With the start of the 2012 NFL season approximately one month away, fantasy football players and pundits alike are fully submersed in draft preparations. As is usually the case at this time of year, many elite NFL rookies are being projected or hailed as fantasy “sleepers.” However, we will stray from the popular picks of Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, and Robert Griffin III in order to give readers three real rookie sleepers to keep an eye on this preseason.
Brandon Weeden (QB – Cleveland Browns)
When fantasy gurus think of the Cleveland Browns and potential rookie fantasy value, almost all default to running back Trent Richardson. For true “sleeper” value with upside, however, keep an eye on quarterback Brandon Weeden. The 6’3″, 220 pounder from Oklahoma State will enter camp in an open competition for the starting job with the returning Colt McCoy. Weeden, who boasts an NFL-ready frame and strong arm, has already been called “gifted” and “mature” by team president Mike Holmgren, according to NFL.com. “He’s as prepared to come in and start as any rookie I’ve seen in a long time,” Holmgren said. With a work-horse back like Richardson, an upside receiver in Baylor’s Josh Gordon, and sophomore playmaker Greg Little, Weeden could be a pleasant surprise to fantasy general managers in 2012.
Robert Turbin (RB – Seattle Seahawks)
With incumbent starter Marshawn Lynch’s recent arrest for suspicion of DUI, Turbin may be given his chance to succeed in Seattle’s offense. Lynch, who was seen weaving from lane to lane and almost colliding with two other vehicles according to the incident report by the California Highway Patrol, stands a good chance of being handed a lengthy suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. As a repeat offender who was last suspended 3 games in 2009 for a hit-and-run accident, NFL experts are estimating Lynch’s penalty could range anywhere from 4 to 8 games this season . Barring a free agent move like Cedric Benson, Turbin, who stands at 5’10” and 222 pounds, could be handed the starting roll and run with it.
Brian Quick (WR – St. Louis Rams)
The Rams selected Quick with the 33rd overall pick in April’s draft and Pro-Bowl running back Steven Jackson wasted no time setting expectations. “[W]e’re going to lean on him, lean heavily on him,” Jackson said via NBCSports.com’s ProFootballTalk. The 6’4″, 222 pound receiver out of Appalachian State is expected to line up outside for the Rams and as long as he can get the playbook down, will be sure to see plenty of balls from third-year QB Sam Bradford. “I’m challenging him right now because we’re going to need him…to be a standout on this team,” Jackson continued. Sounds like plenty of fantasy sleep value to be had.
There you have it – three NFL rookies with plenty of fantasy upside and a high likelihood of being available extremely late on draft day. Let the other general managers in your league take the “safe” veterans with boring numbers and little to no surprise potential. You’ve done your homework and you’re ready to hit big on some sleepers, so let’s get it on.