It is fantasy football draft time once again, and that means it is time to figure out who should be drafted early and who might slip to later rounds as wonderful sleeper picks. With a number of big stories, such as the CBSSports announcement on Aug. 28 that the New York Jets might start an undrafted rookie at quarterback, here is a look at sleepers from the fantasy football 2013 draft cheat sheet.
1. Ryan Broyles – Ryan Broyles is ranked behind Nate Burleson on the depth chart for the Detroit Lions and is coming off an ACL tear. That makes him an iffy pick in many people’s eyes. But take into account that he recovered from a torn ACL in time to play in his rookie season, catching 22 balls for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford has praised him in Lions’ training camp, and with Reggie Bush in the backfield and Calvin Johnson on the other side of the field, the Lions second receiver will get a lot of looks this year. Broyles has a lot more upside than Burleson, who is also coming off an injury, and has the chance for a breakout sophomore campaign.
2. Alex Smith – All that Alex Smith did in San Francisco was win. He is one of the most accurate passers in the game, with a TD-Int ration of 30-10 over his last 26 starts. People discount him as a dink-and-dunk passer who just throws a lot of dump passes, and Kansas City is no one’s idea of a good team. However, Andy Reid is a quarterback’s dream of a coach and he will put Smith in a solid position to shine. Plus, Dwayne Bowe is the first great receiver Alex Smith has ever played with.
3. Chris Givens – The St. Louis Rams are on the verge of something here. No, their running game is not special, but Sam Bradford is and he can do something special in this offense now that Jeff Fischer is making changes. Everyone is in love right now with Tavon Austin, and for good reason – he is a stud. However, he is going to be the focus of a lot of good corners in the NFL and that will open up the field for Chris Givens. He had six quality fantasy games in 2012 with no one to take the pressure off of him and he should shine with Austin playing across from him in 2013.
4. Lance Dunbar – DeMarco Murray is injury prone. Yes, when he is healthy he can be one of the best runners in the NFL, but he gets hurt a lot. That makes the Dallas Cowboys backups important. However, a sleeper should be someone who can score points even if the starters are healthy all season, and Dunbar has that chance. He is a fast running back, a poor man’s Darren Sproles. Look at how great Sproles did as a backup in San Diego and that is what Dunbar has a chance of this season for Dallas.
5. Marcel Reece – Anyone who owned Reece in 2012 knows he is not a real sleeper, but the other 90 percent of fantasy football players may not know how special he really is. For one thing, Darren McFadden is more injury prone than DeMarco Murray, so Reece will start at least one or two games in Oakland this year. For another, there is not a running back in the NFL who can do more out of the backfield than Reece outside of Darren Sproles. In PPR leagues, Marcel Reece is a monster. In standard leagues, ignore this pick and draft Rashard Mendenhall instead.