Fantasy football sleepers can take your team to the next level, and I have chosen my favorites for the 2013 draft season.
Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB Brandon Weeden, Cleveland Browns: Improved weaponry. A big arm. Maturity. A pass-first offense. A rock-solid offensive line. A stud running back. Check to all. He's a second fantasy passer. Look for roughly 4,000 passing yards and a touchdown total in the low 20s -- good enough numbers to warrant occasional starts
QB EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills: He is a heady rookie with a potentially dangerous receiving corps and a sound running game to rely on. He will likely miss the rest of the preseason with a knee ailment and possibly even Week 1. It appears as though Manuel will assume the starter's role upon his return. Kevin Kolb (concussion) could have to call it a career, and it is clearly Manuel's job once he is ready to return. Manuel is a risky No. 2 quarterback.
QB Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: Maybe, just maybe, Ponder can put it all together with the new weapons around him. Don't hold your breath, but he has the smarts and arm to make it happen.
RB Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams: Daryl Richardson may have been named the starter, but his frame doesn't suggest he can take an NFL pounding. Isaiah Pead is not cut out for the NFL, even as a change-of-pace player. Stacy has everything Jeff Fisher looks for in a workhorse back. At a minimum, Stacy will share carries by midseason.
RB Shane Vereen, New England Patriots: The decimation of the Pats' receiving targets will force Vereen into a heavy PPR workload. He should catch 60 balls or more this year.
RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals: This do-all rookie is fragile but offers so much more than the Law Firm to this offense. Could he steal the job outright? I wouldn't be shocked. At worst, he's a weak RB3 for PPR leagues.
RB Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals: Given the opportunity, the versatile Taylor should make a fantasy impact in 2013. Playing behind Rashard Mendenhall and the still-recovering Ryan Williams (knee) makes this a very attainable scenario. Taylor's value is solidified if Williams is indeed traded or released, with the latter seeming to be imminent.
RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: Most owners are stoked about Montee Ball's future in Denver, and so am I, but just not immediately. Ronnie Hillman has done everything in his power to secure the starting job but fumbling and a lack of production has been issues. Ball's pass protection has been suspect. This offense was very balanced last year, but it appears to be ready for a shift toward the passing game. Considering the mild investment you'll have to make, Moreno could be a rock star in PPR leagues.
RB Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers: The veteran smurf could be a huge asset to the Bolts' passing attack in 2013. He has PPR steal written all over is miniature frame.
Don't discredit Moreno
RB Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys: Starter DeMarco Murray has proven to be anything but durable. Randle has more talent than any of the other remaining backs on roster and should see the ball even if Murray is healthy.
RB Kenjon Barner, Carolina Panthers: The placement of Jonathan Stewart (ankle) on the PUP opens the door for Barner to show how good he really is. Draft him in the middle of your selection process and expect serviceable numbers, perhaps a full year's worth, since J-Stew may not return. Barner has all of the tools to make fantasy owners smile.
RB Cierre Wood, Houston Texans: I have made it no secret that I don't care for Arian Foster this year, and if he falters, look for Wood to have a meaningful role in the offense.
FB/RB Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Jackson, Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson has durability issues. Dion Lewis broke his leg and could miss the whole year. Montario Hardesty is already banged up and screams injury liability. Ogbonnaya was moved to fullback, which is a pass-catching, anything-but-conventional role in this offense. He has performed admirably in his limited service time and could share time with Jackson if Richardson goes down. On his own, Jackson is your PPR target out of this backfield. He'll spell T-Rich when needed, but the latter is a strong pass catcher in his own right.
WR and TE SLEEPERS AWAIT YOUR VIEWING PLEASURE....
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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