Fantasy football is now bigger than ever with so many new sites popping up, and here are six late round sleepers to pick up.
Believe it or not, making basic NFL Picks on game sides and totals is not the only game in town any more, not with so many fantasy football sites popping up seemingly every day.
Now almost everyone has participated in fantasy football drafts in the past, either among friends or among co-workers, and now they can be done online including buy-in leagues that are played for real cash. With regular NFL lines being so tough to beat, fantasy presents a different and in most cases more realistic avenue for making money on NFL games. At the very least, it prevents novices from forcing bets on unbettable games where they have fantasy players in action.
Now most fantasy players have the same top 50 players or so in one order or another, so the key to winning your league is finding the late round gems that end up contributing much more to your team than the rest of your league members expect, and drafting these sleepers is the key to winning your league trophy, or even better, the cash prize!
With this in mind, here are six players that we feel are undervalued right now and have the potential to put up good fantasy numbers this year, and yet can in most cases get drafted after the eighth round.
Jay Cutler (Quarterback, Chicago Bears): We feel that quarterbacks are often overrated in fantasy leagues, especially those that only give four points for a touchdown pass, so we usually recommend building up your running backs and receiving corps early and waiting on quarterbacks. When you do need one though, Cutler seems poised for a nice bounce-back season. First of all, the Bears went out and acquired a bona fide number one wide receiver in Brandon Marshall, and remember that Cutler’s best years in the NFL came with Marshall as his primary target when both were with the Denver Broncos, so this reunion should only boost Cutler’s numbers. Secondly, the Bears are going to a more conventional offense this year after letting go of Mike Martz and his gimmicky schemes as offensive coordinator. Martz’s play-calling often involved long-developing routes that required outstanding pass protection, and when linemen not accustomed to holding their blocks that long understandably failed to do so, Cutler often got crushed. He will be much more relaxed in the pocket this year and won’t have the “happy feet” he had under Martz. Don’t be shocked if he throws for over 4000 yards and for at least 25 touchdowns, which is fine production for a late pick.
Jake Locker (Quarterback, Tennessee Titans): Locker outperformed Matt Hasselbeck on the field last year and if the Titans truly hold a quarterback competition in preseason and are not hell-bent on beginning the year with the veteran Hasselbeck as the starter, then Locker should win the job hands down. He provided a noticeable spark to the offense when he played last year and he threw four touchdown passes without an interception while also averaging 7.0 yards on eight carries. Hasselbeck looked about done while fading down the stretch last year while Locker has tremendous athleticism and a rocket for an arm, and he gives Tennessee the best chance to win games. The Titans have a good and deep receiving corps that got even better with the selection of Baylor’s Kendall Wright, and those receivers would prefer to catch Locker’s deep balls than be forced to run more underneath routes with the weaker armed Hasselbeck under center.
C.J. Spiller (Running Back, Buffalo Bills): Fred Jackson is back at running back this year for Buffalo and he was having an MVP-type year last year when he fractured his fibula, so he will obviously be the starter. With that said, it will be impossible to keep Spiller off the field given how he performed in Jackson’s absence last season, and Head Coach Chan Gailey has raved about Spiller’s improved blocking this season. While that is obviously not a fantasy stat, it will mean that Spiller will be on the field longer as the Bills are more comfortable about giving Jackson extended rests. And who could blame them? Spiller was actually an elite fantasy back from Week 12 on last year as he ended up averaging a whopping 5.2 yards per carry while rushing for 561 yards and four touchdowns, and he even added 269 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, giving him a total of six touchdowns in six starts. He averaged 18.3 touches in those weeks, basically showing what he could do if he were a starter, and it will be hard to limit him too much even with Jackson carrying the load. Furthermore, having Spiller on your roster would be a stroke of genius if Jackson gets injured again.
Jacquizz Rodgers (Running Back, Atlanta Falcons): Michael Turner is the starter in Atlanta, but he wore down noticeably down the stretch last year, averaging 3.6 yards or less in six of his last seven games. Furthermore, his only good rushing game in that stretch came vs. a horrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense. That opens up the door for the diminutive but explosive Rodgers, especially since Head Coach Mike Smith has already announced that the Falcons will try to limit Turner’s role somewhat this year. Rodgers produced 205 rushing yards and 188 passing yards in a very limited role in his rookie season last year with two total touchdowns, and all of those numbers are sure to go up this year with an expanded role. Furthermore, if Turner continues to slip or gets injured, Rodgers would get the first look as the every-down back, especially after receiving raves from running backs coach Gerald Brown regarding his work ethic.
Denarius Moore (Wide Receiver, Oakland Raiders): Most believe that Darrius Heyward-Bey will be the go-to guy at Oakland for quarterback Carson Palmer this year, but we do not feel that Moore, who has a solid hold on the other starting wide-out spot, is not that far behind. Yet, looking at various fantasy projections, Moore is rated considerably lower than Heyward-Bey, giving the former some very nice sleeper potential. Moore has blazing speed and he impressed as a rookie last season with 618 receiving yards on 33 receptions and five touchdowns. That translates to a robust 18.7 yards per reception as six of his catches were for over 30 yards, and he even rushed for 61 yards on five running plays while adding a sixth touchdown. And that receiving success was with Palmer not joining the team until mid-season, so we think that Moore’s numbers could sky-rocket as he and Palmer built a rapport during the off-season.
Titus Young (Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions): We feel that Young is a bona fide playmaker that could win the starting job opposite of Calvin Johnson, and even if that does not happen immediately, he should leapfrog Nate Burleson soon and Young will see a lot of action on the field regardless. Young closed the season strong last year, catching 19 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns in the final five weeks alone. He has reportedly been catching every ball in sight during off-season workouts and he figures to be a bigger past of Detroit’s aerial show this year with Megatron getting all the attention from opposing defenses. Besides, there will be plenty of balls to go around if Matthew Stafford approaches the 663 pass attempts he had last year, which led the NFL.