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Fantasy Football 2013: Late-Round Steals Who Will Shape Your Season

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Fantasy Football 2013: Late-Round Steals Who Will Shape Your Season
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Every fantasy football owner is searching for the diamonds in the rough who can complement their stars and help contribute to a run at the title.

The question is: Which late-round steals will shape your season?

The most common target for aid is at the running back position, where players can contribute both on the ground and as receivers. Throw in the value of dynamic playmakers who can help in a variety of ways and you have yourself the potential for fantasy greatness.

Here's who you should be looking for.

 

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

ADP: 131.7

Position: Quarterback

Age: 25

2012 Season Statistics

328-551, 3,702 YDS, 21 TD, 13 INT; 37 ATT, 127 YDS, 1 TD

 

During the 2012 NFL regular season, Sam Bradford posted career-best marks of 21 touchdowns and 3,702 yards passing with an average of 6.72 yards per throw. Those aren't spectacular numbers, especially after Bradford committed 19 turnovers, but there are two key factors worth knowing.

Jake Long is the best blindside pass protector Bradford has ever played with and the St. Louis Rams' wide receiver corps is strong for the first time in his career.

The addition of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey present Bradford with receivers who possess big-play ability and a check-down outlet. Chris Givens, meanwhile, had 42 receptions for 698 yards and three scores as a rookie, and both Austin Pettis and Brian Quick have upside.

Upgraded receivers and new tight end Jared Cook give Bradford the type of weapons to open the door for a 4,000-yard passing season with roughly 30 touchdowns.

The Rams' running game has upside, but is unproved, which suggests that Jeff Fisher will air it out. With multiple pass-catching running backs, the opportunity for Bradford to enter the ranks of the elite becomes even greater.

With an average draft position of 131.7, this is the definition of low-risk, high-reward.

 

Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

ADP: 103.2

Position: Running Back

Age: 23

2012 Season Statistics

156 ATT, 602 YDS, 5 TD

 

Mark Ingram hasn't produced at the level expected of a former Heisman Trophy award winner, but he's not entirely to blame. Ingram has spent his first three seasons in a pass-heavy system with a crowded backfield consisting of he, Chris Ivory, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.

With Ivory now playing with the New York Jets, Ingram now has the opportunity to emerge as New Orleans' goal-line back. If the ending of the 2012 regular season is an indication of the future, Ingram may also take the starter's role from Thomas.

Will this be the year Mark Ingram breaks through?

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Stevan Ridley is a major reason for faith.

Ridley broke out for the New England Patriots last season, offering a much-needed aid on the ground for a pass-happy team. Much like the Patriots will always turn to Brady, the Saints will side with Drew Brees over the run.

With that being said, Ingram proved late in 2012 that he could be the franchise running back New Orleans had hoped for when they took him No. 28 overall in 2011.

Ingram had a touchdown in four of the final seven games, running for 468 yards over the final nine outings. Those aren't elite numbers, but with an average of 12.1 rushes per game, Ingram may just become an elite player in 2013 with his ability to find the back of the end zone.

As for those who maintain that Ingram is a bust, let's not be naive—he's still only 23. With an average draft position of 103.2, it's safe to say that the risk would be minimal in selecting him.

Intriguing, to say the least.

 

Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

ADP: 99.4

Position: Running Back

Age: 23

2012 Season Statistics

98 ATT, 475 YDS; 24 REC, 163 YDS

 

For the first time since 2003, the St. Louis Rams will be without Steven Jackson. After nine years of Jackson playing at a Hall of Fame level—eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons—they're now entering a new generation.

According to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has named Daryl Richardson as the starter in 2013.

Despite playing behind one of the NFL's last true workhorse running backs, Richardson managed to tally 475 yards on 98 carries and 163 yards on 24 receptions. With an average of 5.2 yards per touch entering his second season, Richardson could be in store for a breakout season.

With an average draft position of 99.4, there certainly isn't much of a risk to finding out whether or not he will.

The Rams have power backs, Terrance Ganaway and Zac Stacy, and a scat back, Isaiah Pead. With that being said, Richardson has a full season of quality work behind him, earning the respect and trust of his teammates and coaching staff.

If Sam Bradford is able to play at the level expected of him, Richardson will be one of the most valuable running backs in the NFL in point-per-reception leagues. Not only can he catch passes out of the backfield, but Richardson ran for 4.8 yards per carry.

From seventh-round draft choice to a potential breakout star, Richardson is on pace for a season to remember on the fantasy ranks.

 

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

ADP: 113.0

Position: Wide Receiver

Age: 26

2012 Season Statistics

44 REC, 626 YDS, 1 TD

 

During the 2012 NFL regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught 44 passes for 626 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers may not seem too impressive, but Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace accounted for 201 of Pittsburgh's 354 completions.

Will Emmanuel Sanders become a star receiver in 2013?

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In 2013, Miller is continuing his recovery from offseason knee surgery and Wallace is now with the Miami Dolphins. In other words, Brown will need a player to help carry the load along the receiving corps.

With their run game in doubt and injuries already striking Miller and Plaxico Burress, the opportunity for Sanders is as significant as ever.

The Steelers will return to their ground-and-pound ways, but Ben Roethlisberger has attempted 34.4 passes per game over the past two seasons. With two of his most trusted receivers out of the mix, that means Brown and Sanders will thrive.

Even if you are skeptical, what's to lose by selecting Sanders when his average draft position is 113.0?

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