2010 Fantasy Football: High-Upside Late-Round Sleepers
Aug. 25, 2010.
THIS PAGE HAS BEEN UPDATED ON AUG. 25 FOR THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF PRESEASON ACTION.
It's all about picking for upside in the final few rounds of your fantasy draft. Far too often, fantasy owners will settle for pedestrian talents like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Justin Gage or Chris Chambers - players with minimal upside and predictable low production.
The Houshmandzadehs, Gages and Chamberses will always be available on the waiver wire, so there's no excuse for burning a late-round pick on them. Instead, why not draft someone who can actually make an impact on your fantasy team?
The following 12 players provide the most late-round upside this year. I'll be targeting them once I'm into Round 11 and beyond of my fantasy drafts.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers. Bye: 4.
This guy is a stud. After dominating in OTAs and training camp, Mike Williams has put on a show in the preseason, making circus catches with ease. He's easily Tampa Bay's No. 1 receiver, which is more lucrative than it sounds because Josh Freeman is a million miles ahead of where he was last year. If it weren't for the top three running backs (Ryan Mathews, Jahvid Best, C.J. Spiller), Williams would be my favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. It won't be a surprise if he eclipses 1,000 receiving yards this season.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns. Bye: 8.
Montario Hardesty was building great momentum in the OTAs, but an injury has dropped him off the radar. Now there's talk that Hardesty could be back for the preseason finale. Jerome Harrison opened up Cleveland's second exhibition contest with TWO fumbles on the first two plays of the game, so Eric Mangini may opt to start Hardesty early in the year.
Leon Washington, RB, Seahawks. Bye: 5.
Julius Jones started for the Seahawks in the first preseason game and predictably looked terrible. Justin Forsett was in the lineup the following week and wasn't any better. The most impressive back in the two contests has been Leon Washington, who is healthy again. Pete Carroll has taken notice and told the media that he's considering starting Washington in Seattle's third preseason game.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers. Bye: 10.
It doesn't seem like Vincent Jackson will ever play for the Chargers again. Based on how Philip Rivers has played in the preseason, that doesn't seem like a big deal. Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee have both stepped up tremendously. Everyone knows about Floyd, but Naanee is the guy being ignored until the final few rounds of fantasy drafts.
Anthony Armstrong, WR, Redskins. Bye: 9.
For those of you who haven't watched the preseason at all, you might be wondering why or how some unknown person named Anthony Armstrong is leading the Redskins in receiving. This is not a fluke. Armstrong is blowing by cornerbacks and showing off his great hands. Joe Theismann, who is the color commentator for the Washington preseason games, has said that Armstrong has been amazing in training camp. He's Donovan McNabb's No. 2 receiver and is definitely worth a late-round flier.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns. Bye: 8.
I guess Jake Delhomme's troubled son isn't kidnapped anymore. Delhomme has played remarkably well in Cleveland's first two preseason contests, and his favorite target in the first game was Mohamed Massaquoi (he was out with a minor injury in Week 2). Massaquoi is a very talented receiver who could flirt with 1,000 yards if Delhomme continues to thrive in his new home.
I talked to someone a few hours before the Arizona game with inside knowledge of the Titans. He told me that Nate Washington has had an unbelievable training camp, and suggested that I should monitor him tonight for fantasy purposes. I didn't think much of it; after all, Nate Washington is Nate Washington. Man, was I wrong. Washington was definitely the best receiver on the field. He saw six targets and caught three balls for 44 yards. Washington's upside remains limited because the Titans have a run-heavy offense, but he is definitely the receiver to own on Tennessee.
Louis Murphy, WR, Raiders. Bye: 10.
Someone besides Zach Miller has to catch the ball in Oakland. With Chaz Schilens undergoing knee surgery and Darrius Heyward-Bey suffering through leg fatigue (what the hell is that?) it looks like it will be Louis Murphy. Murphy saw a whopping six targets against the Bears, catching three balls for 53 yards in one half of action.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots. Bye: 5.
Julian Edelman was awesome in the Patriots' preseason opener, catching six balls for 90 yards. He stood on the sidelines as Wes Welker started the following week. However, I really feel like Welker is coming back way too early from the gruesome knee injury he suffered in the 2009 finale. I have to think that Welker will re-injure himself. If that happens, you'll want Edelman in your fantasy lineup.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins. Bye: 5.
Brian Hartline is the clear-cut starter across from Brandon Marshall. Hartline had a solid rookie campaign in 2009, but now figures to benefit from his experience and Marshall's constant double teams.
With Marshall on board and Chad Henne entering his second year as a starter, the Dolphins figure to throw the ball more often than they did last season. If that's the case, it's not unreasonable to expect Hartline to approach 1,000 yards.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints. Bye: 10.
It's a year later, and suddenly everyone has forgotten that Lance Moore caught 79 passes for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. Moore didn't do much last season because he was hurt. Now, after impressing in training camp, he led the Saints receivers in targets from Drew Brees in the preseason opener.
Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars. Bye: 9.
Second-year receiver Mike Thomas has enjoyed a great offseason after closing out 2009 on a strong note (13 catches, 122 yards in his final two games). He's now listed as the No. 2 wideout across from Mike Sims-Walker. He could be a solid flex player in PPR formats this season.