In 2010, our sleeper "breakout" player was none other than Buffalo's Steve Johnson. In Tampa Bay we had L Blount come out of nowhere to be a feature Running Back. I want to identify 2011's version of these guys and I want to take a late round chance on them in my fantasy draft. The example would be leagues where you can have 16 players on your roster. I carry 2 QB's, 4 RB's, 5 WR's, 2 TE's, 2 DEF, 1 K. So that 5th wide receiver spot on my roster I take at pick 15 in the draft. I want to grab a "break out" prospect at that pick. I reserve pick 15 for somebody I might have to drop by week 4 or 5 if he doesn't pan out. But if he does pan out, then it could be the difference in winning your division and making a run at a championship.
So let's look at Stevie. Nobody except Stevie himself drafted Steve Johnson in 2010 fantasy drafts. In ESPN's 2010 "Top 300 Cheat Sheet", Steve Johnson was 263rd on the list. If you're in a 12 team league, average draft is 16 rounds, that's 192 players that get drafted. He was 263rd, nobody drafted him last year.
This year I have him in my top 50, which is not bad for a guy on the Bills! So using Steve Johnson as our latest example, let's examine 2011.
Derek Hagan is making himself a sleeper candidate in Oakland. It's his 7th year, I like his size as he's 6-2, 215 lbs.. You hate drafting any Oakland wide receiver, especially somebody so low on the depth chart, so I don't think he's a sleeper worth drafting, but he's somebody to watch in free agency.
I love Antonio Brown right now. He's going undrafted in plenty of leagues. I know you can't trust pre-season games, but he caught 2 bomb TD's in the 3rd preseason game. But don't forget that Wallace is on the team, and so is Hines Ward, and oh by the way, so is Jericho Cotchery! So it bothers me when there's a team with 4 good wide receiver option, because inevitably, the wealth gets share, production gets dilluted. But in this case, I'm game. I like him currently and he's worth taking in the late rounds. He's worth a spot on your roster, and if he doesn't hit big by week 5, dump him.
Another guy that I'm looking at though is Bernard Berrian. He's got a rejuvinated Donovan McNabb at quarterback, and Sidney Rice is gone. Berrian is the Vikings' deep threat, and I haven't liked Berrian in past years, I've never drafted the guy, but I'd consider him at the 15th pick in the draft. I've been in drafts recently where he doesn't make anybody's team. I might just be grabbing him though in my next draft.
Let me go hometown on this one, the Eagles' new wide receiver Steve Smith. I didn't draft him in any leagues, but he just practiced this week for the first time. He'll be behind Desean, Maclin (if healthy), and Avant. Maybe even behind Riley Cooper. But let's not forget that he had a monster season with the Giants not very long ago. It would not surprise me to see a healthy Steve Smith overtake a smaller, recently ill Jeremy Maclin. I have more drafts coming up soon, and I might just consider him one of these times. In leagues that I did not draft him, I might pick him up in free agency after week 1.
What about Anthony Armstrong? I mean, he had 871 yards receiving in 2010, so he quietly produced solid numbers, yet nobody is drafting him on teams in 2011 fantasy drafts. Probably because he only nabbed 3 TD's in 2010. Probably because he's on the Redskins. It's his 2nd year, I hate his QB's Beck and Grossman, but then again, these guys have to throw to somebody. Yes Santana Moss and Cooley will be the main targets, but Armstrong is the Deep Threat. People are trending towards Gaffney currently, as he's listed as the #2 right with Armstrong as the #3. Look, Armstrong has a shot to have some big games, and I think he gets more TD's than he did in 2010, and more yards. That means he's also a current top "sleeper", a sleeper only because nobody is drafting him, not because nobody saw him coming. He's another option at the 15th pick in standard 16 team drafts.
I should mention Arrelious Benn, the #2 WR in Tampa Bay. I've seen people taking late round fliers on him, so I'm not the only one who sees potential for him to breakout in 2011. He's another 2nd year guy. If you are in a league where you can keep 18 or 20 players, then by all means, take a late round pick on him.
Greg Little isn't getting much love in drafts that I've been in, yet he might be able to put up numbers like Tampa Bay Mike Williams did in 2010. Mainly because there's nobody else really if Massoquai is injured. Mass just started practicing again, but who knows how healthy he really is. Little is somebody to consider, and I actually might just pick him up in one or 2 leagues.
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