The 2012-2013 NFL season is rapidly approaching and with that, Fantasy Football is also about to start. Every year, there are players picked in the top 10 of the draft who bust and usually, it is because of injuries. Likewise, there are players taken outside the top 50 who have huge years. This year, there are two clear bust candidates in the top ten that you should stay away from at all costs and several incredibly talented players going between 50 and 100 that are poised to be huge steals. In this exercise, a sleeper has to have an Average Draft Position (ADP) after 50 on Yahoo's fantasy football.
1. Ryan Matthews, RB, San Diego Chargers (Yahoo ADP - 6.8) - This seems to be a recurring theme in fantasy football since Matthews joined the NFL as a first round draft pick in 2010. Each of the past two seasons he was drafted as a top ten pick in most leagues, and each of the past two seasons, injuries have caused him to produce way below that ADP. This year, Matthews again got injured in training camp and that should be a sign to people to stay away. Don't get fooled and waste your first round pick on Matthews.
2. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (Yahoo ADP - 9.1) - Normally getting MJD with the 9th pick in the draft would be a steal but this is not a normal year. Jones-Drew is in the mist of an ugly holdout that could go on forever. The Jaguars ownership seems to have no interest in giving him a contract extension and MJD seems to have no interest in returning without a new contract. I wouldn't touch Jones-Drew in the 4th round, let alone the first round.
3. DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys (Yahoo ADP - 27.1) - Murray is being viewed of as a legitimate number 2 running back because of 2 or 3 big games last season. I like Murray as a back and think he can be a solid RB3 but picking him in the 2nd-3rd round depending on the size of your league is just to early. I would be comfortable taking Murray in the 40-50 range if he somehow makes it there but no sooner.
4. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (Yahoo ADP - 44.7) - Vick had a massive, MVP type season two years ago that caused him to be a top 10 pick last year in many leagues. Predictably, he busted and now his ADP is in the 40's going into this season. In my opinion, that is too high because you need your QB to be a solid, steady force on your fantasy team and having an injury risk at the position is never worth it. I won't be touching Vick in any of my leagues this year, no matter how far he falls.
5. San Francisco Defense (Yahoo ADP - 58.4) - This is a tough choice because the San Francisco defense is just so good. However, anytime you are investing a top 60 pick in a defense, you are wasting a pick. Defenses are pretty much the least important part of your fantasy team and should not be drafted until the last two rounds of the draft. San Francisco will probably produce 8-10 points a game on average and that is good but it is just not worth it to pick a defense that early.
1. Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Yahoo ADP - 57.4) - Jackson is healthy and hungry and is looking to prove he is amongst the NFL's elite WR's. His connection with Josh Freeman so far has reportedly been phenomenal and I think Jackson will be among the top 5 fantasy WR's in the league this year. I have made a point of picking him in everyone of the leagues I am participating in.
2. Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Yahoo ADP - 62.3) - Brown had a massive end to the season last year, averaging a little under 85 yards per game over the last 10 games. This year, you can expect his touchdown total to increase as well as his total yards and getting him in the 60's is an incredible steal. I invested the 53rd pick in one draft to get him because I did not want to miss out on this incredible steal.
3. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants (Yahoo ADP - 64.6) - Bradshaw over the past couple years has had Brandon Jacobs around to take away his touchdowns. This year, Jacobs is gone and Bradshaw is really the only viable running back on the Giants besides rookie David Wilson. Last year, Bradshaw could not break 700 yards or 10 touchdowns. This year, I think he breaks 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns and becomes a big fantasy steal. You are basically getting an RB2 at an RB3 draft spot.
4. Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens (Yahoo ADP - 86.2) - Torrey Smith is a baller and could become one of the 10 or 15 best fantasy WR's this year. Last year, Smith was a solid WR4 and this year, I am viewing him as a WR2 in most leagues and a WR1 in 16 man leagues. Picking him in the 80's is an absolute steal and I could easily see him breaking 1250 yards and 10TDs. He is big, fast, and strong and his hands have looked improved in preseason.
5. Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (Yahoo ADP - 95.8) - Pierre Garcon produced 950 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns as the #2 WR on a team quarterbacked by Curtis Painter and other scrubs. This year, Garcon is the number one receiver on a team quarterbacked by Robert Griffin III. He should easily add to last seasons numbers and should break 1000 yards and 8TDs this year and those are conservative estimates.