Fantasy football draft time is officially upon us, and the 2013 season features plenty of middle-round sleepers fans must reach for in order to have the best team in standard leagues.
All of the following players are ready for a huge season, and owners want to get in on the ground floor while the stock isn’t too high.
Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
The expectations for fourth-year quarterback Sam Bradford are all over the board, but this is his first season with the St. Louis Rams where he has the same offense as last year. That’s the stability that head coach Jeff Fisher provides.
With the chance to fine-tune the offense in St. Louis instead of completely learn a new one, Bradford will have the opportunity to grow into his body and get the most out of his size and raw strength.
Bradford has a plethora of new stars around him who will also be looking to make their mark on the NFL. With running backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead, wide receivers Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Austin Pettis, and tight end Jared Cook all ready to step into the upper echelon, expect Bradford to have monster numbers in 2013 and be a fantasy juggernaut.
Shane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots
The New England Patriots offense will look much different this year as the team adjusts to its new personnel, but one of the biggest steals of the fantasy draft will be backup running back Shane Vereen.
Not only is the talented player a smart handcuff for Stevan Ridley, but the team is also making a clear effort to keep the running backs fresh. With New England getting the ball to Vereen this often this preseason (11 carries for 47 yards and seven receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown), selecting the backup is a smart plan.
Vereen has an average draft position of 62, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, and owners should expect to get him early in the sixth round. While this may be a slight risk because of his spot on the depth chart, the Patriots offense makes this gamble worth it.
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
The fantasy hype train surrounding the St. Louis Rams continues this offseason as tight end Jared Cook continues to climb draft boards. Do not be the owner who misses out on this middle-round sleeper who could win you a championship.
The Tennessee Titans criminally underused Cook in his time with the team, but now that he is back with the coach who drafted him in Fisher, expect the sure-handed TE to become the pass-catching machine the franchise desperately needs.
Bradford needs a player who can get open short and be the dump-off option when the offensive line is having trouble or all the other options are gone. With elite speed and separation ability for a tight end, Cook is bound for a huge statistical season.