One of the keys to winning a fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. “Sleepers” are NFL players who are drafted in much lower rounds than their ending statistics warrant. In shopping terms, this is getting a bargain price for a valuable product. The estimated draft position is taken from the Maximum Fantasy Sports fantasy football Mock Draft found on their home page at http://www.maximumfantasysports.com/. The Mock Draft was formulated using the generally accepted “standard” league configuration.
2009 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Kyle Orton (Denver) – Orton was brought to Denver in the off-season trade for Jay Cutler. He is leaving an offense in Chicago that limited his passing attempts and had few receiving threats. In Denver, Coach Josh McDaniels will want to give Orton the opportunity to prove his controversial trade of Cutler was a smart move. With Brandon Marshall (maybe), Eddie Royal, Tony Sheffler, and others as his receiving options, Orton will put up fantastic numbers for the 16th QB off the board at the projected last pick of the 11th round.
RB: Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay) – Ward skipped out of New York into a situation in Tampa where the QB position is up for grabs. This scenario almost always favors the running game. While Ward was second fiddle in New York to Brandon Jacobs, he still put up a quiet 1000 yards (5.6 ypc). There is talk of a platoon situation with Earnest Graham in Tampa, but that is what is driving his draft position down. Ward will be the feature back and will receive the majority of carries throughout the year. Picking up a 1A running back in a tandem as the 30th RB off the board in the projected mid-7th round is a steal.
WR: Josh Morgan (SF) – Morgan is the true definition of a Sleeper. Isaac Bruce receives the attention due to his surprising results from last year and Michael Crabtree gets the press due to his high-profile college career, draft position and current holdout. Crabtree will sign before the season starts as it is asinine to expect Top-5 rookie money as the 10th overall pick. However, his holdout, rookie status and lingering ankle injury will cost him playing time this year and Isaac Bruce will slow down as the Niners work some youth in at the WR position. This will be Morgan. He is projected to be available at the start of the 12th round – a very nice place for a receiver that you can start every week.
TE: Ben Celek (PHIL) – Tight End is a position that is very deep and turns out Sleepers year-in and year-out. With that in mind, you can let other managers spend high draft picks on Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten and Antonio Gates. Celek turned it on at the end of 2008, especially during the playoffs. The Eagles let long-time McNabb favorite, L.J. Smith, go since they have his replacement in Celek. With Philly’s plethora of wispy receivers, McNabb needs someone to make the tough catches and hold onto the ball without leaving the field on a cart. Celek will fill that role nicely as a 16th round pick.
D: San Diego Chargers – The Chargers defense gave up 347 points last year but were missing Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips for most of last year. They are back and healthy this year. The Chargers also added Larry English in the middle of the defense. The schedule is very favorable (how can it not be when playing 6 games against AFC West teams?!) and the offense will be dominant once again, which is helpful in assisting the defense with additional sacks and interceptions. The Chargers are projected as the 18th defense off the board, which will occur in the 16th round.
K: Garrett Hartley (NO) – After the Saints came to their senses and dropped Martin Gramatica and replaced him with Hartley, Hartley promptly went 13-13 on FGs and 28-28 on extra points. While kickers rarely get much attention in the fantasy world, any kicker that is accurate, kicks in a dome over half the year (including a road game in Atlanta) and kicks for a team that puts a load of points on the board is worthy of drafting in the very last round of your draft as your only kicker.
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