With the 2013 NFL season set to kick off in 17 days, the time is now to identify the fantasy football sleeper picks for the upcoming fantasy drafts.
While you may spend a lot of time fretting over who to select at the top of the draft, it’s the players you’ll draft in the later rounds who hold the keys to success.
Since the word “sleeper” can carry many different connotations, my sleepers will all be players ranked outside of ESPN.com’s top 75 players.
With that said, here are the fantasy sleepers who will get you the league crown.
RB Rashard Mendenhall, No. 32 RB and No. 80 overall
After a lost 2012 season, Mendenhall will be re-united with former Steelers offensive coordinator and new Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.
In his three seasons (2008-11) as the starting running back under Arians, Mendenhall averaged 1,103 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns per season.
While Mendenhall is by no means as explosive as he was prior to his ACL surgery in 2012, his value has always been tied to his effectiveness in goal-line situations. Of his 31 career touchdowns, 28 have come in goal-to-go situations.
With a re-invigorated passing game led by Carson Palmer, expect for Mendenhall to have plenty of running room and ample goal-line opportunities.
Prediction: 1,000 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
WR Lance Moore, No. 37 WR and No. 91 overall
In 2012, Moore turned in a career year for the New Orleans Saints with 65 receptions and 1,041 receiving yards.
Even more endearing, Moore had 105 targets from quarterback Drew Brees, further endorsing him as one of Brees’ favorite targets.
Add in the departure of Devery Henderson and his 47 targets and it’s safe to expect an uptick in production from the vastly overlooked Moore.
Prediction: 80 receptions and 1,200 yards.
WR Emmanuel Sanders, No. 39 WR and No. 100 overall
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) August 15, 2013
Furthermore, with tight end Heath Miller still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 16 last season, Sanders will emerge as the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 2 receiving option.
Prediction: 70 receptions and 1,000 yards.
QB Sam Bradford, No. 17 QB and No. 128 overall
With the Rams' addition of speedsters Tavon Austin and Jared Cook, expect Bradford to surpass his 2012 production of 3,702 passing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Prediction: 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!