Fantasy Football 2012: Top 10 Sleepers

Last Updated: Jul 12, 2012 10:36 AM

Now that fantasy drafts are underway I believe it is an appropriate time to provide a list of players who can make or break your team’s chances of a championship.

In the next couple of articles I am going to mention the players who will be potential sleepers, deep sleepers, bargains, busts, and breakout players for this upcoming 2012 season.

Now before I mention any of the players on my lists I want to clarify the type of league I’m basing my predictions off of.

This hypothetical league is considered to be the “standard” ten-team league which consists of nine starters and six bench players.

The nine starters include one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, one flex (RB/WR), one K, and one DEF.

The scoring system is also considered to be the “standard” scoring system which includes 4-points for a passing touchdown, 1-point for every 25 passing yards, 6-points for a receiving/rushing touchdown, and 1-point for every 10 receiving/rushing yards. There are more points regarding defenses, special teams, and negative offensive points but, for the sake of this article I won’t get into those.

This article will focus on a set of players I deem as being potential fantasy sleepers. Sleepers differ from deep sleepers in a way that a sleeper has some draft value already to their name but, they have the ability to do much better than predicted.

Now I know that sounds like it could be considered a draft bargain, which will be in a different article coming up soon, but the difference between a sleeper and a bargain is that a bargain is solely based on the predicted production value a player has compared to what round he will end up in the average draft.

The difference between a sleeper and a breakout player is that a breakout player has never been deemed as elite before and a breakout player is a guy who is believed to “break out” and have a monster year. A sleeper may not turn out to be an elite player at their position, but someone who will still be of high value to your fantasy team.

Here are my top ten sleepers for the 2012 fantasy football season:

Doug Martin – Martin tops my list for sleepers because of the team he got drafted by; Tampa Bay. After drafting Martin 31st overall in the 2012 Draft, the Bucs signed offensive linemen Carl Nicks and Jeremy Zuttah.

These players have been excellent in creating holes for the running back throughout their careers. At Boise State, Martin was best known for his elusiveness between the tackles in which coach Greg Schiano will utilize quite frequently. Martin will be considered a three-down back for the Bucs over previous starter, LeGarrette Blount. Look for Martin to be a solid No. 2 fantasy running back with No.1 running back potential.

Coby Fleener – Tight ends have increased in fantasy value over the years and I believe Fleener will be the next big name at the position. Reunited with college quarterback Andrew Luck, Fleener will be the go-to target, especially on third-down. He’s an agile tight end off of the line but, he still has the strength and size to create a defensive mismatch for any defensive back in the league. Look for Fleener to be a No. 1 fantasy tight end.

Eric Decker – Call me crazy but, I am predicting Decker to have more receptions than fellow teammate Demaryius Thomas, who is predicted by most to be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver. With Peyton Manning behind center, the third-year receiver out of Minnesota will see plenty of pass attempts coming his way, especially in short yardage and in the red zone. Decker will be drafted as a flex starter or even a bench player, but he has the potential to be a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver.

Andrew Luck – The Indianapolis Colts selected Luck first overall in the 2012 Draft to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. He will step in as the No. 1 guy and produce right away. If you’re looking for a backup quarterback who will throw touchdowns and limit his mistakes then look no further than the Stanford product.

What people keep forgetting about him is that he can also run with the football. Don’t expect Cam Newton-like rushing numbers, but with a time of 4.67 seconds for the 40-yard dash, expect some scrambles and rushing touchdowns out of Luck. Add that with his pocket presence and throwing accuracy and you have the full package in Luck. Consider him a low end No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

Robert Meachem – Now in San Diego, Meachem has the potential to be the No. 1 target for Philip Rivers. Never afraid to catch the ball in the middle of the field, Meachem has the play-making potential of former San Diego receiver Vincent Jackson.

I see him having 60+ receptions this year with the possibility of double digit touchdowns. Like Decker, Meachem will be drafted as a flex starter or even a bench player, but he has the ability to develop into a No. 2 fantasy wide receiver.

Andy Dalton – With a new and improved offensive line, and a running game that will distract defenders from the pass, Dalton is in a position to improve on his rookie totals.

With one of the more underrated group of receivers, Dalton has a great combination of speed and reliability in Green, Hawkins, Sanu and Gresham to throw it to.

Another Pro Bowl trip is not out of the question for this sophomore quarterback. Dalton can be seen as a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

Jacob Tamme – In 2010, Tamme finished with 67 receptions for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns; majority of which came after Week 7 when Dalas Clark went down with an injury. Reunited with Peyton Manning, expect Tamme to put up statistics like he did two seasons ago. Look for Tamme to be a No. 1 fantasy tight end.

Josh Freeman – With a new set of receivers to throw it to, look for Freeman to bounce back into the quarterback we saw in 2010. The additions of Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark will add great depth to the Buccaneers’ passing attack.

With the talent spread over the field, Freeman will no longer have to force throws into tight coverage which will significantly reduce his interception rate. Freeman will once again be considered a No. 1 fantasy quarterback.

Mike Williams - Like Freeman, Williams will also benefit from the new additions to the receiving corps in Tampa Bay. Last year Williams saw double-teams from opposing defenses almost every time the ball was snapped. Now, with the receiving corps having much more depth, Williams won’t see near as much double coverage. The third-year wideout won’t be drafted in most leagues, but I see him being a top-end flex starter in 2012.

Shonn Greene – Greene finds himself in an uncommon situation as he does not seem to be in a backfield committee. The way I see it is, even if the New York Jets don’t have a great rushing game in 2012, Greene will still produce in fantasy football.

I am not predicting a stellar yards per rushing attempt statistic from Greene, but I am predicting that he will carry the ball 300 or more times next season in a Rex Ryan-style offense; provided he doesn’t get hurt. Even if he has a sub 4.0 yards per rushing attempt average, he can still reach the 1,000-yard mark as a three-down running back. Greene can be considered a No. 2 fantasy running back.

In the next article I will discuss who I believe will be considered the deep sleepers of the 2012 fantasy football season.

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