Looking for a handful of deep sleeper candidates as you head into 2012 fantasy football draft preparation mode?
This list of players are truly of the “deep sleeper” variety, so you won’t find big names, or obvious breakouts.
Enjoy, and don’t forget to comment below, and talk about these players, and more, on our fantasy football forums!
1. Isaiah Pead (RB-Rams)
Ok, you want bold? Second-round rookie runner Isaiah Pead will not only finish as the Rams’ leading rusher in 2012, he will finish so strong in 2012 he will be considered a top 25 overall player heading into 2013 fantasy football drafts. Clearly Pead is also pegged as a big-time dynasty sleeper of mine, but the upside is present for 2012 as well. Now, this is a bold prediction, keep that in mind, and certainly do not reach past Pead’s current ADP (12.08-13.08) in upcoming drafts… Instead, use his extremely-low ADP to your advantage and draft this kid with zero risk. Could Steven Jackson crank out one more relatively healthy season? Sure, and again, that’s why this is a bold prediction, but with all the miles on Jackson’s wheels, in both the passing and rushing games, it isn’t hard to imagine Jackson breaking down by mid-season, if not earlier. Talent is going to win out once Pead hits the field, and that Rams’ coaching staff won’t be able to keep the rookie off the field once he sniffs it. He reminds me a lot of a young LeSean McCoy, and numerous reports have surfaced recently suggesting that Jeff Fisher sees some “Chris Johnson” in the rusher — I agree. Get ready for the Isaiah Pead show – Get your tickets now and you will have front row seats to his breakout performance, as no one is fully buying into this kid — Yet! Go get him in dynasty leagues!
For more on Pead, read what we wrote about him in a FantasyPros-published Sleeper Article.
2. Tim Tebow (QB-NYJ)
With an ADP in the 13th-round, or later, what’s not to like about drafting Tim Tebow this year? Is he a lock to ever start for the Jets in 2012? Technically speaking, no, however, I say there is almost zero chance Mark Sanchez properly manages the pressures of having Tebow sitting behind him. Throw in the “Tim Tebow” cheers and chants, and the fact that Tebow will still see playing time (and could impress during that time), which means Tebow could unseat an even-decent playing Sanchez, as both will be seeing action… it really isn’t a matter of “if” Tebow cracks the line-up, it’s just a question of when. There are very few people out there that can suggest that they believe in Tim Tebow more than I do, as the proof is in this article I wrote back in last August, 2011, when Tebow was demoted to third-string over in Denver… What did Tebow do? He did exactly what I said he would do, he dominated as soon as he got his shot. Tebow is back in the same situation as he was last August… he is not the starter, he won’t have time to prepare as the team’s starter, and once his number is called, he will exceed expectations for a player with no off-season preparation as his team’s No. 1 (yet be judged as if he had an off-season to prepare as a starter). In a sense, last year was Tebow’s first season as an NFL QB… he played in a couple games in 2010 (and did well I might add), but 2011 was kind of his rookie season… what other rookie QBs, or first-time starting quarterbacks, excel at almost every turn during their first seasons under center? Not many. Newton, but not many! Why is Tebow not extended the same consideration that other young and still-developing passers are extended as they evolve through their first couple NFL campaigns? Vick wasn’t an extremely accurate passer right away. When is 6 fourth quarter comebacks and 7 game-winning drives on 14 career starts not enough? When is 5 fourth quarter come backs and 6 game-winning drives in 11 starts (in his only semi-full season) not enough? When is 7-3 as a starter, with a playoff win, not enough? Doubt Tebow again, I dare you. I just can’t wait to hear the excuses for why Tebow is thriving in New York… will be be the defense again? While so many will continue to doubt him in 2012, even when he is called to start, those of us who believe will enjoy watching him score fantasy points, the same kind of fantasy points he scored last season when he ran for 660 rushing yards and 12 rushing TDs. Like I said, at 13th-round ADP, or later, what’s not to like?
3. Jonathan Stewart (RB-CAR)
With an 8th-round ADP, it’s hard not to see the upside. On a dynasty note, keep in mind that this kid is only 25.
4. Jacquizz Rodgers (RB-ATL)
He is sitting behind a runner that is both slowing down, and not heavily relied upon in the passing game; Given Rodgers‘ receiving skills, and explosiveness, you could see him develop into a Darren Sproles type player in 2012!
5. Randall Cobb (WR-GB)
He could really emerge this season; there are enough targets to go around in Green Bay, and Cobb could turn into a strong fantasy WR3 in 2012!
6. Bilal Powell (RB-NYJ)
Greene can still develop, so Powell is no lock, hence why he is a sleeper candidate and not one of our breakout candidates. Just keep an eye on this kid, as Greene isn’t all that exciting, and some explosive play by Powell could change the Jets’ plans for dividing up workloads.
7. Peyton Hillis (RB-KC)
Hillis look good according to reports, and we loved him last year. Charles may deliver, but Hillis‘ is worth grabbing in 2012, even for that crafty non-Charles owner. If getting starter carries, I still firmly believe Hillis has top 10RB upside.
8. LaMichael James (RB-SF)
Gore is on the decline – James could be a monster sleeper come mid-season. It just might take him a while to get consistent touches.
9. Sam Bradford (QB-STL)
Bradford was our low-end QB1 breakout last year…. nothing has changed here!
10. Brandon Saine (RB-GB)
Probably the deepest sleeper on this list, Saine is worth a grab, as Starks could falter, and Saine is a quiet talent!
11. Kyle Rudolph (TE-MIN)
We hear nothing but good things coming out of Vikings’ camp!
12. Derrius Heyward-Bey (WR-OAK)
He may or may not get the targets, but if healthy, this could be his breakout season.
Talk about these players, and more, on our fantasy football forums!