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2013 Draft Prep: Sleepers, 2.0

Senior Fantasy Writer
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A lot has changed since the beginning of July with the start of training camp and preseason games.

So have my initial sleepers, breakouts and busts.

We're starting with second run at some Draft Day sleepers (you can see Sleepers 1.0 here). A lot of the same players I still strongly believe in (Eli Manning, Giovani Bernard, Ben Tate, Josh Gordon, Michael Floyd, DeAndre Hopkins and Jermichael Finley). But we're adding to the list to give you more options on Draft Day.

Here are 10 additional sleepers for you to consider on Draft Day.

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles: There are a lot of No. 2 quarterbacks I like this season, which is why we continue to say the position is so deep. Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger all have the ability to be starting Fantasy quarterbacks, but none present the same upside as Vick. He is potentially among the biggest difference makers at any position, and you can draft him with a pick in Round 11 or later. The best thing about taking a flier on Vick is if he fails, or more likely gets hurt, you can drop him for someone like Joe Flacco (his Average Draft Position is Round 12), Alex Smith (ADP is Round 13) or even Brandon Weeden (ADP is Round 16). Or you could not carry a No. 2 quarterback at all. There's no risk with Vick this season but still all the same reward. He's looked great in two preseason games in Chip Kelly's offense, and even with Jeremy Maclin (ACL) out Vick can still shine. I'd gamble on Vick because for the first time since his comeback in 2009 there are really no expectations.
I'd take him ahead of: Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Sam Bradford

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals: Palmer was surprisingly a quality Fantasy quarterback last season with the Raiders before getting hurt in Week 16. He had at least 18 Fantasy points in a standard league in 10 starts, with 20 or more points in five outings. That was with a mediocre receiving corps, but now Palmer gets the best receiver he's ever played with in Larry Fitzgerald and a pass-happy coach in Bruce Arians. He also has Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts, Rob Housler and the chance to throw the ball until his arm falls off. Arians was the offensive coordinator for the Colts last season, and Andrew Luck attempted the fifth-most passes in the NFL. Palmer isn't worth drafting as a starter, but he does have the chance to be a high-end No. 2 passer with plenty of upside.
I'd take him ahead of: Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman, Matt Schaub

Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: I originally had Lacy on my bust list because he arrived at training camp out of shape, has a lengthy injury history and is part of a crowded backfield. But heading into the third preseason game, Johnathan Franklin has been unimpressive and DuJuan Harris has only practiced on a limited basis because of a knee injury. Lacy, despite some poor angles in a photograph that went viral on Twitter, appears in good condition despite dealing with a hamstring injury during camp. He had eight carries for 40 yards in the second preseason game against the Rams, and even noted Lacy skeptic Pete Prisco, a CBSSports.com Senior NFL Columnist, has come around. He's a great flex option in Round 6 based on his ADP. Harris is also a sleeper with a late-round flier, and I'd rather have Harris than Franklin as the second-best running back in Green Bay.
I'd take him ahead of: Rashard Mendenhall, Montee Ball, Ahmad Bradshaw

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams: Richardson has been named the starter for the Rams for Week 1 against Arizona, which is no surprise since he's outplayed Zac Stacy, and Isaiah Pead is suspended for the season opener. But there's a strong belief here that Richardson can hold onto the job all year barring an injury, and even if he loses carries to Stacy and/or Pead, Richardson will remain involved on passing downs. In limited playing time in 2012 as a rookie behind Steven Jackson, Richardson averaged 4.8 yards per carry (98 for 475 yards) and 6.8 yards per catch (24 for 163 yards). Give him 165 carries and 35 catches at those same averages and he's at 1,030 total yards (792 rushing, 238 receiving) with potentially five total touchdowns. That's a great flex option you can get in Round 6 or 7.
I'd take him ahead of: Andre Brown, Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Hillman

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets: Powell isn't a special talent. He's not even the starter for the Jets, which is a team that should struggle offensively this season. But Powell might get the chance for an increased role, and he's worth a late-round flier in all leagues. Chris Ivory, the expected starter, has a lengthy injury history going back to college, and he's struggled with a nagging hamstring during the preseason. His absence has allowed Powell to shine with 16 carries for 82 yards in limited work against the Lions and Jaguars. Last season, Powell closed the year with double digits in Fantasy points in three of his final seven games, so he could be a valuable reserve, especially if Ivory misses any time. Don't give up on Ivory yet, but put Powell on your radar.
I'd take him ahead of: Danny Woodhead, Jonathan Stewart, Fred Jackson

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Chris Givens, WR, Rams: In March, during one of our podcasts with Adam Aizer, I told him two of my favorite players this year are going to be Shane Vereen and Givens. The Vereen hype is off the charts, and now Givens is quietly gaining momentum. He's had a great preseason so far with four catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in two games against Cleveland and Green Bay. With Tavon Austin and Jared Cook getting all the hype as new additions to the passing game, Givens might be the best of the bunch. Last season, when Danny Amendola missed time, Givens took over. Amendola was out for five games in 2012, and Givens had at least eight Fantasy points in four of those five outings and benefited from the increased targets. That could continue this year, and he's worth drafting as a No. 3 receiver in Round 8 or 9.
I'd take him ahead of: Greg Jennings, Anquan Boldin, Miles Austin

Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers: San Diego is banged up at receiver with Danario Alexander (ACL) out for the year and Malcom Floyd (knee) and Eddie Royal (bruised lung) dealing with injuries. Someone has to catch the ball from Philip Rivers, and Brown should be the No. 2 target behind Antonio Gates. He was a popular sleeper in 2012 before a broken ankle kept him out for the season, but he should be 100 percent for the start of this year. It's also technically his third season, which is the year when receivers have a breakout campaign. His ADP is Round 12, and I'd gladly take him as my No. 4 or 5 receiver in that spot.
I'd take him ahead of: Emmanuel Sanders, Denarius Moore, Justin Blackmon

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots: It's hard to find a receiver who's generated more buzz in training camp than Thompkins. All signs point to him being the starter opposite Amendola, and we know the allure of catching passes from Tom Brady has most Fantasy owners excited. New England's receiving corps is in flux with the loss of Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd and Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski (back) hurt, and Thompkins could play a vital role in filling some of that production. He's easily worth a late-round flier, and if he has another strong preseason outing (he had four catches for 23 yards in the opener against the Eagles while working with Brady) then his value will rise. He's a great No. 4 or 5 receiver with the upside to be a starter in three-receiver leagues.
I'd take him ahead of: Sidney Rice, Cordarrelle Patterson, Aaron Dobson

Jordan Cameron, TE, Browns: If Thompkins has been the hot name at receiver, than Cameron has been the guy at tight end. There are four sleeper options emerging at tight end during the preseason with Cameron, Tyler Eifert, Zach Sudfield and Julius Thomas, but Cameron is the best of the bunch. He had three catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions in the second preseason game, but that's just the eye-opener for most Fantasy owners. Digging deeper you'll find that Cameron gets the chance to play for a tight-end friendly coach in Rob Chudzinski, who has worked with Kellen Winslow, Jeremy Shockey, Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen during his tenure as an assistant. Cameron, like Gates, is a former basketball player, and if he can stay healthy he could be a Top 10 Fantasy tight end this year.
I'd take him ahead of: Brandon Myers, Owen Daniels, Brandon Pettigrew

Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots: The Patriots might have found gold in two undrafted rookies in Thompkins and Sudfeld, who played at Nevada. With Gronkowski potentially out for the season opener -- if not longer -- and Hernandez gone, Sudfeld could be the starter in Week 1 against Buffalo. He has played well in the preseason with three catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, and even when Gronkowski is healthy, Sudfeld could remain in the Hernandez role, which we've seen the past three years has been valuable in New England. He's definitely worth a late-round flier in all leagues, and he could emerge as a potential starter with another strong preseason outing. And if Gronkowski gets bad news that he's out for an extended period of time then Sudfeld could be a star.
I'd take him ahead of: Jermaine Gresham, Fred Davis, Coby Fleener

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

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Player News
QB struggles begin to impact Cardinals DST
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:13 am ET) The Cardinals DST scored just one Fantasy point in standard CBSSports.com leagues Week 16 against Seattle, interrupting a stretch of 10 games in which it averaged 15.1, and the Cardinals' offensive woes may have had something to do with it.

Specifically, they've been unable to find a decent quarterback since losing Carson Palmer to injury in Week 10. Backup Drew Stanton at least mounted some kind of threat, but with him sidelined by a sprained knee in Week 16, the Cardinals had to turn to third-stringer Ryan Lindley. He turned the ball over twice without once leading his team into the end zone, completing less than half of his passes in the process.

The quick trips back to the sideline gave the Seahawks more chances to pile up points and yards, and they did, finishing with 35 and 596. Only one other time have the Cardinals allowed more than 30 points in a game, and the 596 yards were a season high. Worse yet, they were lacking in big plays, recording one sack with no takeaways.

Fortunately, the Cardinals will take on a struggling 49ers offense in Week 17, so even if Lindley is back under center, the DST at least has a chance of a respectable performance. Still, if you've been relying on it all season, you might want to make sure there isn't an appealing matchups play on the waiver wire.


Seahawks DST can't be stopped
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(2:04 am ET) The Seahawks DST had another dominant performance Week 16 at Arizona, continuing a nine-week run that has made it once again arguably the top unit in Fantasy. During that stretch, it has averaged 16.2 Fantasy points, allowing 11.9 points on 231.3 yards.

It allowed only six points on 216 yards in Week 16, recording four sacks and one interception. Of the Seahawks' 33 sacks this season, 20 have come in their last five games.

Clearly, they had a favorable matchup in this one, but they also shut down the Eagles in Week 14. You don't have any reason to shy away from the Seahawks DST against St. Louis in Week 17.


Kenbrell Thompkins comes out of nowhere
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:58 am ET) After making only modest contributions since coming over from the Patriots in Week 6, Raiders wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins suddenly emerged as quarterback Derek Carr's favorite target Week 16 against Buffalo, catching five passes for 90 yards. He hadn't caught even one pass since Week 13, and his previous high in yardage was 47.

Of course, you should know how this goes by now. Fellow wide receivers James Jones and Andre Holmes have both had their stretches of Fantasy relevance this season, as has tight end Mychal Rivera. The Raiders have a multitude of viable receiving targets, but their roles aren't so clear, which makes the task of picking the most impactful from week to week next to impossible.

In other words, you'd need to play in an especially deep league to take a flier on Thompkins for the season's final week.


Latavius Murray trustworthy up to a point
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:51 am ET) If his 23 carries Week 14 against San Francisco didn't convince you, Latavius Murray's 23 carries Week 16 against Buffalo should make the message loud and clear: He is the Raiders' top running back, and they're putting more faith in him than they ever did Darren McFadden.

Granted, it hasn't translated to much production yet, but the 49ers and Bills are two of the toughest defenses against the run. Unfortunately, Denver, the Raiders' Week 17 opponent, is ranked even higher at both.

Can you trust Murray to get his carries? He's gotten them two of the last three weeks, so most likely, yes. And with 20-plus chances, there's always the chance he breaks a long one. But the matchup will make it difficult.

You'd like to start him given his ever-increasing role, but you shouldn't force him into your lineup if you have two (or maybe three) respectable running backs already.


One way or another, Fred Jackson gets his
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:44 am ET) Trailing early Week 16 at Oakland with their playoff hopes on the line, the Bills didn't stick with the running game for long, attempting only three runs in the second half. But in a way, that worked to running back Fred Jackson's advantage. He's such a good pass-catcher out of the backfield that he still topped 100 total yards, doing so for the first time since returning from a groin injury in Week 12.

Even with the return of C.J. Spiller from a long-term shoulder injury, Jackson still led the Bills in carries, but with only six for 10 yards. He also led the team in catches with nine for 93 yards. He had 10 catches just two weeks ago, so clearly, he's a PPR stud.

Is he worth starting in standard leagues as well? Well, he's also gotten 20 carries twice in five games since returning. He hasn't been as effective on the ground as through the air, but yards are yards, however he gets them.

Their matchup Week 17 at New England will probably force the Bills to go pass-heavy again, so unless you're stacked at running back, you can find a spot for Jackson in your lineup.


Desperation fuels Kyle Orton's performance
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:35 am ET) Bills quarterback Kyle Orton didn't have the most efficient day throwing the ball Week 16 at Oakland, but from a Fantasy perspective, it was a productive one. He threw for 329 yards and three touchdowns but also had two interceptions.

What's crazy, though, is that 196 of those yards came in the second half. The Bills were trailing a winnable game with their playoff hopes on the line, and their desperation showed. Unfortunately, that desperation also contributed to the second of Orton's interceptions.

The Bills have been eliminated, so no matter how much they're trailing Week 17 at New England, they probably won't be quite as desperate. You can expect more typical numbers from Orton -- maybe about 250 yards with one or two scores -- even if the matchup appears to be a favorable one, making him a player better left for two-quarterback leagues.


Kenny Britt clearly better with Shaun Hill
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:27 am ET) Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt caught a season-high nine passes on a season-high 11 targets Week 16 against the Giants, but his 103 receiving yards actually weren't a season high.

That's because he had 128, along with a touchdown, Week 11 against the Broncos.

That was Shaun Hill's first game back under center. Week 16, obviously, was his latest one. In the six games since Hill reclaimed the role, Britt has averaged 3.8 catches for 66.3 yards. In the nine games before then, he averaged 2.3 catches for 34.7 yards.

Britt has been especially good lately, averaging 73.3 yards in his last three games. Hill has also been fond of Stedman Bailey, but he doesn't seem to have a clear preference for one or the other.

Of course, the Rams passing attack isn't prolific enough to sustain both, so if you're going to target Britt or Bailey off the waiver wire, make sure it's in a deeper league. You wouldn't want to roll the dice on either in the season's final week if you can help it.


Andre Williams showing more ability
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:19 am ET) Carrying the load for the third straight game with Rashad Jennings sidelined by an ankle injury Week 16 at St. Louis, Giants rookie running back Andre Williams delivered his second 100-yard effort during that stretch, picking up 110 yards on 26 carries. Of course, just like in Week 14, it wasn't the steadiest performance. He had a 50-yard run in that one en route to a career-best 131 yards. He had a 45-yard run en route to his 110 yards in this one.

But that's true for most 100-yard rushing performances. The best backs break long runs occasionally, which makes up for all the 2- and 3-yard gains in between. It's easy to discount Williams' performance because of a long run here or a long run there because he's been so bad on a per-carry basis this season (take that 45-yard run away, and he averaged only 2.6 yards per carry -- oh noes!), but the fact is those long runs count, too. And he barreled over a couple of tacklers to complete it, which was nice to see.

Because Williams is short on receiving ability, his numbers don't look so great when he doesn't break a long run, but with all the carries he's getting now, his chances are better than not of breaking one. He's worth starting in standard leagues Week 17 against Philadelphia.


Rueben Randle not overshadowed for once
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(1:08 am ET) Since the emergence of rookie Odell Beckham in Week 9, and especially since his even bigger emergence in Week 12, wide receiver Rueben Randle has been an afterthought in the Giants passing game, averaging 2.3 catches for 31.8 yards in the four games leading up to Week 16 at St. Louis. But quarterback Eli Manning finally had enough yards to go around in that one, delivering Beckham his usual eight grabs for 148 yards and still finding Randle on six passes for 132 yards.

Randle even caught a touchdown pass, his first since Week 5. Of course, Beckham caught two and is now up to eight in his last five games, averaging 9.6 catches for 131.4 yards during that stretch.

You see the problem here, don't you? Manning was able to sustain both Beckham and Randle in this one, but that's only because he threw for a season-high 391 yards. If he regresses to a more modest total Week 17 against Philadelphia, we all know Randle is the one taking a back seat. Beckham has other-worldly talent, and Manning is smart enough to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

Of course, the Giants will probably have to throw a lot to keep pace with the Eagles, which bodes well for Randle, but you should still treat him as no more than a No. 3 wide receiver in Fantasy.


Odell Beckham making Eli Manning a stud
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(12:58 am ET) Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham had another eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns Week 16 at St. Louis, which has become par for the course for him. It was his second straight game and third game in five with more than 140 receiving yards and multiple scores.

What you may not have noticed, though, is that quarterback Eli Manning has taken off during that same stretch. He had a season-high 391 yards and three touchdowns in Week 16, completing 25 of 32 passes. Over his last five games, he has averaged 297.2 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.

It stands to reason, of course. Beckham couldn't be putting up all those numbers without someone throwing him the ball. This may be one of those rare cases of the wide receiver making the quarterback as opposed to the other way around. Beckham is clearly a special talent, and Manning has made a point to deliver him the ball as often as possible.

It's reason enough to give Manning another chance Week 17 against Philadelphia if you've been suffering with Matthew Stafford or Colin Kaepernick and are somehow still alive in spite of it.


 
 
 
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