On the night of the first football game of the 2013 NFL Season (yes, the Hall of Fame Game counts), it’s only fitting that I grace you all with my presence yet again. Come on, with two kids and a real job, it’s harder and harder to see you all here, but hey – at least it’s all free fantasy football content! And isn’t some PHickey better than none?
That said, with littler and littler opportunities to actually watch the games, I’m still absolutely plugged in. And still critical of those that keep talking about cookie cutter recommendations leading up to fantasy drafts. So-called experts have jocked guys like Lamar Miller (not saying dynasty owners who snagged him late in last year’s drafts shouldn’t feel great about him), David Wilson, Danny Amendola, TY Hilton and Steven Jackson as “sleepers” this year.
But the true skill is looking under all rocks and finding this year’s version of Danario Alexander or Alfred Morris. Here are a few guys I think could absolutely make an impact.
Austin Collie, SF WR - A stud in his first two seasons (15 TDs total in 2009 and 2010), the 27 year old finds himself in a perfect position to succeed in the stat column in 2013. If healthy, he’ll start and play nearly every snap in an exciting SF offense with Michael Crabtree out and Colin Kaepernick in need of a go-to guy. Don’t sleep on Collie, period.
Julius Thomas, DEN TE - Jordan Cameron is the hot pick, but Thomas could break out if Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme can’t stay on the field. He’d be the fourth option for Peyton Manning behind Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, but the fourth option in a Manning-led offense, is as good as the second option in most other offenses. In deep dynasty leagues, like the ones you and I play in, Thomas has value.
James Casey and Zach Ertz, PHI TEs - I love these guys. They could seriously be the Hernandez-Gronk of the next two years. Jeremy Maclin is out, and Philly needs weapons.
Stedman Bailey, STL WR - Geno Smith’s top target in college, other than Tavon Austin, joins his former college teammate in the pros – as the Rams took Austin in Round 1 and Bailey in Round 3, it only makes sense that they’ll have chemistry. Bailey will surprise many by earning a starting role in this offense, and may produce more consistently than Austin.
Markus Wheaton, PIT WR - A third round sleeper from Oregon State, Wheaton will have a chance to play from day one. Compared to Antonio Brown prior to the draft, Wheaton may earn a starting role opposite Brown at some point early in his career. Rotoworld suggests he’ll line up some at running back, but make no mistake, he’s a great route runner and worthy of a late second round pick in dynasty rookie only drafts.
Geno Smith, NYJ QB - Mark my words – Geno wins the job in NYC. He can play, and he has a chip on his shoulder. He and EJ Manuel will follow in the mold of Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick as the next two great rookie QBs with dynasty value.
Paul Hickey is Managing Director of Cabedge Design, LLC – a Nashville-based strategic web communications and design company. But Paul still loves writing about fantasy sports in his spare time. He is a former contributor to Rotoworld, Fanball and Rototimes, Athlon Fantasy Sports and a former member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. There is no offseason.