Fantasy Football Sleepers 2011: Kevin Kolb and 5 Guys to Pick Late
Are you looking for some fantasy football sleepers that can lead you to a winning season? Well, based on the ESPN.com rankings, there are a few players that have more value than where they are rated.
2010 saw a few unknowns land atop the running back rankings in Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis. If you can dig and find guys who will out-perform their rankings, your work will turn into gold.
Without further ado, let's rank the top six fantasy football sleepers of 2011.
6. Nate Burleson (Detroit Lions)
2010 stats: 55 receptions, 625 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
2011 ranking: 58th
Burleson had a decent 2010 season, considering he only played in a total of 14 games and was stuck with quarterbacks not named Matthew Stafford for a majority of the year.
Stafford is a big factor in how well Burleson will do in 2011. If Stafford can stay healthy, look for Burleson to have a huge year.
Burleson, 29, is the number two option to Calvin Johnson, who demands consistent double coverage.
The last time Burleson recorded a 1,000-yard season was back in 2004 with the Vikings. As a possible number five fantasy receiver, Burleson deserves a spot on your team.
5. Mike Tolbert (San Diego Chargers)
2010 stats: 182 attempts for 735 yards and 11 touchdowns; 25 receptions for 216 yards.
2011 ranking: 37th
In fantasy football, touchdowns are golden. There are a few things that make Mike Tolbert a great value pick as your fourth fantasy running back.
Tolbert will vulture touchdowns in the red zone from Ryan Matthews, there is no doubt of that. Matthews is currently ranked 17th, but was ranked much higher in 2010.
Matthews missed four games in 2010 in his rookie year. The Chargers offense has a ton of weapons, and they should be in the red zone quite often.
Tolbert will get plenty of touchdowns in 2011, and will out-produce his ranking.
4. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons)
2010 stats: N/A
2011 ranking: 41st
Tony Gonzalez came out and regarded Julio Jones as the best rookie wide receiver he has ever seen. That's quite a compliment from a hall-of-fame tight end.
Julio Jones, in his final year at Alabama, posted a stat line of 78 receptions for 1,133 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also had eight carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Jones had an extremely good junior year at Alabama, and the Falcons traded up to get him.
Julio is in a great position in Atlanta. He is playing across from a Pro-Bowl receiver in Roddy White, and has Pro-Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan throwing passes to him. Ryan is starting to blossom into a very solid starting quarterback, and he will keep Julio Jones very involved.
3. Beanie Wells (Arizona Cardinals)
2010 stats: 116 attempts for 397 yards and 2 touchdowns
2011 ranking: 46th
Beanie Wells has fallen mightily since being drafted by the Cardinals in 2009. In his rookie seasons, Wells rushed for 793 yards and seven touchdowns.
Wells does not catch the ball a ton, but with the trade of Tim Hightower, Wells should have a big 2011.
The Cardinals did go out and draft Ryan Williams with their second pick in the 2011 draft. Williams likely will not be thrown into the starting lineup in 2011, which opens the door for Beanie Wells.
With the addition of Kevin Kolb, the Cardinals offense is very respectable. Their offensive line still isn't the greatest, but a strong passing game could open the door for Wells to have a big 2011.
2. Kevin Kolb (Arizona Cardinals)
2010 stats: 115 completions on 189 attempts for 1,197 yards, 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.
2011 ranking: 18th
Although I've put Beanie Wells and Kevin Kolb on this list, I am not an Arizona Cardinals fan.
Last year, Kevin Kolb was a complete bust. I actually drafted Kolb as my number one quarterback in 2010, then he got injured. Not only that, but I missed out on Michael Vick.
Kevin Kolb has a bunch of weapons in Arizona that he will have at his disposal, and the NFC West is nothing like the NFC East.
Kolb has arguably the best wide receiver in the game in Larry Fitzgerald. Todd Heap was brought in to play tight end, and that is a big upgrade for Arizona.
The Cardinals have some young receivers and an improved offensive line, meaning Kevin Kolb could very well be a top-10 quarterback, even though you draft him as a number two quarterback.
1. Mike Sims-Walker (St. Louis Rams)
2010 stats: 43 receptions for 562 yards and 7 touchdowns
2011 ranking: 52nd
Sims-Walker, 26, seems to be nearing his prime. He's also going into a good situation in St. Louis.
There is no doubt in my mind that Sam Bradford is an upgrade over David Garrard. Bradford showed last season that he is a legitimate starting quarterback.
When Mark Clayton was healthy last season, Bradford fed him the ball a lot. Clayton grabbed 23 balls for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns. Nearly all of that was in only four full games, with just one catch for six yards coming in Clayton's fifth and final game of the season. Clayton did very well as the number one receiver in a short amount of time.
Sims-Walker will walk onto the Rams and will be the number one receiver. Who else will the Rams trot out over him? Laurent Robinson? Brandon Gibson? No.
Sam Bradford threw the ball the third most times amongst starting quarterbacks in 2010. Bradford will also benefit from having a No. 1 receiver in Sims-Walker.
Look for Sims-Walker to perform like a top 25 receiver, or even better. If you can get Sims-Walker as a number four receiver, that will be gold.