Fantasy Football 2013: 5 Sleepers Who Will Bring You Home the Championship
Every die-hard fantasy footballer searches for that sleeper who could boost his or her team to the league championship.
In a fantasy football season with so many twists, turns, big-name busts and costly key injuries, a valuable sleeper could prove to be the difference.
Each of the following five players are capable of making that type of impact as the fantasy football season heads into the home stretch.
Aaron Dobson, WR, New England Patriots
Dobson entered the season as a highly touted rookie with immense ability. However, through the first several weeks, the Marshall product struggled mightily, running wrong routes and dropping balls that should have been secured.
Now, he looks like a completely different player.
It isn't a coincidence that Dobson's two best games of the year came when star tight end Rob Gronkowski returned. With Gronkowski garnering so much defensive attention, Dobson has utilized his speed to beat single coverages.
In his last two games, Dobson has amassed 190 yards and three touchdowns on nine catches. Dobson seems to have developed a good rapport with Tom Brady, which was evident on their 81-yard touchdown connection in last week's win against the Steelers.
Interestingly, fellow rookie wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce were sidelined for the entire game. And most recently, the Patriots released receiver Austin Collie. These recent events benefit Dobson and highlight him as the primary outside threat.
Dobson is only owned in 9.7 percent of ESPN leagues. He is a must-add with tremendous upside.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Crabtree suffered a torn Achilles before mini-camp even started. The injury magnified the 49ers' issues at the wide receiver position, as Mario Manningham was also recuperating from an ACL injury.
But earlier this week, Crabtree was officially cleared to practice.
Crabtree's emergence during the tail end of last season propelled him to fantasy football stardom. For the final eight games in his 2012-13 campaign, Crabtree hauled in nearly seven catches per game. Over that span, the former Texas Tech Red Raider accumulated a whopping 823 yards with seven touchdowns.
Crabtree clearly emerged as quarterback Colin Kaepernick's primary target last season. In the final five games of the regular season, the wideout registered more fantasy points than superstars A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall and Demaryius Thomas.
It is currently unclear when Crabtree will officially return to game action, but securing him onto your fantasy team could potentially pay dividends in the waning weeks of the season.
Crabtree is owned in a mere 6.7 percent of ESPN leagues. A former top-15 fantasy receiver, his value will skyrocket upon his return.
Secure him before it's too late.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
Brown hasn't played all season, but the New York Giants running game has been essentially non-existent anyway.
Brandon Jacobs (3.5 yards per carry), David Wilson (3.3) and Peyton Hillis (2.8) have collectively failed to pose a legitimate threat in the backfield.
But Brown could provide a spark.
Last season with the Giants, Brown averaged 5.3 yards per carry and registered eight touchdowns through 10 games. And with the constant failure at the position this season, he is the team's last hope.
He will immediately compete with Hillis and Jacobs for carries, but Brown has clearly proven himself to be the more productive runner out of the three options.
Stash him and expect the production to follow.
Percy Harvin, WR, Seattle Seahawks
The narrative with Harvin remains the same: if he is healthy, he will produce monster numbers. But that has remained a very big "if."
Through the nine games he played with the Vikings last season, Harvin gathered 773 combined rushing and receiving yards with five touchdowns (one via kickoff return). He touched the ball 84 total times on the ground and through the air in those contests, with six being the lowest number of touches he received in any single game.
That is fantasy football gold.
This offseason, Harvin signed a six-year, $67 million dollar contract with the Seahawks after Minnesota traded him to Seattle for draft picks, including a 2013 first-rounder. But the former Florida Gator suffered a hip injury shortly after signing with his new team, which sidelined him for the Seahawks' first nine games.
However, Harvin could potentially play in this week's matchup against the Falcons.
While the prospect of him playing remains unlikely, it's very encouraging to hear that that it is within the realm of possibility. Upon his return, Harvin's lightning speed could bolster a passing game that ranks 21st in the NFL.
If Harvin doesn't return this week, expect him to see the field within the next two weeks. Regardless, he should be picked up off waivers right away, given that he's only owned in 38.7 percent of ESPN leagues.
Harvin has the explosiveness to change a game's complexion with a single touch. He has the same ability in fantasy football.
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
Reed has quickly emerged as one of Robert Griffin III's favorite targets.
In the last four weeks (including Thursday's game against the Vikings), Reed has accumulated an impressive 323 receiving yards on 27 catches with two touchdowns.
Reed's speed and athleticism have created problems for opposing linebackers and safeties.
He has quietly orchestrated a fantastic rookie season and is on pace for 866 yards and five touchdowns. But considering his recent outburst, the former Florida Gator should easily eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.
He catches nearly everything thrown his way, too. The sure-handed Reed has helped reinvigorate Griffin III and the entire offensive unit.
As a primary receiving threat in the Redskins offense, Reed has now cracked the top 10 for fantasy points by a tight end in ESPN standard scoring leagues. Meanwhile, he is only owned in 64.8 percent of ESPN leagues.
That type of production shouldn't be left on the waivers.