One of the keys to winning a fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. “Sleepers” are NFL players who are drafted in much lower rounds in your fantasy football drafts than their ending statistics warrant. We have seen championships won on the heels of unknowns such as Miles Austin in 2009 and Arian Foster in 2010 and rookies coming of age much faster than expected, such as Cam Newton in 2011. They have come out of nowhere to register monster years after being double-digit or waiver wire picks. No one expected that. When you can grab a player at the end of your draft that becomes your number 1 producer at a certain position, you, my friends, have a true Sleeper. Below are projected fantasy football sleepers by position for the 2012 season.
2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Carson Palmer (Oakland) – Palmer worked his way out of Cincinnati and into another starting job. Though a bit rusty, he showed flashes last season that he still has it. The Raiders have been in love with speedsters at WR for years but didn’t have a QB that could throw to them. Palmer showed last year that he can and helped bring Denarius Moore into the public eye. Now that he has had to to really work with his receivers, expect to see big things out of former first round draft pick (#7 overall), Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner, a Sleeper in his own right. Palmer has a lot of weapons and a primary running back, Darren McFadden that is often injured. You can easily get Palmer around the 10th round since most of the teams in your league will scoop up the top 7 QBs early and will opt for rolling the dice with the like of Jay Culter and even RG3 before looking west at the salty veteran.
RB: Shane Vereen (New England) – The New England backfield appears to be a crapshoot on the surface. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is gone and someone needs to take over. The Patriots have been preparing for this by drafting running backs the past few seasons, but have had a hard time keeping them healthy. Right now, Steven Ridley is the first Patriots back ket qua bong da off the board. However, I think that you should pick up Shane Vereen. He was a second-round draft pick of the Pats in 2011, but tore a hammy in preseason and never saw the field. His hammy is fine now and he still have 4.49 speed. Plus, he caught passes out of the backfield in college, which makes him a better weapon than Ridley. You can grab him in early double-digit rounds and wear a big smile.
WR: Brian Quick (St. Louis) – Sam Bradford has not had much luck with his receivers staying healthy in his short NFL career so he is still searching for a Go-To guy. Quick will be that guy. Yes, he is a rookie and yes, he came from a school that does not play on TV. But, he has size (6’4″ and 220lbs), he has speed (4.48) and he has great hands. If he avoids the booze and focuses on his route-running, he could easily be a 70-catch, 1100-yard, 8-TD receiver and you’ll be able to get him in round 8-9.
TE: Jacob Tamme (Denver) – the Tight End is a position that is very deep and turns out Sleepers year-in and year-out. Tamme has never been a household name, but he did leave a mark with us when he filled in for an injured Dallas Clark in Indy when his QB was none other than Peyton Manning. Much like Indy, Denver has a talented group of receivers which will help Tamme get single-coverage on many seam routes. He is a lock for double-digit rounds and has the potential for getting you similar stats to TEs drafted in rounds 6-7.
D: Kansas City – The Chiefs defense was the main reason that the Chiefs approached.500 in 2011 as the offense was decimated and deplorable. The defense was even missing safety Eric Berry. Berry returns healthy, the remainder of the defense returns and they added CB Stanford Routt from Oakland and drafted NT Dontari Poe with their first pick to help the pass rush. The schedule is mildly difficult, but the offense should be better with Peyton Hillis to split carries with a recovering Jamal Charles so the defense will get more time on the bench to rest up.