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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: Late December the best case for Eagles' Nick Foles
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:18 am ET) Eagles quarterback Nick Foles is hoping to return in late December, according to philly.com.

Foles has yet to have a follow-up on his broken collarbone, but is expected to go next week. He was initially slated to miss 6-8 weeks due to the issue, but that could be optimistic. The best case scenario for Foles is a possible Week 16 return against Washington. Foles has been preparing as though he's going to return again this season, according to offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. "He's involved in every single meeting," Shurmur said. "He's out there on the field. He's throwing and running."

Foles has already missed three games due to the injury.


Report: Texans RB Arian Foster likely to start on Sunday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Texans running back Arian Foster is likely to start Week 13 against the Titans, according to the Houston Chronicle

Foster "looked pretty good" in practice, according to coach Bill O'Brien. Barring a setback, it's believed Foster will return to the starting lineup. He missed the last two games due to a groin injury. 


Cowboys QB Tony Romo probable for Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is probable heading into Thursday's game against the Eagles.

Romo was listed with a back injury, but was able to practice in full on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Josh Brent, Tyrone Crawford, Doug Free, Nick Hayden, Rolando McClain and Terrance Williams were also listed as probable, and should play.

The team did not list any players as questionable, though Jeff Heath was listed as doubtful.

Jack Crawford, Tyler Patmon and Dekoda Watson were all ruled out prior to Thursday. 


Bears list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Bears have listed their Week 13 injury report prior to Thursday's game.

Wideout Brandon Marshall has been listed as probable with an ankle injury. He's been limited in practice throughout the week, but should play. Eben Britton, Jordan Mills and Brock Vereen were also listed as probable.

First-round pick Kyle Fuller will come into the contest as a game-time decision. He's questionable due to a knee injury. Both Jeremiah Ratliff and Trevor Scott will be listed as doubtful.

Lance Briggs, Darryl Sharpton, Chris Williams and Brian De La Puente have already been ruled out. 


Seahawks list Week 13 injury report
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Seahawks have released their Week 13 injury report.

Marshawn Lynch is listed as probable due to a back injury. He was able to put in full practice on Wednesday. Jermaine Kearse, Marcus Burley and James Carpenter have also been ruled probable. 

Demarcus Dobbs and Jeremy Lane are listed as questionable. Dobbs is dealing with a knee injury. Lane has a glute issue.

Finally, Max Unger, Cooper Helfet and Kevin Pierre-Louis have been ruled out. None of the three were able to practice during the week. 


Raiders' Latavius Murray 'feeling better every day'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Raiders running back Latavius Murray is "feeling better every day," according to CSN.

Murray was able to return to practice on Wednesday, but has not been cleared to return from his concussion just yet. Despite that, Murray seems optimistic about his status. "I’ve felt fine, and I’m feeling better each day," Murray said. "With these kind of things you have to take it one day at a time and follow the right procedures." Murray was on his way to a huge game before leaving with the injury Week 12. 


Seahawks' Cooper Helfet to miss Thursday's game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Seahawks tight end Cooper Helfet will miss Thursday's game against the 49ers.

Helfet is dealing with an ankle injury. He was not able to take part in practice during the week, and is already listed as out.


Vikings OL Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Vikings offensive lineman Phil Loadholt expects to be ready for training camp.

Loadholt will have season-ending surgery on a torn pectoral muscle soon. The team placed him on IR, meaning he won't be back this season. 


Ravens sign Emmanuel Ogbuehi to practice squad
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) The Ravens have signed tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi to the practice squad on Wednesday.

Ogbuehi had been on the practice squad earlier in the season, but was cut in September. The team placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the practice squad injured list, making room for Ogbuehi to return. 


Rams wideout Damian Williams clears waivers
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(11/26/2014) Rams wideout Damian Williams cleared waivers on Wednesday.

Williams was released by the club on Tuesday, and was not picked up by a club on waivers. He's now free to sign with any team. 


 
 
 
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