Fantasy Football Rankings: Don't Hit Snooze on These 10 Sleepers

Ethan Norof@ethan_norofCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2010

1. Kyle Orton, QB Denver Broncos

Despite not being the sexiest option at the position, Orton could very well put up borderline QB1 numbers by season's end.

Continually undervalued by owners looking for help at the position, Orton is clearly McDaniels' man, even with Tim Tebow involved in the offense. 

After an offseason that saw WR Brandon Marshall depart for Miami, many thought that the Broncos didn't have much depth at the position. However, the current crew of Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, and Eddie Royal have all proven to be beyond capable of hauling in the rock from the bearded quarterback.

Orton should be able to post consistent stats for his owners who are looking to exploit a few choice match-ups.

2. Jermaine Gresham, TE Cincinnati Bengals

Gresham would've been a much more popular name on draft day had he not suffered a torn ACL that forced him to sit out the entire 2009 season.

Currently not getting the recognition that he deserves in fantasy football circles, Gresham is going to have to be an integral part of the Cincinnati offense for the team to have any success.

With TO & Ocho lined up outside and rookie Jordan Shipley lined up in the slot, Gresham should have free reign to dominate the middle of the field and expose constant mismatches.

Much like popular pick Jermichael Finley (GB), Gresham is too big for any safety to cover and too fast for a linebacker. Look for him to continue to build upon his already bright fantasy prospects as the season continues.

3. Steve Breaston, WR Arizona Cardinals

Breaston stands to be perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Anquan Boldin's departure to Baltimore. Now that opposing defenses are keying in on teammate Larry Fitzgerald, Breaston will have plenty of opportunities to be targeted by Derek Anderson. 

After hauling in seven receptions for 132 yards in Week 1, Breaston will continue to be leaned on heavily, especially with the news of Early Doucet's recent injury that will keep him sidelined until almost mid-season.

Breaston has always had the talent, so it should be interesting to see what he's capable of doing as a starter over the course of a full season.

4. Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo Bills

Arguably the most forgotten man among fantasy owners this season, Jackson was slated to start for the Bills before suffering an injury that sidelined him for most of training camp.

Even though he saw just four carries last week, rookie CJ Spiller's uninspiring performance out of the backfield (7 carries, 6 yards) should have Jackson more involved sooner rather than later.

In 2009, Jackson averaged 4.5 YPC & rushed for 1,062 yards on just 237 carries. Pair that with the fact that he also caught 46 balls, and it's easy to see why the Bills made him an integral piece of the offense.

Jackson should see his role increase as his health continues to improve, and owners shouldn't forget about him. Proven production is always more attractive than the hype for those who want to win.

5. Eddie Royal, WR Denver Broncos

One of 2009's most popular value picks, Royal proved to be a complete bust and utter disappointment to owners relying on him for production.

Looking completely lost in the offense after an incredible rookie campaign in '08, Royal managed just 37 receptions and didn't score on any of them. 

Now with another year of the offense under his belt, Royal looks to be a much bigger part of the attack in 2010.

Racking up eight catches and 98 yards in week one, No. 19 looks to be primed to at least match the numbers from his rookie season. He's a name to keep in mind as the season continues to roll forward. 

6. Sam Bradford, QB St. Louis Rams

It took just one week for Bradford to be labeled as a "special" kind of player, and I'm going to wholeheartedly agree with that assessment.

In his first-ever game as a pro, the kid threw the ball 55 times and looked poised in the pocket from the first snap until his last attempt. 

While there will certainly be growing pains behind an improving (but average at best) offensive line and a depleted receiving corps, the Rams have clearly found a franchise QB of the present and future.

Fantasy owners looking for a reliable backup should not hesitate to grab Bradford, while those in dynasty leagues should run to the waiver wire to make sure he's not still floating out there.

He'll certainly be rostered in most standard leagues by the middle of the year. 

7. Rob Gronkowski, TE New England Patriots

One catch, one yard, one touchdown. Owners should get used to seeing the Pats rookie TE Gronkowski in the red zone all season long as he was on the field for 15 of the 16 plays inside the 20 during Week 1.

At 6'6, 265 pounds, it's easy to see what makes him an attractive option for Brady near the goal line.

While most of the preseason hype circled around fellow rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski was drafted ahead of him for a reason. While he may not rack up the receiving yards that a top-flight option might, he should put up similar statistics to Visanthe Shiancoe's 2009 season.

A boom-or-bust TE, Gronkowski is best left on benches until he can find a little more consistent time on the playing field outside of the red zone, as well.

8. Mario Manningham, WR New York Giants

Manningham has fallen in and out of the graces of fantasy owners quite a few times over the last 12 months. After entering '09 as a popular fantasy starter, Manningham quickly took a back seat to Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. 

With consistency as his biggest issue, Manningham can't afford to miss any opportunities that come his way in 2010. Establishing himself as a legitimate deep threat for the G-Men, Manningham racked up 85 yards in the opener on just four catches.

If he can continue to get separation on vertical routes that stretch the field, Manningham should re-emerge as a legitimate option for owners. 

9. Dexter McCluster, RB/WR Kansas City Chiefs

The most intriguing fantasy prospect among any rookie drafted in April, McCluster's skill set has owners salivating over his potential.

Unfortunately, McCluster is going to have a tough time finding carries out of a backfield that already features both Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. 

While it's clear that McCluster remains a long-term part of the Chiefs plans on offense, expectations should be tempered until his role becomes a little more defined.

He would've tossed up a donut in Week 1 had he not had an electric punt return, but those moves and speed are exactly why he could be a major contributor before season's end.

10. Seneca Wallace, QB Cleveland Browns

It's not that I'm a Seneca Wallace fan, it's that I'm not a believer in Jake Delhomme.

After a rather uninspiring opening performance (227 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 59.2 rating) by that left Delhomme in a walking boot, Wallace is the man for at least Week 2, and possibly beyond.

The Iowa State product will look to prove that he's capable of handling the offense, and fantasy owners shouldn't be so quick to brush him off.

In three starts last season for the Seahawks, Wallace threw for 645 yards and had a 3:2 TD:INT ratio. Much like Orton, he's not going to be the most attractive of options, but could really help owners who find themselves scrambling. 


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