Fantasy Football 2013: Sleepers Whose Stats Will Thrive in New Locations
The 2013 NFL offseason brought on many big-time moves as some of the most valuable position players in the league changed locations. It has opened up the door for those players to slide in under the radar in fantasy leagues.
While these names may not dominate the league rankings as they did in recent seasons, a fresh start will allow them to revitalize their careers and give fantasy owners something to cheer about.
Let's break down the players who changed locations this offseason who will become fantasy starters week in and week out.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Drafting Ahmad Bradshaw in fantasy football has usually included a major asterisk next to it in recent seasons, as surgeries to both his feet and ankles prevented him from living up to the hype in his final few seasons with the New York Giants.
But the move to Indy is the fresh start Bradshaw needed. He won't be trapped beneath that "every-down back" stamp that was put on him in New York, especially with an up-and-coming Vick Ballard splitting duties in the backfield.
Ballard proved his worth in his 2012 rookie campaign, but only two rushing touchdowns as the squad's feature back doesn't give Andrew Luck the comfort he needs at the goal line.
That's where Bradshaw comes in. He's excelled as a goal-line back, picking up 15 rushing touchdowns in the last two injury-reduced seasons.
He's also excellent catching balls out of the backfield. He's averaged over 275 receiving yards in each of his last three seasons, including a 10.7 yards per catch average in 2012.
Not only are most NFL teams moving more toward a two-back approach, but also Ballard isn't nearly ready to carry the load himself. Bradshaw is a perfect fit on this team, and it'll show in his production.
Bradshaw has been cleared to make his debut against the Oakland Raiders in Week 1, per Mike Wells of ESPN, and a relatively easy matchup for the Colts could result in a coming-out party for the former Giant.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
After putting together one of the best postseasons in NFL history last season with 22 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns, Boldin was traded to the 49ers and will play a much bigger role than initially imagined.
San Francisco wideout Michael Crabtree came into his own as the team's elite receiver in 2012, but was placed on the PUP list to start the season after his torn Achilles, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports. Brinson states Week 12 is the most realistic return for the star pass-catcher. In addition, Sports Illustrated reported that Mario Manningham will also miss the first six weeks on the PUP list.
Who will have the biggest season?
Now, the 32-year-old who fell out of favor with the Ravens will be the top target for Colin Kaepernick on a high-flying offense that is showing little to no signs of slowing down.
In his first full season as the starter, Kaepernick will be searching for receivers he can trust, which he likely won't easily find among Quinton Patton, Marlon Moore, Jon Baldwin and Kyle Williams.
Boldin's lackluster 2012 season showed signs of his diminishing production and that certainly played a big part in Baltimore parting ways with him, but San Francisco simply doesn't have enough depth to look elsewhere.
Plus, don't count out Boldin staying hot from last year's playoff run and letting the offseason trade light a fire under him.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Greg Jennings thrived with the No. 1 receiver treatment in Green Bay, and now that he's back in that role—albeit with a divisional rival—look for big things from him.
It was no secret that Minnesota needed receivers heading into this season, and that was only amplified when Percy Harvin took his talents to Seattle. But there was a gaping hole at the outside receiver spot—Michael Jenkins led the team on the outside with 449 yards last season—and Jennings will fit the mold well.
With unproven receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Jarius Wright slated to fill in underneath Jennings, he'll be relied on heavily to form a connection with Christian Ponder early on. And with Ponder's 62.1 completion percentage in a 2012 season that featured an unstable receiving corp, it's apparent he won't miss Jennings' soft hands too often.
That accuracy will help cancel out the lack of deep balls Jennings will get from Ponder, who doesn't typically push the ball 40 or 50 yards down the field. But as the first progression for his quarterback on nearly every route, the production will certainly come.
Plus, when you have a running back like Adrian Peterson who can win games by himself, it opens things up for your receivers.
It also won't hurt his motivation levels to see three Packers wideouts above him on ESPN's fantasy football rankings.
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