Fantasy Football Sleepers 2013: Smartphone User's Guide to Top 25 Steals

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Fantasy Football Sleepers 2013: Smartphone User's Guide to Top 25 Steals
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

There's a very good reason folks get plenty more excited about landing their big "sleeper" in their fantasy football draft each year than even landing the top overall pick.

Because while most years you'll get relatively good, top-25 production out of your first-round players, it's often those undervalued names who swing the paradigm of a fantasy league. The problem is identifying those players, and then not overvaluing the guys you feel are undervalued. 

For instance, here is a look at the 25 biggest "sleepers" for this year's class.

Top 25 Fantasy Football Sleepers of 2013
Rank Player Pos. Team Bye Week Proj. RD
Tier: Take a Round Early
1 Danny Amendola WR New England Patriots 10 4-6
2 Reggie Bush RB Detroit Lions 9 4-6
3 Le'Veon Bell RB Pittsburgh Steelers 5 5-7
4 DeSean Jackson WR Philadelphia Eagles 12 6-8
5 Dwayne Bowe WR Kansas City Chiefs 10 5-7
Tier: Guaranteed Draftees
6 Johnathan Franklin RB Green Bay Packers 4 9-11
7 Giovani Bernard RB Cincinnati Bengals 12 9-11
8 Ryan Williams RB Arizona Cardinals 9 10-12
9 Emmanuel Sanders WR Pittsburgh Steelers 5 10-12
10 Michael Vick QB Philadelphia Eagles 12 11-13
11 Josh Gordon WR Cleveland Browns 10 11-13
12 Jacquizz Rodgers RB Atlanta Falcons 6 13-15
13 Martellus Bennett TE Chicago Bears 8 13-15
14 Alshon Jeffrey WR Chicago Bears 8 14-15
15 Danny Woodhead RB San Diego Chargers 8 14-15
Tier: Keep an Eye Out
16 Carson Palmer QB Arizona Cardinals 9 14-UND
17 Justin Blackmon WR Jacksonville Jaguars 9 15-UND
18 Zachary Stacy RB St. Louis Rams 11 15-UND
19 Aaron Dobson WR New England Patriots 10 15-UND
20 Tampa Bay DEF Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 15-UND
21 A.J. Jenkins WR San Francisco 49ers 9 15-UND
22 Tyler Eifert TE Cincinnati Bengals 12 15-UND
23 Mike Gillislee RB Miami Dolphins 6 15-UND
24 Darrius Heyward-Bey WR Indianapolis Colts 8 15-UND
25 Christine Michael RB Seattle Seahawks 12 15-UND

As you can tell, that's a wide array of talent. There are levels and tiers within the overarching "sleeper" paradigm, ones that if you find consistent value with each of your picks, can land you a cushy spot in the fantasy playoffs.

Last season saw a bevy of top talent get drafted late or, in the cases of players like Colin Kaepernick, become key late pickups for the playoffs. Rookies like Robert Griffin III and Doug Martin carried entire teams, while youngsters like Randall Cobb came in and ripped jobs away from the clutches of incumbent stars.

Just know there are levels to this stuff. Sometimes landing a player in the ninth round who should be taken in the sixth is just as valuable as grabbing someone in the fourth or fifth who should be a second-rounder. Draft day is all about value over average—and finding that is the key to a championship.

With that in mind, here are a few noteworthy "sleepers" from our tiers. 

 

*Note: All points and rankings are based on ESPN's standard scoring. We also used ESPN's ADP monitor as a barometer for projected results, though some subjective liberties were taken.

 

Take a Round Early: Danny Amendola (WR, New England Patriots)

Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Wes Welker is a Denver Bronco. Rob Gronkowski is on the PUP list. Aaron Hernandez was released after being charged with murder, via ESPN.com. Tom Brady has to throw the ball to somebody, right? These Patriots aren't going to start winning games 13-10. 

Danny Amendola is far and away the likeliest breakout star in the receiving corps. He was on pace for an excellent season a year ago in St. Louis, putting up 63 catches for 663 yards while playing in 11 games. Signed as Welker's replacement this offseason, he'll fill that familiar role on most downs, lining up in the slot and providing a safety blanket for Brady.  

With Hernandez gone and Gronkowski's return up in the air, Amendola should get more opportunities than anyone expects—especially early in the season. If you're in a points-per-reception (PPR) league, Amendola has top-10 potential. 

 

Guaranteed Draftees: Johnathan Franklin (RB, Green Bay Packers)

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

I'm sure you've heard by now there's quite a bit of controversy surrounding the Green Bay Packers' running back situation. No one is sure if Eddie Lacy is overweight or just doesn't take flattering pictures

Either way, this is all good news for fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin. The former UCLA grad was one of the steals of the draft in April for many, drafted late in the fourth round despite having top-tier talent. A speedster with plenty of versatility in the backfield, Franklin might wind up overtaking Lacy for top billing in the backfield.

Evan Silva of Rotoworld noted an NFL Network report that said Franklin is "the guy" at this juncture in camp. While there is plenty of time left between now and the beginning of the season, this is awfully promising news for a guy with an ADP of 101.4.

That said, monitor the situation. Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported Franklin has struggled in pass protection, which could keep him out of an every-down role. 

 

Keep an Eye Out: Carson Palmer (QB, Arizona Cardinals)

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Though he was stuck in a terrible situation with Oakland last season, Carson Palmer quietly emerged as one of fantasy football's most consistently productive quarterbacks. The former top overall pick wound up with 4,018 yards and 22 touchdowns against 14 interceptions despite missing almost two full games to end the season.

In the 14 full games Palmer played, he ended the contest with at least 14 fantasy points in all but two. It wasn't always the prettiest event to watch—much of Palmer's numbers came in garbage time, and no one ever wants to see him throw a 10-yard out again—but he was near-guaranteed to be productive. 

Nothing should change in 2013, especially since he'll be in a far better situation with the Arizona Cardinals. Palmer will have the best weapon of his career in Larry Fitzgerald, and second-year wideout Michael Floyd should vastly improve. 

In deep leagues or ones that start two quarterbacks, Palmer is a must-own. His surrounding weapons are the best they've been in years, and Fitzgerald will undoubtedly be thrilled to be done with the Ryan Lindleys of the world.

 

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