When it comes to creating a fantasy football contender, there's no definitive formula to follow. Injuries make depth just as much of a factor as star power, and that's exactly why every fantasy football owner is looking for the proverbial sleeper picks.
The question is, which NFL players should you draft to round out your fantasy football roster?
When the final rounds of your fantasy football draft roll around and virtually every big-name player is off of the board, many defer to "auto-pick." Before you use that tactic, however, it's important to note that there are quality players who could offer a boost once injuries strike or bye weeks arise.
In a pinch, these players could be the difference between losing and winning.
Donnie Avery, Kansas City Chiefs
Position: Wide Receiver
Bye Week: 10
2012 Season Statistics
60 REC, 781 YDS, 3 TD
Admittedly, I've never been one to buy into the notion that Donnie Avery would develop into a valuable fantasy football player. He's a third receiver on a strong NFL roster and isn't going to turn many heads when it comes to the stat sheet.
With that being said, Avery is playing under a head coach whose made the most of undersized wide receivers in the past and is coming off of the most productive season of his career.
In 2012, Avery caught 60 passes for 781 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Playing alongside an elite No. 1 option, Reggie Wayne, Avery was a quality complementary piece, contributing solid numbers and topping 90 yards in three games.
So why should you take a gamble on a player whose career-high is 60 receptions? The Kansas City Chiefs simply don't have many other options.
Jamaal Charles is an elite running back and Dwayne Bowe is a dominant wide receiver, but that's about it in Kansas City. Tony Moeaki is out for the season and has been released, per NFL.com, and Danny Parkins of 610 in Kansas City reports that Dexter McCluster is unhappy with his role.
That all adds up to Avery being a critical piece of a Chiefs offense that will throw the football.
Head coach Andy Reid runs a system favorable to Avery's abilities, likely working him out of the slot and allowing him to use his quickness to find seams and catch passes. He's not quite as talented as Jeremy Maclin, but he could serve a similar purpose to the dynamic receiver who averaged 7.2 targets per game under Reid.
Avery should post similar numbers with the supremely efficient Alex Smith looking his way, and you can find him in the final round of the average draft, per ESPN.
Tyler Eifert & Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Eifert's ADP: 140.8
Gresham's ADP: 140.0
Bye Week: 8
NFL teams have fallen in love with the versatility that a two-tight-end system presents. The Cincinnati Bengals will join those teams in 2013, using both rookie Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham to mask the fact that they've yet to establish a true No. 2 wide receiver behind A.J. Green.
You couldn't have found two players to better complement one another than Eifert and Gresham.
Gresham is a reliable tight end who has all but mastered the short-to-intermediate game, providing Andy Dalton with a reliable check-down option. He caught 64 passes for 737 yards and five touchdowns in 2012, averaging 11.5 yards per reception and thus reaching the Pro Bowl.
Lining up opposite of Gresham is Eifert, who is as lethal as they come in terms of creating separation and making the spectacular catches. He uses a 6'6" and 251-pound frame to overpower safeties, and also has the leaping ability and agility to present a mismatch for the average linebacker.
It all comes down to which player you prefer.
Gresham will likely help you more if you're playing in a point-per-reception league, as he teams with rookie running back Giovani Bernard as Dalton's top short-range targets. Eifert has higher potential, but should be in the 50-reception range and become a top red zone option for Cincinnati.
They wouldn't be your starters, but if you're drafting between the 13th and 15th rounds, both should be available and each are strong backup options.
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