The later rounds in your fantasy draft are filled with two types of players. Guys who are on the downswing in their careers and guys who are just waiting to break loose.
In the first few rounds, you will be drafting guys who are consistently great. That's why they are taken early, right? These guys generally have the same chance to do good things for your fantasy teams. What will really make the difference in your fantasy league are the "sleepers".
Not only will some of these sleepers fortify your team, but some will actually break out in such a loud fashion that they will carry you to victory each week. Last year, we saw a lot of players break out who were afterthoughts in drafts. For example: Steve Slaton, Chris Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Phillip Rivers, Pierre Thomas and Eddie Royal. Sleepers are guys flying under the radar to most fantasy owners, but not you! You are going to learn right here about guys available deep in your draft who will make an impact.
Jamaal Charles has the speed to burn any defender in the NFL
Jamaal Charles RB KC: My man-crush for Jamaal Charles knows no boundaries. I watched this kid in college and the only thing I could think every time he touched the ball is "fantasy goldmine". This kid has as much talent as any RB in the league, but he's stuck behind Larry Johnson in the depth charts. You need to still draft Jamaal Charles in the late rounds though because when LJ either hurts himself or gets traded (both are big possibilities), Charles will be your new fantasy sweetheart. On 67 carries last year he averaged a sterling 5.1 YPC and he also caught 27 passes for 272 yds. That is more than 10 yards per catch!
The former track-star for the Texas Longhorns is ranked fourth as all-time rushing leaders in UT's record books, behind Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson, and Earl Campbell. I know Benson is a clown, but I heard Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell were pretty decent in their heydays. It is only time before KC realizes what true talent they have with Jamaal Charles and they use him in a more prominent fashion.
Owen Daniels: I'm still scratching my head on this one. In my books, he shouldn't be a sleeper anymore, but according to his average draft position (ADP) on CBS, there are nine tight ends being drafted before him. Is everyone ignoring the fact that he was fifth among tight ends with 70 receptions and third with 862 reception yards? He's one of the top five tight ends but available in the 10th-12th round in your draft!
The only thing about him not to like is his two touchdown receptions last year. Sure, two touchdowns are nothing to get excited about but when a TE is targeted as much as Daniels, the touchdowns are bound to come. If you don't manage to draft Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates in the middle rounds, make sure you grab this late round "sleeper".
Kevin Boss TE NYG: This guy is...well...like a boss. When Jeremy Shockey left town there was a big void to fill at TE for the Giants. When Boss became the new starter, all the Jeremy Shockey talk disappeared with good reason. Boss is a huge kid (6-6 253lbs) who can make blocks for the team but he also has some reliable hands (no fumbles in 28 career games) and is one of the first targets Eli Manning looks to on first down (half of his career receptions come on first down). Don't be afraid to rely on the Boss this year to give you 8-10 fantasy points a week this year.
Leon Washington RB NYJ: Washington showed us last year he was one of the most explosive RBs in the league last year with his 5.9 ypc on 76 carries. The only thing keeping Washington back on the field and in your football draft is that he's behind Thomas Jones on the depth charts. Thomas Jones is turning 31 this year and has close to 2000 carries in his career. Thomas Jones has always been reliable but one has to wonder how long he can stay that way with all the miles on him.
Rex Ryan has been very open about his concern with getting Leon Washington more touches this year. Who wouldn't want to? He's a home run hitter for that offense, so I won't be surprised to see him get 10-15 touches a game. Don't let the rookie Shonn Greene discourage you from grabbing Washington, he is an inside runner who will fill a different role on this team.
The chances of Washington having an improved season are all too great, so make sure you have his lightning-in-a-bottle backup on your bench.
Steve Smith WR NYG: We already know Steve Smith from the Panthers is year after year is one of the top WR. Do you know about the other Steve Smith though? He was just the team's leader in receptions last year with 57. With Plaxico Burress now just an image in the rear-view mirror, look for Steve Smith to come into this year as the #1 WR for the Giants. It's not like the Giants have the most potent passing offense, but what other #1 WR are available in the 12th round?
All the signals point to a great year for the third year QB Trent Edwards.
Trent Edwards: My colleague Kurt and I both are very high on this kid this year. If you actually watched him last year, you saw poise in the pocket and an eye for the open receiver. Here is a bold prediction you will not read anywhere else: Edwards will emerge this year as one of the top ten QBs this year in terms of pure numbers. His 65.5 percent completion percentage in 2008 ranked second in team history and more interestingly sixth in the league. His yards-per-attempt average rose from 6.06 to 7.22 which is more than Manning (7.2), Donovan McNabb (6.9) and Ben Roethlisberger (7.0).
The only thing Edwards was missing last year was a downfield threat and with Owens he has found that. It is not too much to expect 26 TDs and 3200 passing yards from this emerging star. Draft Edwards in the 11th round before most people start to even consider him and you let him pay you dividends later on.
Thanks for reading, and remember I encourage all sorts of comments!
Contact Mike Sholty @ firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions regarding fantasy sports in general.