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5 Dark Horse Sleepers You Absolutely Must Target In Your Fantasy Draft

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5 dark horse sleepers you absolutely must target in your Fantasy Draft

Fantasy Sleepers
Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

It seems like every year around this time, I find myself in a local sports bar listening to a bunch of guys over-talking each other about their strategy for the first three rounds of their fantasy football draft. Each one of them seems to have their own colored diatribe about when they’ll draft Arian Foster instead of Doug Martin. They go on at length about how that big move will save their fantasy season because it will fit perfectly with nabbing Drew Brees in the second round.

The reality that you should bring to your fantasy draft is the understanding that most championships are won not by the picks you make in the first five rounds, but the picks you make in the last five rounds. If you don’t believe me, just look at last year’s draft results.

Was Alfred Morris taken? Then take a look at the team that probably got Morris off wthe waiver Wire, and I bet you more often than not, the guy who got Morris made it to the final four in your Fantasy Playoffs.

I’ve done some solo articles on dark horse sleepers before where I looked at Joseph Randle and Justin Blackmon, but there’s still a lot of meat on this bone, so here is my first installment on five dark horse sleepers you absolutely should target as late-round fliers in the final five rounds of your fantasy draft.

Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for Follow him on Twitter @ericbeuning or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Daniel Thomas

Fantasy Sleepers
Ron Schwane USA TODAY Sports

Right now, there is a lot of talk going on about the Miami Dolphins' running back battle. I know a lot of people consider Lamar Miller to be the odds-on favorite here, but when you take a closer look, you’ll see that Lamar Miller has a long history of being fragile. Daniel Thomas has been pushing him hard at times. Thomas has always been the kind of back that needs to get a lot of reps to get into the rhythm of the game; once he does, his stat line starts to rise. When or if Miller goes down, Thomas inherits a lot of solo reps in the Dolphins backfield.

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4. Ben Tate

Fantasy Sleepers
Dale Zanine USA TODAY Sports

Ben Tate was drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Originally, head coach Gary Kubiak drafted him because his running style and skill set was a perfect match for Kubiak’s zone running game. Unfortunately, Tate broke his ankle early in training camp and missed all of his rookie campaign. When he resurfaced in 2011, he was rusty and lost the starting job to Arian Foster.

Tate has flashed some talent in recent years when given time to fill in for the oft-dinged-up Foster. This year. Foster is showing a lot of wear from a lot of reps. He is primed for a breakdown injury. At the same time, Tate is in a contract year and will be looking to play his guts out to put on an audition for 2014 free agency.

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3. Mike Williams

Fantasy Sleepers
Kim Klement USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have quietly put together an offense and a defense that can challenge for the NFC South title. Last year, Mike Williams flashed signs of the talent and soft hands he displayed as a rookie. The presence of Vincent Jackson helps Williams on the field by leaving him in single coverage as well as off the field, giving him a mentor who can help him take his game to the next level.

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2. Jordan Cameron

Fantasy Sleepers
Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

In an earlier article I did looking at the Cleveland Browns we find a team with talent built in all the right places for new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s style of offense. One of the most important elements of a Turner-driven offense is a big-bodied tight end who can go up high and snatch the ball in traffic as well as the back of the end zone. Jordan Cameron is the perfect fit for this and will go practically undrafted in some leagues. He's my odds-on favorite to be the next Jimmy Graham.

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1. Giovani Bernard

Fantasy Sleepers
Daniel Shirey USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of the NFL Draft, a lot of the talk surrounding Giovani Bernard focused on how the Cincinnati Bengals would use him in a modified Darren Sproles-type of role in their offense. Considered to be fast but a bit undersized, Bernard has gone undervalued in a lot of fantasy drafts. In preseason action so far, we have seen him hit the holes with lightning speed and then bounce off of would-be tacklers like he was smeared in butter. Consider also that he has the most yards after contact of any rookie running back, and he’s a must-own player whether you have BenJarvus Green-Ellis or not.

Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for Follow him on Twitter @ericbeuning or add him to your network on Google.