The 2013 fantasy football draft season is officially upon us, and the shift has focused from top stars to late-round sleepers that owners can’t afford to miss.
Finding the players that are criminally undervalued late in the draft is not only huge for fantasy owners when dealing with bye weeks, but there are also always players that make the jump into the upper echelon.
All of the following educated risks will pay off big in fantasy football this season.
Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
After continuing to build a rapport with Brandon Weeden, fantasy owners should be looking to steal Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon in the late rounds.
Gordon amassed 50 receptions for 805 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie season, and his continued work with Weeden has only made their bond stronger. His stock is falling because of a two-game suspension, but fantasy owners must think long term.
Gordon is currently not being drafted in most 12-team standard scoring leagues (currently outside the top 204 average draft positions), but as Weeden’s No. 1 deep threat and having only missed two games, this is a plan that could pay off huge if owners are patient.
Andre Roberts, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Led by new head coach Bruce Arians and new quarterback Carson Palmer, the passing attack in Arizona will help turn wide receiver Andre Roberts into one of the best late-round steals of 2013.
Roberts racked up an impressive 64 receptions for 759 and five touchdowns considering the QBs the team had under center. The Cardinals have a much more consistent and accurate passer in Palmer taking over, and that’s good news for the sure-handed Roberts.
With Larry Fitzgerald drawing so much coverage, expect Roberts to have a huge statistical season. Add on his ADP of 181 (12th pick in the 13th round), and the fourth-year WR is the ideal player to steal in the waning rounds.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots lack elite depth at tight end, but behind the injured Rob Gronkowski is the extremely talented Zach Sudfeld. Not only is Sudfeld a great handcuff for The Gronk, but his pass-catching ability also makes him a serious target in the offensive game plans.
With an ADP of 144 (seventh pick in the 12th round), the Patriots' player can be taken in the same breath as Washington’s Fred Davis or Cincinnati’s rookie Tyler Eifert and get the same production.
If you are looking for a tight end in the latter rounds when all of the other teams have already taken their starters, taking an educated risk with Sudfeld could pay off big, especially if Gronkowski battles injuries this season.