In this article, we look around the NFL and provide analysis on fantasy football sleepers for PPR leagues.
The vast majority of fantasy football leagues that I participate in each year are Point Per Reception (PPR) leagues. I recently wrapped up a 14-team PPR draft and wanted to share with you my short list of PPR Value Picks - NFL players who should be available in the mid-to-late rounds of your fantasy football drafts, that should provide tremendous fantasy value based on where they’re being drafted.
2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers - PPR Leagues
Wide Receiver Sleepers
Anquan Boldin (WR, SF) - The 49ers were dealt a tough blow when Michael Crabtree underwent surgery in May to repair an Achilles tear. Crabtree emerged as Colin Kaepernick’s favorite target last season and appeared to be a fantasy breakout player for 2013 until he went down. So without Crabtree, who is Kaepernick going to throw the ball to? Vernon Davis appears to be climbing draft boards again after a disappointing season last year, and while I like him I think it's Boldin that's going to draw a lot of the targets that Crabtree was getting. He may not rack up a ton of yards, and he's most certainly on the wrong side of 30, but Boldin could be a monster inside the 20's and finish the season with 80-90 catches. I drafted him with pick #70 ahead of some bigger named wideouts like Mike Wallace, Mike Williams and Greg Jennings.
Kenbrell Thompkins (WR, NE) - Thompkins’ status as a value pick may be in jeopardy considering he is shooting up draft boards, but I think the hype is warranted. He'll be lined up in Brandon Lloyd's old spot, and the former Patriot caught 74 balls for 911 yards and four touchdowns last season. If you ask me, that sounds like a pretty reasonable projection for Thompkins in 2013, which is pretty incredible considering he went undrafted. I took Thompkins with the #99 pick in my draft as my WR3 with the hope he will perform like a WR2. He certainly has the upside to do just that considering he's been Tom Brady's favorite target this preseason.
Running Back Sleepers
Joique Bell (RB, DET) - Everyone’s talking about Reggie Bush and how he could catch 100 balls out of the backfield this year in Detroit, but people forget that Joique Bell caught 52 passes last season as an undrafted rookie out of Wayne State (MI). Not only has Bell surpassed Mikel Leshoure on the Lions depth chart (in record time, it seems), he could probably rival Bush as the best running back on the team. A strong preseason (6.5 YPC with 7 catches for 91 yards) means Bell will again be a factor in the Lions’ offense, but will it be five touches per game or 10-12 touches per game? Or more? While the presence of Bush makes it difficult to predict how many passes Bell will reel in this year, you simply cannot pass him up in Rounds 9-11. An injury-prone Bush is all that stands between Bell and PPR stardom. Even if Bush remains healthy all season, Bell should still provide plenty of value. In my 14-team PPR league draft, I snagged him at #126 overall and considered taking him even earlier. In a PPR format, I prefer Bell to some of the more notable running back handcuffs like Ben Tate, Bryce Brown and Bernard Pierce.
Danny Woodhead (RB, SD) - Word is the diminutive rusher is expected to be used the same way Darren Sproles was during his days in San Diego, which means he should see plenty of work on third down and plenty of dump-off passes from Philip Rivers. It's not like the quarterback has many reliable options to throw to in San Diego, so why not Woodhead? If you're worried about the presence of Ryan Mathews, don't be. Mathews isn't very good and Woodhead should spell him often enough to catch anywhere between 40-60 passes this season. Woodhead went off the board at #104 in my most recent PPR draft, which is probably a good spot for him.
Jordan Cameron (TE, CLE) - Admittedly, this is a bit of a homer pick since I live in Cleveland and am a die-hard Browns fan, but Jordan Cameron is in an offense where the tight end plays a big role in the passing game. Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner made Antonio Gates a star in San Diego, and I could easily see Cameron becoming Brandon Weeden's go-to guy outside of Josh Gordon. I was at the Browns preseason game to witness Cameron score two touchdowns against the Lions first team defense, and I definitely came away impressed. While I don't expect a Gates-like year for Cameron right off the bat, there are too many similarities between the two - both being former basketball players - that I wouldn't be surprised to see him come out of nowhere like Gates did to have a big year. The Browns starting tight end last season, Ben Watson, reeled in 49 catches for 501 yards and three scores. With Watson no longer on the roster, it's Jordan Cameron's show now and he will most certainly exceed those numbers. He's a steal in Rounds 8-10, and I prefer him to the Brandon Myers, Kyle Rudolph and Fred Davis types.
Percy Harvin (WR, SEA) - If you're playing in a league that permits an IR slot or a league with enough bench spots that you can stash a player or two, why not take a flyer on Percy Harvin? When healthy, he is one of the most explosive players in the NFL and is a PPR stud. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather take a gamble on Harvin than roster someone like Brandon Gibson or Riley Cooper on my team. Take a shot if he's sitting there in the last few rounds of your draft.
Ryan Rufe booked his first fantasy sports win at eleven years old. He’s a RotoBaller through and through and also contributes as an MLB Beat Writer for RotoWire.com. For more from him, follow him on Twitter @RyanRufe.
Here are some more fantasy football articles about running backs & sleepers. Let’s win some leagues!
- 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Rookie Running Backs
- 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Running Backs (RBs)
- 2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers: Later Round Running Backs (RB)
- 2013 Fantasy Football: Evaluating NFL Rookie Running Backs (Part 2)
- 2013 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Handcuffs by Tiers
If you like this article, check out the rest of our fantasy football analysis: rankings, sleepers, running backs, wide receivers, quarterbacks and of course our live fantasy football chat, the best football chatroom on the interwebs. RotoBaller will be releasing more fantasy football content daily to help you prepare for the 2013 NFL Fantasy Football season so stay tuned!