Anderson, Graham and Grant also had another factor in common.
None of them were on the radar in preseason rank lists and cheat sheets.
While potential sleepers such as Aaron Rodgers, Michael Turner and Greg Olsen have all moved up their team's respective depth charts (not to mention fantasy wish lists) in the offseason, there are some names out there that won't even be mentioned until the regular season starts.
Think about it.
Anderson wouldn't have had a chance to start in Cleveland had Charlie Frye not been inconsistent under center. Graham would have been buried on the Tampa Bay depth chart had Cadillac Williams and Michael Pittman not sustained long-term injuries. The same holds true for Grant, who was thrust into a true featured role in Green Bay after poor performances or injuries limited Brandon Jackson, Vernand Morency and DeShawn Wynn.
In our quest to provide the deepest sleepers and the most in-depth offseason fantasy football content on the world wide web, here's a list of 10 players (some you know, some you might not) that could find themselves in more prominent roles during the 2008 season.
Mark Bradley, WR, Chicago: With Muhsin Muhammad and Bernard Berrian out of the mix, Marty Booker appears to be the lone lock as a starter in Chicago. That leaves Bradley to battle Devin Hester and Brandon Lloyd for a starter's role. Hester seems to be the most explosive wideout of the trio, but he could be at least somewhat limited at the position due to his return duties on special teams. Bradley believes he will become the top option in the team's pass attack next season, and now it appears he'll have a chance to prove himself at the NFL (and fantasy) levels.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants: Bradshaw made a tremendous impact in New York's run at the Super Bowl XLII title, and he'll no doubt be more involved in the team's offense in 2008. Brandon Jacobs is secure atop the depth chart, but he wasn't at all durable in his first season as a full-time starter. He missed five games due to injuries, and that will make Bradshaw even more attractive as a potential handcuff option in drafts. Owners need to monitor this backfield situation, however, as Derrick Ward re-signed with the team and could push Bradshaw for carries.
Antonio Bryant, WR, Tampa Bay: Bryant hasn't been involved in a regular-season contest since December 2006, but he'll have a chance to start for a Tampa Bay team devoid of playmakers at the wide receiver position behind Joey Galloway. Head coach Jon Gruden feels this situation could be a positive one for Bryant, who is more talented than incumbents like Michael Clayton, Ike Hilliard and Maurice Stovall. If he can make some noise in the preseason and training camp, Bryant could find himself in a significant role and with some newfound fantasy football value.
Brian Calhoun, RB, Detroit: Calhoun and Tatum Bell find themselves atop Detroit's current depth chart after the offseason release of Kevin Jones. Calhoun, who has had knee problems throughout his short pro football career, is a talented runner and could make some noise if he avoids injuries. In fact, reports indicate the Lions are high on Calhoun headed into the 2008 season. Of course, all this talk could become moot if the team adds an impact back in this month's NFL Draft. But for now, Calhoun is a player to watch and remember in the Detroit backfield.
Keary Colbert, WR, Denver: Colbert hasn't made much of an impact in fantasy land since his rookie season, but he'll get a second chance in Denver. Head coach Mike Shanahan compared Colbert to Ed McCaffrey, in that McCaffrey's NFL career didn't take off until he came to the Mile High City. Shanahan also confirmed that Colbert is the current favorite to start opposite Brandon Marshall, so he should see more than his share of opportunities to produce next season. The Southern California product could be worth a late-round flier in leagues with 12-plus teams.
Ben Obomanu, WR, Seattle: Much of the offseason talk in Seattle has surrounded Shaun Alexander and the backfield situation, but there are also some questions at the wide receiver position. Deion Branch could miss the start of the season with an injured knee, and the loss of D.J. Hackett to Carolina leaves Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson as the top two options in the team's pass attack. Obomanu hasn't made much of an impact at the pro level, but he could be third on the depth chart (if Branch misses time) of a team without a solid pass-catching tight end.
Chris Taylor, RB, Houston: If you've read my columns in recent weeks, you know I am very high on Taylor as a potential sleeper for next season. Ahman Green is brittle and past his prime, and the addition of Chris Brown didn't set the fantasy world on fire. That could mean some opportunities are in the forseeable future for Taylor, who is a perfect fit for Houston's zone-blocking scheme. The Texans could decide to take a prominent running back in the draft -- such a move would make Taylor less relevant -- but for now he's a player to watch in 2008.
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans:Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister are ahead of Thomas on the New Orleans depth chart, but both had knee injuries last season (McAllister suffered his second torn ACL since 2005). Thomas also showed that he can produce monster numbers in the final weekend of 2007, as he recorded 12 receptions, 226 all-purpose yards and one touchdown in a loss to Chicago. He won't be selected in most drafts unless McAllister has a setback in his return from another reconstructive procedure, but Thomas should be on the radar in large formats.
Jerheme Urban, WR, Arizona: The Cardinals lost Bryant Johnson to San Francisco, so Urban has to be considered the favorite to open next season third on the depth chart behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Urban, who posted 123 yards and one touchdown in a win over Seattle last December, would be the first man called on to start should Fitzgerald or Boldin (who can be prone to injuries) miss significant time. He won't be selected in drafts, but again Urban is a player who could have some value if the cards fall in his statistical favor.
Ben Utecht, TE, Cincinnati: There hasn't been a tight end on a Cincinnati roster to make a serious fantasy impact since Tony McGee, but Utecht could change that in 2008. He had value at times while with Indianapolis, and now he'll start for what could be an explosive offense. Utecht could also see more opportunities in the pass attack after the release of Chris Henry, who found himself in trouble off the field once again. In fact, he'll be selected as a No. 2 fantasy tight end in most drafts and could be a low-end starter if he produces at a nice level.