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2013 Draft Prep: Deep league sleepers

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Not everyone drafts in a typical 10-team league with 14 or 15 roster spots. Some people are in deeper leagues. Sometimes those leagues have 14 or more owners and/or 17 or more rounds. When rosters get that deep, Fantasy owners need to learn some otherwise unfamiliar names.

One of the greatest challenges a Fantasy analyst has is finding a player that can be had with a late pick that turns into gold. One of those players was Alfred Morris last year, a running back we began hyping up over social media, live videos and online in mid-August. Little did we know he'd go on to be one of the best backs in Fantasy. We're on a mission to find this year's version.

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After talking with some NFL analysts, watching three weeks of preseason games, tumbling over some rocks and swimming through some haystacks, I found nine players who weren't household names even five months ago that owners should consider with late picks. Note: the last name is the one I'm taking in Round 12 or 13 of every draft I am in.

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots: This was someone who could have contended to be the "ultimate sleeper" but he played too well in the preseason and now everyone knows about him. But I'm including him on the list because it's cool to highlight players who were undrafted free agents and are on the cusp of starting. Thompkins' story is interesting: He had many, many run-ins with the law and has been arrested a number of times but went to college, kept his mind focused on football and has seemingly turned his life around. The cousin of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, Thompkins is on track to start for New England after playing with the first-team offense in each of their three preseason games. He lined up everywhere and ran pretty much every route in the route tree. While secondary receivers don't always put up massive stats for the Patriots, Thompkins could be a receptions hog and even impact the main players in the New England offense from week to week. He's actually a solid Fantasy reserve with the potential to be a Flex starter.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Bills: Goodwin is 5-foot-8 and 183 pounds -- not exactly Calvin Johnson. If you're that small and playing in the NFL then you'd better have fast legs, and Goodwin's got 'em. Seeing plenty of playing time with the first-team offense this summer, Goodwin has track speed to go with improved route-running and nice hands. With their up-tempo, run-heavy approach, Goodwin is a good weapon to have because the second a defense is focused on slowing down C.J. Spiller, E.J. Manuel can sling it over the top to Goodwin for the long score. Manuel has connected on a bunch of long passes in practice and Goodwin is someone who could contribute a lot of yardage without a lot of catches (his teammate Robert Woods will be more valuable in Fantasy to start the season). Buffalo should find themselves passing a decent amount this season, which also helps Goodwin.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders: The Raiders have no choice but to start Pryor, a tall passer with a fluid, effortless throwing motion and wheels to move around and out of the pocket. Just don't ask about the accuracy. He might not be an elite playmaker but compared to Matt Flynn he's a superstar. Make no mistake -- the Raiders are awful. The offensive line is bad, the receivers aren't great and Darren McFadden is always one injury away from being a disaster. Pryor's best preseason moments came against second-team defenses and he will for sure lay some eggs this year. But he'll also play from behind and run for his life pretty much every single week, likely putting up modest stats in the process. That's enough for me to look for him late in leagues that can start multiple quarterbacks.

Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens: If there's one thing the Ravens need in the wake of Dennis Pitta's injury and Anquan Boldin's departure, it's a big bodied wideout who can help move the chains. Brown has that look. At 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds, Brown's stature gives him a chance against press coverage and his speed is good enough to make an impact deep. Baltimore's receiving corps after Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones was weak when camp opened but the addition of slot guy Brandon Stokley and Brown's ascension up the depth chart has stabilized Joe Flacco's weapons. Brown might need to play good enough to leapfrog Jones in order to be a real nice Fantasy addition, but for now he's worth a flier in deeper PPR leagues.

Marlon Moore, WR, 49ers: It looks like Moore will replace Michael Crabtree in the Niners' starting lineup. He's never been special, but he's never worked with a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick before. I took a look at Crabtree's stats before Kaepernick and with Kaepernick and the difference is obvious. In 10 games with Kaepernick, Crabtree averaged two receptions, 36 yards and 0.5 more touchdowns per game more than in the 50 games prior. Everyone is so worried about how Kaepernick will do without Crabtree that maybe, just maybe, they need to spend a minute remembering what Crabtree was like without Kaepernick. Could it be that Kaepernick is such a good passer that he improves the receivers he works with? Might be. Moore is worth speculating on in deep PPR leagues that require three starting wideouts.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks: Most people will recognize Michael's name -- he was the hard-charging back at Texas A&M who totaled 2,791 rush yards and 34 scores over four seasons. He had the potential to be a great Fantasy weapon until the Seahawks took him with their second-round pick. Peculiar, why would the Seahawks take Michael when they already have Marshawn Lynch as well as second-year player Robert Turbin? Turns out the front office loved Michael. He's made them look good in a pair of preseason games, rushing for 186 yards on 27 carries (a sick 6.9 avg.) with a 25-yard reception. There's an injury history with Michael and there's also the reality that he might only see five carries per game -- he is behind Lynch after all. But if you're into drafting talent, Michael's a cinch to eventually be a Fantasy contributor.

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Alfonso Smith, RB, Cardinals: I found myself going back and forth with the Cardinals' rookie running backs for this space when I sat down to watch Arizona's preseason games and realized Smith was running second-string! Not bad for a guy who has been cut three times by the Cardinals, only to re-sign every time. He's got some quickness and pass protection skills and that's enough to keep him as the second back for the Cards to start the year. Ryan Williams' knee is perpetually hurt, Rashard Mendenhall is no spring chicken and who knows just how much rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington will play. If Mendenhall breaks, Smith looks like the leader in the clubhouse to take his reps. That makes him a late-round candidate in a year that's very thin at running back.

Kenny Stills, WR, Saints: One of the first names I had on my deep sleeper list was Joe Morgan. When the Saints drafted Stills I thought it was odd because Morgan had great top-end speed and even decent size -- why did they need Stills? They obviously liked his game and wanted him for depth but a major knee injury for Morgan thrusted Stills into the No. 3 receiver race. On multiple occasions this preseason I've seen Stills show off his tremendous deep speed as well as make some heady plays. One in particular came when Stills saw playing time in place of Marques Colston. A play broke down and Drew Brees bought some time, moved out of the pocket and hit Stills at the pylon for a touchdown. Stills might be a rookie but he hasn't played like one this preseason, and the Saints always find offensive players who are diamonds in the rough among late-round picks and undrafted players (Colston, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory). There's major potential here, even if he's fourth fiddle behind Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Jimmy Graham (and maybe even Nick Toon).

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had a lot of glowing things to say about his rookie tight end, but one thing you just can't grasp from the story is how enthusiastic Gruden was over Eifert. It was obvious. In the story he compared his offense to New Orleans' offense. I asked him if that meant Jimmy Graham was who he saw in Eifert. Gruden didn't temper his answer saying "I do very much so." But what impressed me more was that Gruden said they've thrown the kitchen sink at Eifert and he still doesn't make mistakes. A wrist injury kept him from playing in the Bengals' third preseason game but Gruden probably doesn't mind keeping his secret weapon away off their opponents game film. But the biggest selling point is that Eifert is a much-needed mismatch threat in a West Coast offense led by a quarterback with deep-ball question marks. That means he'll check down or find seam routes to his athletic tight end, or hit him with a high pass in the end zone when he's against a smaller defender. Eifert's a phenomenal late-round pick you can begin your Fantasy season with as your starter at tight end.

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
Ryan Fitzpatrick fades in MNF loss
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:44 am ET) Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick got off to a great start Monday against the Steelers, leading three straight scoring drives. But he forced a throw into traffic late in the first half, and it got deflected and picked off by defensive end Brett Keisel.

Fitzpatrick finished 21 of 32 for 262 yards and two touchdowns with the one interception. When he was playing well early, the team converted its first three third downs. Houston finished 4 of 12 on third down. Fitzpatrick has accounted for nine touchdowns and eight turnovers this year.

Both of Fitzpatrick's scoring passes went to running backs, with Alfred Blue taking a short pass 11 yards for a first-quarter touchdown and Arian Foster hauling in a 1-yard score late in the fourth.

Fitzpatrick visits the Titans in Week 8.


Randy Bullock redeems himself
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:34 am ET) After missing a 37-yard field-goal try Week 6, Texans kicker Randy Bullock converted all three of his attempts in Monday's loss at Pittsburgh. Bullock was good from 39, 38 and 31 yards and added two PATs for 11 points.

He'll visit Tennessee in Week 8.


Texans' role players contribute Week 7
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(12:30 am ET) The Texans got contributions from several role players in Monday's 30-23 loss at Pittsburgh. Backup running back Alfred Blue ran five times for 14 yards and took a dumpoff pass 11 yards for his first career touchdown.

Tight end Garrett Graham caught two of three targets for 24 yards, and wideout Damaris Johnson had a 15-yard reception and a bad drop. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz hauled in a 9-yard pass, while receiver Keshawn Martin added a 5-yard grab.

They'll all visit the Titans in Week 8.


Shaun Suisham stays hot on MNF
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham improved to 14 of 15 on field goals by drilling three in Monday's win over Houston. Suisham connected from 44, 30 and 40 yards and added three PATs for a 12-point night.

He'll face the Colts in Week 8.


Steelers get offensive contributions
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:25 am ET) The Steelers got a variety of offensive contributions in their 30-23 win over the Texans. Among them, running back LeGarrette Blount ran seven times for 9 yards and caught an 8-yard pass. Running back Dri Archer carried twice for 7 yards.

Tight end Heath Miller secured his only target for 13 yards, while wideout Markus Wheaton was targeted twice without a catch. They'll all play the Colts in Week 8.


Lance Moore scores again Week 7
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) Steelers No. 3 receiver Lance Moore caught a touchdown pass for the second straight game Monday, hauling in a 3-yard bullet from fellow wideout Antonio Brown on a trick play. Moore caught both his targets for 12 yards, and his two catches represented a season high.

He'll play the Colts in Week 8.


Big Ben throws for 265 yards, two TDs in victory
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw multiple touchdown passes for the first since Week 4, completing 23 of 33 throws for 265 yards and two scores Monday against the Texans. Roethlisberger did not toss an interception but lost a fumble while getting sacked.

It was a nice bounceback for Roethlisberger, who had accounted for two touchdowns and two turnovers in Weeks 5-6.

Roethlisberger found rookie Martavis Bryant for a 35-yard touchdown and running back Le'Veon Bell for a 2-yard score in a 24-point onslaught right before halftime. He had a touchdown pass called back when it was ruled Antonio Brown did not get both feet down.

Roethlisberger plays the Colts in Week 8.


Steelers WR Martavis Bryant makes immediate impact
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:12 am ET) Getting his first NFL action Monday, Steelers rookie wideout Martavis Bryant made his presence felt in the second quarter. He ran past Texans rookie corner Andre Hal and hauled in a 35-yard touchdown, dragging his left toe for the score.

Bryant caught another 5-yard pass later, giving him two catches on five targets for 40 yards. He likely earned more playing time Week 8 against the Colts.


DeAndre Hopkins goes over 100 yards for second time
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(12:01 am ET) Texans second-year wideout DeAndre Hopkins recorded his second 100-yard receiving game this season, catching six passes for 108 yards in the loss at Pittsburgh. Hopkins produced one 100-yard game as a rookie.

Hopkins, who shared the team lead with nine targets, lost a critical fumble in the fourth quarter when he was stripped by safety Mike Mitchell on a 32-yard reception. It was his first lost fumble this season, second of his career.

Hopkins visits the Titans in Week 8.


Andre Johnson salvages night with big fourth quarter
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(10/20/2014) Texans receiver Andre Johnson had one 4-yard reception through three quarters Monday night at Pittsburgh. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally looked Johnson's way in the fourth quarter, and the 33-year-old wideout finished with five catches for 77 yards.

In the process, Johnson moved past Steve Largent for 14th place in career receiving yards. Johnson has 14,057 receiving yards.

Johnson shared the team lead with nine targets, his average this season. He'll visit the Titans in Week 8.


 
 
 
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