JACOB TAMME, TE – DENVER BRONCOS
Tamme began his career behind perennial fantasy starter Dallas Clark in Indianapolis and played well when Clark went down during the 2010 season turning in 67 receptions for 631 yards and 4 TD’s.
He has since moved on to Denver to aid Peyton Manning in his bid to return from his lost 2011 season (neck). If Manning is able to regain his form following his four neck procedures then Tamme stands to be a prominent player amongst fantasy tight ends. Also, keep in mind that Tamme is the only player on the Broncos roster that has caught passes from Manning in live action so it stands to reason he will be a favorite target
GREG LITTLE, WR – CLEVELAND BROWNS
The 2011 season was both good and bad for Greg Little. He put up numbers on par with fellow rookie WR Julio Jones, whom the Browns passed on by trading their pick to Atlanta, but also struggled with dropped passes and inconsistent route running.
That being said, we are hearing good things about Little’s offseason work to shore up the drops and sharpen his routes. The arrival of Brandon Weeden as the starting QB should help as the offense should have an uptick in production and scoring.
Little has all the physical talents to put up solid fantasy numbers and if the Browns can progress on offense he may be a nice late round pick to plug into your flex or WR3 spot.
STEVAN RIDLEY, RB – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Patriot’s running backs are a dicey proposition when it comes to fantasy production. You never know who is getting the carries and who is going to be riding the pine week to week.
This season will prove to be no different as the Pats will be sporting a RB group of Ridley, Danny Woodhead, Shane Vereen and Joseph Addai. Of this group Ridley is currently in line to be the “starter” in New England.
If Ridley is able to get the nod as the RB1 to open the season for the Patriots then we expect him to be a solid fantasy option as he put up a 6 yard per carry average in 2011. We feel he’s worth a late round pick in order to bolster your fantasy backfield.
LESTAR JEAN, WR – HOUSTON TEXANS
Throughout the Texans OTA’s Jean has been talked about in glowing terms. He has been said to have both the physical and mental aptitude to challenge Kevin Walter for the WR2 spot on the roster opposite perennial stud Andre Johnson.
If this is the case then Jean projects to put up great numbers for a guy whom you probably haven’t heard of until now. Pick him up late, take the ridicule from your fellow owners, and then sit back and watch as he breaks out during the 2012 season.
ERIC PAGE, WR – DENVER BRONCOS
Undrafted free agent Eric Page has to feel like a pretty lucky man these days. The reason? The Denver Broncos signed him to come into camp and he’s now on the receiving end of passes from future HOF quarterback Peyton Manning.
Not too shabby for the young man out of The University of Toledo, where he nabbed over 300 passes in 3 years on the field.
Said to have reliable hands and sharp routes, both looked upon favorably by Manning, Page has a chance to come in and grab the slot receiver position right out of the gate. If he’s able to do this he should be in line for a nice fantasy season and would be a nice addition to your roster towards the end of your draft.
For those of you earning special teams points from individual players it is worth noting that Page will be competing for the punt return spot as well, which helps boost his value.
JOHNATHAN BALDWIN, WR – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The holdout of Dwayne Bowe should have a positive impact on Baldwin as he has been and will continue to get more reps during training camp. Word out of KC is that Baldwin has been putting in major hours in the film room and that’s a positive for fantasy owners this season.
The knock on Jonathan Baldwin has never been his physical talent, but rather his ability to pick up the mental aspects of his game. The extra film room study, coupled with Bowes absence, has us looking at Baldwin to have a breakout year. Put him down as a late round gem that may be able to help you make a run at your fantasy title.
MIKE GOODSON, RB – OAKLAND RAIDERS
Since Michael Bush is now in Chicago, the Raiders have brought in Mike Goodson from Carolina to backup often injured starter Darren McFadden.
This provides nice sleeper potential for Goodson. McFadden is all but a lock to get injured, missing at least 3 games in each of his 4 pro seasons, and when he does Goodson will be very capable in his stead. In 2010 with the Panthers Goodson tallied almost 400 total yards from scrimmage in his 3 starts which we feel bodes well for fantasy owners and the Raiders alike.
Keep him on your radar as your draft progresses and snatch him up in the later rounds for a bit of fantasy gold.
VINCENT BROWN, WR – SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Chargers may have lost Vincent Jackson to free agency but they still have a Vincent on the roster capable of catching a ton of Phillip Rivers fastballs.
His name is Vincent Brown and he is poised to make a second year leap into fantasy stardom. Brown grabbed only19 balls in his rookie campaign with San Diego but stands to become a more focal part of the offense as the departure of Jackson has left a void.
The other receivers in the mix are Robert Meachem and Malcolm Floyd, neither of whom are a legit WR1 in my opinion. That leaves the top spot up for grabs as the season rolls on with Brown in a position to take it by the reins.
By season’s end he may be the top target downfield for Rivers and that earns him sleeper status in 2012. Look to grab him late and monitor his progress early in the year. Once his targets start to increase, plug him in at your WR3 or flex spot to capitalize.
JACQUIZZ RODGERS, RB – ATLANTA FALCONS
The speedy decline of Michael Turner has Head Coach Mike Smith indicating he will see less snaps in the Atlanta backfield this season. Enter Jacquizz Rodgers to lighten the load.
Rodgers will not be an every down back as he figures to split time with Turner but this doesn’t mean he won’t have a fantasy impact in 2012. His play making ability is unquestioned and with the increase in snaps he is sure to get, Rodgers should be able to help your fantasy roster when the matchups dictate.
Rodgers should be available late in your draft and will definitely give you some quality starts as the season rolls on.
TITUS YOUNG, WR – DETROIT LIONS
As Young enters his second season with the Lions he stands to inherit an increased target total based on his late run in 2011.
Young shared targets with Nate Burleson in 2011 and will again in 2012, however we feel he should start to get more and more as the season wears on. This opinion is based on his output over the final 5 weeks of the 2011 season where he made 19 receptions for 230 yards with 4 touchdowns.
This output should continue as he starts to pull targets away from Burleson as the season moves along. Don’t sleep too long on this sleeper as Young may not last as long as some think.
LEONARD HANKERSON, WR – WASHINGTON REDSKINS
In his second year with the Washington Redskins, Leonard Hankerson should be excited at the prospect of playing with rookie signal caller Robert Griffin III.
In last season’s tilt with the Miami Dolphins, Hankerson hauled in 8 catches totaling 106 yards. Unfortunately, during this same contest Hankerson injured his hip and was a non-factor the rest of the way.
Back healthy and hauling in passes from Griffin III, Hankerson stands to be a very late round pick that could explode and help carry your team as the season moves along.
LAMAR MILLER, RB – MIAMI DOLPHINS
Currently residing at third on the Miami running back depth chart, Lamar Miller is an interesting rookie prospect. We find him interesting in the sense that he seems to be working his way into the RB2 role with the team, and with the tenuous health of Reggie Bush in front of him, he may be pressed into a starting role at some point during the 2012 season.
Miller will be available towards the end of your draft and we suggest using a pick on him to see what shakes out.
Sam Bradford, QB – STL, Mikel Leshoure, RB – DET, LaMichael James, RB – SF, Jake Locker, QB – TEN, Alex Green, RB – GB.
This concludes our first look at the potential sleepers for the 2012 fantasy football season. Take the time to research these players and check out some mock drafts to see where they are being selected. Once you get into your draft, feel free to think back to this article and pull the trigger on one or two of our suggestions to strike fantasy gold this season.
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