Fantasy Football 2013: Highlighting Best Week 1 Sleepers at Each Key Positions
While those names were easy to see coming from a mile away, fantasy owners who missed out on the big names can still be competitive this weekend by starting some unexpected players poised for huge performances.
Finding quality sleepers each week is the best way to win a fantasy league. It is one thing to get production from star players drafted early, but it's a different beast to get additional production from players many owners overlook.
Here are sleepers set to explode in Week 1 thanks to favorable matchups and other variables.
Quarterback: Sam Bradford (STL) vs. Arizona Cardinals
Quarterback is a deep position, so seeing fantasy rosters stockpiled with quality talent is not all that rare. Owners choosing the right player to start is what can be rare.
The best sleeper play of them all in Week 1 resides in St. Louis, where Sam Bradford will take on the Arizona Cardinals and a defense that lost elite coordinator Ray Horton to the Cleveland Browns this offseason.
Bradford has new weapons to utilize in speedy rookie receiver Tavon Austin and sure-handed tight end Jared Cook.
The matchup itself is favorable as Bradford threw two touchdowns in both meetings with the Cardinals last season. Now on a more talented team than ever and some consistency along the coaching staff for the first time in his career, Bradford is set to have a strong start.
Honorable Mentions: Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger.
Running back: Ahmad Bradshaw (IND) vs. Oakland Raiders
Here's a trend fantasy owners will see a lot this season—start any player going against the expansion-quality defense of the Oakland Raiders.
In fact, that may seem tongue-in-cheek, but Oakland is starting players on defense who have been nothing more than serviceable backups in the past (Pat Sims) as the team continues what is a very long rebuilding process.
Ahmad Bradshaw is a known commodity within the fantasy community as a former stud in New York, but questions surrounding his health and fit in Indianapolis keep him flying under-the-radar. As ESPN illustrates, Bradshaw's injury issues are over:
THIS JUST IN: Colts announce RB Ahmad Bradshaw will play WEEK 1 on Sunday vs the Raiders.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 2, 2013
Bradshaw is a quality second running back to start this week. He's healthy, the starting back, coming off a 1,000-yard performance in only 14 games last season and has an impact in the passing game as well (23 catches for 245 yards last season).
Against Oakland, Bradshaw will put up big numbers while making most owners regret skipping on him.
Honorable Mentions: Darren McFadden, Mark Ingram, Giovani Bernard.
Wide Receiver: Lance Moore (NO) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Not much love to be had for Lance Moore, but smart owners will use that to their advantage.
Atlanta is expecting rookie corners Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant to make significant contributions right away. With veteran Asante Samuel covering Colston, Brees is going to pick on the rookie responsible for covering Moore all day long.
Moore was great last year against Atlanta with 14 catches for 214 yards in two games. Expect even bigger numbers as the crafty veteran acts as Brees' No. 1 target courtesy of a mismatch.
Honorable Mentions: DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Givens, Antonio Brown.
Tight End: Zach Sudfeld (NE) vs. Buffalo Bills
Will Zach Sudfeld by a viable fantasy option in Week 1?
As much as the world looks like it is ending for the tight end position in New England, quarterback Tom Brady will still utilize it enough for the No. 1 on the depth chart to be a valuable commodity.
That No. 1 this year is Zach Sudfeld with Rob Gronkowski out with an injury. Sudfeld put up six receptions for 90 yards and a score through three preseason games and will act as the "move" tight end for the offense, which is the role Aaron Hernandez played for the past few seasons as an end who could split out wide.
Sudfeld won't put up Gronkowski numbers by any means, but he's a sure-fire No. 1 tight end. Last year Patriots tight ends racked up 152 yards and two scores in Buffalo.
That production has to go somewhere, and in Week 1 most of it will go to Sudfeld.
Honorable Mentions: Brent Celek, Martellus Bennett.
Defense/Special Teams: Buccaneers vs. New York Jets
Here's another trend owners will see all season—start the defense opposite the New York Jets.
New York enters Week 1 with rookie Geno Smith under center and a timeshare at running back between Chris Ivory (20 missed games past two years) and Bilal Powell (never surpassed 500-yard mark).
That's favorable on its own for opposing defenses, but the unit in Tampa Bay is especially scary. Not only is second-year safety Mark Barron teaming up with former San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson for plenty of turnover opportunities, joining them is elite cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Expect plenty of turnovers and potential scoring in Week 1 for the Tampa Bay defense.
Honorable Mentions: Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri (IND) vs. Oakland Raiders
The Indianapolis Colts are set to do plenty of scoring with Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne against a porous Oakland defense.
While there are plenty of viable options at kicker, Vinatieri is money from anywhere on the field should the Colts somehow not get in the end zone consistently.
In a position that can oftentimes be a toss-up, Vinatieri is a smart play as Luck continues to improve and has a tune-up game against the Raiders.
Honorable Mentions: David Akers, Alex Henery.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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