When it comes to fantasy football, whoever said that the late-round picks you make in drafts define your season and ultimately lead to postseason glory could not have been more correct.
Anyone can draft a can’t-miss stud, but it is in the later rounds where you have to use your noggin. This is where studying and preparation comes in handy.
So, who are some of the late-round gems you should be on the lookout for? Well, here is a list of 10 (counting down from No. 10 to No. 1) hidden jewels who could thrive as late-round sleepers next season.
Streater showed some nice explosiveness down the stretch of the 2012 season and he could pay off big dividends for the fantasy owner who nabs him late in drafts.
Streater proved to be an excellent deep threat last year for Carson Palmer, averaging 15 yards per catch.
The rookie receiver also had over 60 yards receiving in four of his last five games (over 90 yards twice) while also hauling in a touchdown in Week 13 against the Browns. With more chances for targets and as he gets acclimated in the Raiders’ pass attack, Streater will provide nice bang for the buck.
Another enticing deep-threat option who could break out in 2013 is the Rams' Chris Givens.
With a healthy 16.6 yards per reception, Givens provided Rams quarterback Sam Bradford with a downfield threat that he has been missing for years. Three of Givens’ 42 catches in 2012 went for touchdowns.
With Givens and Bradford getting their timing down in the offseason, expect Givens to build off his impressive rookie campaign and take his game to a new level in 2013.
Looking for a tight end with tons of upside who could be available late in drafts? Then try Fleener on for size.
Fleener never really got into the flow of things in his rookie season, battling a shoulder injury and missing four games in the middle of the season. However the tools are there with Fleener, as there is a reason he was a second-round draft pick last year. Also, don’t overlook the fact that he and Andrew Luck have a rapport that dates back to their days at Stanford.
With another year to get accustomed to the nuances of the pro game, expect Luck and Fleener to click in 2013.
Whether or not Shonn Greene comes back for the Jets, Powell still has likely carved out a nice role for himself with the way he finished the 2012 season.
Powell averaged a respectable four yards per carry last year and should be in line for a boost in production in 2013. Powell worked himself into more playing time this past year after scoring four touchdowns between Week 11 and Week 14.
Depending on what the Jets decide to do at running back in the offseason, Powell is looking at an increased role and is a great late-round gamble.
This past season Tate was either boom or bust, as he toed the line between being a fantastic option one week and an unreliable dud the next.
However, with Russell Wilson evolving into a complete quarterback, expect Tate’s game to grow in 2013. Along with that maturation should come consistency.
While Sidney Rice is technically still the No.1 option in the passing game, Tate has the most potential to get better and surpass him on the depth chart.
After three rather pedestrian years in the NFL, the clock is ticking on Bradford to make an impact in the game.
Well, with more weapons to work with and under the tutelage of Jeff Fisher, Bradford could really flourish this season. After an injury to Danny Amendola in the middle of the season thwarted a promising start, Bradford picked up his game toward the end of last season, passing for 825 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games.
With the Rams going with a youth movement and saying goodbye to Steven Jackson, who dictated what the offense did; expect the Rams to open up the playbook for Bradford. All signs point to Bradford having a career year.
This past season Gordon showed us that while he is still raw, he makes for an emerging receiving threat.
Oozing with big-time playmaking ability, Gordon is just scratching the surface of his immense potential. Gordon had a solid rookie season, racking up 50 receptions for 805 yards and five touchdowns. Gordon also posted an amazing 16.1 yards per reception.
The only thing Gordon has to do is work on his consistency. But with another year of development and familiarity with Brandon Weeden, Gordon will only get better.
Brown is just one injury away from becoming a fantasy force once again.
As you all probably know, Brown was fantastic in LeSean McCoy’s stead, as he rushed for 387 yards and four touchdowns in four games while McCoy was sidelined with a concussion.
Sure, the last few games Brown tanked (18 carries for 40 yards in his last two starts) and also had fumbling issues, but Brown possesses great breakaway speed that should not be overlooked. Even if McCoy is fully healthy, expect new coach Chip Kelly to get Brown into the mix somehow, someway.
With Reggie Bush having one foot out the door, the Dolphins will need a new running back to carry the load. Enter Lamar Miller.
Sure, Miami also has Daniel Thomas on the depth chart, and he may be ahead of Miller, but Miller still possesses the most upside and better value.
In limited carries (51) last year Miller did his best by averaging an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. Miller has better skills than Thomas and is a better bet to stay healthy. Thus Miller makes for a better pick and there is a good chance he’ll be available late in drafts.
With the Broncos working Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno back from injuries, Hillman has a legitimate shot of vaulting himself to the top of the Broncos’ running back depth chart next season.
Drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, Denver will want to know what it has in the youngster. In a dog-eat-dog world of securing NFL jobs, the youngest usually win out and when combining Hillman’s young age, athleticism and skills, he should earn the job as lead back in the Broncos backfield eventually.
Don’t be surprised if Hillman runs with the job in camp and climbs up draft boards in the process.