If you were to look at the six sleepers we picked before last season, you would have to say it wasn’t all bad considering that four of them ended up injured. Not surprisingly, two were running backs! Here are the picks from last year; (This might determine whether or not you still want to see who our selections are for this season…)
Dustin Keller- TE-Jets- He finished the year with 65 receptions-815 yards-5 TDs. The receptions and yards were the most in Keller’s 4 pro seasons. Remember this was a season where QB Mark Sanchez regressed significantly.
Domenik Hixon-WR-Giants- One of the ones who got injured and only got to play in 2 games. That probably opened the door for some extra opportunities for stud Victor Cruz.
Julio Jones-WR-Falcons- Even with missing 3 games due to injury, the rookie had 54 receptions-959 yards-8 TDs. Not too shabby.
Brent Celek-TE-Eagles- He had a good year; not one that would qualify as sleeper material but you wouldn’t have gotten hurt by Celek’s 62 receptions-811 yards-5 TDs. Remember too that he played hurt for most of the year. We’re predicting an even better season for him this year.
Mark Ingram-RB-Saints- Another pick who lost significant time (missed 6 games) to injury. He still collected 5 TDs on just under 500 yards rushing, but what we liked was that the rookie only had one fumble on 122 carries!
Felix Jones-RB-Cowboys- This was the biggest disappointment for us. We thought with Marion Barber’s departure that the more ‘Bulked Up’ Jones would have a breakout year. He ended up with just under 800 all purpose yards and just 2 TDs. He too fell victim to injury which made him miss 4 games. Still far from a sleeper type season.
So, if you’re still reading this, then I guess you have some confidence in our choices for the 2012-2013 season. We hope these six players (which are in no particular order), will fare better for you:
Jared Cook-TE-Titans- Now entering his fourth season in the NFL, Cook has improved in every one of them. The big 25 year old; 6′ 5″ 250 lbs, had 49 receptions, 759 yards and 3 TDs. The coaching staff has voiced their desire to build their passing offense and should get some much needed help now that WR Kenny Britt has returned. (Hopefully the DUI he was hit with last week will be his last…) We think Cook can build off of the two 100-yard games he had last December, and prove to us that it was no fluke.
Donald Brown-RB-Colts-Entering his third season, this former UCONN Husky showed enough signs last season to convince us to make him a sleeper candidate. He averaged just under 5 yards per carry and 5 yards per reception while scoring 5 TDs. On 134 carries he failed to fumble even once. With Joseph Addai now a Patriot, it will be Brown’s job to keep the pressure off of Andrew Luck and so we could see him break records for carries in a season. We also were impressed with his 161 yard performance vs the Titans last December and think he’ll make an excellent RB2 and sleeper.
#31 RB Donald Brown should be a workhorse for the Colts this season. Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brent Celek-TE-Eagles- As stated above, Celek was one of our sleeper hopefuls last season and now that he is fully healthy, (he played with a sports hernia AND a torn labrum last season), we expect a breakout kind of year from the big TE. No reason why he couldn’t, at best, return to his ’09 form when he had 76 receptions good for 971 yards and 8 TDs. Given that he was Vick’s main Red Zone target last season, he should have the same role this year. A healthy Celek could finish the season as a top 5 TE in the league!
Eric Decker-WR-Broncos- Even with the leagues most inconsistent passer, Tim Tebow, Decker, in just his second season last year, caught 44 passes for 612 yards and 8 TDs! Imagine what he will do with a hall of fame QB in Peyton Manning under center… The Broncos will make a complete transformation this season and no longer carry the moniker as the team with the fewest attempts in the league. Watch out for Decker as he will be part of that transformation and will reap the harvest of a quality QB for the first time in his short career.
Torrey Smith-WR-Ravens-Here is another WR that is sleeper qualified for the 2012-’13 season. In his rookie season last year, Smith’s numbers rival those of Eric Decker: 50 receptions-841 yards-7 TDs. If you look back to week #3 against the Rams (150 yards-3 TDs) and week #10 against the Bengals (165 yards-1 TD), you can easily see this youngster’s potential. Consider too that he had those two monster games as a 22 year old! QB Joe Flacco should, and probably will pass him the ball with a bit more frequency this season as he didn’t have more than 6 receptions in any one game last year. He too is fully healthy (he played most of the season with a sports hernia), and should become Flacco’s 1st option this year. Torrey will be the story this season!!
#82 WR Torrey Smith should be the Raven’s #1 option this season; ahead of Boldin. Photo: farmerstan.com
Jay Cutler-QB-Bears- The first thing you need to do is throw out last years numbers on Cutler. In just 10 games he passed for 2319 yards, had 13 TDs and 7 INTs. Prorating those numbers for a full season, his line would look like this: 3700 yards, 21 TDs and 11 INT’s. And that would have been without newly acquired WR Brandon Marshall and the Bears second round pick WR Alshon Jeffery. Cutler can be had in later rounds (7-8) should you not have been lucky enough to grab one of the elite six. He also makes an exceptional QB2 in leagues that start two QBs. With a new offensive system in place in Chi-town, Cutler is poised for having a sleeper season. It’ll be no mystery when the season is over that your friends ask you how you won your league…just tell them “the Cutler did it!”