Cian Fahey

Fantasy Football 2012: Deep Sleepers

Author: Cian Fahey


Heading into the 2011 NFL regular season, very few fantasy fans would have had high hopes for Laurent Robinson, Willis McGahee and Darren Sproles.

Well, Sproles was at least a relevant option once he landed in New Orleans, but nobody expected him to be the quality starter he became.

Sproles, along with Robinson and McGahee all have something else in common also.

Each of the trio were free agents ahead of last season. Robinson eventually landed in Dallas after leaving St.Louis with a brief stop in San Diego. McGahee found a new home as essentially a fullback in Denver, after being a touchdown vulture in Baltimore, while Sproles left San Diego to join the Saints in Louisiana.

Where a free agent lands is pivotal to their chances of success, and subsequently their fantasy value, but even before finding a new home, you can still earmark some free agents to track through free agency ahead of your fantasy drafts next season.


Here are five players to keep track of at the start of the fantasy off-season.


Kyle Orton:

Orton may not be an unknown, but he's no household name, nor will he be a hot commodity in the off-season. However if he lands in the right situation, Orton could be a quality starter as a very late pickup.

Orton doesn't fit with Kansas City's offensive weapons, his weak arm isn't suited to get the best out of Jonathan Baldwin or Dwayne Bowe off of play-action. However, should he land in a place like Cleveland or Buffalo, Orton could put up decent numbers on a consistent basis.

Colt McCoy isn't untouchable, and the Browns are in a good position to bring in better weapons for their west coast system. The only big numbers Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like putting up next season are the ones on his contract, Orton's accuracy could get the best out of a very good young receiving corp in Buffalo.


Terrell Thomas:

Thomas may be a defensive back, but where he plies his trade next season will be big for team defenses. Thomas jasonsnellingmissed last season with a torn ACL, but prior to that year accounted for nine turnovers and had one of the highest passes defended number, 21, in the league.

Nine turnovers and quality cornerback play is obviously a positive when adding your defense. Defense may not be seen as the most important aspect of fantasy football, but the true competitors will understand that each point counts.


Jason Snelling:

Snelling is arguably the better running back in Atlanta right now, but the likelihood is that he will find a new home in free agency. Snelling had only 44 carries for 151 yards last season, but his opportunities were hurt by the Falcons' desire to force the ball to their receivers more.

While his durability may be unproven, and his age isn't exactly ideal at 28, Snelling has the potential to be an every-down back with his ability to run hard and catch the football out of the backfield.

Landing in with someone like the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals or even the Buffalo Bills, could see Snelling become a more than reliable starting running back in every fantasy league. That's not too shabby for a guy that wouldn't be picked if the draft were today.


Jerricho Cotchery:

Cotchery was a free agent this time last year but the start to his season was delayed in Pittsburgh after off-season back surgery. Cotchery entered the season as the fifth choice receiver on a very talented wide receiver depth chart in Pittsburgh. Once healthy, he became the team's third choice behind Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace.

With Hines Ward unlikely to retire, and Emmanuel Sanders returning fully healthy next year, Cotchery won't get the offer he wants to stay in Pittsburgh. For the most part of his career, Cotchery played on run first offenses, with a pass happy team he could be a relevant fantasy option next year.

On a team like the Indianapolis Colts, who have three free agent receivers, or the New England Patriots or Carolina Panthers, Cotchery would prosper.


Eddie Royal:

Eddie Royal's value to the Denver Broncos, and fantasy owners alike, disappeared once Tim Tebow became the team's starting quarterback. As long as Tebow is in Denver, Royal will not be.

Royal's rookie season of 91 receptions and 980 yards could be repeated elsewhere in a pass first offense. He is still only 25 and has proven his talent in the past.

He is a dynamic receiver capable of big plays or consistent catches to put up starter caliber numbers. Much like Cotchery, should he become a Colt, Panther or play for another team with a similar philosophy, then Royal should excel.



0 #1 Cameron Sparks 2012-01-17 17:06
Orton could have a big year next year.

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