NFL Fantasy Football: 5 Late-Round Picks Who Can Win You a Championship
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Fantasy football is all about value. You can do as many mock drafts as you'd like, but when push comes to shove everything changes on draft day.
That's why finding a diamond in the rough can help set you apart from the rest of your fantasy football enemies all season long.
Whether it's picking a running back who plays behind an injury prone starter or scooping up a potential breakout star at wide receiver, fantasy addicts thrive off finding value late in drafts.
Start the slideshow below and check out five players you can get late this year that will help you win a fantasy championship.
Wide Reciever: Cecil Shorts III
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Shorts, who in just 14 games caught 55 passes on 106 targets for 979 yards and seven touchdowns, ended up being one of the most rewarding free agent pick ups of the year.
While some fantasy gurus have Shorts falling back to earth next year, it would be a crime to overlook the kid's skill set.
Averaging an incredible 17.8 yards per catch (that was more than Calvin Johnson who averaged 16.0 YPC), Shorts proved he is a true home run threat.
A gifted athlete with scorching speed, Shorts has a chance to become a genuine star next year if his health holds up.
After sustaining his second concussion, Shorts was placed on the Jaguars IR list.
On draft day, most the owners in your league will flock to the more established receivers, leaving Shorts on the board late.
If he can come back with a clean bill of health, Cecil Shorts III will pay off for those who take him.
For a guy who saw double-digit targets in six of his 14 games last year, you could do a lot worse taking him as your third option.
Running Back: LaMichael James
LaMichael James is explosive
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Most of the people who draft James will take him as a handcuff to Frank Gore. But that might not be the best reason to pick the former Oregon Ducks' star (Gore and James are completely different backs. James wouldn't be able to sustain a 20-plus carry workload on Sundays).
It's no secret that Jim Harbaugh and Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman love to run the football. Breaking a defense down with a hard-nosed ground attack is the bread and butter of their offensive philosophy.
After their Super Bowl loss, Greg Roman said he wants to be more innovative with the Pistol and read-option next season.
While you can't predict exactly what that statement means, you can assume he means adding more variations to their already lethal ground game.
And that's where James comes into play.
James is a speedy, shifty runner with a strong ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
I firmly believe that next year the 49ers will use a lot more of James to ease the workload for Gore and create mismatches for opposing defenses.
A late round pick worth stashing on your bench, James could pay off huge as a flex option or trade bait for concerned Gore owners down the road.
Running Back: Vick Ballard
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The rookie out of Mississippi State finished the year with 814 yards rushing and two touchdowns. But if you look deeper into his game log, you will see that Ballard came on strong towards the end of the year.
In a pass-friendly offensive system, Ballard became a great complement to Andrew Luck. He was tough, ran hard and saw the open lanes.
With Donald Brown all but forgotten, Vick Ballard could end up being a pretty solid option for most fantasy owners on draft day.
He will have to get his touchdowns up to make a significant impact, but with a young and improving offense, Ballard should break 1,000 yards rushing in 2013.
If you're looking for a solid third running back, Ballard may be your guy.
Tight End: Dwayne Allen
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Oh how things have changed.
After Fleener went down with an injury, Dwayne Allen stepped up for the Colts.
Allen is a big, fast tight end that has shown flashes of brilliance at times.
Catching 44 passes on 66 targets for 521 yards and three touchdowns, Allen continued to improve as the season went on.
Look, I know Coby Fleener isn't going anywhere and Andrew Luck loves the guy, but let's face it; Dwayne Allen is a durable, productive player who provides significant value for the Colts offense.
With a stud like Luck at the helm, this former Clemson tight end has a real shot at piecing together a solid fantasy season in 2013.
Be the guy who takes Allen late while other owner's reach for Fleener. Then flip him to a suffering Fleener owner for gold!
Quarterback: Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers should have a rebound year in 2013.
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After suffering a slow demise under the wing of former head coach Norv Turner, 2013 should be a bounce back year for the former Pro Bowl signal caller.
Most fantasy owners are incredibly frustrated with Rivers due to his lack of performance over the last two years. And because of that, they have written him off for good.
But just as the NFL is all about second chances, so is fantasy football.
With Rivers off the draft boards of many fantasy owners, you will have a chance to reap the rewards by taking him late in the draft.
Coming off his two worst seasons, the Bolts' QB still tossed 27, and 26 touchdowns respectively.
While his turnovers skyrocketed, Rivers managed to keep piling on the passing yards.
Now with one of the most dynamic offensive minds in the game headed to town (head coach Mike McCoy), Rivers has a real shot to turn things around for good.
If all goes well and the two develop a healthy working relationship during the offseason, well let's just say there's a very good chance we will get to witness Phillip Rivers sling the pigskin all over the field once again.