Jake Locker and the Top 10 Fantasy Sleepers For 2012
We’ve been through each position and come up with 5-10 quality fantasy sleepers that we’re targeting in fantasy football drafts for 2012. But now it’s time to get you an overall list. Out of all the positions, which sleepers stand above the rest, and which do you absolutely have to have this year?
Some you’ll have to pluck earlier than you may want, and others you simply have to snag off the board in the right round late in drafts. My personal definition of a true sleeper may not fit the norm. I don’t think a guy who has put up quality numbers before should be a sleeper. Even though Michael Vick went from consensus #1 to about the 4th round these days, he still isn’t a true sleeper. Matthew Stafford was a true sleeper in 2011. He was always hurt and never put a full season together. Chad Ochocinco becoming Chad Johnson and possibly finding life again in fantasy football – also not a sleeper. I only roll guys that are on the verge of fantasy brilliance; guys that aren’t going very high in most drafts. Keep that in mind as your peruse this list.
Without further haste, here are my top 15 fantasy sleepers for 2012:
Note: Rookies not included in sleeper list. Oh, and there’s 15 guys here, not 10.
Jake Locker, QB Tennessee Titans
Locker flashed brilliance at times in spot-duty in 2011, and is in a real competition with veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck for the 2012 starting gig. I can’t be sure he gets it to start the season, but his arm strength and excellent mobility offer huge potential when/if he does get the job.
Matt Flynn, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Flynn is in a new city, but he’s still working with the West Coast Offense, and he’s not lacking weapons around him. They’re not as potent as they were in Green Bay, but he could be working with Sidney Rice, Terrell Owens, Doug Baldwin and Kellen Winslow in 2012 if he can beat out rookie Russell Wilson and vet Tarvaris Jackson for the starting gig. I think he wins the gig and posts high QB2 numbers.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Kolb didn’t get 2012 started off right, as he threw a pick and exited with a rib injury in the Hall of Fame game, but I still think the starting job is his to lose. He has too much talent in AZ to fail if he puts everything he has into it. As long as he can stay healthy, I think there’s a realistic chance Kolb finally moves from fantasy sleeper to being a reliable weekly option.
Robert Meachem, WR, San Diego Chargers
Meachem was just one of the many weapons in New Orleans, but now he’s possibly Philip Rivers’ new number one receiver in San Diego. I don’t think he has a crazy year, but 1,0o0+ yards and 7-8 touchdowns is a realistic expectation with his new role.
Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions
Young was solid as a rookie, but he played behind Megatron and Nate Burleson. He’s worked his way into the new number two spot and could be in for a huge year. His talent and offense are both just too good for him to not take big steps in 2012.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts
I’m a fan of Collie. He had a solid rookie year and would have had a sophomore smash with Peyton Manning had concussions not robbed him of seven games. Then Curtis Painter robbed him of respectable numbers in 2011. The upgrade at QB with Andrew Luck is going to be huge for all receivers, but I think Collie is a guy people are forgetting about. He can play all the positions and he runs some of the best routes in the league. Grab him late in your draft.
Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson still isn’t 100% and Gerhart proved down the stretch in 2011 he can carry a full load. He could have major value as the team’s top back in the early going, and should factor into the offense, regardless. He’s a must-have Peterson handcuff, at the very least.
Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Williams is coming off a devastating patellar tendon injury and he didn’t play a single down as a rookie because of it. That stinks, but luckily starting RB Beanie Wells has a knee issue of his own. That could mean a pretty solid role for Williams, and if Wells gets hurt (like he always does), it could even eventually mean a starting gig. Williams may lack his old explosiveness initially, but he’s still a quality back who needs to be handcuffed to Wells and has sleeper potential all on his own, as well.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
Ridley showed in spurts last year that he might be able to be the guy in New England. That’s why The Law Firm changed cities. Ridley is in a muddied back-field, but he’s a sleeper worth taking a chance on because he’ll get the goal-line work and should be the starter. He could be a decent RB2 when it’s all said and done this year.
Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Redman is a sleeper, but he’s a pretty loud one by now. Everyone knows Rashard Mendenhall is likely to start 2o12 on the PUP list, so Redman already has a monster role. But is he the guy to get the job done? Considering his competition behind him, I think so.
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions
Leshoure is hard to trust due to an achilles injury robbing him of his rookie season, as well as off-field issues. However, you can’t trust Kevin Smith or Jahvid Best, either, and Leshoure is shaping up to be the starter in Detroit. He has solid potential and if he is indeed the starter, he could be one of the top steals of your draft.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers
Starks had a great showing in OTAs and recently was dogged for a weak start to camp. I’ll wait to harp on him after a couple preseason games. Besides, his competition is pretty weak. I think he gets his mind right eventually, and if he does, he could carry quiet RB2 value.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos
Tamme sort of broke out back in 2010, but he only started about eight games, so I don’t count it. The nice thing is, he has a great rapport with Peyton Manning, and Manning loves tight ends. Translation: I love Tamme for 2012.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph reminds me a lot of Rob Gronkowski with his awesome combo of size, ball skills and speed. He’s the #1 tight end in Minny now, and quarterback Christian Ponder can’t shut up about him. I think he has a shot at a huge break out year, but will at least be a low-end TE1.
Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Todd Heap is old, slow and injury-prone. Housler is young, fast and just waiting for a real shot and busting out. He probably has to unseat Heap to have real value, but he’s very talented and already showed the goods in the Cards’ first preseason game. He’s a deeper sleeper that the other guys here, but I really like his potential if he gets a solid role.