5 Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Fantasy Year

Troy MarineCorrespondent IAugust 25, 2010

5 Sleepers for the 2010 NFL Fantasy Year

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    With the fantasy season just a couple weeks away, and everyone doing their research for that diamond in the rough, here’s five guys I think have sleeper written all over them. 

    All these guys I have listed here are going to exceed what has been projected by the so called “fantasy experts."  

    Get your pen and paper out and start taking some notes.

    Now you aren’t going to find Drew Brees, Chris Johnson or Andre Johnson on this list. The guys on this list might not be considered 1st, 2nd or even 3rd round studs, but could possibly produce numbers like one this season.  

    So here we go!

Alex Smith, QB - San Francisco 49ers

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    I know what you are saying, Alex Smith!! 

    Yep, Alex Smith is going to be a huge sleeper this year. 

    He only started in 10 games last year, but racked up 2,350 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. In a 16 game season, that projects out to 3,760 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. Not bad for what “guru’s” are saying is a backup fantasy QB!

    He has had a full offseason working with both Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree to establish some chemistry. Frank Gore in the backfield will help keep opposing defenses honest.

    It's time for Smith to show everyone why the 49ers drafted him first overall in the 2005 draft.

    With the additions of OG Mike Iupati and OT Anthony Davis on the offensive line, Smith should have plenty of time to find all these targets. He should feast on the defenses in that NFC West division. The 49ers play the easiest schedule in the league this year.

    He should be gone by round 13, so look to draft him in rounds 11 or 12. Sit back and watch the numbers pile up for your “backup” QB.  It’s possible he could land in the top 10 of QB’s this year when it’s all said and done.

    Projected 2010 totals:  3,829 Passing Yards, 27 Total Touchdowns, 15 Interceptions

Clinton Portis, RB - Washington Redskins

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    Yes, the world’s oldest 28 year-old running back is going to have a big year. Maybe not by his normal standards, but compared to where he’s being drafted in all the mock drafts, it will be by fantasy standards.

    Up until last year, he averaged 14 games a season. The only season he really missed a ton of time was in 2006, when he missed eight games because of a broken hand. In those seasons, he averaged 1,446 rushing yards. Staying healthy is the key to a successful season for Portis.

    The big question is, can he stay healthy and play a full season, or close to it.  

    I think the answer is yes. 

    He is reunited with his first coach, Mike Shanahan, and the zone blocking scheme that Portis thrived in his first two seasons in Denver. The Redskins brought in Larry Johnson and Willie Parker to compete for the starting job, which should give Portis plenty of motivation to get back to level he was at a couple years ago. 

    It looks like its working as he has dropped 15 pounds, and has attended all offseason workouts and OTA’s, something he hasn’t done in several years.

    That, coupled with the additions of tackles Trent Williams via the draft, and Jamal Brown via a trade with the Saints, and Portis could be a steal in drafts this year since he’s going as late as round six in most 12-team mock drafts.

    Projected 2010 totals: 1,129 Rushing Yards, 207 Receiving Yards, 9 Total Touchdowns

Nate Burleson, WR - Detroit Lions

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    I know, he plays for a team that went 2-14 last season, but I think this year, the Detroit Lions are actually going to be decent. No, they won’t win their division, but I think six or seven wins is very possible.

    He has Stafford at QB in his first full season in the NFL – he started 10 games last year after taking over for Culpepper - and a beast on the other side of the field named Calvin Johnson, who will get a lot of attention.  Teams will be spending most of their time trying to stop Johnson, and in the process, Burleson should get a ton of balls thrown his way.

    Remember, it was just three years ago when he scored nine touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks, and six years ago for the Vikings. This is not uncharted territory for Burleson. He’ll be two years removed from the horrific leg injury he suffered in the first game of the 2008 season, so he will be healthy.

    With games against high flying offenses like the Packers (2), Vikings (2), Cowboys and Patriots, the Lions will be passing the ball a lot to keep up.

    Look to score Burleson around the 12th or 13th round, and it’s possible he could be your number three wide receiver by the end of the season.

    Projected 2010 totals: 57 Receptions, 758 Receiving Yards, 7 Total Touchdowns

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, RB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    The “Cadillac” is back and has been tuned up! 

    Williams was finally able to finish a season he started, playing in all 16 games last year. It wasn’t a stellar campaign. He only totaled 1,040 yards and a career best seven touchdowns, but now he’s a full year back from a series of terrible knee injuries. 

    It’s also looking more and more like he will be the starting running back, and shoulder most of the load this year, with backfield mate Derrick Ward struggling. That should improve his numbers alone.

    But now that Tampa Bay actual has some offensive weapons this year in wide receivers Sammie Stroughter and rookie Mike Williams - who has done nothing but impress this offseason and preseason – and Kellen Winslow, Jr. in his second season at TE, he won’t be the focal point of defenses.

    Williams should be able to produce like a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy running back this year. Look to land him in round six, or at the latest round seven.

    Projected 2010 Totals: 1,075 Rushing Yards, 189 Receiving Yards, 9 Total Touchdowns

Jermichael Finley, TE - Green Bay Packers

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    Some of you will say there’s no way this guy is a sleeper anymore considering how he ended last season, but that depends on how you define a sleeper.  There’s two ways I define it:

    1) A guy that I think will end up producing better numbers then what the so called “experts” predict

    2) Someone who isn’t well known and will have a breakout season. 

    That being said, Finley obviously falls in the 1st category here. I think he will have a monster year, so that’s why I have him listed as a sleeper.

    Finley’s returning to an offense that finished 6th in total yards, and 3rd in total points, last season. With Aaron Rodgers going into his third full season as the starting quarterback, and Green Bay having so many offensive weapons to pay attention to, I think Finley benefits the most. He’s the clear cut starter going into this year, and won’t lose passes to Donald Lee anymore.

    He’s a huge red zone target, standing 6’5” and weighing 247 pounds. if last postseason is any indication of how good this guy can be (6 receptions, 159 yards v. Arizona), everyone in the league should take notice. 

    He ended up with 676 yards receiving and five touchdowns last year, which isn’t all that great. Look a little closer. Four of those touchdowns, and 337 yards receiving, came in his last five games when he finally felt comfortable in the offense. He also missed three games due to an injury.

    People will call me crazy, but look to draft this guy by the 5th round, before other tight ends like Antonio Gates, Brent Celek and Jason Witten. I only have Dallas Clark and Vernon Davis higher on my boards.

    Projected 2010 Totals: 84 Receptions, 984 Receiving Yards, 10 Total Touchdowns