Everybody knows who the top 10 or even 15 players are at each fantasy relevant position and that why it’s a no-brainer to target guys who consistently produce monster fantasy football numbers such as Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson and Antonio Gates.
Often times what separates a good fantasy team from a great one is the owner who finds value in the second half of his or her fantasy draft. These later-round difference makers are referred to as "fantasy football sleepers" or undervalued players.
Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
2010 Stats: 66 receptions, 820 receiving yards, four total touchdowns
Mike Sims-Walker’s departure for St. Louis opens the door for 2009 fourth-round selection Mike Thomas to rise to the top of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ depth chart.
The diminutive (5’8”, 198 pounds) Thomas is not your prototypical No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Or Pop Warner, for that matter. Whether he fits the mold or not, Thomas led the Jaguars in targets (102), receptions (66), yards (820) and he chipped in 114 rushing yards for good measure.
The former Arizona standout is strong and explosive, has good hands and runs technically sound routes. Thomas is likely to emerge as the go-to guy in the team’s revamped pass attack. He’s a good bet to improve upon his four touchdown total in 2010.
Thomas could easily push WR2 production this season and deliver great value to fantasy football owners who draft him as a WR3/WR4.
Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
2010 Stats: 52 receptions, 600 receiving yards, three total touchdowns
Scrappy slot receiver Jordan Shipley posted an outstanding 70.3 percent catch rate en route to 52 catches, 600 yards and three scores during his rookie campaign in 2010.
While the Cincinnati Bengals replaced veteran receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco with the duo of A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson this offseason, Shipley’s role remains intact. Shipley projects as a sneaky sleeper heading into 2011 with the implementation of new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s West Coast Offense in Cincinnati.
Smart, polished and sure-handed, Shipley has good size for the slot (5’11”, 193 pounds), and his skill set is tailor-made for the new system. He excels in the short-to-intermediate routes of the West Coast Offense, and the quarterback tandem of veteran Bruce Gradkowski and rookie Andy Dalton are likely to use him as a crutch.
Shipley has a fair chance to lead the Bengals in catches this season despite light yardage and scoring numbers. View him as a cheap source of receptions in PPR leagues.
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