Jordan Cameron, to many casual fans, is a man without a face. He plays for a perennial loser at a position that is currently suffering an identity crisis in terms of star power. Could the ingredients for a sleeper be any more perfect?
Prior to the rule-change, tight ends were seen as glorified blockers. For every Tony Gonzalez, there were about five Boo Williams'. Coming anywhere close to the 1,000-yard mark for a season was seen as a rarity. Eclipse it, and you were—well—Tony Gonzalez.
But following the 2003 season, a controversial finish to yet another Tom Brady playoff win over Peyton Manning led to the beginning of a trend in the NFL. The ramifications of this trend are still felt to this day.
The enforcement of the once-peripheral five-yard chuck rule led to an explosion in offensive statistics, most noticeably at the tight end position.
In 2003, the top-10 tight ends averaged 605 yards receiving for the season. In 2004, that number spiked almost 200 yards to 796 yards. (h/t Yahoo! Sports)
Names like Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Dallas Clark would become virtual overnight sensations. The tight end was no longer a glorified blocker, he was a hybrid wide receiver. In some cases, he was the top target.
For a position that was once Tony Gonzalez and the Pips—similar to what Ronda Rousey currently is to the one-star sport of women's Mixed Martial Arts—the receiving tight end went from a luxury to a commodity.
The New England Patriots use of two tight end formations beginning in 2010 re-emphasized the growth and importance of the position. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski each helped New England regain its Super Bowl swagger as The Patriots returned to dominant regular season form.
After an offseason filled with surgery for Gronkowski, and one filled with litigation and turmoil for Hernandez, the NFL is already prepared to go much of the 2013 season without two of its top tight ends. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates are both aging, and Tony Gonzalez is in the twilight of his career, likely playing his final season with the Atlanta Falcons.
That basically leaves Jimmy Graham and the Rippers for the foreseeable future. The absence of legacy tight ends has led many pundits to believe that the position is very thin in 2013.
Hogwash. The tight end position will be as productive as ever in 2013. Problem is, the names of the producers are currently obscure to most fans. This is why there should be no excuse for fantasy sharks to miss out on Jordan Cameron.
At 6'5, 254, Cameron has size similar to Gronkowski's. With a 4.59 40-time—second at his position in 2011—he's faster. His basketball background explains Cameron's difference-making leaping ability that will go hand-in-hand with his touchdowns.
Genius coordinator Norv Turner is now with the Cleveland Browns, and his profound offensive acumen has already been evident. Lining Cameron up in the slot position has created mismatches throughout the preseason. This wasn't more apparent than during the Browns last preseason game against the Detroit Lions, when Cameron went off for two touchdowns.
It may be time to get more excited about Jordan Cameron. Here's a history of Norv's TE usage & efficiency: https://t.co/C6cZVaAZHc— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) July 28, 2013
Depending on how many of your fantasy football rivals really watch preseason football, the cat may already be out of the bag when it comes to Jordan Cameron's rising stock. But draft this man-without-a-face at the tight end position—seemingly a luxury this season given the aforementioned identity crisis—and he will be tantamount to the extra receiver nobody saw coming.
2013 Projection: 68 Rec, 855 Rec yds, ten TDs
#Sleeping7: Alex Smith (QB; 16.12 ADP) | Le'Veon Bell (RB; 5.05 ADP) | Giovani Bernard (RB; 8.03 ADP) | DeAndre Hopkins (WR; 8.08 ADP) | Kenbrell Thompkins (WR; 12.03 ADP) | Michael Floyd (WR; 10.03 ADP) | Jordan Cameron (TE; 11.08 ADP) | DEF
The 2013 Sleeping Seven is brought to you by a five-time Fantasy Football Champion. It documents criminally unheralded players with an Average Draft Position (ADP) past the fourth round. Combine a team of reliable studs with a steady diet of late-round overachievers, and a juggernaut awaits.