Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: 11 Names You'll Need to Know on Draft Day
There might be just one thing in the world of sports that fans love more than the actual game of football, and that's fantasy football.
Fantasy football gives fans a chance to root for a heap of players from teams across the league thrown into one individual dream team, and no, I don't mean that dream team that the Philadelphia Eagles are building.
The following slides remind you of 11 players that you should not forget when you are preparing for your fantasy football draft in a few weeks. I'm assuming that everybody knows the name of every quarterback who should see significant action this year, so this list is reserved to running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, and all of them are young players on the verge of breaking out.
After all, how do you predict a Brandon Lloyd type season for a veteran?
Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
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The Eagles' fifth round draft pick in 2010, Cooper's biggest catch last year was actually an onside kick recovery in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands victory against the New York Giants.
However, with star DeSean Jackson not at camp, the big 6'5" wide receiver may be receiving (literally) more playing time than he anticipated. He is big, fast and physical and has 50-catch potential this season.
Kealoha Pilares, WR, Carolina Panthers
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Pilares was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft by the Carolina Panthers, who boasted the NFL's worst record in 2010.
He is an explosive young playmaker looking to earn his due on an up and coming team playing with a rookie quarterback. His chances at succeeding will increase even more if the team trades Steve Smith.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
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Ridley was drafted in the third round of the 2011 draft by the New England Patriots.
He will be behind BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead on the active roster and will compete with second round draft pick Shane Vereen for playing time, but his bruising style of running should earn him a number of carries on the goal line.
More goal line carries = more touchdowns = more fantasy points.
Greg Little, WR, Cleveland Browns
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A second round draft pick by the Browns in 2011, Little will be given every opportunity to earn playing time on a franchise that is far from stacked with wide receivers. After all, the Browns have to throw to somebody.
He could easily end the season as the team's No. 1 wide receiver. Scoop this guy up in your fantasy draft.
Dion Lewis, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
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Drafted in the fifth round as a complement to LeSean McCoy, the small but speedy running back has the potential to be a sleeper in fantasy football this season.
Don't expect him to carry the ball a lot, but he should be a valuable receiving threat out of the backfield.
Lance Kendricks, TE, St. Louis Rams
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Kendricks was selected in the middle of the second round in this past year's draft, which is pretty high for a tight end. He should start immediately, and even if he doesn't, expect him to contribute more and more as he becomes accustomed to playing in St. Louis.
He is a fantasy sleeper.
Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals
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Ryan Williams, a second round draft pick in 2011, will likely start for Arizona. His amount of playing time increased when the team traded running back Tim Hightower to Washington.
He will compete with Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling for playing time, but he should be a solid contributor this season.
Marcus Easley, WR, Buffalo Bills
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A walk-on in college, Easley emerged to average almost 20 yards per reception as a senior. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 draft but suffered a season-ending knee injury in August.
He is expected to play a large role in the Bills' offense this season, especially if the team trades veteran Lee Evans during training camp.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens
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When the Baltimore Ravens allowed Todd Heap to leave several days ago, they brought on the Dennis Pitta era in Baltimore.
A fourth round pick in 2010, Pitta will compete with Dickson to become the main tight end for the Ravens. Either way, he should become a dependable target for quarterback Joe Flacco in 2011.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
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If you know the name, it's because of what he did in his college career, when he was rated as one of the top wide receivers entering the 2010 draft. He was selected in the first round by the Broncos but struggled in 2010, catching just 22 passes and two touchdowns.
That's OK. He needed a year to develop. Expect a solid campaign in 2011.
Damian Williams, WR, Tennessee Titans
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A third round pick by the Titans in 2010, Williams caught just 13 passes for 195 yards and zero touchdowns as a rookie.
A new quarterback should help him in 2011. Expect this young receiver to develop into a legitimate No. 2 receiving target.