With that being said, I guess I should go ahead and send out my Fantasy Football Sleeper Picks for 2012. For me, a "sleeper" isn't necessarily someone that have never heard of before. A sleeper is simply a player that should be available in the late rounds, and could end up performing much better than expected. I'll probably revise this list once the final cuts are made at the end of pre-season. So after minutes and minutes of preparation, here's the list.
Alex Smith - San Francisco 49ers
How can you not like Alex Smith? It's been a long, long, long road for him in the NFL. Last year, was his "Coming Out Party" in which he threw 3,100 yards (19th in the league) and 17 touchdowns (17th in the NFL). With QBs who routinely throw for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, Smith's 2011 numbers aren't all that impressive. What is impressive is if you watched post/ pre-game interviews with him last year, none of that mattered. All he cared about was winning, and that's what the Niners did. He was sacked a league high 44 times last year, yet only threw 5 Ints (lowest among all NFL starters). He plays smart football and should be much more comfortable in the pocket this year. I'm predicting him to be a Top-10 NFL QB.
Christian Ponder - Minnesota Vikings
He's the #1 QB in Minnesota and he's got plenty of weapons. He could be a solid #2 QB option in pretend football.
Kevin Kolb - Arizona Cardinals
I picked him as a sleeper last year as well. It would have paid off if he had not been injured half way through the season. He threw for almost 2,000 yards in just over 8 games last year. Look for Kolb to be the starter again in 2012.
Jake Locker - Tennessee Titans
He played well as a backup in 2011. Look for Titans to name this 2011 #8 overall draft pick as the starter at some point this year. If he's not the starter come Game 1, you might want to just keep an eye on him and pick him up as a Free Agent. If he plays sparingly during the pre-season (that means they don't want him to get hurt), and is then named the starter, grab him.
Darren Sproles - New Orleans Saints
Over 1,300 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2011. One of Brees' favorite targets (86 catches). Still overlooked in many leagues.
Roy Helu - Washington Redskins
Started 5 games in 2011. Had over 100 rushing yards in three of those games. Had over 100 receiving yards in one game. Should see more opportunities in 2012. Mike Shanahan is his coach.
Willis McGahee - Denver Broncos
After three straight seasons of diminished production, McGahee quietly rushed for 1,200 yards in 2011. If it weren't for Tebowmania, he would have been the big story in Denver last year. A guy who rushes for 1,200 yards is not your typical sleeper, but I'm willing to bet he'll be passed on over and over again and will be available in mid-late rounds.
Reggie Bush - Miami Dolphins
How many of you used your first or second round draft picks to take Bush? After 5 season with the Saints and pretty much left off of everyone's in FFL team, Bush posted his first 1,000 yards rushing season in 2011 with the Dolphins. He also had almost 300 receiving yards. He should be the featured back again in 2012.
Michael Crabtree - San Francisco 49ers
Here are Micheal's numbers since he got into the NFL. 625 Rec Yards in 2009. 741 Yards in 2010. 874 Yards in 2011. The 49ers have a much improved quarterback in Alex Smith. Last year was kind of his coming out party. Look for Smith to be more relaxed in 2012, creating more opportunities for Crabtree.
Mike Williams - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He simply made some "Sick Catches" as a rookie in 2010. The entire team fell off the wagon in 2011. New Coach, Greg Schiano seems like a no-nonsense kind of guy who will push his players.
Dexter McCluster - Kansas City Chiefs
In many leagues, you can play him as either a RB or a WR. He had 46 receptions, 300 receiving yards to go along with 500 rushing yards last year. Great pick up for Point-Per Reception leagues.
Up until last year, I still believed in Santa Claus, thought that Uranus was a planet and believed there was NO SUCH THING AS A SLEEPER TIGHT END. Then these two guys, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, showed up and destroyed my entire belief system. So this year, I'm going with Lance Kendricks of the St. Louis Rams. Hey, why not?
Dan Carpenter - Miami Dolphins
He had six double-digit games in 2011. ESPN has him ranked #18. Don't stretch to get him, but he is certainly underrated.