Jonathan Baldwin has a chance to shine in 2012
Finding those special boom picks late in your fantasy football draft can help propel your team to glory.
I am reluctant to use the general "fantasy football sleeper" label because it seems those players year after year creep up the draft board to the point they no longer are truly a sleeper based off of their inflated average draft position. I often find that fantasy football sleepers become overvalued because everyone and their brother is willing to go one round earlier than everyone else.
There are, however, a handful of players who present a potentially large profit based off how cheap they come on draft day. Call them super fantasy football sleepers, call them low-risk, high-reward options or call them whatever else you'd like. Anyway you want to slice it, these players cost little and could provide some much desired boom to your lineup.
Take a chance on these guys
Jonathan Baldwin, Kansas City Chiefs - When he isn't fighting with players in the locker room, Baldwin actually is a very talented young wideout on a team looking for playmakers. Dwayne Bowe, the franchise receiver, was away from the team all summer and Baldwin had an opportunity to work with the first-string offense as the team's No. 1 receiver. He didn't disappoint, as he's improved dramatically from last year. At 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, he's a huge target for quarterback Matt Cassel. Going 170th overall on average, you could do a lot worse.
Jerome Simpson, Minnesota Vikings - Once you get past that whole three-game suspension thing, there's a lot to like about Simpson. He has good size (6-2, 190), is coming off a 50-catch season and his chief competition is the always average Michael Jenkins. The team loves Simpson's speed and is looking for ways to work him into the game plan. Considering Percy Harvin, the Vikings' top receiver, is a headache away from missing a game and they have little proven depth at the position, Simpson is going to be given an opportunity to shine. He shines even brighter considering he's being taken 204th overall. I'm buying, are you?
Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers - Entering his key third year, LaFell has a chance to shine as the team's No. 2 option, a role he's all but locked down this summer, opposite Steve Smith. He averaged a healthy 17 yards per catch last season and should see plenty of looks from Cam Newton now that they've had a full year to work together. Being selected 203rd overall on average, LaFell has a chance to boom for you with very little investment.
Loving Kendall Wright can't be wrong late in your fantasy football draft
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans - Kenny Britt (knees) can't stay healthy or out of trouble with the law. Nate Washington, while productive as of late, is just a guy. Wright, a rookie, has impressed during the summer. He will be part of the Titans offense and see chances this year. He deserves better than his 202nd overall draft placement, folks. Don't be afraid to tuck him away as a WR5 or WR6; he'll probably start half of the season for Tennessee.
Davone Bess, Miami Dolphins - Why is Bess rarely drafted? When he is, he is taken around 207th overall. In his four years in the league, he's averaged 65 receptions, 667 yards and almost three touchdowns a season. He's not going to post fantastic numbers, but he's steady in PPR styles and, as it stands right now, is the most dependable option the Miami Dolphins have to offer at wideout. Then again, that's not necessarily a ringing endorsement, is it?
Devery Henderson, New Orleans Saints - I've never been big on Henderson, but he's on one of the most lethal offenses in the league and typically in the starting lineup. Robert Meachem is gone, leaving more opps for Henderson to be the stretch-the-field option. He won't catch a ton of balls (he hasn't gone over 34 in each of the past two years), but he's in a position to succeed. His 209th overall ADP doesn't hurt matters at all. Of this group, he's the one I have the least confidence in because I'm pretty sure we know who he is already - a 30-40 catch, inconsistent receiver - but it's a new year and with that comes new opportunities.
For additional wide receiver fantasy football sleepers, be sure to check out our free preseason fantasy football draft guide.
I'd much rather take a flier on these players than I would a backup tight end, kicker or defense in my fantasy football draft. If they hit early, it saves you fighting the masses in your waiver wire pool or spending valuable free agent auction money on a player you could have had at the cost of a very late draft choice. What do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing! Don't be afraid to go big on some receivers who could be this year's big surprise.
Have I suffered too many concussions or do you also see some talent to be had here during your fantasy football draft? Are you willing to bank on any of these receivers this year? Am I seeing something that simply doesn't exist with each of them?
Furthermore, which wide receivers do you think are horribly undervalued this year and steals on draft day that I didn't list? Help your fellow fantasy football fanatics out and share your wisdom. I welcome you to chime in with your thoughts in the space below.
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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