2009 All-Fantasy Football Sleeper Team
The first three or four picks of your fantasy football draft can either lead your team to a championship or sink your team to the bottom.
Rounds four and up tend to be veterans, guys you have a gut feeling on, or who you've recently read that they are best thing since David Tyree's catch in the Super Bowl.
Let's talk about the players you have a gut feeling on; these are your sleepers. Sleepers can literally make or break a team and act like the role players on a basketball team.
Here are my selections to be sleepers this year and I know I'll be targeting them in my draft(s).
Kyle Orton, QB, Denver Broncos
Everyone is talking about how big of an impact ex-Denver Broncos' quarterback Jay Cutler is going to make in Chicago, especially while he's talking about how awful Broncos fans are. However, no one seems to be talking about new Bronco quarterback Kyle Orton.
The Purdue product never led the Bears to anything great, but to compare his performance in the Windy City to the possible one in Mile High, is like comparing grapes to pears.
Think about, the best receiver is Matt Forte who in reality is a running back, but the best one who actually plays the position is Devin Hester.
Fast forward to today and he's got rookie running back Knowshown Moreno, who, while no Matt Forte, can get the job done. Add in top wideout Brandon Marshall and Wes Welker-type Eddie Royal, that's a lot of improvement.
I'd be surprised to see Orton not make a fantasy impact, draft him as a No. 2, but be prepared to have a decision to make at quarterback every week.
Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions
As a senior at Central Florida, he ended up 62 yards short of breaking Barry Sanders' record for most rushing yards in a season.
Last year behind an awful offensive line, Kevin Smith ran for over 900-plus yards as a rookie.
Add in Clinton Portis' blocker Jon Jansen and the Lions' O-line should be improved.
Watch for Smith to top 1,000 yards this year, which in my opinion warrants at the highest a fourth round pick and a spot as your No. 2 running back.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The University of Illinois product broke his shoulder as a rookie, but is healthy now and ready to make an impact.
Face it, Willie Parker is aging quickly, kind of like Tiki Barber did and in my opinion, this second year runner is like a young Brandon Jacobs.
In 2009, Mendenhall should get an increase in carries and not have to wait for others to get injured to make an impact.
Parker and Mendenhall should be a reverse of the Giants and instead of being "Smash and Dash", they'll be "Dash (Parker) and Smash (Mendenhall)".
Mendenhall will make an impact and should get goal line touches, make him a late round pick and expect more than you're average late rounder.
Davone Bess, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Hawaii product was a top target for gun slinger Colt Brennan, but still went undrafted in 2008.
Following the draft, he signed on with the Miami Dolphins and didn't make a big impact in the first 12 games.
But when Greg Camarillo became injured, Bess was elevated to starter and quickly became one of Chad Pennington's favorite targets.
With his only competition for a starter role being Ted Ginn Jr., expect Bess to make an impact this year.
My suggestion is to wait until one of the last two or three rounds to take him ,since everybody else will likely be passing on him.
Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Morgan was drafted in the sixth round as coming into the 2008 season was considered a project and wasn't expected to make an impact.
But, when he got playing time against the New York Giants and had 86receiving yards with a touchdown, he quickly became more important to the 'Niners' offense.
My only worry about Morgan is the depth at wide receiver for San Francisco. With Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Brandon Jones, and rookie holdout Michael Crabtree all likely to see playing time, he's going to be sharing some time with a lot of guys. However, Morgan played sparingly last year and still got 319 yards.
Now, realistically, you couldn't pay me to take him until the rounds get into the double digits unless you're in a really obese league, so take him late and just like Bess expect him to do more than your average late rounder.
Kevin Walter, WR, Houston Texans
Walter before arriving in Houston had a career total of 30 catches in three years with Cincinnati. In the same amount of time in the Lone Star State, he has more than quadrupled that.
With Walter man-to-man on most occasions, his receiving yards and touchdowns have both increased over the past three years.
Draft him as a bench guy in the middle to late rounds, but expect him to be a starter by the end of the year.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Well, the Philadelphia Eagles' tight end situation has seen some change with L.J. Smith bolting through free agency and draft pick Cornelius Ingram coming down with an injury.
Currently, the only competition Celek faces is journeyman Matt Schobel and rookies Eugene Bright and Rob Myers.
Expect, Celek to make an impact for Philly since any quarterback appreciates a tight end who can catch the ball, when the wideouts can't get open.
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