We all know drafting studs is a surefire way to have success in fantasy football.
Just draft Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson and Tony Romo and watch them roll. Well, that’s the easy part.
Finding a hidden jewel, though, is what separates the smart drafters from the uneducated ones. The following sleepers here are probably what got some fantasy players into their playoffs and beyond.
The 10 players outlined here (in no particular order), all thoroughly outplayed their draft value and are giving their owners the most bang for their buck.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon
We all knew how good Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was, and that he could connect with any receivers he had at his disposal. However, with the Packers already strong at receiver/tight end with the likes of Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and James Jones, most thought Nelson would just be another target.
But Nelson has risen above just being a role player and is arguably Rodgers’ number one target. All Nelson has done is rack up 986 yards receiving to go with 10 touchdowns.
While he put up a stinker in Sunday’s outing vs. Washington, Manning has proved all year he is elite.
Drafted by many as a marginal number-one quarterback (and in many cases a backup), Manning has emphatically outplayed his draft status. Manning has arguably been a top-five or top-six quarterback this season.
Chew on these stats: 4,362 yards passing and 25 touchdowns to just 15 interceptions.
Usually, rookie quarterbacks are supposed to struggle.
However, that has not been the case in regards to the uber-athletic Newton.
Newton has shattered the rookie quarterback mold and has put up some terrific numbers. Through 14 games, Newton has amassed 3,722 yards passing with 17 touchdowns. Newton has been just as good on the ground too, rushing for 609 yards with an additional 13 touchdowns.
The only blemish for Newton is the 17 interceptions he has thrown. But we’ll chalk that up to rookie inexperience.
This pick has more to do with luck than anything else, but credit Bush as he has seized the opportunity he was afforded (due to an injury to Darren McFadden).
While Bush on his own is a great talent (he should be a starting running back somewhere), he needed an injury to McFadden to show everyone just how good he really is.
All Bush has done is rush for 841 yards with seven touchdown on 214 attempts while also accumulating 381 yards receiving and a touchdown.
As long as he is a starter, he’ll be a quality fantasy option.
With Tim Hightower departing Arizona and rookie Ryan Williams going down with an injury in the preseason, it opened the door for Wells to steal the spotlight.
Wells has done just that and is enjoying quite the breakout season. Wells has rushed for 994 yards and scored 10 touchdowns, which is tied for fifth among running backs.
To say Gronkowski had a breakout season would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Gronkowski has proven to be a beast this year and is the unquestioned top tight end to select in drafts next year. Gronkowski has made 75 catches for 1,141 yards and his 15 receiving touchdowns (also has a rushing touchdown) is now a record among tight ends.
Gronkowski is so good, that it’s not out of the realm he goes in the first round in drafts next year.
Despite the Vikings having erratic quarterback play all season, Harvin has remained a constant.
Harvin has uncharacteristically stayed healthy all season and is playing at high level right now. With 787 yards receiving, Harvin should surpass his career mark of 868. His six total touchdowns are not too shabby either.
Not far behind Gronkowski among tight ends is the Saints' talented Graham.
Graham has done a super job of outplaying his draft value by recording 1,171 yards receiving to go along with nine touchdowns. All who watch the Saints play know that Graham is Drew Brees' number one target.
If Gronkowski is the number-one tight end, then Graham is without a doubt number two.
Lynch has taken his game to a whole new level this season. Let’s just say he has taken his game into “Beast Mode."
The Skittles-loving running back started off slow but has come on like gangbusters down the stretch.
Lynch has rushed for 1,011 yards and 12 total touchdowns (one receiving touchdown) thus far. Lynch still has a 10-game streak of scoring at least one touchdown active.
For a guy who was drafted in rounds six or later, what more can you ask for?
I’m going to lump these two together since both rookie receivers have greatly surpassed their draft value.
Usually, rookie receivers have a hard time adjusting to NFL game speed and getting down their routes, but both Green and Jones have proven to be the exception, not the rule.
Green has surpassed the 1,000 yards receiving plateau (1,006) to go with seven touchdowns. Jones, meanwhile, probably would have surpassed that plateau too if he didn’t miss three games with a hamstring injury. As it is, Jones has put up 755 yards receiving to go with five touchdowns.
The sky is the limit for these two supremely-gifted receivers.