Fantasy Football Sleepers 2013: Low-Risk, High-Reward Pickups
Fantasy football sleepers. They're everywhere. They're like zombies.
As we head into the thick of fantasy draft season, you will want to minimize risk where you can. That means you want to take undervalued or under-the-radar players who will actually help your teams. They don't necessarily have to be sleepers, but they will provide upside without the risk.
Who are some players who fit that bill? Click through to find out.
Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys
Alright, Tony Romo is no sleeper.
Being that he is ranked in my top 10 and barely being drafted as a starter in 12-team leagues across the web, this is a no-brainer.
As mentioned in those rankings, Romo has scored in the top 10 in fantasy scoring during his past four healthy seasons. He has superstar Dez Bryant and a bevy of other weapons, which doesn't hurt.
Eli Manning, New York Giants
If you miss out on one of the top quarterbacks—whether on purpose or mistake—have no fear. Eli Manning might be there.
Manning was a highly ranked quarterback during last year's preseason, but he was a rather large disappointment by the time December rolled around. That has experts and fantasy owners skittish about drafting him as a starter.
It's hard to argue with Manning's arsenal in New York. If Hakeem Nicks can stay healthy, the Giants have three great receivers—if you can include Rueben Randle, who has been impressive this camp, according to Manning (h/t Ralph Vacchiano of Sulia).
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints
Sure, Mark Ingram is a former first-round pick who should get plenty of opportunity to live up to his draft status this season. But will the Saints throw him in there to their detriment?
Pierre Thomas has clearly been better than Ingram. He has looked better as a runner, statistically backed up by his superior rushing average. He has caught the ball better out of the backfield, as proven by the fact his worst receiving season equals Mark Ingram's career output.
Andre Brown, New York Giants
David Wilson has all the upside in the world. Well, not all of it, but plenty nonetheless. But he won't run away with the starting job, at least if Andre Brown has anything to say about it.
Wilson had a better highlight reel in less duty, but Brown had the better season, by far. His average of 5.3 yards per carry was second in the league, and he scored eight touchdowns on just 73 carries is an eye-popping stat.
That touchdown rate won't last, but Brown clearly proved he could hang. Wilson spent plenty of time in Tom Coughlin's doghouse last season to boot.
Lance Moore, New Orleans Saints
One of the more underrated fantasy options plays in New Orleans.
Lance Moore finished tied for 21st in standard fantasy scoring last season, but you wouldn't know it based on where fantasy owners are drafting him—as a No. 4 team receiver, on average.
If you snag Moore as your fourth receiver in the eighth round or beyond, you will have some nice depth at the position.
James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Despite scoring 14 touchdowns last season, James Jones isn't seeing a whole lot of love in fantasy drafts. At least not the kind Jordy Nelson enjoyed after he got in the end zone 16 times in 2011.
Like Nelson in his follow-up season, Jones will likely regress this coming season. But unlike Nelson, Jones does not appear to have nagging injuries.
You can take Jones as your third wide receiver with relative ease. While he might not hit 14 touchdowns, he might not be far off.
Owen Daniels, Houston Texans
The tight end position is muddled after the top few options. Jimmy Graham is on his own level, with Tony Gonzalez and Jason Witten trailing behind at a moderate distance. Everyone else is thrown into one big melting pot.
Daniels has gotten better each fantasy season, finishing eighth in standard scoring leagues. He is being drafted accordingly, but he is not a bad consolation starter in the seventh round or beyond.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
He hasn't lived up to his promise with the Lions thus far, but that doesn't mean he's a lost cause.
Pettigrew is still the starting tight end in a good offense with a budding star quarterback. Last season was a rough one for the talented tight end, marred by injury and the offense's general inability to get into the end zone.
Even if you don't trust Pettigrew, he will come cheaply enough that he has no risk. You can draft him as your backup or second tight end late.
Defense and Kicker
The Bengals have a fantastic young core on that defense, led by the monster in the middle, Geno Atkins.
They are ostensibly being ignored by the big-name, shiny defenses like San Francisco's or Seattle's. But why draft one of those with an earlier pick when you can wait and take a defense that might be on a similar level later?
Every Kicker with a Secure Job
Outside guys like Mason Crosby and Dan Carpenter, who are fighting for their jobs, just about any kicker is a low-risk proposition.
The position is so volatile that it doesn't matter much. Just be sure to take a kicker with your last pick and nothing more.