The fantasy football season is approaching very quickly. Thousands of owners are obsessing over who to keep and who to draft, so this is the perfect time to start building your cheat sheets. Below is a list of five fantasy football sleepers to keep an eye on this season:
5. QB Andy Dalton, CIN – The 2011 first round pick shocked the fantasy world by throwing 20 touchdowns in his first season in the NFL. He quickly built a rapport with fellow first round selection, A. J. Green, as the duo combined for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns. Dalton really looked poised in the pocket and had one of the most successful rookie seasons for a quarterback in recent memory, as he led the Bengals all the way to the playoffs in his first year. He may not have many 300-yard passing games, but his ability to move the chains and not turn the ball over will keep him active in fantasy leagues all year.
4. WR DeMaryius Thomas, DEN – Peyton Manning has had a great chemistry with his number one wide receiver over his career in the NFL. He threw an NFL record 112 touchdown passes to former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison and then formed just as lethal of a combination with Reggie Wayne once Harrison retired. Thomas is clearly the number one receiver on this Broncos squad after showing how dangerous he can really be last post-season. Thomas has amazing size (6’3” 235 pounds) and does shy away from contact when the ball is in the air. He will get the majority of the looks from Manning in the red-zone and can easily catch 7-10 touchdowns in his first year playing with his new four-time MVP quarterback.
3. RB Ryan Mathews, SD – Mathews will now get the bulk of the carries in San Diego with former running back, Mike Tolbert, now in Carolina. Mathews was a first round selection, 12th overall, in 2010, but has yet to finish a full season due to some nagging injuries. However, last season he took some big steps towards becoming an elite back in the league. Mathews posted four games with over 110 rushing yards in 2011, but his low number of total touchdowns (6) will cause his draft stock to slip a little this summer. Mathews is still one of the only backs that have sole possession of the starting job and he will be doing it in Norv Turner’s run-heavy offense.
2. RB DeMarco Murray, DAL – Murray only played in 13 games in his rookie season, but really showcased his game-changing ability. Murray averaged an amazing 126.8 rushing yards per start last year while he filled in for the oft-injured Felix Jones. Murray also grabbed 21 passes out of the backfield and the former Oklahoma Sooner is the favorite to start in Jerry Jones’ offense. Murray will come much cheaper than most starters in drafts this year, and even better is the fact that he is featured in one of the highest scoring offenses in the game.
1.WR DeSean Jackson, PHI – Many people said that “D-Jack” lost a step last season, but those same critics seemingly overlooked the struggles of the entire Eagles team. Jackson recorded just under 1,000 (961) yards last season and only 4 touchdowns, but it was amidst one of the worst passing seasons in Philly in over a decade. Quarterback Michael Vick was hurt in almost every game and receiver, Jeremy Maclin, spent more time in the med room then in the film room; two things that certainly did not help Jackson put up stellar fantasy numbers. Jackson is still one of the fastest players in the league and the Eagles love to find different ways to get him the ball. Fantasy owners should expect a much better fantasy performance from the former first round pick, as Jackson should become a worthy number two fantasy receiver again.