Tag Archives: Matthew Berry

Top 10 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers

If you are a serious, no-nonsense, balls-to-the-wall fantasy football player like I am, then you already know what I am about to say, so feel free to skip ahead a bit.  As for the rest of you, here goes: there is no offseason in fantasy football.  Right now you should be paying attention to who, among the teams in the playoffs, is getting the ball and how much they are getting it.  Bernard Pierce’s game against the Colts told me more about him then all 16 games of the regular season did combined.  To prove my point, I submit the fact that Matthew Berry, the preeminent fantasy guru, has already released his top 200 players for 2013, which got me thinking.  I know its early, but I immediately identified more than a handful of players whom I think were undervalued based on his initial rankings.  In the words of fantasy athletics these are known as “sleepers”.  So here you go, for your reading pleasure I submit my list of 2013 fantasy football sleepers.  And just so we are on the same page, here is my definition of what a “sleeper” is:  I define a sleeper as a player who will outperform his average draft position by no less than 10 spots, or one full standard league round.  So a fifth round sleeper would be expected to perform as well, if not better than, a player selected in the fourth round.  So, without further ado, here they are.

  • #53 Greg Jennings, WR22, 6th Round.  In 2012 the 22nd best WR was Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers with his 73 receptions for 1,174 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Jennings missed most of 2012 with an injury but did show he was back at 100% in Green Bay’s season finale in which he caught 8 balls for 120 yards and 2 TD’s.  He will be one of the most highly coveted free agents this offseason and at only 30 years old should have no problem being a top 15 WR next year worthy of a selection within the first five rounds of the draft.  1200 yards and 8 touchdowns are easily attainable.  Even if he were to stay in Green Bay it changes nothing as Jennings is Rodgers favorite target.
  • #69 Torrey Smith, WR29, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 29th best WR was Austin Miles of the Dallas Cowboys with his 946 yards and 6 touchdowns.  In 2012, Smith’s second year in the NFL, he had 984 receiving yards and 10 TD’s.  Traditionally, a wide receiver usually really starts to come into his own during his third year in the league.  Anyone who watched the Baltimore-Denver AFC Divisional game last week knows that it is laughable to actually think that Smith will regress in 2013.  Barring any unforeseen setbacks, if you’re on the clock in the fourth round and he’s still available then he has the potential to be the steal of your draft.
  • #70 Vick Ballard, RB25, 7th Round.  In 2012 the 25th best running back was Willis McGahee and his 952 total yards and four touchdowns.  Come on!  What the Colts have going on the offensive side of the ball is something special.  The Donald Brown era is all but over.  I fully expect Ballard to enter 2013 as their primary, if not feaure, back who will get all the goal line work.  In today’s NFL no primary+goal line back lasts until the 7th round of a fantasy draft.  Barring a move via the draft or something unexpected during free agency, Ballard is no worse than a top 15 RB worth selecting during the first five rounds of the draft.
  • #86 Jacquizz Rodgers, RB29, 9th Round.  The 29th best running back of 2012 was Denver’s Knowshon Moreno and his 748 total yards and 5 total TD’s.  Much of my argument for Rodgers is the same as above for Ballard.  Michael Turner’s role in the Atlanta offense is being reduced, if not phased out entirely by next year, and Rodgers is who they are going to turn to.  To sum it up, as a rookie, in a part time role, Rodgers totaled 836 yards of offense and 2 TD’s.  With him having an increased role next year, there is no reason not to think that he won’t compile another combined 400 yards of offense and an additional 4-6 TD’s.  He is an ideal flex candidate with RB2 upside worth selecting by the 6th round.
  • #89 Josh Gordon, WR40, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Santana Moss and his 592 yards and 8 TD’s.  Josh Gordon was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 supplemental draft.  What that means, the nuts-and-bolts of it at least, is instead of joining his team in April like all the rest of the rookies did, he didn’t join the Browns until July. But that didn’t stop him from leading the Browns in receiving yards with 805 receiving TD’s with 5. And, oh by the way, did I mention he didn’t even play a down of competitive football in 2011 because of off the field problems?  At 6’3” 225lbs Gordon has the potential to be a star in the NFL and should be drafted as a WR3 with serious WR1 potential no later than the 6th round.
  • #90 TY Hilton, WR41, 9th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best WR was Larry Fitzgerald and his fantasy season-ruining 798 yards and 4 TD’s.  In 2012 Hilton, a rookie, had 927 yards and 7 TD’s.   506 of those yards and 5 TD’s came over Hilton’s final seven games, which means to me, as the season progressed, he and fellow rookie Andrew Luck, really began to develop some chemistry.  Next year Reggie Wayne, who Matthew Berry lists as his 13th best WR, 37th overall, turn 35.  I expect Wayne to produce closer to where Mr. Berry projects Hilton to be and vice-versa.  I’ll say it again, what Indianapolis has brewing on the offensive side of the ball is something special and fantasy owners had better pay attention.
  • #97 Kendall Wright, WR46, 10th Round.  In 2012 the 46th best WR was Donnie Avery with 793 yards and 3 TD’s.  Last year, as a rookie, Wright led the Titans in both receptions, 64, and targets, 104. His 626 yards were good for second on the team and his 4 touchdowns put him in a four-way tie for the team lead.  I expect him to easily surpass those numbers in 2013.  Why?  If for no better reason than we are not even through January yet, and Kenny Britt has already had to talk to the police about a shooting/stabbing.  There is no way this guy lasts another seven months without some type of off the field incident which will undoubtedly negatively impact his fantasy value.  Wright is a steal as early as the 8th round and should be viewed as a WR3 with WR2 upside.
  • #119 David Wilson, RB41, 12th Round.  In 2012 the 41st best fantasy football was Bilal Powell and his 577 total yards and 4 TD’s.  I know, Wilson can’t pass-block, I get it.  He does everything else at a nearly elite level.  The whole pass-blocking thing will get figured out, the Giants need Wilson on the field starting game one in 2013 and 1,000 combined yards, 8 total TD’s is what I set the minimum bar at.  Draft as a flex no later than round 8 and expect big time production from him as you become the envy of your draft.
  • #132 Bernard Pierce, RB45, 14th Round.  In 2012 the 45th best fantasy running back was LaRod Stephens-Howling with 463 total yards and 4 TD’s.  If in 2013 you own Ray Rice, than you need to also draft Pierce.  He is a necessary handcuff that may wind up sneaking into your lineup, even with Ray Rice playing, as a viable flex option.  You don’t take a player in the third round of the NFL draft, as Baltimore did with Pierce, to have him sit on the bench.  The Ravens will find a way to get the ball into Pierce’s hands and I expect him to make the most of his opportunities.
  • #135 Kendall Hunter, RB 48, 14th Round.  In 2012 David Wilson was the 48th best fantasy running back with 395 total yards and 5 TD’s.  Before tearing his Achilles tendon, Hunter was doing a great job as Frank Gore’s backup, averaging 5.2ypc.  Hunter is another player who falls under the category of must-have handcuff with serious upside.  Frank Gore had a superb 2012 campaign with 1,200+ yards and 8 TD’s but will be 30 next year and at some point he will start to slow down.  I’d feel comfortable taking Hunter in the 10th round knowing, at the very least, if Gore were to get banged up, then I am sitting on a lottery ticket by way of having a RB1 on my bench.  (On a side note, if LaMichael James were to be #2 on the 2013 SF depth chart, and not Hunter, then insert him here instead.)
  • #141 Ronnie Hillman, RB51, 15th Round.  The 51st best fantasy RB in 2012 was Maurice Jones-Drew who got hurt in the Jaguars’ sixth game of the year.  Another young, talented back, who was a third round draft pick, playing behind a productive, but aging (by NFL running back standards) veteran.  Willis McGahee will be 32 years old next year and can not be counted on to carry a full workload, which is where Hillman comes in.  Draft him around round 10 and you won’t be disappointed.
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