Fantasy Football: Ben Tate and 7 Most Exciting Players You Don't Know About
Sleepers are a key part of any fantasy football season, and even following a lockout, 2011 is no different.
Last year, Peyton Hillis was the notable sleeper of the year. No one expected him to do what he did, thus making him the true definition of a sleeper.
With so many movements and transactions across the league over the last month-and-a-half, 2011 could see more sleepers than we even care to count.
Still, I'm going to be arrogant enough to try to name the top seven.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
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He may be the second or third receiver listed on the Bengals' depth chart, but he's got top receiver quality.
That being said, he's still a Cincinnati Bengal. However, in his third season with the team, he finally busted out in the last two games of 2010, going for 18 catches and three touchdowns.
There's certainly potential to catch 10 to 12 touchdowns, but with Andy Dalton being a rookie, that is not going to happen. Still, Simpson has very good hands and decent speed, and most defenders will be keeping their eyes on AJ Green and Jordan Shipley.
Simpson would make a nice receiver on any roster. Expect six to eight touchdowns from Simpson in 2011.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Cleveland Browns
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Staying within the AFC North, the Browns are a team on the verge of a breakout. Peyton Hillis is coming off a great season, Colt McCoy is ready to be an elite quarterback and the team has decent defensive tools.
Until Brandon Jackson was injured a couple weeks ago, he was considered to be Hillis' backup and a sleeper himself. Even if he'd not been hurt, Hardesty is still the sleeper.
Hardesty spent his entire rookie year on the sidelines due to injury. He's a powerful runner that can bowl through anyone in the league and will be a great third-down back behind Hillis.
He'll also catch some passes out of the backfield. Hardesty will have a good year, accumulating eight touchdowns.
Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
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Jennings is currently injured, but signs point to him being ready for the regular season.
Maurice Jones-Drew's best seasons are probably behind him. He'll still be a good runner, but he is in need of someone to help him carry the load while the quarterback situation continues to fluctuate.
Assuming Jennings is back from injury and avoids the PUP list, he'll get some carries in 2011. He gathered 459 yards in 2010, but with Jones-Drew being another year older, Jennings' agility and quickness would be enjoyed coming out of the backfield.
Watch for Jennings to run for at least 800 yards and seven touchdowns.
Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks
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There was a time when none of us thought this man would ever suit up for a game in the NFL.
Now, Mike Williams is one of the more exciting men to watch. He had a decent season last year, having caught for over 700 yards. However, he remains a sleeper because of the team's acquisition of Sidney Rice.
Williams still has so much to give to the league and will make Tarvaris Jackson look so much better than he actually is. At 235 lbs., he's great for yards after contact as he can bowl through defenders.
Watch for Williams to catch at least 1,000 yards, eight touchdowns and be the team's leading wideout.
Rashied Davis, WR, Detroit Lions
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Davis had a very bad season in Chicago last year. He only caught nine passes and had a single touchdown.
Now, Davis gets to start fresh in Detroit with a young quarterback capable of being the best passer in the game. Davis will be competing for the second receiver position with the oft-injured Nate Burleson.
What Chicago missed out on with Rashied Davis is how great his speed is. He can turn a corner and turn on the burners like the best of them, and if Matt Stafford can be the passer all year, Davis will make a surprise appearance to the league.
Davis will catch around 60 balls for 800 yards and six touchdowns.
Steve Breaston, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
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Breaston has so much upside, but one of the largest uphill battles in the league to be successful. He's playing behind two receivers, Dwayne Bowe and rookie Johnathon Baldwin, and the main focus will be the running of Jammal Charles.
Breaston was overlooked and underperformed because he had a trainwreck of a quarterback situation in 2010. Matt Cassel won't be any Brett Favre, but he doesn't make many mistakes, which is what Breaston needs.
It is possible—but not likely—that Breaston beats out Baldwin to be the second receiver.
Watch for him to break at least 800 yards and six touchdowns.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
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Tate is one of the guys that has the most to prove on this list and probably the least amount of time to prove it. He's the backup to the reigning rushing champion.
However, I'm one of those guys not buying into Arian Foster. He's good, but he won't come near his 2010 numbers again. This is where Tate comes in.
After missing an entire year with an injury, Tate will be put into the game on third down situations and to catch a few passes as well. Once the Texans' management starts realizing Foster isn't going to have the same success, Tate will be seen more and more.
This is the top man on this list. He'll score at least 10 times.