In the third of a four-part series, we examine the wide receiver sleeper names to monitor as 2010 spring camps unfold around the country. Some guys are coming back from injury, some are transfers, some were redshirt freshmen in 2009, and some are true freshmen that enrolled early.
There are more veteran names in this group as fantasy studs have moved on and these players are ready to step into their place. There is also a high number of transfers that can make an immediate impact. When it comes to true freshmen, wide receiver is the easiest position for a youngster to make a fast impact. Don’t hesitate to take a chance on one of these youngsters last in the draft.
Top 2010 Pre-Spring Sleepers: Wide Receivers
Vidal Hazelton—Cincinnati (USC Transfer)
Vidal Hazelton began his career as a USC Trojan. Back in 2007 he played in 13 games and compiled 50 receptions, 540 yards, and four touchdowns in the West Coast USC offense. Now Hazelton will be in the pass-happy Butch Jones offense.
Jones utilized two go-to WRs during his time at Central Michigan, and Vidal looks to be ready to step into a go-to role. Hazelton should be able to exceed many fantasy expectations in 2010.
Chris Rainey—Florida (R-Jr)
Chris Rainey was just one cog in the Florida RB wheel for the past two seasons. His fantasy value was diluted due to a lack of overall touches. Now the offense is being revamped with the loss of Tim Tebow.
Rainey’s move to WR allows him to be used in multiple places around the field, and should provide a much larger amount of potential touches. If he is utilized in the running game like Percy Harvin was in 2008, Rainey will become a steal for those fantasy owners that were savvy enough to draft him. His dual threat ability makes him a very hot draft day commodity.
Duval Kamara—Notre Dame (Sr)
Well, it seems like any Notre Dame WR that’s not named Michael Floyd is being considered a sleeper for 2010. New head coach Brian Kelly brings with him a very fantasy friendly offense. But when it comes to pointing out one Notre Dame WR as the key sleeper heading into spring camp we will lean on experience.
Kamara has plenty of game experience. He has not busted out as a playmaker only due to injury and his having to play second fiddle to Golden Tate and Michael Floyd.
Tate has moved on and now there is a wide open race to see who can fill Tate’s void. If Kamara can emerge as the No.2 WR in the offense, he will be an easy fantasy starter in 2010.
Juron Criner—Arizona (Jr)
It took half of the season and a change at QB for the Arizona passing offense to take off in 2009. Nick Foles looks to be the man that can take the passing game to the next level, and Juron Criner proved to be one of his favorite targets.
Criner totaled 45 receptions for 582 yards and nine TDs over the course of 2009. With the passing game now clicking for an entire year, it’s safe to assume Criner could hit the 900-1,000 yard/13-15 TD mark.
Terrance Wilkerson—SMU (Jr)
June Jones’ influence on the SMU passing game is in full effect now for year three of the Jones era.
SMU returns their trigger man Kyle Pardon, and one of their two top pass catchers. Terrance Wilkerson looks to be the perfect fit to fill the void left by Emmanual Sanders. Aldrick Robinson should see a bump up from his 2009 numbers, but Wilkerson will still command a healthy production load. Wilkerson will make a good spot start WR for 2010 fantasy lineups.
Aldarius Johnson—Miami, FL (Jr)
This is the second straight year that Aldarius Johnson has made the sleeper watch list. He has not been able to crack past the “potential barrier” in the fantasy world just yet.
There are too many targets for QB Jacory Harris to generate one WR getting the type of receptions needed for high fantasy point production. If Johnson is able to have a fantasy break out this year, he must find a way to score touchdowns on the big play.
Johnson was a little dinged up in 2009. His chances to score by the way of the big play should increase with him being at 100 percent.
Andre Debose—Florida (R-Fr)
Many in the fantasy world expected Andre Debose to make a fantasy splash in 2009. After sitting out the season with a redshirt, the fantasy gurus are singing the same tune.
But take a bit of caution here. Rainey’s move to WR hurts Debose’s chances of being the next Percy Harvin. This means Debose will have to make more plays through the air.
If the Florida offense does pass more, as many rumors are indicating, then there’s still a chance for Debose to be worth a late round draft pick.
Tracy Moore—Oklahoma State (So)
There’s excitement in the air with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Fantasy owners are very aware of the Playstation-like stats that his offense produced at Houston.
But the big question at WR is where will the production fall? The last two seasons favored a big-bodied slot WR as one of the main targets of the offense. The two starting slot WRs on the initial spring depth chart are Tracy Moore and Josh Cooper.
Cooper is only 5'11", 185 pounds. The main targets at Houston have been larger, TE-body types. Enter Tracy Moore: 6'3", 225 pounds. Watch for him in the spring game.
Russell Shepard—LSU (So)
Russell Shepard entered LSU as the next “Slash.” A little QB, a little RB, a little WR. He was too talented to keep off of the field as a true freshman, and now, being one year older, he is too talented not to be on the field every snap.
Shepard was unable to win the QB job outright from Jordan Jefferson, so the coaches decided to move him to WR full time. Good decision!
Last season’s leading WR is off to the NFL. Terrance Toliver was the second leading WR from 2009 and he does return, but he recently broke his hand in a fight. Shepard should not only see plenty of snaps this spring, but the coaches may design a larger role for him when the fall rolls around.
Other 2010 Pre-Spring Sleepers To Keep an Eye On
Jaron Brown—Clemson (R-So)
Jarmon Fortson—Florida State (Jr)
Stephen Hill—Georgia Tech (So)
Eddie Johnson—Baylor (T-Fr)
Toney Clemons—Colorado (Michigan Transfer)
DJ Bashears—Kansas (R-Fr)
Brodrick Smith—Kansas State (Minnesota Transfer)
Marcus Lucas—Missouri (T-Fr)
Kenny Stills—Oklahoma (T-Fr)
Hubert Anyiam—Oklahoma State (Jr)
Mike Shanahan—Pittsburgh (R-So)
Sterling Griffin—South Florida (So)
Jared Fayson—Illinois (Sr)
Keshawn Martin—Michigan State (Jr)
O.J. Ross—Purdue (T-Fr)
Marcus Rucker—Memphis (R-So)
Jermaine McKenzie—Memphis (R-Jr)
Kito Poblah—Central Michigan (Sr)
Armand Robinson—Miami, OH (R-Sr)
James Green—Toledo (T-Fr)
Mazi Ogbonna—Wyoming (T-Fr)
DeJay Lester—Wyoming (T-Fr)
Aaron Pflugrad—Arizona State (Oregon Transfer)
Gerell Robinson—Arizona State (Sr)
Diante Jackson—Oregon (R-Fr)
Markus Wheaton—Oregon State (So)
Jamal-Rashad Patterson—Stanford (So)
Josh Smith—UCLA (Colorado Transfer)
Kyle Prater—USC (T-Fr)
Rueben Randle—LSU (So)
Jamal Davis—Florida Atlantic (R-Fr)
Brandon Williams—Louisiana Monroe (So)
Tyler Stradford—North Texas (R-So)
Christopher Bynes—North Texas (T-Fr)
Malcolm Lane—Hawaii (Sr)
Ahmad Paige—Louisiana Tech (Tennessee Transfer)
Tim Molton—Louisiana Tech (LSU Transfer)
Cameron Sanders—Utah State (R-Fr)
Joe Arpasi is the co-owner of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.