A smart fantasy owner knows that a successful draft is not determined in the first 4 rounds, those picks are fairly self-explanatory. A successful draft is determined in the 5th-10th rounds. After the 10th round, you are basically taking back-ups and rookie keepers (if you are in a keeper league). What should you do in the middle rounds? First of all, you have to assess what you already have and what you need. In the first few rounds, hopefully you have at least one stud RB, and a QB (take one in the 3rd round at the earliest). A Quarterbacks’ fantasy value disparity from Warner, Culpepper, or Manning to let’s say Bledsoe is negligible, but RB disparity is much greater (especially since you have to start at least 2 of them). A very good QB can be had in the 3rd-4th round, so don’t waste a first round or 2nd round pick to get one.
Hopefully heading into the 5th round for example you have your starting QB, a stud RB, and either a 2nd RB or a good high tier WR. Now is where the draft is won or lost! Here are some players to take in these rounds that will really help your team, in place of taking people that are way past their prime. These are my sleeper for this year’s draft and hopefully you can steal them away from your competition.
Marc Bulger (STL) – I wouldn’t take him until late, but you should take him. Why you ask? Well, Warner is coming off a hand injury and you never know what will happen to him when he takes a regular season hit. Bulger is just as good as Warner, as we saw last year, and the Rams have the best offense in the league. So, his upside is tremendous if Warner goes down. If you have Warner, definitely take him late for insurance.
Matt “Hasselhoff” Hasselbeck (SEA) – He is just as good as the big boys and no one gives him a 2nd thought. He started only 10 games last year, and he had over 3,000 yards (3075) – you do the math! He averaged 343.6 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in his final 6 games. Seattle will be behind in a lot of games, so he will be airing it out to get their team back in the game.
Kelly Holcomb “If you got ‘em” (CLE) – He is officially the starter in Cleveland now, and look for him to continue his sold work from last year. He started only 2 games last year (played in 5 total) and had 790 yards and 8 TD’s. Couch could be on his way out permanently, so Holcomb could finally have job security.
Onterrio Smith (rookie MIN) – With the injury to Michael Bennett (who will likely be out until the end of October), Smith has the chance to steal the starting job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Moe Williams continued to be the “jump in the endzone” back for the Vikings, but Smith will get his chances to show that he can start.
Trung “Bung” Canidate (WAS) – He showed some excellent running skills filling in for Marshall Faulk with the Rams, now he is front runner (no pun intended) to be the starter in Washington. With the Rams, he averaged 5.7 yards per carry filling in for Faulk, racking up 600 total yards and 6 TD’s in limited action.
LaBrandon Toefield (JAC…BIGTIME SLEEPER) – I know what you are thinking, WHOOOOOO?? Well, he is Fred Taylor’s backup in Jacksonville. Fred Taylor is one of my all-time favorite players because he can go nuts in any game, problem is – he is only on the field like 8 times a year. So, Toefield will surely be the RB in Jacksonville once Taylor gets hurt (and he will). Taylor’s only full season was last year, so you can assume that Taylor will miss some time. Also. Stacey Mack is no longer with Jacksonville, so Toefield will be called upon I’m sure.
Artose Pinner (Rookie DET) – James Stewart couldn’t run a lemonade stand – enough said! He was great in his day, but that was “back in the day.” Artose could beat out Shawn Bryson for the starting job in Detroit. Look for him to be given a chance to start early to mid-season.
Santana Moss (NYJ) – Moss can make a big impact for the Jets this year. I realize that Pennington is out at the QB position, but look at Vinny’s choices at WR. There is Curtis Conway, who hasn’t played a full year since Ben Gay was still in the closet, and Wayne Chrebet (who has never had a good fantasy season even when he was young). So, Moss should get a lot of balls thrown his way because the running game is something of a question mark as well.
Ashley Lelie (DEN) – He has the speed and the ability to be a big playmaker in Denver. Rod Smith and McCaffrey are older than dirt, and Jake Plummer will want to make a David Boston type connection at his new home. Plummer hooked up with Lelie on a 50+ yard touchdown pass in preseason and I think more of that will carry over into the regular season.
Charles Rogers (DET) – I don’t usually put a lot of stock in rookie WR’s but he has all the tools to make a good impact. Detroit has no running game with Stewart, and their defense is not good to put it nicely. So, the ball will be thrown his way on a regular basis. He has size and speed to be a Terrell Owens type receiver. The youth movement is in full swing in Detroit.
If you are really struggling to select a player with a late round pick, keep this in mind as well. Hurt players at the beginning of the season may be the biggest sleepers of all! For instance, if you are light in the RB department, take Michael Bennett late for example. He will be out probably half the season, but if he is healthy again and he starts in week 10, you will have a great RB right in time for your playoff run. Plus, if you are in a keeper league, you just made a steal for next year.
Also, look at your possible fantasy playoff schedule. For example, you should take as many Rams players as possible. You might be thinking – well DUH! There is another reason that players like Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, and Warner (Bulger) should be ranked even higher on your list. Why you ask? Well, look at the Rams schedule come fantasy playoff time. Here are the last 4 regular season games for the Rams: at CLE, vs Sea, vs CIN, at DET. Most fantasy leagues have their championship game on week 16 of the regular season. So, for your Superbowl, the Rams will be playing……CINCINNATI! Can you say “Cha-Ching??” The Rams could easily hit 700 yards of total offense that game! Always look at favorable match-ups for your fantasy playoff run and adjust your draft accordingly…
Good luck to all of you fellow fantasy owners on draft day!