Fantasy Football 2013: Carson Palmer and Sleepers Worth a Gamble
Palmer isn't the only sleeper worth taking a gamble on this season, either.
Even the most unlikely players can break out in any given season, as circumstances in the NFL can shift like wildfire caught up in a strong wind.
Winning your fantasy league is all about finding value with every pick. These players will be available in the middle-to-late rounds of your draft, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to make a top-round impact for your fantasy team.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Palmer was a decent quarterback for fantasy football owners last season when he was with the Oakland Raiders, ranking No. 23 in total points on ESPN.com. He managed to pass for 4,018 yards with 22 touchdowns, though he didn't have a single Pro Bowl-caliber player catching passes.
Playing for Bruce Arians and the Cardinals in 2013—not to mention a certain superstar by the name of Larry Fitzgerald—Palmer should put up bigger totals in both major categories, as touched on by Bleacher Report NFL lead writer Matt Miller:
Over/under 4,500 yards for Carson Palmer this year? I'm going to say....over. #Cardinals— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) August 15, 2013
Arians has a track record of getting the most out of the quarterbacks under his tutelage. He helped guide Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl win and famously guided Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts last year.
In limited action this preseason, Palmer has shown some good chemistry with Fitzgerald, hitting his new favorite target five times for 65 yards. In total, he's completed 11 of 21 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and zero interceptions.
As he continues developing a rapport with his receivers and becomes more comfortable with Arians' offensive philosophy, Palmer will become a desirable fantasy quarterback.
The best part?
He's seriously flying under the radar. According to ESPN.com, Palmer is being drafted on average in the 13th round of standard 10-team leagues and is the 21st-ranked quarterback.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Hilton burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2012, catching 50 passes for 861 yards with seven touchdowns. He was utilized mostly as a third receiver behind Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery, but he's quickly becoming one of Andrew Luck's favorite receivers.
In his first game of the preseason, Hilton wasted no time reminding us of his phenomenal pass-catching skills. He led the team's aerial attack in that contest, catching three passes for 61 yards. He also looked explosive in the team's second game, adding another two receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Hilton has been a daily top performer during the team's camp, as noted by Kevin Bowen of Colts.com, and his touchdown catches further demonstrate what the team expects from him this year:
That's the T.Y. Hilton we've seen all training camp long. 4 plays, 72-yard drive ends with Hasselbeck to Hilton for a 45-yard TD. 10-3 Colts— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) August 11, 2013
Still, fantasy football owners appear to be selling the speedy receiver short. According to ESPN.com, Hilton is being selected late in the eighth round and is the 34th receiver taken on average.
Barring an unfortunate injury, Hilton will surely put up better numbers than many of the receivers who are being selected earlier than him.
Jordan Cameron, TE, Cleveland Browns
New Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner loves drawing up plays that feature athletic, pass-catching tight ends.
Cameron has already been a big beneficiary of Turner's game planning, catching four passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns in limited action this preseason.
In his first two seasons as a pro, Cameron failed to turn heads. He caught just 26 passes for 259 yards, and as noted by ESPN Stats & Info, he'd only caught one career touchdown pass before hauling in two in the team's last preseason game:
Jordan Cameron has 2 TD receptions for the @Browns tonight. Cameron only has 1 career TD reception in 22 regular-season games.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 16, 2013
A big target in the middle of the field and in the red zone, Cameron will be quarterback Brandon Weeden's security blanket all season long.
Though nobody should expect Rob Gronkowski-type numbers from Cameron this year (Weeden is no Tom Brady), Cameron will become a legitimate playmaker who is worth gambling on in the latter half of your fantasy draft.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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