Fantasy Football 2013: 20 Sleepers For Next Season

1 of 21

20 Sleepers For 2013

crabtree
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to fantasy sports, I waste no time whatsoever.

None.

That’s why, with the 2012 fantasy football campaign just ending, I am already looking into my crystal ball towards 2013. I do it for you, the readers and fellow fantasy enthusiasts. However, I also do it for myself, as I need something to keep me sane during the miserable off-season. But don’t worry, it’ll be back before you know it. I hope.

Anyway, every single year in fantasy a handful of “sleepers” awaken from their slumber and provide surprising production for the lucky owners. This season, we witnessed guys such as Cecil Shorts, Randall Cobb and the waiver wire darling of the year, sixth round pick Alfred Morris. It’s safe to say that if you owned some of these guys, you had a pretty good chance of winning your league. These unexpected, breakout studs are one of the many reasons that fantasy football is so much fun. And of course, stressing, nerve-wracking and frustrating.

So, as you prepare to rebound after an off 2012 year or are trying to repeat a title run, keep the following 20 players in mind when drafting. There is no specific order. Many of the big name guys aren’t worth the pick anymore and pedigree isn’t everything. Having said that, some of these guys have shown promise this year, while others are still waiting for their chance. Either way, they are certainly worth a flier in 2013.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

2 of 21

20) Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

miller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With starting running back Reggie Bush possibly heading elsewhere this off-season, former Miami Hurricane Lamar Miller may have an excellent shot to start for the Dolphins next year. The team has liked what they have seen out of him and grew up in Miami. He has blazing speed and elusiveness, an obvious change of pace to Daniel Thomas. It’ll be interesting to see what the Dolphins do after the season, but I do expect Bush, at least, to be playing for another team, boosting Miller’s fantasy value quite a bit.

3 of 21

19) LaMichael James, RB, San Francisco 49ers

james
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Kendall Hunter banged up, the 49ers have been using James quite a bit in the offense recently. He continues to see close to ten touches over the last few games in his attempts to expand his role for 2013. If James remains the number two option behind Frank Gore, he will certainly be on fantasy radars. Gore, while still effective, has seemed to have lost a step or two and certainly is capable of injury. James’ explosiveness through the wholes and impressive breakaway speed makes gives him the potential to be a starting back in this league someday.

4 of 21

18) Rod Streater, WR, Oakland Raiders

streater
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In an offense where fantasy options come few and far between, young Streater has been drawing some attention lately. He finished the season strong, posting 70 yards or more in three of his last five games. During his time at Temple, he never had more than 86 receiving yards in a game. It is no secret that Denarius Moore hasn’t exactly been what people have hoped, while Darrius Heyward-Bey has been inconsistent at best. Heading into 2013, Streater may actually be the Raiders best receiver, not that that’s saying much. Just keep your eye on this kid.

5 of 21

17) Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

edelman
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

When given the opportunity, Edelman has become a favorite target for quarterback Tom Brady. He is very comparable to his teammate that could be heading out the door, Wes Welker. Welker is set to become a free agent at the end of the year and many do not think he will be a Patriot in 2013. If that happens, Edelman will immediately become a very viable fantasy option. He will reek the benefits of playing alongside Brady and so will fantasy owners.

6 of 21

16) Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

hawk
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hawkins has shown fantasy signs of like in 2012. A.J. Green is obviously the main attraction on the Bengals offense, but with teams likely to begin double teaming him, look for Hawkins to become a sneaky fantasy option. This year, he was utilized very often on short screens that he took for big yardage. He had a few plays like that where he did all of the work after the catch. Assuming he remains second on the team’s depth chart, I like Hawkins as a sleeper for 2013.

7 of 21

15) Jon Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

baldwin
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Baldwin certainly won’t be an ideal fantasy option, at least not until the Chiefs can find someone to throw the football. However, with Dwayne Bowe likely on the move, Baldwin may very well be the number one receiver in Kansas City. He has freakish size (6’4”, 230 lbs) and has all the talent in the world, allowing him to win jump balls against many corners. If the Chiefs, who landed the number one pick, end up drafting Geno Smith, Baldwin could be a decent sleeper in fantasy land.

8 of 21

14) Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks

rice
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Rice was an elite option when he was with Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings? Well, he has that same opportunity here in Seattle. Rice stayed healthier this year and with Russell Wilson emerging into a star quarterback, Rice’s fantasy value continues to increase. The only downside? Seattle is one of the leading candidates, at least in my eyes, to go out and grab one of those big name wideouts this off-season. If not, Rice is a top 20 receiver heading into 2013.

9 of 21

13) Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams

richardson
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a plethora of rumors surrounding Rams Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson. Will he stay? Will he go? Heck, will he retire? Jackson has been incredible for St. Louis, but if he leaves, Richardson may be the guy. We saw Richardson split carries with Jackson in the beginning of the year, trying to prove to the team that he can start. While he may not have elite skills, if he is a starting running back for a roster next year, he has to be owned in fantasy leagues.

10 of 21

12) DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers?

williams
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Williams has been involved in trade discussions for a while now. Heck, so has teammate Jonathan Stewart. If either of these guys are traded, Williams’ fantasy value will shoot sky high. Towards the end of this season, he reminded people why he was an elite running back just a few short years ago. If Williams isn’t back with Carolina next year, a possible suitor could be the Green Bay Packers. Regardless, as long as he is the starting running back for a team, I like his fantasy outlook.

11 of 21

11) Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons

quizz
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Boy I have been high on “The Quizz” all season long. At this point in their careers, Rodgers is simply a better running back than Michael Turner, at least in my opinion. He is quicker, sees the field better, and surprisingly, gets more yards after contact than his teammate. All in all, he just fits that up-tempo Atlanta offense much, much better. Atlanta must realize this, as they gave him half of Turner’s work throughout the year. I don’t expect his production or usage to decrease come 2013.

12 of 21

10) Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

garcon
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In real life football, Garcon was one of the most underrated free agent acquisitions of the year. He battled through a foot injury all season, and even finished the year, despite possibly having surgery. Garcon has a good combination of size, speed and talent. He is clearly Robert Griffin III’s favorite target, as he has been targeted 67 times in 10 games. As long as he is a part of that offense, Garcon will be a top 20 fantasy wideout next year.

13 of 21

9) T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

ty
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

In a season where numerous rookies shined, a very underrated one was T.Y. Hilton. Hilton finished the season with 861 yards and seven touchdowns. In fact, only Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and Andre Johnson had more 100-yard receiving games than Hilton all year. Talk about being in elite company. Hilton will be one of the most coveted sleepers heading into 2013.

14 of 21

8) Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions

broyles
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Broyles has had a very rough couple of years. In his final year at Oklahoma, he tore his left ACL. Then, this season, he went on to tear his right one, after emerging as the Lions number two receiver. Obviously, this guy is no Adrian Peterson, but if he can return close to full strength next year, I think he remains the number two guy. Titus Young certainly hasn’t done anything to show that he deserves it.

15 of 21

7) Tim Tebow, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars?

tebow
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Of course it can’t be an NFL column without talking about the one, the only, Tim Tebow! While he couldn’t crack the starting lineup this year, there is a very good possibility that he will next year with the Jags. League sources have stated that it is a “virtual certainty” that Tebow will return home to play for the Jaguars. If he does, I actually like his fantasy value. The team suddenly has legitimate options at wideout in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, while Maurice Jones-Drew is still an elite back. Tebow has proved that while it ain’t pretty, he can still produce fantasy points.

16 of 21

6) Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

vick
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of certainties, Michael Vick is certain to be playing elsewhere in 2013. The Eagles are completely cleaning house. However, despite his recent struggles, I fully expect Vick to land a starting job next season. As long as he does, he has to be on fantasy radars. His dual threat ability makes him a threat to put up big time fantasy numbers, especially if he is in the right offense. The Buffalo Bills could be a possibility, with an improving offensive line and weapons in the running game. But, only time will tell.

17 of 21

5) Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

gordon
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

RG3 wasn’t the only rookie out of Baylor to impress in 2012. Gordon has evolved into a legitimate deep threat, big play receiver. He draws comparisons to Mike Wallace. Brandon Weeden was looking for him quite often this season, being targeted 96 times. Many fantasy owners went and grabbed him off of waiver during the season, so I expect them to draft him late or watch him on waivers all of 2013.

18 of 21

4) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

maclin
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

While the Eagles are a bit of a mess, Maclin could be a huge fantasy sleeper for 2013. He had to deal with multiple injuries this year, but when he was on the field, he was easily the Eagles best receiver. The fact that Nick Foles is likely to be the starting quarterback next year makes Maclin even more appealing from a fantasy perspective. Since Foles was named the starter back in Week 9, Maclin was targeted 57 times by Foles.

19 of 21

3) Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

brown
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

After a breakout 2011 campaign, Brown struggled a bit this season. Injury limited him to 13 games, which hindered his fantasy production. Not to mention the injuries to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. However, after returning from injury, Brown was very productive towards the end of the season, catching touchdowns each of the final four games. Teammate Mike Wallace could very well be heading elsewhere in 2013 and Brown may get the opportunity to prove that he was worth that $42.5 million dollar contract.

20 of 21

2) Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts

ballard
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Before Donald Brown went down with an injury, not many people even knew who Vick Ballard was. But now, he is a household name to fantasy enthusiasts. Ballard has done a very nice job replacing Brown. He runs hard, has good vision and always fights for the extra yard. Ballard is also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield. I don’t see Brown coming back in 2013 and getting his starting job back. I believe that it is Ballard’s, with Brown seeing some work as well.

21 of 21

1) Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers

crabtree
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Crabtree has been awesome in 2012. The former Red Raider caught 85 balls for 1,105 yards and nine scores. So, why is he a sleeper? Well, despite the tremendous season from Crabtree, he is still not talked about from a fantasy perspective. He started the season around the 30 range for wideouts, but now has solidified himself into a top 20, maybe even top 15 guy. Colin Kaepernick has certainly helped his cause, targeting him early and often. Assuming this tandem remains intact heading into next year, Crabtree might be my biggest sleeper for 2013.

1 of 21

20 Sleepers For 2013

crabtree
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to fantasy sports, I waste no time whatsoever.

None.

That’s why, with the 2012 fantasy football campaign just ending, I am already looking into my crystal ball towards 2013. I do it for you, the readers and fellow fantasy enthusiasts. However, I also do it for myself, as I need something to keep me sane during the miserable off-season. But don’t worry, it’ll be back before you know it. I hope.

Anyway, every single year in fantasy a handful of “sleepers” awaken from their slumber and provide surprising production for the lucky owners. This season, we witnessed guys such as Cecil Shorts, Randall Cobb and the waiver wire darling of the year, sixth round pick Alfred Morris. It’s safe to say that if you owned some of these guys, you had a pretty good chance of winning your league. These unexpected, breakout studs are one of the many reasons that fantasy football is so much fun. And of course, stressing, nerve-wracking and frustrating.

So, as you prepare to rebound after an off 2012 year or are trying to repeat a title run, keep the following 20 players in mind when drafting. There is no specific order. Many of the big name guys aren’t worth the pick anymore and pedigree isn’t everything. Having said that, some of these guys have shown promise this year, while others are still waiting for their chance. Either way, they are certainly worth a flier in 2013.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

2 of 21

20) Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins

miller
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With starting running back Reggie Bush possibly heading elsewhere this off-season, former Miami Hurricane Lamar Miller may have an excellent shot to start for the Dolphins next year. The team has liked what they have seen out of him and grew up in Miami. He has blazing speed and elusiveness, an obvious change of pace to Daniel Thomas. It’ll be interesting to see what the Dolphins do after the season, but I do expect Bush, at least, to be playing for another team, boosting Miller’s fantasy value quite a bit.

3 of 21

19) LaMichael James, RB, San Francisco 49ers

james
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With Kendall Hunter banged up, the 49ers have been using James quite a bit in the offense recently. He continues to see close to ten touches over the last few games in his attempts to expand his role for 2013. If James remains the number two option behind Frank Gore, he will certainly be on fantasy radars. Gore, while still effective, has seemed to have lost a step or two and certainly is capable of injury. James’ explosiveness through the wholes and impressive breakaway speed makes gives him the potential to be a starting back in this league someday.

4 of 21

18) Rod Streater, WR, Oakland Raiders

streater
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In an offense where fantasy options come few and far between, young Streater has been drawing some attention lately. He finished the season strong, posting 70 yards or more in three of his last five games. During his time at Temple, he never had more than 86 receiving yards in a game. It is no secret that Denarius Moore hasn’t exactly been what people have hoped, while Darrius Heyward-Bey has been inconsistent at best. Heading into 2013, Streater may actually be the Raiders best receiver, not that that’s saying much. Just keep your eye on this kid.

5 of 21

17) Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots

edelman
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

When given the opportunity, Edelman has become a favorite target for quarterback Tom Brady. He is very comparable to his teammate that could be heading out the door, Wes Welker. Welker is set to become a free agent at the end of the year and many do not think he will be a Patriot in 2013. If that happens, Edelman will immediately become a very viable fantasy option. He will reek the benefits of playing alongside Brady and so will fantasy owners.

6 of 21

16) Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

hawk
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Hawkins has shown fantasy signs of like in 2012. A.J. Green is obviously the main attraction on the Bengals offense, but with teams likely to begin double teaming him, look for Hawkins to become a sneaky fantasy option. This year, he was utilized very often on short screens that he took for big yardage. He had a few plays like that where he did all of the work after the catch. Assuming he remains second on the team’s depth chart, I like Hawkins as a sleeper for 2013.

7 of 21

15) Jon Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

baldwin
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Baldwin certainly won’t be an ideal fantasy option, at least not until the Chiefs can find someone to throw the football. However, with Dwayne Bowe likely on the move, Baldwin may very well be the number one receiver in Kansas City. He has freakish size (6’4”, 230 lbs) and has all the talent in the world, allowing him to win jump balls against many corners. If the Chiefs, who landed the number one pick, end up drafting Geno Smith, Baldwin could be a decent sleeper in fantasy land.

8 of 21

14) Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks

rice
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Rice was an elite option when he was with Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings? Well, he has that same opportunity here in Seattle. Rice stayed healthier this year and with Russell Wilson emerging into a star quarterback, Rice’s fantasy value continues to increase. The only downside? Seattle is one of the leading candidates, at least in my eyes, to go out and grab one of those big name wideouts this off-season. If not, Rice is a top 20 receiver heading into 2013.

9 of 21

13) Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams

richardson
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a plethora of rumors surrounding Rams Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson. Will he stay? Will he go? Heck, will he retire? Jackson has been incredible for St. Louis, but if he leaves, Richardson may be the guy. We saw Richardson split carries with Jackson in the beginning of the year, trying to prove to the team that he can start. While he may not have elite skills, if he is a starting running back for a roster next year, he has to be owned in fantasy leagues.

10 of 21

12) DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers?

williams
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Williams has been involved in trade discussions for a while now. Heck, so has teammate Jonathan Stewart. If either of these guys are traded, Williams’ fantasy value will shoot sky high. Towards the end of this season, he reminded people why he was an elite running back just a few short years ago. If Williams isn’t back with Carolina next year, a possible suitor could be the Green Bay Packers. Regardless, as long as he is the starting running back for a team, I like his fantasy outlook.

11 of 21

11) Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons

quizz
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Boy I have been high on “The Quizz” all season long. At this point in their careers, Rodgers is simply a better running back than Michael Turner, at least in my opinion. He is quicker, sees the field better, and surprisingly, gets more yards after contact than his teammate. All in all, he just fits that up-tempo Atlanta offense much, much better. Atlanta must realize this, as they gave him half of Turner’s work throughout the year. I don’t expect his production or usage to decrease come 2013.

12 of 21

10) Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins

garcon
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In real life football, Garcon was one of the most underrated free agent acquisitions of the year. He battled through a foot injury all season, and even finished the year, despite possibly having surgery. Garcon has a good combination of size, speed and talent. He is clearly Robert Griffin III’s favorite target, as he has been targeted 67 times in 10 games. As long as he is a part of that offense, Garcon will be a top 20 fantasy wideout next year.

13 of 21

9) T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

ty
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

In a season where numerous rookies shined, a very underrated one was T.Y. Hilton. Hilton finished the season with 861 yards and seven touchdowns. In fact, only Calvin Johnson, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas and Andre Johnson had more 100-yard receiving games than Hilton all year. Talk about being in elite company. Hilton will be one of the most coveted sleepers heading into 2013.

14 of 21

8) Ryan Broyles, WR, Detroit Lions

broyles
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Broyles has had a very rough couple of years. In his final year at Oklahoma, he tore his left ACL. Then, this season, he went on to tear his right one, after emerging as the Lions number two receiver. Obviously, this guy is no Adrian Peterson, but if he can return close to full strength next year, I think he remains the number two guy. Titus Young certainly hasn’t done anything to show that he deserves it.

15 of 21

7) Tim Tebow, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars?

tebow
Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Of course it can’t be an NFL column without talking about the one, the only, Tim Tebow! While he couldn’t crack the starting lineup this year, there is a very good possibility that he will next year with the Jags. League sources have stated that it is a “virtual certainty” that Tebow will return home to play for the Jaguars. If he does, I actually like his fantasy value. The team suddenly has legitimate options at wideout in Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, while Maurice Jones-Drew is still an elite back. Tebow has proved that while it ain’t pretty, he can still produce fantasy points.

16 of 21

6) Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

vick
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of certainties, Michael Vick is certain to be playing elsewhere in 2013. The Eagles are completely cleaning house. However, despite his recent struggles, I fully expect Vick to land a starting job next season. As long as he does, he has to be on fantasy radars. His dual threat ability makes him a threat to put up big time fantasy numbers, especially if he is in the right offense. The Buffalo Bills could be a possibility, with an improving offensive line and weapons in the running game. But, only time will tell.

17 of 21

5) Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

gordon
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

RG3 wasn’t the only rookie out of Baylor to impress in 2012. Gordon has evolved into a legitimate deep threat, big play receiver. He draws comparisons to Mike Wallace. Brandon Weeden was looking for him quite often this season, being targeted 96 times. Many fantasy owners went and grabbed him off of waiver during the season, so I expect them to draft him late or watch him on waivers all of 2013.

18 of 21

4) Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

maclin
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

While the Eagles are a bit of a mess, Maclin could be a huge fantasy sleeper for 2013. He had to deal with multiple injuries this year, but when he was on the field, he was easily the Eagles best receiver. The fact that Nick Foles is likely to be the starting quarterback next year makes Maclin even more appealing from a fantasy perspective. Since Foles was named the starter back in Week 9, Maclin was targeted 57 times by Foles.

19 of 21

3) Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

brown
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

After a breakout 2011 campaign, Brown struggled a bit this season. Injury limited him to 13 games, which hindered his fantasy production. Not to mention the injuries to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. However, after returning from injury, Brown was very productive towards the end of the season, catching touchdowns each of the final four games. Teammate Mike Wallace could very well be heading elsewhere in 2013 and Brown may get the opportunity to prove that he was worth that $42.5 million dollar contract.

20 of 21

2) Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts

ballard
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Before Donald Brown went down with an injury, not many people even knew who Vick Ballard was. But now, he is a household name to fantasy enthusiasts. Ballard has done a very nice job replacing Brown. He runs hard, has good vision and always fights for the extra yard. Ballard is also a very good pass catcher out of the backfield. I don’t see Brown coming back in 2013 and getting his starting job back. I believe that it is Ballard’s, with Brown seeing some work as well.

21 of 21

1) Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers

crabtree
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Crabtree has been awesome in 2012. The former Red Raider caught 85 balls for 1,105 yards and nine scores. So, why is he a sleeper? Well, despite the tremendous season from Crabtree, he is still not talked about from a fantasy perspective. He started the season around the 30 range for wideouts, but now has solidified himself into a top 20, maybe even top 15 guy. Colin Kaepernick has certainly helped his cause, targeting him early and often. Assuming this tandem remains intact heading into next year, Crabtree might be my biggest sleeper for 2013.


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