2011 Fantasy Football: 10 Deep Fantasy Sleepers
No, I'm not going to put Dez Bryant or Jimmy Graham, in case that was the first thing that popped into your mind when you clicked on this article. I'm actually going DEEP with sleepers on this one.
And no, that picture of Arian Foster does not signify that I chose him as a sleeper for 2011. He was one of my picks last year. He was a deep one, and I think he symbolizes best what a deep sleeper is.
I'm not saying you should draft these players high so they can make a big impact on your team, but they're going to be nice to have around due to their potential.
Enjoy the article and have fun dominating your fantasy league!
1. Jacoby Ford: WR, Oakland Raiders
Why You Should Get Him: Don't X out of this article just yet! I know a lot of people have this guy, but I think his potential is just too good to ignore. I dropped him to pick up another sleeper in my 12 person league and everybody admitted to putting a waiver claim for him.
Jacoby Ford is an absolute burner. He came up with some big plays last year and came through with a couple of touchdowns.
Ford also has threats in other areas as well. As a kick returner, he has a lot of potential. He had 2 returns last year for touchdowns on kickoffs and was voted as the Special Teams Player of the Month for the AFC.
He also is a threat as a runner off reverses and screens.
Where You Should Get Him: Ford won't be free agent at the end of most 10/12 player drafts, so you should probably get him in one of the later rounds before you start making your last couple of lazy picks.
2. Demaryius Thomas: WR, Denver Broncos
Why You Should Get Him: Last year Thomas had a stellar debut with 8 receptions, 97 yards and a 21 yard receiving touchdown. Obviously, he was a favorite target of Orton. The only thing that stopped him from igniting last year was his injury. When he went down, the Broncos found another guy. Oh, that's right, his name was Brandon Lloyd.
This year, Orton is listed as the starter and Thomas is healthy again. He was the first WR drafted last year. Even though it was a surprise that he went before Dez Bryant, he was still first round talent. A lot of people overlook him for this matter.
Thomas has all the intangibles to be a great fantasy star though. He is very tall at 6'3" and is the fastest receiver on the Broncos. He's a great deep threat.
A lot of people forgot about this guy, but I promise you, if you are one of the few that haven't, this will be an absolute steal.
Where You Should Get Him: He will most likely be a free agent so you can hold off on him for awhile if you like your depth, but if he starts igniting in preseason, you gotta get him ASAP!
P.S. Doesn't it sweeten the deal that he's catching a pass over Revis Island?!
*UPDATE* My apologies, I forgot that Thomas will be starting out the season on the PUP list. That helps out a little to anybody who wants to snag him. I'd grab him the week before he jumps off the list.
3. Bernard Scott: RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Why You Should Get Him: How many of you seriously believe that Cedric Benson is going to last the whole season as the feature back in this turmoil of an offense? It's time to face it, Cincy, Benson's days are done. Last year was evident to this as he really fell off.
Bernard Scott played great when Benson sat out with an injury. Scott is a young talent who has shown flashes of potential. He is a strong power runner who can really get through the hole and onto the next level.
I think Scott will see a lot of action early on, even when Benson is still the starter. He may even be the guy the Bengals use as a goal line back. The second you see him in his first game getting that goal line carry, you better hope you have the number one waiver position and get him.
Where You Should Get Him: I think Scott will most likely be a free agent in most leagues. Wait and see what his role is in Preseason, then make your judgement.
4. Saints Defense: TM, New Orleans Saints
Why You Should Get Them: Call me crazy for picking a TM to be a sleeper, but this one is a good one. Two years ago the Saints were one of the top defenses in terms of fantasy football; they forced a lot of turnovers and had a lot of defensive touchdowns. The next year, however, they really dropped off.
This year I see big things for this defense. They didn't add anybody to their secondary to add more interceptions, but this group has a lot of potential. Three out of the four guys are back from the 2009 season. Greer, Porter and Harper are keys to this defense. Sharper was the big name in 2009, but this is Malcom Jenkins's year. He is an emerging star who showed flashes of his Sharper potential. Just ask Sam Bradford or Roy Williams.
It's not the addition of the secondary that will force the INTs, it's the beefed up front seven that will get these guys what they want. Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin are notable additions the Saints have added this year. Rogers has been one of the premier pass rushing DTs in the league for the past couple of years. He didn't do so well with the Browns, but with the Saints he will have a lot of talent around him and get back to his big play ability. These guys and Sedrick Ellis will cause havoc to QBs, as they will help out Jonathan Vilma, Cameron Jordan, Will Smith and Alex Brown get to the Quarterback. Who knows, maybe Junior Gallette could get a little action too.
The OLB competition in training camp is a good one. There will definitely be an upgrade at the position. Will Herring, Jonathon Casillas, Martez Wilson and Scott Shanle are all fighting for starter spots. This is a lot better than the group the Saints had last year. Also, they have expressed interest in Matt Roth who is a pass rush specialist.
With all these key changes to the Saints defense, I see a lot of potential out of the TM to get back to their 2009 form.
Where You Should Get Them: As soon as teams start drafting TMs, keep your eye out. The Saints will not go first off the board so you will most likely see them down the board when people start picking up the Eagles and Packers. Get the Saints before the draft is over and you won't be sorry.
4. Colt McCoy: QB, Cleveland Browns
Why You Should Get Him: I always say that a young QB's best friend is receiving Tight End who will catch anything. I think the Browns found that guy in the draft with Jordan Cameron who seems to be the second coming of Jimmy Graham. McCoy sounds like he's coming around to be the guy the Browns need. He was a leader at Texas and showed some good stuff last year.
The reason I like McCoy the most is because he is a runner. As a hybrid thrower and runner, McCoy should rack up a decent amount of points. He's a little like Michael Vick! I stress little.
The Browns also got Greg Little in the draft who looked GREAT at UNC. Little could've been drafted higher but problems led to his drop. This will only benefit McCoy.
I say take a chance on this kid as a backup, maybe a 3rd QB if you're willing to have that many QBs on your roster. He'd be a great fill in for a bye week. As a starter, you'll have to wait for him to explode into the league to be sure enough to have this guy in every week. Right now, I like him as a rotational guy who can start with good matchups.
Where You Should Get Him: Towards the end of the draft. Probably the last round as your final bench player. Most likely he'll hit free agency.
5. Jacquizz Rodgers: RB, Atlanta Falcons
Jacquizz is a speedy guy who is a finesse runner. What most people don't know is that he is super strong. Rogers can push the pile and take the hit for extra yardage. With Turner holding the reins to the offense, Rogers won't be getting 15+ carries a game, but he will get his touches.
Turner has handled a lot of runs in his past couple of years with the Falcons. He's had almost 300 or so touches a year with them and is getting old. I'm not saying Turner will be benched this season, I think he will have another fantastic season.
However, I see Jacquizz as a potential 4th RB to get a decent amount of touches. He can play the Reggie Bush role in PPR leagues as he can catch screens and flats out of the backfield and burn the defense down the field. As a runner, he can do a lot and that has shown in training camp.
Where You Should Get Him: This is a tricky one. I would say if you're in a 12 person league with a lot of experienced players, then you should definitely get him in one of the later rounds. In free agency, you may have to hope for the best in your waiver position to get him.
6. Robert Meachem: WR, New Orleans Saints
Why You Should Get Him: Every year, Robert Meachem is supposed to have a breakout year. Most Wide Receivers take 3 years to finally get into their zone. Well, this is Meachem's 4th and I think this is finally the year. The past couple years people just say "I think this is the year." Their reasoning? A gut feeling. That's not the case with this article.
During training camp, Meachem has stated that this is the first year that he has gone through camp without an injury. Right now, Marques Colston has been sitting out with a knee injury and Meachem is getting a lot of Drew time.
Meachem is the second fastest player on the Saints roster behind Henderson. However, Henderson digressed a lot last year; he no longer has the big play ability and was not very reliable. He will only get worse this year as he is getting closer and closer to the final years of his career. This leaves Meachem as the deep threat for the Saints.
Colston was one of the top ranked slot receivers last year. Yeah, you read that correctly. He's not a slot receiver, but his catches were slot receiver catches. He doesn't normally run down the field, but he still gets a lot of double teams because he is one of Brees's surest targets. He gets a lot of back shoulder and inside routes. Lance Moore is the other slot receiver who gets a lot of out and in routes. Jimmy Graham is an inside the numbers receiver who really emerged last year. With these 3 stars running circles around the defense, I think the field will really open up for Meachem, unlike last year. Colston and Moore shared a couple injuries as did Graham. This year, every team knows who Graham is and will keep an eye on him.
That's not even the biggest appeal to Meachem. Mark. Ingram. Yes, I said it. Ingram will dominate the ground game. Anybody who doubts that last statement, I dare you to go sit in a Saints training camp and try to prove me wrong. This kid is a MONSTER. There's no doubt in my mind that he and Brees will pound up the ground game and open up the play action pass. Last year, there was no run presence and every team played deep against the Saints. This year will be Meachem's year to be wide open on streaks and posts.
Where You Should Get Him: More people than none recognize Meachem for what he is. However, a lot of them don't want to take the chance because the Saints offense is just too crazy with spreading around the ball. He will definitely be available in the later rounds and most likely in free agency.
7. Todd Heap: TE, Arizona Cardinals
Why You Should Get Him: Remember this guy? Sure you do! He was the one that kept disappointing you when Joe Flacco threw to everybody but him, silly! Todd Heap is a big name guy. By that I mean, almost everybody knows him. In free agency this year, I think the Cardinals really struck gold. Heap is a top 10 TE and a reliable target.
Sidetrack for a moment, also remember when either you or your friend drafted Brent Celek and he turned out to be one of the biggest fantasy football busts last year? Yeah, that happened when Michael Vick took over. When Kevin Kolb was throwing the ball, everybody wanted Brent Celek.
That's why I like Heap this year. He's coming to an offense that has 2 young RBs with potential, Larry Fitzgerald, Early Doucet and Kevin Kolb. This looks to be a year to revamp the offense. With Kevin Kolb throwing up ducks for Fitzgerald to work his magic, Todd Heap will work his magic inside. Kolb loves his TEs, and Todd Heap will be great for him. Heap is a great pass catching TE and will do well with Kolb and this sleeper offense.
Where You Should Get Him: Todd Heap most likely will be drafted. He might not be amongst the first tier of TEs to go, but you should definitely get him as soon as the studs are gone. He would be an incredible backup, but as a starter, I say he's pretty reliable.
8. Titus Young: WR, Detroit Lions
Why You Should Get Him: Don't worry, he's not the Lions rookie that tore his achilles. That was Mikel LeShoure, the RB. I would have put a Lions RB, but who do I choose outside of Jahvid Best, Mike Bell and Jerome Harrison?! Anyways, I like Titus Young a lot as a sleeper this year. He has Megatron, Burleson, Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler around him. There are a lot of receiving options on this team. I know that plays a lot of downside for Young, but this is a sleeper list not a first rounder list.
A lot of people forget how good Matthew Stafford can be when he's healthy. If he does stay healthy, the Lions offense has a lot potential. The run game will open up the deep game and Young is definitely a speedy guy. Megatron can handle almost any pass, but Stafford can't throw to him EVERY play. (Or can he?)
Burleson is getting old and Young looks like a good Percy Harvin type prospect for this offense. With his speed and ability, he should be a good weapon for Matthew Stafford.
Where You Should Get Him: I think Titus Young can almost be a guaranteed free agent. He's looking a lot like a 5th option at WR so don't waste a late pick on him if you can better. Save him for later.
9. Kareem Huggins: RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Why You Should Get Him: Another young guy in this Bucs offense that has a lot of upside. If I want to start a franchise from scratch, I'll make sure to call Raheem Morris. Last year, Huggins was looking a lot like the guy who was going to take over for Cadillac Williams. However, he got hurt and in came LaGarrette Blount.
Huggins is a strong runner, much like Blount. I see the Bucs using him for about 5-10 touches per game to make a powerful, double-headed monster.
Freeman did a good job of finding weapons to open up the running game. Williams, Benn and Winslow will keep defenses busy. This showed in Blount's success as a runner.
The Bucs also brought back Davin Joseph who was key to their offensive line last year. Look for Huggins to emerge as a Bernard Scott type scenario back.
If Blount goes down to injury, this guy will be the premier back as Williams is now gone.
Where You Should Get Him: I can almost guarantee you this guy will not be drafted in your league. I would also not suggest drafting him either. Look and see how the Bucs begin to run their offense before you take a chance on him.
10. Laurent Robinson: WR, San Diego Chargers
Why You Should Get Him: The Chargers lost Legedu Naanee who was a speedy WR that could catch slot catches. Laurent Robinson played pretty well for Sam Bradford last year when all the starters went down with injuries. This year, Robinson will be playing with Philip Rivers.
Any Chargers WR that you may have picked up last year proved to be productive. Maybe except for Buster Davis. Robinson shows potential as a short game catcher and will be a great weapon to add to the Chargers' passing game.
In 2009, Robinson was the leading receiver for the Rams until he got injured early in the season. This really made his stock fall in 2010. Last year, he started almost every game and played fairly well. Not great, but well. He was a reliable receiver for Bradford. Just imagine what he could do with the defense having their eyes on Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates. Don't forget that Ryan Mathews is poised for a breakout year with Mike Tolbert leading the way.
Where You Should Get Him: Robinson will most likely be a free agent. You could get him late, late in the draft as a last resort in deep leagues. He will most likely be available in free agency.
Montario Hardesty: RB, Cleveland Browns
Victor Cruz: WR, New York Giants
Roy Helu: RB, Washington Redskins
Julian Edelman: WR, New England Patriots
Tim Tebow: QB, Denver Broncos
Randall Cobb: WR, Green Bay Packers
Jeremy Shockey: TE, Carolina Panthers
Mike Thomas: WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Tiki Barber: RB, Free Agent (Just Kidding)