Sleepers by definition are typically players that outperform their generally perceived value. Now some people think that sleepers are players that few people have heard of and might be fantasy football relevant. I would call those type of players deep sleepers and in a league of 10 to 12 teams deep sleepers do not usually need to be considered until they “wake up”. That being said here are my sleepers for the 2012 fantasy football season.
Brandon Pettigrew: He very well could be the Rob Gronkowski, or at the very least, Jimmy Graham of this season. He is on a pass first team with a top quarterback. He has a top flight wideout beside him to take some of the attention of the defense and he has received increased redzone looks.
John Skelton: He should beat out a very pathetic looking Kevin Kolb to become the starter in Arizona. That being the case he will have an outstanding wideout to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald. Last year the Cardinal quarterbacks threw for nearly 4000 yards and 21 touchdowns. Building off the experience from last year he should be able to improve those TD numbers and cut down on the INTs.
Greg Little: Brandon Weeden is an unknown quantity. What is known is that he should be throwing the majority of his passes to Little. With the addition of a legitimate running back in Trent Richardson the passing game should be better than last year when Peyton Hillis was hurt for much of the year.
Cedric Benson: The Green Bay Packers signed the veteran running back. Normally someone signed this late in the preseason is just roster fodder or battling for a backup spot. Not in this case. Alex Green is coming off a knee injury and James Starks has yet to show that he can be a starter in the NFL. I think Benson will push Starks and eventually take the starting job. In the very least he will get the majority of goalline carries something that the Packers were unwilling to give to Starks last year.
Kyle Rudolph: Another tight end on the sleeper list. Why? Well because tight ends were fantasy gold last year if you were lucky enough to have one of the top ones. I think that Mr. Rudolph has a chance to join the low end of those top tight ends. This is because his quarterback, Ponder, needs a safety blanket like Rudolph to throw to. I expect Rudolph to get a lot of redzone looks this season.
Antonio Brown: I know many of you are thinking how can Brown be considered a sleeper. He had over 1000 yards last season, but only 2 touchdowns. I expect that number to go up, dramatically. This should be especially the case considering his chief competition for touchdowns has been a hold-out for much of training camp.
Robert Meachem: He has Phillip Rivers as his quarterback. There is no established #1 receiver in San Diego and I think that Meachem will end up being Rivers primary target all season.
Doug Martin: Tampa Bay is ready to make a change. They are tired of Blount, especially the fumbles, and will look to give Martin a chance to prove himself. I think Martin takes that chance and runs with it. 1000 yards and 8 TDs is not out of the question if Blount is completely out of the picture. That might not happen so 700 yards and 5 TD might be more what happens. Still worth a late round flyer.
Tim Hightower: Looked like he would be the man last year for the Redskins and then he got hurt. He is still recovering from that injury but I believe come the 1st week of the season Hightower will be the starter and primary goalline back. The only concern is the injury and the potential of RG3 of stealing goalline plunges.
Willis McGahee: McGahee had a decent season last year losing opportunities to the likes of Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Tim Tebow. He now has a legitimate threat in quarterback Peyton Manning to take eyes off of him. This could be the chance McGahee has been waiting for.
A bust by definition is a player that under performs compared to common expectations. That being the case here are my fantasy football busts for the 2012 season.
Torrey Smith: Smith will get the majority of the defensive game planning geared towards him in pass defense. With Boldin showing his age defenses will key on Smith. Couple this with Ray Rice in the the backfield and I do not see Smith having a season close to last year. Expect a big regression.
Matt Forte: Forte got paid. Last year Chris Johnson got paid and look what happened. The biggest concern looking at Forte is the addition of Michael Bush to the Bears’ roster. Bush will steal carries especially around the goalline. This will diminish Forte’s value immensely.
James Starks: The addition of Cedric Benson to the Packers’ roster says two things. One, that the Packers’ running backs are not very healthy right now. Two, that the Packers’ are not convinced Starks can handle the load. Last year Starks was less than impressive in a shared backfield. I think he is looking at sharing a backfield again if not losing out entirely and becoming a backup.
Andre Johnson: He will get his yards if he stays healthy but he has yet to have a season with double digit touchdowns. People continually place him in the upper class of receivers but unless you are in a league the really rewards receptions and receiving yards over scoring he just does not justify that status. Additionally he is coming off an injury that might slow him down this year.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Two words HOLD OUT. Hold outs rarely turn out for NFL players. This is especially the case for NFL running backs. IF he plays this year he will be a shadow of his 2011 self. I would stay away from any hold out player. The longer the hold out the farther away I would stay.
Percy Harvin: Migraines! Plain and simple he will miss games. Everyone sees him as this tremendous value as a deep threat and return man but his inability to stay healthy combined with a run first offense led by Christian Ponder means that his value is less than many other receivers that might not be household names.
Tim Tebow: Tebow-mania aside his have very little fantasy value. You do not get points for having a quality locker room guy on your squad. People he is a backup quarterback. If somehow he is able to unseat Sanchez this is about what you can expect maybe 1800 yards and 10 passing touchdowns, 600 yards and 5 touchdowns rushing. If that sounds good to you go ahead and snatch that up. He reminds me a lot of the next player on the list, Mike Vick.
Mike Vick: Another player that continually gets overvalued. Vick had career seasons in 2011 and 2010. He passed for a career high in yards in 2011. In 2010 he passed for a career high in touchdowns and rushed for a career high in touchdowns. Based on his 2010 season people were expecting more. They shouldn’t have. Prior to joining the Eagles, Vick had never passed for over 3000 yards or over 20 touchdowns. Now many would point to running ability as the counter to his lower passing numbers. The yardage is nice but aside from 2002, 2006 and 2010 he has not rushed for more than 3 touchdowns in a season. The 9 he had in 2010 was a career high which was previously 8 in 2002 when he was a much younger man.
Mike Wallace: Same thing as MJD, he is a HOLD OUT! In his absence Antonio Brown has asserted himself as a go to receiver. It may be just my perception but players that hold out seem to get hurt and have sub par years. I could be wrong.
LaGarrette Blount: He is on his last legs in Tampa Bay. They may give him the chance to start the season as the #1 but I feel that he will be solidly outproduced by Martin.