Punch Drunk Wonderland

2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers – Offseason Edition No. 1

2013 Fantasy Football Sleepers

Welcome to the first edition of Fantasy Football Sleepers (FFS) at Punch Drunk Wonderland. The NFL and fantasy football offseason is here, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to deliberate over. Many of you are in keeper leagues in which you’re looking for the value guy to keep or maybe you’re trying to get the early jump on research into that under the radar breakout player for the 2013 fantasy football season. Below is a look at potential sleepers and surprise breakout players for next season.

We’ll be taking frequently looks at prospects as the offseason drags on, so please check back often.

Vick Ballard (RB, Colts)

The offensive philosophy for the Indianapolis Colts is going to be changing in 2013. The addition of Pep Hamilton as offensive coordinator means this team just got more hard-nosed, and more focused on running the ball. GM Ryan Grigson and coach Pagano had nothing but praise for Vick Ballard’s potential as a physical power back and at the end of the 2012 season they seemed committed to give him the load. There will be wholesale change in Indy, so there’s always a chance to see some new faces at the running back position. For now Ballard looks like he has big potential, so keep an eye on the happenings in Indianapolis in the coming months.

Daryl Richardson (RB, Rams)

Steven Jackson is clearly in the sunset of his NFL career and his days in St. Louis will likely be numbered. Jackson has yet to accept his $7 million player option for 2013, so there is definitely a chance he could be jumping into the free agency pool. Enter Daryl Richardson. Richardson played strong in his opportunities in 2012. He tallied 98 carries for for 475 yards and 24 receptions for 163 yards. He has clearly shown that he is both a run and pass threat and that he can fit in the offense. Going into 2013 Richardson could wind up being the bell cow, but keep in mind that fellow second year back Isaiah Pead is in the mix. I don’t see St. Louis getting too crazy with a committee in the backfield, but there are a lot of factors to play out in the offseason. Keep an eye on this one.

DuJuan Harris (RB, Packers)

The Packers haven’t really put much focus on their run game in recent years, and their running back situation is a bit murky right now. Cedric Benson was brought in to bolster the running game in 2012, but after a mid-season injury it isn’t all that likely that he will be returning for next season. Or, if he stays, he might be used as the value buy veteran behind a younger option. Green Bay will be looking for a “go to” back in the offseason. Harris was solid in the postseason for the Pack, but he will be fighting for a role. He could wind up as the “change-of-pace” back in Green Bay’s system depending on how things shake out. However, Harris has a good deal of upside so he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Chris Givens (WR, Rams)

Givens rose quickly through the ranks in the St. Louis passing game in 2012. He showed that he has big game potential that could have potentially won him a #1 receiver spot on a team that is dealing with contract issues with their veteran wide receivers. Both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are unrestricted free agents which means likely at least one of them will be out the door in St. Louis. Givens did enough to impress in 2012 and could rise into a serviceable fantasy receiver in 2013.

Alshon Jeffery (WR, Bears)

Jeffery had a lot of upside in 2012 as a stud rookie receiver on a team opposite Brandon Marshall. Unfortunately, his season was plagued by injury and the bears struggled in the passing game to receivers not named Marshall. The good news is he still has great potential for 2013 if he can stay healthy. Marshall has said he wants to “take him under his wing” which means there is good communication amongst Chicago receivers. If Marshall can pass on some of that mojo that makes him and Cutler work together, then the sky’s the limit for Jeffery. He could be a standout #2 in 2013.

T.Y. Hilton (WR, Colts)

Hilton’s inaugural season with the Indianapolis Colts was fairly impressive. He technically sat in the #3 wide receiver spot and had a fair share of opportunities in the return game. At several points during the season he stepped up very successfully as a solid #2 while Donnie Avery was injured. He also played a key role as a gadget player, tallying 5 rushing attempts out of the backfield for 29 yards. Hilton has a great deal of potential as a “Percy Harvin” type wide receiver for the Colts and his flexibility to be able to take the occasional hand off could play big into the evolving offensive style in Indianapolis.

Joe Morgan (WR, Saints)

We all know it’s rough to count on Saints receivers. There are so many targets, and Drew Brees likes to spray the ball around and get everyone involved. Going into 2013 Morgan will be stepping into Devery Henderson’s role as Henderson will be making an exit via free agency. The 2nd year receiver has a good deal of upside and is a true vertical threat on a team with an elite quarterback that should be able to get him the ball. He should be a solid option in 2013.

Cole Beasley (WR, Cowboys)

The Cowboys are looking for a playmaker to compliment Dez Bryant in the passing game going into 2013. Kevin Ogletree will likely be leaving in free agency and there’s a decent chance Dallas could let Miles Austin go. That means Beasley could be a real option as a slot receiver with a greater role in the offense.


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K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...