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Chad Johnson among players with rising fantasy football value


Whether you're a fantasy football expert or someone who is playing for the very first time (welcome aboard!), you probably know the names Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Arian Foster and Calvin Johnson. While making intelligent draft picks in the first few rounds is important to building a championship contender, it's also vital to have a list of some players to target in the middle to late rounds. After all, it's in those rounds where you'll attempt to unearth some potential sleepers. One way to find those bargains is to keep close tabs on what's going on during training camp and preseason. If you're unable to do that, well, that's what I'm here for!

Here are 10 players who have seen their fantasy appeal increase in the last two weeks.

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Jake Locker, QB, Tennessee Titans: Locker showed flashes of potential during his limited time on the field as rookie, and NFL Network Insider Michael Lombardi has "learned" that he's now the favorite to start ahead of the incumbent Matt Hasselbeck. Furthermore, NFL Network and reporter Ian Rapoport has also suggested that the Titans "hope Locker emerges" as the No. 1 quarterback. With offensive coordinator Chris Palmer at the helm, the team will throw the ball more often. That's good news for Locker, who will have late-round fantasy value if he does emerge as the Week 1 starter.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars: As if the running back position wasn't already loaded with question marks, the holdout of Maurice Jones-Drew makes it even more difficult to trust overall. With reports out of Jacksonville suggesting that the Jaguars and Jones-Drew aren't even talking, well, fantasy owners should get familiar with Jennings. Though he missed all of last season with a knee ailment, the Liberty product has been drawing rave reviews in training camp and could be in for a larger role if MJD's holdout continues. For fantasy leaguers who do draft "Pocket Hercules," adding Jennings in the late rounds is a smart move.

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LeGarrette Blount might be listed as the No. 1 running back on the team's current depth chart, but I think it's just a matter of time before Martin overtakes him. The rookie out of Boise State has been one of the standouts of Bucs camp, even drawing comparisons to Jones-Drew and Ray Rice because of his size and skillset. Sure, there is some risk taking a rookie running back these days. But outside of Trent Richardson, there isn't a better first-year runner to go after in both seasonal and dynasty leagues. Martin will have middle-round value as a No. 2 or 3 fantasy option.

Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots: The minute Joseph Addai was released, it made Ridley a better option in fantasy football due to a decrease in backfield depth in New England. Couple that with reports that he's been one of the best players in training camp and it makes sense to remember his name in fantasy football drafts. While he will lose some work to Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead, Ridley looks like the best early-down and goal-line option for coach Bill Belichick. If he can avoid his proneness to fumbles, which have been an issue, Ridley could turn into a nice draft bargain. His current average draft position (ADP) is Round 10.

Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: The Lions have some major question marks in their backfield. Jahvid Best, who missed a good chunk of last season due to a concussion, has still not been cleared to participate in camp. That's worrisome. Mikel Leshoure is also in the mix for carries, but he will be suspended for the first two regular-season games. Enter Smith, who has looked good in camp and appears to be the favorite to open Week 1 as the team's top running back. His reign atop the depth chart could be short lived once Best and Leshoure return, but at this point Smith needs to be drafted in the most leagues as a No. 4 fantasy runner.

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Wallace continues to hold out over contractual issues, and there's no word on when or if he'll get to camp. There might even be an outside chance that he sits out the first 10 games of the year (much like Vincent Jackson did in 2010). Regardless, Brown's stock is rising while his talented teammate is out of the mix. Keep in mind that Brown also had more targets, catches and receiving yards than Wallace starting in Week 7 last season. Clearly, Wallace's situation is one that fantasy footballers need to keep close tabs on in the weeks to come.

Chad Johnson, WR, Miami Dolphins: Reports out of Miami have been positive on Johnson, who's been called the "best wide receiver on the (Dolphins) right now" by the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero. While that's not saying much on a team without a ton of talent at the position, Johnson is back on the fantasy radar regardless. If he continues to impress, the veteran should earn a starting role for coach Joe Philbin. That would make Johnson worth a speculative late-round add in drafts.

Terrell Owens, WR, Seattle Seahawks: He's back! After a year away from the NFL, Owens has agreed to terms with the Seahawks and will be looking to make an impact. He was impressive in a recent workout with the team, reportedly running a sub-4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That's pretty strong for a 38-year-old wideout coming off an anterior cruciate ligament operation. While he's not going to re-emerge into a fantasy superstar, especially because of his age and what is a very crowded Seattle pass attack, T.O. is still worth a late-round look.

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Steve Smith, WR, St. Louis Rams: Remember Steve Smith? No, not the one in Carolina. The Steve Smith who was for one year a fantasy star as a member of the New York Giants. Now in St. Louis, he's looked tremendous in training camp and is quickly earning himself a prominent role in the offense. With no clear-cut No. 1 wideout on the roster, Smith could turn into one of Sam Bradford's favorite options in the pass attack. In fact, NFL Network and reporter Jeff Darlington suggested that Smith is now back to 100 percent health and could be in line for a "rebirth." Don't be afraid to take a chance on him late.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings: There haven't been a whole lot of Notre Dame players drafted into the NFL that have made a significant fantasy impact since the likes of Jerome Bettis, but Rudolph still intrigues me. He's been playing out of his mind in training camp, catching everything in sight -- the Minneapolis Star-Tribune even reported he's had "10-foot fishing nets for hands." While I would not draft Rudolph as a No. 1 fantasy tight end, I wouldn't be timid about grabbing him in the late rounds as a reserve with upside. There's a chance he could turn into Christian Ponder's second-favorite target behind Percy Harvin.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!