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2013 Draft Prep: Sleepers for Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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My sleeper list last year included Mikel Leshoure, Tony Gonzalez and ... well, I'll be a man about it and say it wasn't my best year.

Okay, fine, the list stunk. I stunk. I'm the guy who hyped up a bunch of bums before the preseason got going. I mean it's not even close.

So it's time for redemption.

What you're about to see is my early look at sleepers heading into 2013. Some of these names could change once the preseason games start and I get a feel for how these teams are thinking heading into Week 1.

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Regardless, this is a list I want you to remember to check back on before your draft. Write down the names, commit them to memory, save this page on your CBSSports.com mobile app, whatever, and pick one or two guys to call your own on Draft Day.

Most of the names on this list won't cost you much -- nothing higher than a pick in Round 8 -- so the risk involved isn't going to capsize your roster if a player fizzles out.

Let's do this.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals: There are two ways a quarterback can be great in the NFL -- they can either use their amazing talents to lead their teams or they can combine their good talents with great teammates to put up victories. Dalton is the latter; he's not going to win any quarterback skills challenges but he's good enough to win so long as he has help. Exhibit A is his back-to-back playoff appearances with the Bengals. The team realized Dalton needs help and got him some with rookies Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert (both of whom I really like) and they're bringing back stud receiver A.J. Green, fourth-year tight end Jermaine Gresham and complementary wideouts Mohamed Sanu, Andrew Hawkins and Marvin Jones. Tack on an offensive line loaded with good talent and Dalton is in one of the sweetest spots a quarterback could ask for. Dalton improved in every significant passing stat from 2011 to 2012 and there should be another jump in 2013. After Eli Manning, he's the best No. 2 Fantasy quarterback you could ask for. Funny, because last year he actually finished as a Top 12 choice.
I'd take him ahead of: Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans: We did a draft this offseason where Schaub was not a late-round pick -- he wasn't even picked! Is it an injustice, a reflection of who he is or simply a commentary on the depth at quarterback this season? It's probably the latter since he had a good enough season in 2012 to prove he's not a terrible passer. He completed 64.3 pct. of his passes, threw 22 touchdowns and even got over 4,000 yards. When comparing his stats to previous years he managed to have his third-best season despite having only one decent receiver. Houston's addition of DeAndre Hopkins (who I also consider a sleeper) should do wonders for Schaub's stats. When Schaub was a stat monster in 2009, attempting 583 passes, he had one receiver besides Andre Johnson catch 50 passes and another catch six touchdowns. Hopkins should at least catch 50 passes and six touchdowns, so if he delivers and Johnson is himself and the other pass game weapons step up, Schaub could be a pleasant surprise. I like him as a safe Fantasy backup worth drafting late.
I'd take him ahead of: Josh Freeman, Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco

Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles: Brown really is a man in the right place at the right time. Philadelphia's hire of Chip Kelly as head coach means the team will be more running back-oriented in a fast-paced offense. In a study I did during the offseason, running backs in Kelly's offenses the last three years at Oregon averaged between 35.8 and 39.1 rushes per game with a sizable cut in the passing game. Even Eagles starter LeSean McCoy said Brown should expect to get a lot of work because he knew then he wouldn't be able to handle the full workload of what's being asked. Brown could begin the year with a dozen or so touches per game -- not bad for a backup. And if McCoy happens to miss time, Brown would become the primary back in that offense and see way more work. He's an electric runner who has improved his ball security this offseason. You don't need to draft McCoy to have goo-goo eyes for Brown on Draft Day.
I'd take him ahead of: Ben Tate, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Vick Ballard

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: There's no denying that Daryl Richardson is the most appealing name in the Rams backfield in the early days of training camp, but questions about whether or not he can fill the role of a full-time back persist. He had nearly 200 carries in his first year of work in college but fell under 150 carries the other two seasons and last year had 98 carries -- including only 16 over his final five games. He seems like a passing downs back while Stacy has the build of a bowling ball and had just over 200 carries in each of his last two years at Vanderbilt, averaging at least 5.5 yards per carry. Stacy's pass protection has been complimented this summer and it could come to pass that he overtakes second-year man Isaiah Pead for the rushing downs role. Ultimately, it's Stacy's talent that has me enamored -- he's got good quickness to go with a big body and good enough hands. Finding him with a pick in Round 8 or 9 should pay off; if you want to play it safe and get Pead a round later, that's also an option.
I'd take him ahead of: Isaiah Pead, Jonathan Stewart and Johnathan Franklin

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Williams isn't your typical 30-year-old running back. You can thank the Panthers and their weird running back philosophies for that -- Williams has 1,181 career carries over seven seasons, topping 200 carries just twice (and none since 2009). It suggests he has gas left in his tank, which the Panthers sound like they'll need because of fellow rusher Jonathan Stewart's ankles keeping him from practicing with no definitive return date in sight. Williams had just five games last season with 12-plus carries, posting over 4.2 yards per carry in four of them. He also finished off the year with a touchdown and at last 100 total yards in three of his final four matchups, flashing some long speed in the process. As of this writing Williams is getting picked, on average, in Round 10 of standard drafts! He's better than this. When you're looking for the last-gasp at running back before it gets really nasty, Williams should be in your line of sight.
I'd take him ahead of: Mark Ingram, Fred Jackson, Vick Ballard

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos: Montee Ball will be the first Broncos running back to go in drafts but it doesn't mean he'll be the best. In the early days of training camp it's been the second-year back impressing in all facets -- finding the creases in the zone-blocking scheme, catching passes out of the backfield and even improving in pass protection. Hillman gives the Broncos a gamebreaker in the backfield; last year he had three of the team's seven 20-yard runs and he barely played. Ball isn't a slouch either as he ripped off long runs in college all the time. But John Fox has never truly trusted a rookie to handle every-down work and does have a track record of using multiple backs in a rotation. Hillman put on muscle this offseason and, per Fox, finally has a "pro body" to handle the rigors of the league. Hillman's the better value pick on Draft Day, worth the Top 70 choice as a flex candidate. Keeping in mind a plan to take Ball if he slips to Round 5 and Hillman in Round 6 or 7 could pay off in a major way. After all, Peyton Manning's running backs tend to be productive.
I'd take him ahead of: Any Saints, Rams or Panthers running back

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Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers: Boldin simply has to be productive for the Niners to win games this year. Given the chance to have a leadership role, Boldin has already taken to coaching up San Francisco's young receivers while leading by example on the practice field. Colin Kaepernick has connected with him already and will have to lean on Boldin as a chain-mover if he's going to have even a good year, at least until Michael Crabtree is recovered from a torn Achilles. Boldin's experience and good route running makes him a threat against single coverage and his work in the playoffs last season (22 catches, 380 yards, four touchdowns) proves he's not an over-the-hill wideout. He'll probably be more helpful in PPR leagues than standard but he's the kind of late-round pick to target as a very good fifth receiver. Keep his name in mind late in drafts.
I'd take him ahead of: Sidney Rice, Greg Little and Brandon LaFell

Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals: Last year, Andre Roberts led the Cardinals with five receiving touchdowns while three other receivers other than Larry Fitzgerald had 45 catches or more. Two years ago, two receivers other than Fitzgerald caught 50 passes. There are plenty of passes to go around and that goes double when Bruce Arians is calling the shots on offense. A Cardinals team expected to play from behind often and with Carson Palmer under center should mean big stats for the top receivers. That's receivers -- plural -- and in this case it means Floyd along with Fitzgerald. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound second-year man has wowed coaches all offseason and has been off to a great start in training camp. Palmer went as far as to say Floyd has "it" when it comes to receiving skills and nuances that the typical second-year player doesn't have. Floyd's draft average as of this writing is a laughable 128th overall -- expect that number to rise in the coming weeks and for him to be a great fourth receiver for your Fantasy team with a pick before the end of Round 9. After all, Floyd was one of those three receivers that had 45 catches in 2012 for 'Zona.
I'd take him ahead of: Lance Moore, Emmanuel Sanders, Aaron Dobson

Rueben Randle, WR, Giants: Hakeem Nicks has played 13-plus games every year of his career but really had a hard time playing well at less than 100 percent in 2012. He's already tweaked a groin in training camp this summer and a few reports suggest Nicks is playing cautiously to avoid suffering a major injury and costing himself a big contract after this season. There have been more than a few reports highlighting the work Randle has put in through the spring and in camp thus far. Coach Tom Coughlin is pleased with his weight and effort and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride thought Randle has been working "like a guy that has been here for five or six years" and promised he'd play a lot. If Nicks gets hurt (or stays hurt since he's already a little gimpy), Randle will be pushed on the field for a huge workload. He's a nice late-round stash pick for Fantasy owners.
I'd take him ahead of: Denarius Moore, Greg Little, Darrius Heyward-Bey

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: You don't have to go back too far to find a rookie tight end that makes an impact in Fantasy. Rob Gronkowski immediately became a matchup problem for the Patriots' opponents and he charged his way to 10 touchdowns as a rookie, including seven scores in his last nine regular-season games. That would be on the high side for Eifert to get in 2013 -- he's not playing with Tom Brady, after all -- but he has the tools to be the next Gronk, something the Bengals are hoping for. He's huge (6-6, 251), has great hands and has been used in a number of spots on the field in college and through his short time in practices with the Bengals. Expect some growing pains in the early going but eventually he'll develop into a must-start. The training camp practice reports have been glowing and there's just so much potential for him to be useful to Fantasy owners. Either plan on spending a late pick on him (even if he's your second tight end) or aim to snatch him up off waivers in the first couple of weeks of the season.
I'd take him ahead of: Owen Daniels, Brandon Pettigrew and Marcedes Lewis

Editor's Note: We will provide another sleeper list for those of you in deeper drafts and/or dynasty leagues later this month.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Dave at @daverichard .

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Player News
Mark Sanchez: Eagles said Tim Tebow was just a camp arm
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:59 am ET) Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez said he wasn't concerned that the team signed Tim Tebow, because the Eagles told him Tebow was just there to throw in camp.

"We needed another guy to throw while Sam's (Bradford) still recovering. So that's the reason (for the signing), at least as explained to me," Sanchez said, per CSN Philadelphia

The Eagles signed Tebow on Monday. He hasn't played in the NFL since getting cut by the Patriots at the end of training camp prior to the 2013 season. He spent last year as a television analyst for the SEC Network. 

Tebow and Sanchez were teammates on the Jets in 2012. Tebow's presence as a back-up created a quarterback controversy among fans and media that last ed throughout the season. 


Vikings CB Terence Newman has familiarity with Mike Zimmer
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Vikings cornerback Terence Newman won't have a steep learning curve now that he's with his new team. 

Newman played under Vikings coach Mike Zimmer when he was the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. Drafted in 2003, Newman learned Zimmer's defense from his rookie season through 2006, before Zimmer left to take the same position with the Falcons. 

“I just know exactly what to expect from him as a coach, as well as everybody else in this locker room,” Newman told the Vikings' website. “You play your best football under him.”

In his career, Newman has recorded 741 tackles and 37 interceptions. Entering his 13th NFL year, Newman has already impressed his teammates with voluntary workouts underway. 

“I met with him and he seemed like a great guy,” cornerback Xavier Rhodes said. “Like he’s going to come in and teach us what we need to know about the technique of the game and about the defense because he’s been in it before, so he’s going to help us out a lot. He’s a big asset to this team and the defense.”


Chiefs pick up option on NT Dontari Poe
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, per NFL.com. He is set in Kansas City through 2016, when he will earn $6.146 million.

The 350-pound Poe has earned the money. He racked up six sacks and contributed to 46 tackles in 2014.


Lions GM Mayhew OK with James Ihedigbo skipping workouts
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Safety James Ihedigbo was the lone absence from voluntary workouts this week for the Lions. But general manager Martin Mayhew understands. After all, Ihedigbo's agent has stated that he would not work without a new contract.

"I look forward to talking with James," Mayhew told ESPN. "I understand what he's going through. I've been through that myself as a player, when I felt that a time in my career that I was underpaid and I had to deal with that.

"So I have empathy for him. I understand what he's going through and I look forward to sitting down and talking with him. I have great respect for him as a player, as a man. I've gotten to know him a little bit away from football and I understand how he feels."

Mayhew declined to discuss whether the Liins will rework Ihedigbo's contract.

The 31-year-old Ihedigbo contributed 71 tackles and two sacks with a career-high four interceptions in 2014 despite missing three games at the start of the year with a nerve injury. He earned Pro Bowl alternate status.


Eagles withdraw qualifying offer to RB Chris Polk
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Running back Chris Polk is now a free agent. 

According to the NFL transaction wire, the Eagles rescinded their $1.6 million tender they offered this past March. The Eagles placed the tender on Polk, previously a restricted free agent, before signing both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews in free agency. 

With Darren Sproles on the roster, it didn't make much sense for Polk to stay with the Eagles. 

In 2014, Polk ran for 172 yards and four touchdowns. 


RB Bobby Rainey signs qualifying offer with Buccaneers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Buccaneers have announced that running back Bobby Rainey has signed a one-year qualifying offer the team extended to him before the free agency period. He was a restricted free agent and was given an opportunity to negotiate with other teams.

Rainey will compete for playing time with Tampa Bay. He rushed for 406 yards in 2014, but faded at the end of the season with just two carries in the last six games combined.


Jaguars planning to play 2015 season without Justin Blackmon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) As far as the Jaguars are concerned, Justin Blackmon will not be lining up at receiver for them this season. 

At least that's the approach Jacksonville is taking. Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended since Nov. 1 2013 for three violations of the substance-abuse policy under the old CBA.

"Our process hasn't changed," Caldwell said, via ESPN.com. "[We] plan to go without him, but if he emerges, he emerges, and he's going to go in with those top guys and compete with those other guys. Hopefully we're able to get some news, but if not we weren't planning on [having Blackmon]. We're just going to go [without him]."

Before he can re-join the Jaguars, he'll need to file an application for reinstatement, with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell making a decision within a 60-day window. The application letter would include details of the treatment he's received. 

Since being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Blackmon has only played in 20 games. He has 1,280 yards and six touchdowns in his career. 


Cowboys' Greg Hardy called 'woman beater' by teammate
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy got into an altercation with teammate Davon Coleman during a voluntary offseason workout, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports

Hardy reportedly questioned Coleman's work ethic during a conditioning drill, which led Coleman to call Hardy a "woman beater."

Hardy was accused of domestic abuse and was found guilty by a North Carolina judge. On the subsequent appeal, prosecutors dropped charges against Hardy and the case was never presented in front of a jury. 

Hardy has been suspended by the NFL for 10 games due to what transpired in that case. According to FOX Sports, the confrontation between Hardy and Coleman remained verbal


Lions and Rob Sims' representation haven't spoken in 3 weeks
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) The Lions need a left guard and Rob Sims would be a solid option if the two sides can strike a deal for the veteran to return. 

However, talks have stalled between the Lions' front office and Sims' representation. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said it's been nearly a month since he's spoken to Sims' camp. 

"We've had some discussion with Rob," Mayhew said, via MLive.com. "I spoke to his agent probably about three weeks ago and we had an offer out to him. That's kind of where we are right now. We'll have to kind of wait and see what happens."

The Lions could still opt to draft a lineman early to fill the position, too. 

Sims, who entered the NFL in 2006, has been with the Lions for the past five seasons. 


Andre Ellington OK with Cardinals drafting another running back
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4/24/2015) If the Cardinals decide to draft a running back in one of the higher rounds, running back Andre Ellington would be OK with it. 

Ellington was a three-down back for Arizona last year that got plenty of touches in the running and passing games. But if the Cardinals use a high pick on a running back, that could cut into Ellington's touches. 

That's something that wouldn't bother Ellington. 

“It’s whatever will better our team,” Ellington told the team's website. “That’s most important. No one is going to hate any decisions. I’m sure those guys will make the best decisions to help the team. We’ll accept any guy who comes in.”

Another quality runner could help Ellington, who dealt with numerous injuries a year ago, in the long run. His season ended last December after undergoing hernia surgery. 


 
 
 
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