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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
Report: Saints' Mark Ingram could earn '18 to 22' touches Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) In an interview on CBS Sports Radio Saturday, Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic indicated that injuries to running backs Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson could potentially mean "18 to 22" touches for Mark Ingram Sunday night against the Packers, per CBS Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard.

The Packers rank 31st against the run, allowing 147.9 yards per game on the ground this season. Ingram has rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns on 34 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt.


Report: Saints Jimmy Graham primed for bigger role Sunday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) In an interview on CBS Sports Radio Saturday, Saints sideline reporter Kristian Garic indicated that tight end Jimmy Graham will have a "little bit more of a bigger role" Sunday night against the Packers, per CBS Senior Fantasy Writer Dave Richard.

Because of a nagging shoulder injury, Graham was limited to only 41 percent of the team's snaps in Week 7 at Detroit and was held without a grab. He was a limited participant in practice all week and was labeled questionable for Week 8.

Graham has 34 catches for 376 yards and three touchdowns this season.


NFLPA to review how Chargers handled Addae's concussion
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The NFL Players Association is formally reviewing the handling of Chargers safety Jahleel Addae's concussion, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora on Saturday.

Addae kept playing despite taking a couple brutal shots to the neck and head area, and even came up wobbling in one instance, in Week 8 against the Broncos. The team initially called his injury a stinger on Thursday and he wasn't diagnosed with a concussion until Friday.


Saints promote Edwin Baker from practice squad
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) With Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson sidelined for Week 8 against Green Bay, the Saints have signed running back Edwin Baker from the practice Saturday, according to the NFL Network. Baker has yet to play a game this season. He will likely serve as the team's third option at running back, behind Mark Ingram and Travaris Cadet.

Chiefs re-sign Jerel Worthy to practice squad
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) Just a few days after being waived from the practice squad, the Chiefs have added defensive lineman Jerel Worthy back to the practice squad on Saturday, per ESPN. Worthy, who suffered a torn ACL in 2012 and spent most of the 2013 season on the PUP list, has yet to take a snap this season.

Saints part ways with Tom Crabtree Saturday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The Saints waived tight end Tom Crabtree Saturday, just a day before Sunday's matchup against his former team, the Packers, ESPN reports. Crabtree has yet to appear in a game this season.

Raiders place LaMarr Woodley, Usama Young on IR
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The Raiders placed defensive end LaMarr Woodley (bicep) and safety Usama Young (knee) on the season-ending injured reserve list Saturday.

Woodley suffered a torn bicep muscle in Week 7 against the Cardinals. Young tore his ACL and MCL in the same game.


Raiders activate D.J. Hayden, sign Denico Autry
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The Raiders activated cornerback D.J. Hayden from the PUP list Saturday and added defensive end Denico Autry to the active roster from the practice squad.

Hayden missed the first seven weeks of the season while recovering from a foot injury, but he's ready to roll for Sunday's Week 8 matchup with the Browns. Autry was signed to the team's practice squad on Sept. 1.


Rams place Brandon McGee on IR, sign Jamea Thomas
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The Rams placed cornerback Brandon McGee (foot) on injured reserve Saturday. He hasn't played since Week 2 and will miss the remainder of the season with the injury.

The team promoted defensive back Jemea Thomas from the practice squad to fill the open roster spot. He has yet to play in a regular-season game this season.


Seahawks send Derrick Coleman to IR, sign Phil Bates
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/25/2014) The Seahawks have placed Derrick Coleman (foot) on injured reserve, ending his season. He fractured his foot during pregame warmups in Week 7.

To replace Coleman on the active roster, the team signed wide receiver Phil Bates off the practice squad.


 
 
 
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