like Jackson is. He uses his speed and elusiveness to evade defenders, though unlike some other running backs we've seen in the same mold, Pead doesn't dance at the line looking for something to develop.

While Jackson will remain the workhorse of the Rams offense, Pead figures to see time both when the veteran needs a breather and as a change-of-pace back. An excellent receiver out of the backfield, he could spell Jackson in third-and-long situations as Jeff Fisher looks to limit the wear-and-tear that his franchise back goes through this season.


Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers

When LaFell is drafted, it's generally around the 14th round of most drafts, though he's owned in less than 30 percent of ESPN leagues, so most people haven't caught on yet.

LaFell showed improvement in his sophomore campaign as the Panthers' third receiver in 2011, hauling in 36 receptions for 613 yards and three touchdowns.

Now the Panthers' number two receiver, LaFell figures to find himself in one-on-one matchups against undersized corners as opposing defenses key in on Steve Smith and attempt to contain Cam Newton.

LaFell has the size (6'2", 210 pounds) and speed to quickly become one of Newton's go-to targets, especially in the red zone.

If he's sitting on your waiver wire, grab him now without thinking twice


Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions

If you've got room on your bench and can stash a player for awhile, Broyles is your man.

A stud coming out of Oklahoma with 349 receptions for 4,568 receiving yards and 45 touchdowns on his resume, the Lions' second round pick in this year's draft isn't a burner like Titus Young or a freak-of-nature like Calvin Johnson.

What he is, however, is a fearless receiver who isn't afraid to go across the middle, someone who will move the chains for the Lions when Matthew Stafford finds his primary and secondary targets covered.

Owned in only one percent of ESPN leagues heading into the season, that number figures to rise drastically as he becomes more involved in the Lions' offense, something that's a foregone conclusion considering the Lions' lack of a potent running game.


Tim Tebow, QB, New York Jets

How can Tebow be a sleeper?

Owned in only a quarter of ESPN leagues, Tebow is going to play a part in Rex Ryan's convoluted offense in 2012.

He's arguably the best running back on the Jets' roster, and while he's not an adept passer by any means, Tebow figures to see plenty of action when the Jets are in the red zone.

Whether it's with his arm on a short throw (his specialty) or with his legs, Tebow will be a touchdown vulture, robbing Sanchez of multiple scoring opportunities.

I'm not advocating Tebow as a starter by any means. But as a bye-week replacement, he's capable of putting up quality numbers from a fantasy perspective. Plus, everyone plays in a league with an overzealous Jets' fan, so Tebow could prove to be a valuable trade chip for you as well.