Rick's last minute fantasy football sleeper list

We have worried through the lockout, waded through countless statistics and wondered about Chris Johnson and Peyton Manning’s actual value. Then we had to wait to learn the draft order, work through ADP statistics and wish for this day to finally arrive.

Alright folks, it’s draft time!

Nothing beats the rush of a draft during the fantasy season. It’s the intersection of Strategy Street and Bold Move Boulevard. We’re all so smart on draft day. We love our team; but of course we should since we just drafted them! This year appears to be the year of the middle rounds. Your success might hinge more on rounds 6-10 than ever before. The top-tiers of QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs are pretty well set.  

Depending (of course) upon your scoring system, you know there are an elite 5 QBs this season—Rodgers, Vick, Brady, Brees and Rivers.  You also know that Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub are usually just a couple picks apart, and quite often go side-by-side in your mocks. At running back, the top-four are set now (in some order) at Rice, Foster, Peterson and Charles. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has 3 WRs at the top of their board. We can just use first names here folks:  Andre, Calvin and Roddy. At TE, we have 5 uber-studs from which to choose: Witten, Gates, Davis, Finley and Clark.

So after we work our way through the obvious choices and trendy picks, we settle into the middle rounds of our draft. Team 2 needs another RB, so Moreno, Wells or Lynch are likely to leave the board. Team 6 is going to go QB, you can just feel it. Yep, there goes Big Ben. By round 5, the top-5 TEs vanish. All pretty much according to plan. Don’t get bored, don’t open that 3rd Dos Equis (even though you are the most interesting man at your draft) and whatever you do, don’t sit back and admire your first 5 picks. It’s time to really get to work. Stick to your plan. Avoid those players on your “do not draft” list, no matter how tempting. Look for gems that you really don’t want to end up on other rosters during the bye weeks. Then, pull the trigger.

I’ve targeted some sleepers that might help you fill your precious middle rounds. I’ve included a couple others that might just fall way below their anticipated value on draft day. Don’t just take my word for it—mesh this information into your own draft plan, and see where it leads you. Do a couple last-minute mocks then just relax. You’re all set. Besides, there’s always the waiver wire!



Sam Bradford
In 2010, Aaron Rodgers tossed the pigskin 475 times. Tom Brady attempted 492 passes. Phillip Rivers threw 541. Sam Bradford dropped back 590 times! Only Brees (658) and Peyton (679) had more passing attempts last season. The Rams play from behind, they’ve added rookie TE Lance Kendricks (who just scored against Kansas City as I’m typing this) and Mike Sims-Walker to their receiving corps. Oh yeah, and someone named Josh Daniels moved from Denver to St Louis. Why is Bradford going as QB14-19? I have no idea.

Kevin Kolb
Do I think Kolb is magically a top-12 QB? Nope. Top 16? Not quite. But looking at the WR rankings, I see the name Larry Fitzgerald very near the top. Fitz was targeted an amazing 173 times last year. Only Wayne (174) and Roddy White (179) had more. Think back to how bad some of Fitz’s “targets” were from Derek Anderson and John Skelton. If Larry Fitzgerald is a top-7 WR, Kolb is going too low. Period. Fitz was able to catch only 90 of those 173 wild passes last year and still had 1137 yards and 6 TDs. Kolb also adds Todd Heap, and the Cardinals will be playing catch-up all year. I also like Andre Roberts at WR.

Peyton Manning
What is Peyton doing on a “sleepers” list? Remember, this column is also about unusual value. Unlike Chris Johnson’s situation, Peyton is working hard to get back on the field. He also wants Brett Favre’s consecutive-starts record! Did you catch the interview on CBS during the Colts-Packers game? Look, worst case is he’s out until after the PIT game in week 3. Then he comes storming back with a 3-game stretch against TB, KC and CIN. Sweet justice! Peyton’s 679 attempts in 2010 (17 games) translates into 40 attempts/game. Even if he misses 3 games and we ignore week 17, he still puts up something like 520 attempts, 3594 yards and 26 TDs during our fantasy season. Why is he falling between Matt Schaub and Josh Freeman in current mocks? If you draft late in the 1st round, you could actually go (stud) WR/RB/Manning with your first 3 picks.


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