This is a list of my favorite 2013 fantasy football sleepers - underrated players who are going way later than they should. The Average Draft Position (ADP) is found on FantasyFootballCalculator.com.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos. Bye: 9. ADP: 12.01.
I've had Knowshon Moreno on this list since May. It's been obvious that the Broncos were going to give Moreno a big role. John Fox hates playing rookies, and Moreno is by far the best pass-protector of the Denver backs. Moreno is also running with a sense of purpose; the Montee Ball pick motivated him, as he wants to prove that he still deserves to be the starter.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears. Bye: 8. ADAP: 10.10.
Alshon Jeffery had his moments - a 3-80-TD line in the opener and a 4-76 outing in the finale - but didn't do much in between because he suffered through two injuries. However, Jeffery has been working very hard this offseason, reportedly trimming down from 12-percent body fat to 8 percent. He looked like a beast in Chicago's preseason dress rehearsal, catching seven balls for 77 yards in just one half of action.
Ben Tate, RB, Texans. Bye: 8. ADP: 7.04.
Ben Tate has looked outstanding this preseason. Playing for a new contract, Tate is determined to show that last year's injury-ridden campaign is well behind him. With Arian Foster dealing with multiple injuries and coming off three seasons in which he's handled a ridiculous workload, Tate will split touches almost evenly with Foster. Tate will be a legitimate RB1 if/when Foster goes down.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots. Bye: 10. ADP: 8.02.
What I wrote in my 2013 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Kenbrell Thompkins saw at least double the targets (from Tom Brady) compared to any other Patriot receiver in the third preseason game. He opened this contest by beating Darius Slay for a 37-yard bomb in the first quarter. He ultimately finished with eight receptions for 116 yards. His only blemish was a dropped ball, but that can be ignored because he had so many positive moments throughout the evening. Thompkins, who couldn't be jammed by any Lion corner, is shaping up to be a high-upside WR3 option.
Unfortunately, his ADP has risen to the point where he's not much of a sleeper anymore. You may still be able to snag him late if you're in a league where most of the owners use outdated fantasy mags like ESPN's.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks. Bye: 12. ADP: 8.02.
Russell Wilson transformed from a game-manager asked not to make any mistakes at the beginning of the year to a dynamic play-maker at the end of the season. In his final contest, a loss to Atlanta in the divisional round of the playoffs, he generated 385 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and three touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush). He was a top-five fantasy signal-caller by the end of the season. Wilson has the potential to finish as the top fantasy quarterback - even without Percy Harvin - making him a bargain at ADP 8.02.
Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars. Bye: 9. ADP: 7.07.
Cecil Shorts is the real deal. Despite missing two games in his second season, he caught 55 balls for 979 yards and seven touchdowns while catching passes from Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Shorts will be a strong WR2 when Jacksonville acquires a legitimate quarterback. For now, he's a borderline WR2/WR3.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns. Bye: 10. ADP: 7.12.
Josh Gordon didn't do much at the beginning of his rookie campaign, catching just nine balls in his first four games. However, he would end up finishing with 50 receptions for 805 yards and five touchdowns. Gordon is very talented and should be a solid WR3 option this year. It's just a shame that he doesn't have a better quarterback throwing to him. Gordon will miss the first two games of the season, but that's fine. Just stash him on your bench and be prepared to use him in Week 3 and beyond.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Colts. Bye: 8. ADAP: 12.10.
Darrius Heyward-Bey has been disappointing throughout his career, but he's finally playing with a Pro Bowl quarterback. He's actually looked pretty decent this preseason, and given that he's a starter, he has some WR3 potential. He's worth a shot in Rounds 12-13.
Julius Thomas, TE, Broncos. Bye: 9. ADP: None.
Julius Thomas is an incredibly gifted athlete who is just starting to understand the game. Peyton Manning has targeted him heavily this preseason - Peyton Manning has thrown to him more often than any other Bronco, save for Demaryius Thomas, per the fantasy football quarterback preseason targets list - so Julius Thomas could be a big part of the offense in 2013. He has tons of upside as a potential end-zone target in Denver's offense.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants. Bye: 9. ADP: 7.11.
Everyone was excited about David Wilson's fantasy potential when Ahmad Bradshaw was released, but what about Andre Brown? Despite having just two career carries heading into 2012, Brown was amazing in relief of Bradshaw, averaging 5.3 YPC and scoring eight touchdowns. Brown should continue to serve as the goal-line hammer. He'll also have work on third downs because Tom Coughlin doesn't trust Wilson in that area yet.
Miles Austin-Jones, WR, Cowboys. Bye: 11. ADP: 7.09.
People love to hate on Miles Austin-Jones, and understandably so - he's burned too many people over the past couple of years. However, Austin-Jones has taken preemptive measures to keep his hamstrings healthy this year. He could have a solid 2013 campaign, so I feel like he's going way later than he should.
Nate Washington, WR, Titans. Bye: 8. ADP: None.
Guess whom Jake Locker has thrown to more than anyone this preseason? It's not Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright or Chris Johnson. Nate Washington leads all Titans in targets from Locker as you can see in the preseason quarterback targets page. Locker just likes throwing the ball to Washington, so why not scoop him up late in your draft?
Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns. Bye: 10. ADP: 8.02.
New head coach Rob Chudzinski specializes in using tight ends in his offense, and both he and Norv Turner apparently love Jordan Cameron, an athletic player who is starting to put all of it together.
Chris Givens, WR, Rams. Bye: 11. ADP: 9.01.
Everyone's focused on Tavon Austin, but Chris Givens happened to be Sam Bradford's favorite receiver when Danny Amendola went down last year. Givens had a 2-week span in which he caught 16 balls for 207 yards and a touchdown at the end of November. He's had a terrific training camp and followed that up with a great preseason debut. He'll be a solid WR3.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals. Bye: 9. ADP: 10.08.
Michael Floyd had some bright moments in his rookie campaign, including the 14-catch, 213-yard stretch (which included a touchdown) in his final two games. Things seemed to click for him at the end, and it'll only get better now that he has a legitimate quarterback throwing the ball to him. The coaching staff has hinted that they plan on utilizing him heavily. Floyd is one of my favorite sleeper receivers this season. Unfortunately, his ADP has risen from 14.01 to 10.08 in the past month, so others are catching on.
Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. Bye: 10. ADP: 11.11.
Bilal Powell could start for the Jets. He has looked better than Chris Ivory this preseason, and the coaching staff called several Wildcat plays for him. Marty Mornhinweg obviously has some sort of plan for Powell.
Vick Ballard RB, Colts. Bye: 8. ADP: 10.05.
Ahmad Bradshaw is no stranger to the injury report. The former Giant has chronic foot problems, so Vick Ballard is worth drafting in Round 10 because he'll act as an RB2 if Bradshaw goes down.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots. Bye: 10. ADP: 10.11.
Rookie Zach Sudfeld has enjoyed a promising summer and consequently figures to be a big factor in New England's offense. He'll take over Aaron Hernandez's role, so he'll still be a viable fantasy option even when Rob Gronkowski returns.
Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. Bye: 7. ADP: 12.06.
The Raiders have a terrible quarterbacking situation, but the fact remains that Denarius Moore is a No. 1 receiver. Getting a No. 1 wideout in the middle of the 12th round is definitely a bargain. It also helps that Terrelle Pryor will be the starter, as he'll take more shots downfield.
Stepfan Taylor, RB, Cardinals. Bye: 9. ADP: None.
Both Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams are unreliable. Andre Ellington can't get healthy. That leaves Stepfan Taylor, who might just be able to emerge as the starting running back at some point during the season. He's worth a late-round flier.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks. Bye: 12. ADP: 11.04.
With Percy Harvin out for most of the year, someone has to emerge as Russell Wilson's No. 1 receiver. Scoff all you want at Rice (especially if you've owned him before), but he underwent a preventative knee operation in Switzerland and appears to be completely healthy. He hasn't played in the preseason, but only as a precaution. Rice is worth a shot in the beginning of the 11th round.
Marcel Reece, RB, Raiders. Bye: 7. ADP: 14.02.
Marcel Reece will be considered to start once Darren McFadden suffers his annual injury. As Injured Reserve once told me, "I've had tons of fantasy success drafting Darren McFadden's backup." Reece in the meantime will serve as Oakland's third-down back. I also know that Oakland's new coaching staff loves Reece and plans to utilize him heavily. I'm concerned the Raiders haven't used Reece much in the preseason, but maybe they're saving those packages. I also don't like that Terrelle Pryor will be the starter because he'll take way more shots downfield than Matt Flynn.
Rueben Randle, WR, Giants. Bye: 9. ADP: 11.08.
Rueben Randle needs an injury to Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz to make a big impact, but that can definitely happen, as we've seen the former battle through numerous maladies over the past few seasons. Randle showed flashes as a rookie, most notably in Week 17 when he snagged four receptions for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills. Bye: 12. ADP: 14.02.
Kevin "The Human Concussion" Kolb is likely finished, so E.J. Manuel is the obvious starter once he returns from his own minor injury. Manuel is a raw passer, but he's going to post decent rushing yardage. He'll also be Buffalo's true goal-line back, a la Cam Newton with the Panthers. He looked solid in his preseason debut.
Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys. Bye: 11. ADP: None.
Despite the drafting of Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar is the No. 2 running back on the Cowboys' depth chart. He started and looked good against Miami. The Cowboys didn't use him much, but take that as a good sign, since they didn't want to see him get hurt. He was also first off the bench in the next two preseason games. DeMarco Murray will get injured at some point, which will give Dunbar an opportunity to start. Unfortunately, Dunbar suffered an injury and will be out 3-4 weeks. He was No. 5 on this list last week, so that's why I've moved him down.
As a Jags fan, I was glad to see him slide to the second rd. My only question would be "will San Diego's 2nd and 3rd Rd picks be far superior to what Jax selected?" I hope not, but only time will tell.