While all the other fantasy football owners are contemplating which stars to select in the early rounds, sound savvy picks to close out the draft will propel you ahead of the pack.
Everybody knows that Aaron Rodgers rocks, but what happens when more and more names are crossed off the cheat sheets? Managers who prepare deeply won't get caught off guard when the pickings are slim at running back and wide receiver becomes devoid of standouts.
Last season, Alfred Morris and Randall Cobb were among those undervalued assets who provided significant returns on low investments. Like a Black Friday sale, bargains are waiting to be scooped up, but without the hassle of waking up at 4 a.m. or getting trampled by hoards of sale-hungry consumers.
These players can fill out your bench nicely, with the potential to work their way into your starting lineup during the 2013 season.
Note: Average Draft Positions (ADP) are courtesy of FantasyPros.com, who averaged out ADPs from six sites.
Carson Palmer (ADP: No. 18 QB, No. 132 overall)
In a league with one starting quarterback, owners should not be counting on a late gamble to save their fantasy squads. This is the position where gamers are most likely to stick with their starting guy through thick and thin.
Nevertheless, if you're searching for a sturdy backup quarterback who can be had for a bargain, Carson Palmer is your man.
Will he carry the Arizona Cardinals to a playoff berth? Absolutely not, but that's of no significance to those residing in fantasy land. We just need him to accumulate passing yards, which he quietly did for the Oakland Raiders last season.
The veteran amassed 4,018 passing yards in a lackluster Oakland passing attack. If you think Larry Fitzgerald is ecstatic to see Palmer arrive, just imagine how thrilled Palmer must feel to work with an elite wide receiver. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Fitzgerald is quite better than Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Bruce Arians is likely to open up the passing game in Arizona, especially since he has little choice with a non-existent rushing attack. The Cardinals are also likely to play a bunch of games from behind, which means Palmer will pile up the fantasy points in garbage time.
Michael Cox (ADP: No. 97 RB)
Michael Cox is so far off the grid that he doesn't even have an overall ADP.
An afterthought taken in the seventh round of this year's draft, Michael Cox earned his way on the New York Giants' active roster, receiving some help from Andre Brown's broken leg. He opened some eyes with his play on special teams, but the UMass (it's worked before for the Giants) product could climb his way into receiving substantial carries.
Before Brown went down, ESPN's Christopher Harris included Cox on his list of "super-deep sleepers to watch," which in the past has touted Steve Johnson, Bryce Brown, Eric Decker and Arian Foster. He compared Cox to Brown, which bodes well for the rookie since New York will search for a replacement to complement speedster David Wilson.
Although Wilson should receive most of the carries, Tom Coughlin showed little patience with him last year, relegating him to the bench all because of one fumble. If Wilson's blocking limitations persist or he suffers an injury, Cox offers more impact potential than Da'Rel Scott.
Cox, who for now remains New York's No. 3 back, will go undrafted in most standard leagues. Considering the shallow pool of running backs, there's no sturdy Palmer equivalent available late in the draft. There will come a point in the draft where Shonn Greene stands as the highest ranked rusher, and you'll feel miserable if you haven't addressed the position early and often.
If you're in a deep league and need a late lottery ticket at running back, consider Cox.
Ryan Broyles (ADP: No. 59 WR, No. 145 overall)
This just in: The Detroit Lions throw the football a lot.
With 740 passing attempts last season, no team came close to touching Detroit's attempted passes. As awesome as Calvin Johnson is, Matthew Stafford can't pass him the ball 500 times. Someone has to line up on the other side.
Titus Young burned us all last year, perhaps making some drafters ambivalent to this line of thinking. Broyles, however, is his own man who should pounce on the fortuitous circumstances.
While Broyles only caught 22 passes for 310 yards through seven games last season, he broke out a six-catch, 126-yard effort against the Houston Texans, receiving 13 targets on the day. As long as he can fend off declining veteran Nate Burleson, many more looks should come his way.
As defenses run around in circles trying to contain Johnson and Reggie Bush, Broyles will quietly catch a bounty of balls for Detroit. Coming from your fifth receiver, he's worth the gamble.