About two weeks before drafts, I try and pick out 10 guys each year as my target sleepers in Fantasy Football. It could be a change of scenery, different coaching staff, or a different surrounding cast; but whatever it is, something has clearly changed for the better for that player and he is someone I target.
In this post, I give you two QBs, four RBs, and three WRs who all should outperform expectations in 2010 and give you a nice return on the likely draft choice/auction price it will take to add them.
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Quarterback
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions – QB ADP #20; Projected Finish Top 12
Stafford only got in 10 games last year as a rookie. Usually QBs show marked improvement from year one to year two in their development. His “gamer” mentality won me over in some of the games I saw him play in.
The Lions are going to live on his arm in year two, along with Calvin Johnson. They may not win many games, but I can see this being the next QB/WR combo to make a big impact on the fantasy scene. Think Schaub/Andre Johnson potential.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs – QB ADP #26; Projected Finish Top 15
Cassel had some very ugly games last year behind a weak offensive line. It was the first year for head coach Todd Haley and Cassel together. The expectations on Cassel last year were lofty because of what he did with New England and his contract.
Now in 2010, Charlie Weis has been brought in as the OC. This will be a return to the offensive that Cassel has known. Also, Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones bolster the offense. Plus, the AFC West could be wide open this year with the Chargers having some key losses. This could spell for a decent fantasy season and strong value in Cassel.
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Running Back
Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions – RB ADP #28;Projected Finish Top 15 RB
Best is going to get the lion’s share of the carries early on, which should be great for his fantasy value. The worry about Best is his durability. He could end up like Felix Jones and not able to stay on the field, or he could end up being a potential Chris Johnson.
The Lions are going to have to give someone else the ball besides Calvin Johnson, who will be double teamed on every passing down.
Justin Forsett, Seattle Seahawks – RB ADP #29; Projected Finish Top 15 RB
Once LenDale White was cut loose, this really opened things up for Forsett in 2010. When he got the ball last year, he was able to put up solid fantasy numbers.
I can see Forsett being the lead back in the offense even with Leon Washington and Julius Jones there. Washington has not fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him 2009 and Jones is just insurance. The only concern would be if the Seahawks go after Marshawn Lynch.
Tim Hightower, Arizona Cardinals – RB ADP #42; Projected Finish Top 20 RB (PPR)
I have owned Hightower in my dynasty league since he was a rookie, and each year he continues to give me great value as a Flex or RB3. The PPR is key here as I would not recommend him in a non-PPR league.
With Anquan Boldin leaving, and Beanie Wells taking over the starting RB job, I can see Hightower becoming even more of a pass catching threat. His reception total jumped from 34 to 63 in 2009, and with Leinart at the helm he should rely on Hightower even more for dump off passes. Let’s also keep in mind that Wells isn’t the most durable guy either.
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants – RB ADP #47; Projected Finish Top 25 RB
Part of the famed 2007 draft for the Giants, where every player drafted ended up being a key player in the Super Bowl run, Bradshaw is coming off foot and ankle surgeries. He was just announced as the starting running back ahead of Brandon Jacobs, so expect that his ADP will really start to jump. I would really like to see Bradshaw be more of a part of the passing game in 2010 as well to help his fantasy value.
Bernard Scott, Cincinnati Bengals – RB ADP #55; Projected Finish Top 25 RB
I don’t have much faith in Cedric Benson repeating his 2009 success in 2010; that being said, it’s not like Bernard Scott is Mr. Reliable also. His off the field rap sheet goes along with the other Bengals. But if you feel Benson is a liability then Scott is worthy of a handcuff or stash. If he gets the starting job, he should be a top 25 RB in 2010.
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide Receiver
Wes Welker New England Patriots – ADP 23 – Projected Finish Top 8 (PPR)
It is looking like Welker could be back for Week 1 – if not, he’ll probably be back Week 2. That puts him way ahead of schedule for his return from the knee injury that sidelined him last year. Welker might come back slowly, and if he does that is even more reason to trade for him. He is worth the risk/reward this year, as the Pats offense desperately needs his 100 annual receptions.
Hakeem Nicks New York Giants – ADP 25 – Projected Finish Top 15
If Nicks had been healthy to start 2009, he might have ended up in the top 15, which is where fellow Giant WR Steve Smith ended up. I see Nicks and Smith switching spots in 2010 with Nicks being in his second year. Also, WRs that are deep threats are also going to be worthy of a fantasy reach because of the TD potential.
Mike Wallace Pittsburgh Steelers – ADP 28 – Projected Finish Top 15
The #1 WR spot in Pittsburgh has been pretty good over the years in spite of the reputation for the Steelers to run first. Wallace is now in position to get the targets that Santonio Holmes, and even Hines Ward, got in the past. With Ward on the decline and Wallace making a push toward the end of last year, I can see him finishing in the top 15 for WR in 2010.