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NFL fantasy football: 10 sleepers to target

Draft kit | Deep sleepers | Busts | Breakouts | Bargains | Strategies

 

 

Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts: Ballard won't drop your jaw with Barry Sanders-style juke moves, but as the feature back in an offense that's gonna score lots of points again in 2013, he'll give you the workmanlike production you want from your second RB.

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Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins: A very nice rookie season was overshadowed by his transcendent peers, but now that the former receiver is no longer the most talented pass-catcher in Miami (hello, Mike Wallace), Tannehill's numbers are about to take a quantum leap forward. And, oh by the way, he can run, too.

Sidney Rice, WR, Seattle Seahawks: It's easy to overlook how productive Rice is when he's on the field ... because he's spent relatively little time on the field since getting to the NFL. Take a closer look, though: he cuts the figure of a legit No. 1, and we know the Seahawks offense has plenty of other pieces that require the defense's attention. If you're an optimist, take a shot on Rice.

Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals: Yes, his numbers were up in 2012 largely because the Raiders were playing catch-up in lots of second halves, but the fact is Palmer was spinning it better than he had in years. Now with a QB guru in Bruce Arians, one of the game's best WRs in Larry Fitzgerald and the interesting second-year wideout Michael Floyd, there's reason to expect Palmer to thrive this season.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Sticking with vets who've moved to the Valley of the Sun, this former Steelers RB -- who put up some nice fantasy numbers while Arians was serving as his OC -- will benefit from running behind an upgraded line and a head coach who knows how to use him. In other words, Mendenhall will rise like a phoenix (pun intended).

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami Dolphins: Jeff Ireland nabbed the speedy 'Cane in the 2012 draft to serve as Reggie Bush's replacement. We know Mike Wallace and company will keep defenses from going with eight men in the box, which means Miller is a good bet to have some room to run.

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: It seems like a long time ago the first overall pick in many fantasy drafts was being spent on Vick, but in reality, it was just two years ago. With Chip Kelly now integrating his offense in Philly, Vick is a reasonable gamble once the first ten or so QBs are gone (but if he's your No. 1, make sure you get a reliable No. 2 like Andy Dalton ... or Nick Foles?).

With coach Bruce Arians calling the shots, Carson Palmer will throw the football a ton this year.
With coach Bruce Arians calling the shots, Carson Palmer will throw the football a ton this year. (Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams: There are too many other good options to make Bradford your first-string QB, but stashing a Heisman-winning first-overall pick as your No. 2 - especially with his intriguing new pass-catchers - is a nice fallback.

Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams: Speaking of the Rams' new pass-catchers, Cook is a high-pedigree guy who never quite took off in Tennessee. With his size and the attention those twin rookie West Virginia burners will attract on the outside, 2013 might finally be the year he joins the statistically elite TEs.

Mario Manningham, WR, San Francisco 49ers: With Michael Crabtree out indefinitely, Anquan Boldin will now presumably see the other team's top corner and might therefore suffer statistically. Manningham, on the other hand, stands to benefit in terms of targets.

Follow Dave on Twitter @Dameshek.

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