Top 10 Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks for 2009
While many focus on the first few rounds for the final success of their fantasy season, fantasy football is won and lost, like the NFL draft, in the late rounds and on the waiver wire.
Most of these guys won't get picked in many 10-12 team leagues, but they are worth keeping an eye on or taking a flyer on late in the draft.
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Bulger is also in my Top 10 Player Who Need to Prove, but there is a strong possibly that if he proves himself, it could be in a big way.
The Rams receiving corps is very lackluster—only Donnie Avery is notable. However, if Jason Smith and Alex Barron can be the pass rushers they are supposed to be, with Steven Jackson behind him, Bulger could re-emerge as a solid fantasy quarterback.
He's not to be taken as a backup except in 12-14 team leagues, but I would still keep an eye on him.
Mr. Headache himself.
Similar to Mike Vick, if you a fan of the team he's on—the Vikings—you love him. If you're anyone else, you probably don't care for the guy much.
However, fantasy football isn't always about picking your favorite players—it's about picking the guys with the best stats.
With Bernard Berrian and Bobby Wade reminding me a lot of Greg Jennings and Donald Driver—Favre's old receivers—as well as having Percy Harvin and a guy named Peterson, this offense is fully loaded.
By Week 3 or Week 4, look for Favre to start proving why he was a good signing.
A man who I once quoted as the "savior of the Dolphins," Williams looks like he's back in action for the Dolphins.
He isn't the Heisman-winning Williams who Mike Ditka mortgaged his team's, as well as his own coaching career, in New Orleans. But he still has that toughness and overall skill set that makes him, at the least, one of the best second-string backs in the league.
Ronnie Brown is the better talent and will get at least 20 carries a game, but with his injury history and the Dolphins' reliance on the rushing game to keep the chains moving, Williams could do some damage in spot duty this season.
Last year's Earth, Wind, and Fire formed one of the best running back corps in the league.
Well, Derrick Ward, "fire," and a 1,000-yard rusher is gone, so the Giants are stuck with "Thunder and Lightning," "Bash and Dash," "Rob and Big," or whatever they want to call themselves now.
Still, the carries will be there for a team that will be even more reliant on the rushing game with Burress and Toomer gone, so while Jacobs may be a first or second-rounder, Bradshaw is worth taking a look at if you need a 800 to 1,000 yard rusher.
He's the current starter in Denver, but that doesn't mean what it used to when Mike Shanahan was there.
Buckhalter beat out "No-Show" Moreno—as he was called at Denver camp because of a hold out—to start the season, which should mean good things early on with a struggling passing game with Kyle Orton and no Brandon Marshall.
Even if Moreno becomes a more integral part of the offense, Buckhalter will still get the goal-line carries, and he is worth taking a look at late in drafts.
Last year's surprise Rookie of the Year candidate, Royal really looks the part of a quick, fundamental pass-catcher with return ability, and he is a solid No. 2 option for most teams.
However, with Brandon Marshall in a place far worse than the dog house with Josh McDaniels, Royal will be getting even more love this season early on.
While he won't explode to a 1,400-yard season, even Kyle Orton or Chris Simms can hit 2,500 yards in a season with McDaniels' scheme, so expect a solid 1,000 yards this year, especially if Marshall stays on the scout team.
A third-round pick a few years back who is one of the best kept secrets in the NFL, James Jones hasn't gotten much love with Favre ripping the headlines from Green Bay and Jennings and Drive mainstays with the Packers.
However, Jones is a lanky, sure-handed receiver who will start to get more and more action this season. He will allow Jennings to play the slot more, but he will still be an option for third-and-mediums, sideline routes, and red-zone plays.
Jones should sneak in around 700 to 1,000 yards this year, but he could do a lot more if Driver struggles or gets hurt.
Quietly emerging as a well-known fantasy sleeper, Carson Palmer has been raving about Henry's ability in practice.
Whether he has gotten his head on straight or he's still a mess, as long as he dosen't get suspended, he should be in store for a great year. That Bengals offense, when clicking, is one of the deadliest in the AFC, and it could have two or three 1,000-yard receivers this season.
Henry is a solid deep threat for this team, and he should be one of Palmer's favorite long-ball receivers this season.
Johnnie Lee Higgins
One of my favorite draftees to come out in recent years, Higgins is the definition of the new-age of small receivers.
While he's not a 80-reception guy like Steve Smith, he does so many things well overall. He gets off the ball quickly so corners can't abuse his size, he has tremedous deep speed, he can make guys miss after the catch, and he is a solid return man.
Heyward-Bey is likely to be JaMarcus Russell or Jeff Garcia's top option, and Chaz Schillins and Javon Walker are the more proven threats opposite him, but Higgins will get his chances in the slot and in the return game. He could become the receiver version of Leon Washington.
I wouldn't draft him, but definitly keep an eye out.
In a 2009 tight end-loaded draft class, people will start to see that as many as four tight ends could have an impact in their first season.
Brandon Pettigrew, Jared Cook, and Chase Coffman will all be big helps to their teams, along with others, but Shawn Nelson fits a role perfectly in Buffalo.
Nelson is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league already, but not in the sense of the receiver-like Gates or the physical Gonzalez. Nelson has great hands, runs solid routes for the tight end, and is a receiver threat in the red zone. Lee Evans and Terrell Owens aren't fade route receivers, so when the goal line comes in, the Bills can split Nelson out wide and give him the lob.
He should get around 500 to 700 receiving yards and five to seven touchdowns, which is very solid for a tight end.