Fantasy Football 2013 Sleepers: Forecasting Next Crop of Stars

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Fantasy Football 2013 Sleepers: Forecasting Next Crop of Stars
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
T.Y. Hilton has an enhanced opportunity this season.

Let's get a jump on the 2013 fantasy football season by taking a look at some sleepers.

The offseason has been an eventful one for all teams, thanks to a wild free-agency period and the NFL draft, and it's given us a fair number of potential sleepers at multiple positions. 

When it comes to sleepers, a team's play on both sides of the ball can impact a player's fortunes, as a struggling defense can take away touches from a burgeoning running back as his team tries to play catchup, or a wideout may not see as many targets if his team is blowing out opponents. Rookies also play a role because some will instantly breakout just like Alfred Morris, Russell Wilson and Doug Martin.

Ultimately, a sleeper's greatest contribution from dominating in fantasy is helping his team challenge for the postseason.

 

Zac Stacy: RB, St. Louis Rams

Even though he's a rookie, Zac Stacy has plenty of potential to immediately impact the St. Louis Rams' fortunes, as well as those of your fantasy team.

Entering as a fifth-round selection, Stacy came after St. Louis upgraded its passing attack. Sam Bradford now has a pair of explosive targets in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey who will rack up insane yards after the catch.

As a result, defenses won't be able to constantly isolate the line of scrimmage. The linebackers are now more preoccupied to shell the intermediate level, which will also widen running lanes.

Well, Stacy is capable of quickly capitalizing, as evidenced by his 2,334 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns between 2011 and 2012. The Rams' balance will keep opponents hones,t and that lets Stacy produce above expectations in 2013.


T.Y. Hilton: WR, Indianapolis Colts

Anticipate a greater role for T.Y. Hilton this season.

How will the Colts' season finish?

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For starters, the Indianapolis Colts watched receiver Donnie Avery join the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). Last season, Avery finished with more targets (125) and receptions (60) than Hilton.

Still, the Colts will remain a pass-oriented offense to rely on Andrew Luck. Hilton's contributions just get expanded with Avery gone and veteran Reggie Wayne turning 35 years old this season.

After hauling in 50 passes for 861 yards and scoring seven times, Hilton's big play talent is quite appealing for fantasy. Averaging 17.2 yards per catch, his ability to slip past single coverage and split Cover 2 is an advantage.

Plus, the guy is a horizontal rushing threat and has the versatility to impact on special teams.


Travis Kelce: TE, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will be contending for a postseason spot this year. With an upgraded offensive arsenal that includes tight end Anthony Fasano from free agency—per Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Stara rookie in Travis Kelce (Cincinnati) was also brought on board.

Fasano is definitely a reliable target downfield, but 2012 was his career high in receptions (41), and he has not scored more than five touchdowns since 2008. Now that's not Fasano's fault, because he's simply a run-blocking tight end with dependable pass-catching talent.

That, however, doesn't bode as well for fantasy football. Kelce, on the other hand, will make more plays against Cover 1 and 2 looks. Finishing with 722 receiving yards and eight scores last season, Kelce also averaged 16 yards per catch.

With other receivers in Dwayne Bowe and Avery to draw attention, Kelce never faces double coverage. Include the presence of Jamaal Charles on the ground, and K.C.'s established balance consistently keeps defenses honest and frees up space.

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