In Response to Pretzel’s “Players to Avoid” article, I thought it only right to follow it up with a “players you should target” article. Since historically wide receivers and running backs have the most room for error, I assumed this is where you need the most help. These are not necessarily sleepers, but they are all players who hold more value than their rank would lead you to believe and if you jump a little early on them you will be richly rewarded.
Brandon Lloyd, New England Patriots
I have never been a big Brandon Lloyd, although I am sure he is a very nice person, but I have always been a huge Tom Brady supporter even thought I am pretty sure he probably a self important….i guess I don’t know that for sure, anyway I am digressing. Reports have Tom Terrific and Big Brandon already showing some chemistry during OTAs. This should not be a complete shock considering they have both played in Josh McDaniels system. If Welker continues to cause defenses fits, Lloyd could be a surprise beast this season.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland Raiders
Heyward-Bey finally found a quarterback he would play for in Carson Palmer and proved that Al Davis wasn’t completely senile in his decision to draft him when he clearly shouldn’t have. Heyward-Bey had 29 receptions, 456 yards and 3 TDs in the last five games of the season. If he can continue to get open and Palmer’s arm stays attached to his shoulder, Heyward-Bey could put up a 1200 yard season.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Julio Jones, very quietly put up a pretty great rookie season with 54 grabs, 959 yards and 8 touchdowns. If Roddy White continues to command attention from opposing DBs and there is no reason he shouldn’t, Julio Jones could be a breakout star (which would make Matt Ryan a stud too). Jones really found a groove at the end of the year with over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns in his last 6 games. Jones won’t last long but he might last longer than he should, definite WR1 numbers potential.
Steven Ridley, New England Patriots
The Pats have not been a fantasy running back machine like some teams, but it is mostly because they never give anyone the ball for more than a minute at a time. However, the rock toters in New England have always put up numbers when given the chance. This season Steven Ridley will be that guy. With the law firm gone to Cincinnati and the Joseph Addai experiment already over, it appears that coach Bill has made a decision and it should pay dividends for fantasy owners considering Ridley is ranked in the 20s among RBs on most draft boards.
James Starks, Green Bay Packers
Many assumed that the Packers would draft a running back early making James Starks a lame duck or at the very least another committee member. That didn’t happen and Starks now stands poised as the guy most likely to capitalize on the constant nickel and dime packages Green Bay will face in their opponents futile attempt to slow down Aaron Rodgers. If he stays healthy, Starks will have a chance to put up big fantasy numbers
Toby Gerhart/Roy Helu, Minnesota Vikings/Washington Redskins
I listed these guys together because they are in exactly the same situation. They are back ups, in good running systems, behind very productive featured backs who are coming off ugly knee injuries that happened late in the season. Translation: they will be available late, they will most likely start and produce early and could end up the starter if their injured teammates have a set back or stumble on their return. Me likey.