bill-swift - August 18, 2012
There is always one; one guy that no one knew about. You know the one; the guy that plays, but not a lot. He's not a superstar (or at least not yet). He might be a rookie that happens to be in position to make some noise.
In the NFL they are often referred to as role players. In fantasy football they are called sleepers. With your draft likely only days away here are some guys you'll want to keep on your radar for the latter rounds of the draft:
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: When you play in one of the best passing offenses in the league you are bound to get a lot of looks. However, when your primary role is as a return man your fantasy value is limited. However, it's last season's body of work returning kicks and punts (34 kick returns for 941 yards, 1 TD; 26 punt returns, 295 yards, 1 TD) that is going to get Cobb more time in the offense this year.
He will not take time away from Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson, but Cobb is talented enough to start taking away snaps from Donald Driver. With the team likely to have a poor running game again a speedster like Cobb will come in handy.
Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions: In case you haven't noticed, the Lions have become dangerous, and Young could play an even bigger part this year than he did last. Even though he is the No. 3 receiver, the team was in a three receiver set for more than half its plays last season.
With the running game looking questionable at best this season, the Lions offense could end up staying in a three receiver set most of the time. When it isn't, look for Young to challenge Nate Burleson for more snaps as the No. 2 across from Calvin Johnson. Burleson was a product of the system last year; Young is simply a better talent.
Evan Royster, RB, Washington Redskins: Royster is not one of the most talented guys out there, but with defense more concerned about containing Robert Griffin III and stopping the passing game this year, Royster could sneak into having a good year. As good as RG3 is expected to be, we are still talking about a Mike Shanahan coached team (he loves to run).
Don't look for him to give you RB1 type numbers, but he could easily be a solid RB2 for your lineup.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers: His history will keep a lot of guys from looking at him at all. In two seasons he has a total of 74 catches for 1081 yards and four touchdowns; what most good fantasy wide receivers do in a single season.
Those that did their homework will know that LaFell had to share snaps with Legedu Naanee—who is now in Miami. The team is planning on giving him a shot to be the No. 2 across from Steve Smith. With Cam Newton at QB and Smith hogging all the defenders, LaFell could really explode this season.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: Were there any fantasy players that were more disappointing than those of the Colts last season? Conventional wisdom would say that they will likely suck this year as well as they get accustomed to a new QB and offense, but in Collie's case that gives him break out potential.
Collie was more of a slot receiver last season meaning he was not on the field during three receiver sets. This year the Colts are going to feature a two-tight end set which means Collie will be in an outside position as the team's every-down No. 2. With the Colts likely to be pass-happy this season it could mean a huge year for Collie.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts: With Andrew Luck's former Stanford teammate Coby Fleener getting the attention, Wayne has been flying a little under the radar. That will all change once the regular season starts. Word coming out of camp is that the rookie from Clemson has been impressing people.
With the team likely to be in a two tight end set a lot, the Colts will make ample use of those two guys. Tall guys like Allen with the ability to go up high for balls are a new QBs best friend. When Luck is in trouble—which could be often this season-- he'll be checking down to the TE as an outlet. If you are not sold on your TE1 give Allen a try before you take a kicker.