Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is a restricted free agent in 2013. With the possibility of Antonio Brown missing some time with a high ankle sprain, and Mike Wallace possibly wearing another jersey next year, Sanders may be in a good bargaining position for a contract with a strong performance in the next few games.
He isn't unknown, just perhaps unheralded.
For a Fantasy Football player, Sanders sure is a good actual football player. He showed it Sunday, grabbing a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass that gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He also came up with a big catch-and-run on third and nine in the fourth quarter, and returned a punt 63 yards to set up a fake field goal attempt.
Sanders was getting more targets due to the absence of Antonio Brown, who went down with a high ankle sprain in the first quarter. He was returning punts and kicks for Brown and Chris Rainey, who went down with a rib injury in the second half.
It's also very similar to the Steelers running backs this season; one goes down, another steps in and the team continues to move forward. Sanders filled in for two guys and had his best all-around game of his career.
It was the perfect audition for Sanders, who heads into restricted free agency in 2013.
If the Steelers make a decision to move on from Mike Wallace next season, Sanders could be available for less money in 2013 than the first round tender they may have to slap on him if Wallace leaves via unrestricted free agency.
In the possible event of Brown being out, and the likely emergence of both Sanders and veteran Jerricho Cotchery, Sanders is in a good position to help negotiate a long-term contract this offseason. If he performs well, people will take notice of him.
And not just from a Fantasy Football perspective.