Johnny Knox (above) should start opposite Devin Hester after a solid rookie season.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
While everyone knows who Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees are and what they can do, it is the "sleeper," the "bargain," the "surprise performer" who turns a good team into a championship contender.
So lets see if we can find a few sleepers who will turn your fantasy team into a powerhouse.
To be a true surprise you can't be selected early in the draft. For our definition we have declared that you must have an ADP of 100 or higher.
Therefore, players like Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings and Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, both of whom will have huge years in 2010, don't qualify for the list because they'll both be picked before the end of the fourth round.
Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago (ADP 103) - Knox was a little known Division II player coming out of college (Abilene Christian), but we now know he has "big- time" speed, something new offensive coordinator Mike Martz has an affinity for. Knox should start opposite Devin Hester after a solid rookie season in which he caught 45 balls for 527 yards and five touchdowns. One only has to look at the Bears' first drive in their first exhibition game in which Knox was the only receiver targeted to know that he is Cutler's No.1 receiving option. As a ninth-round pick he has plenty of upside and little downside.
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Denver (ADP 118) - When Brandon Marshall missed the final game last season, it was Gaffney who delivered a star performance, posting 14 receptions for 213 yards. While the long-term situation isn't as bright after the Broncos made Demaryius Thomas the 22nd overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, for this year at least, Gaffney is the best receiver Denver has. For the 2009 season Gaffney had 54 receptions for 732 yards and he should get the largest portion of Marshall's 154 targets.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Houston (ADP 119) - Playing opposite the best receiver in the league, Andre Johnson, should provide a receiver with plenty of one-on-one situations to take advantage. While Kevin Walter has had that coveted spot over the past few seasons, he's not really used it to the fullest. Jones has the size and speed to excel and is the favorite to win the job for 2010. He's a big play guy who also can also give you 1,000+ return yards if your league scoring permits.
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco (ADP 136) - Smith missed almost two full seasons to injury before regaining the starting role in Week 7 last year. He showed some flashes during the final 11 games, but wasn't consistent enough to warrant a starting fantasy role. A good sign for the future is Head Coach Mike Singletary throwing the ball as much as he did, indicating his willingness to open up the offense. Smith has very good weapons in Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis and Frank Gore has decent hands out of the backfield. With the 49ers already throwing the ball at a 59% clip, this could quickly turn into a very good situation for an 11th-round selection.
Arian Foster, RB, Houston (ADP 148) - With high draft choice Ben Tate officially on the injured reserve list, the Texans' running game reverts to Foster and Steve Slaton. Based on the successful effort put in by Foster down the stretch last season and the coach's lack of faith in Slaton's ability to hold onto the football, the job should be Foster's to lose. Given the dynamic passing game of the Texans, there should be plenty of holes to run through. While his ADP was 148 before the injury, expect it to quickly rise, possibly above 100.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay (ADP 152) - Being the No.3 receiver on the Packers forced Jones to watch veteran Donald Driver and budding star Greg Jennings do most of the work in 2009. But Driver is 35-years-old and had surgery on both knees in the offseason. If he falters, Jones could be the beneficiary of a great spot as the No.2 guy with last year's best fantasy quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball his way. Jones had just 32 catches for 440 yards and five touchdowns on 63 targets in 2009, but if he changes places with Driver and gets 112 targets then he could double his totals and that would make him a huge fantasy bargain.