Fantasy Football Sleepers: 10 Names You Don't Know Who Could Win You a Title
If you are honest with yourself, you know that a pick or two in your fantasy draft will probably turn sour. It is the little-known players, those who others won't pick up until late in the draft—if at all—that could save a season from disaster.
Here are 10 guys that your friends aren't thinking about who will put up some points this season.
Running Back: Ryan Williams
Let's just say Arizona Cardinals running back Beanie Wells 2010-2011 season was underwhelming. Wells didn't have much help with horrid quarterback play, but even factoring that in, he wasn't very good.
The Cardinals must not have thought much of Wells' season either, they drafted running back Ryan Williams in the start of the second round this year.
Williams has a great combination speed and size; at about 210 pounds, he is big enough to the lion's share of touches. I don't see Williams getting the starting job over Wells, at least not early (unless Wells struggles again), but with Tim Hightower out of the picture, Williams will share carries with Wells.
If Wells doesn't impress or is injured again, Williams will be one of the top sleepers of the 2011-2012 season.
Wide Receiver: Harry Douglas
After taking the Alabama phenom, Julio Jones, in the first round of the draft, the Atlanta Falcons decided to release wideout Michael Jenkins.
With Jenkins departure, Harry Douglas steps up to be the slot wide receiver for the Falcons. Douglas didn't play very well last season, he only caught 22 passes, but that just means you won't have a problem grabbing him from free agency if your receiving corps doesn't pan out.
Playing off Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez, as well as a solid running game, Douglas should be able to get a lot of open looks and become a fantasy surprise.
Tight End: Dennis Pitta
The Baltimore Ravens decided to let go their longtime tight end Todd Heap this offseason, and while most of the money is on Ed Dickson to start for the Ravens, don't dismiss Dennis Pitta.
Pitta has great hands and even if Dickson does start over him, Pitta will see the field often as a backup and in two-tight-end sets.
Pitta's value becomes even greater when you realize just how much Joe Flacco loves hitting his tight end.
Derrick Mason will no longer be with the team either; he went to the New York Jets, which means that's one fewer receiver demanding the ball (Lee Evans was picked up, but he likely won't be yelling at Flacco for the ball).
Wide Receiver: Golden Tate
This pick all depends on how Tarvaris Jackson does as the Seattle Seahawks' new quarterback, and if Golden Tate developed a little since last year.
Tate has all the skills to be an amazing wideout; he's got great hands, speed and incredible jumping ability, and as was seen at Notre Dame, he has a knack for making mind-boggling catches, too. Also, Tate will be a feature in the return game.
Playing off of Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Zach Miller, Tate should be wide open (if he learns to run better routes), and if he gets free, can you say touchdown?
Wide Reciever: Davone Bess
The Miami Dolphins' quarterback situation is not the greatest; everyone thought Orton was on his way in, but Davone Bess has been as productive as he could have been the past few seasons without a stud throwing his way.
If you aren't a Dolphins fan, or your team rarely sees Miami in the regular season, you probably don't know much about Bess—well, you should.
Bess will have another solid year, and if Chad Henne steps up his play, Bess could have a great one. While Brandon Marshall gains the most fantasy attention (and attention from opposing defenses), Bess will keep flying under the radar.
Running Back: Jerome Harrison
Well, you probably know this guy, but you also probably forgot about him.
Jerome Harrison looked like he was going to be a solid fantasy back last season until Peyton Hillis ran him out of town.
Harrison, on his third team in two years, could be fantasy gold with the injury to the Detroit Lions draft pick, Mikel Leshoure.
Jahvid Best will start, and Maurice Morris will get some carries behind Harrison, but Harrison might just end up being the Lions' featured back.
Quarterback: Andy Dalton
Most people know that Andy Dalton will likely be the starter of the Cincinnati Bengals at quarterback, but not many people know how good he will be.
Dalton will have numerous weapons—Jermaine Gresham, A.J. Green, Cedric Benson, Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley, to name a few.
If you are hurting in the quarterback spot and you want to take a shot at someone not many people will touch (he will be open in free agency), take Dalton and be pleasantly surprised with his production.
Wide Receiver: Armanti Edwards
Armanti Edwards, the former Appalachian State quarterback, might be more used than expected this season.
Edwards was still learning to play wide receiver last season, a role he never played before. But Edwards is explosive and has breakaway potential, and it looks like he could be the next big thing when it comes to the return game.
Cam Newton is going to be the Carolina Panthers' quarterback of the future, but whoever has the best chance to move the ball between Jimmy Clausen and Newton will get on the field first. Edwards will be one of their favorite targets.
Although he only caught one pass in the Carolina Panthers' preseason opener (for 38 yards), Edwards has deep-threat potential written all over him.
Kicker: Alex Henery
The only reason Alex Henery isn't well known is because he's a kicker.
He will be on the most productive offense in football this year; that means a ton of extra points and field goals.
Henery might be the only guy other than Ryan Williams and Jerome Harrison on this list that actually gets drafted (projected the ninth kicker taken by ESPN), but with his accuracy and leg strength, I had to put him on.
Running Back: Jacquizz Rodgers
Jacquizz Rodgers, out of Oregon State, will be the third-string running back for the Atlanta Falcons this year. Rodgers would have had even more worth had they not re-signed Jason Snelling, but with blazing speed, he will be a nice change of pace with Michael Turner and Snelling ahead of him.
If Turner doesn't come to the season opener in top shape, he is at risk of another injury. And when Turner goes down, Rodgers' fantasy value will skyrocket.