July 27 2012; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess (right) hauls in a catch in from of defensive back Richard Marshall (left) during practice at the Dolphins training facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

10 Late-Round Fantasy Football Sleepers with Breakout Potential

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Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell (11) comes out of the tunnel before the preseason game against the Houston Texans. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

As your fantasy football draft comes to a close, the last few rounds can get a little out of control. Some guys just take the top player on the cheat sheet, others draft two kickers or defenses, and some even draft players like Michael Hoomanawanui just to make the commish spell his name and figure out how to fit it in the little box on the big board.

There’s a better way to spend your last pick!

Throwing it away isn’t necessary. There are some players with serious upside still available at this point in most drafts.

If you’re in a typical 10 team league, the crazy time starts about round 15 so all the picks listed here have an average draft position (ADP) of 150 or greater based on myfantasyleague.com’s ADP chart since July 1. For the purposes of this list I skipped guys like Jake Locker and Russell Wilson who won’t be there after their recent promotions to starting jobs.

These players come with significant risk. For each one there’s a reason they aren’t going high, but in my mind at the end of your draft they’re worth a flier. Some of them may pay off big time, and they become your first drop if they don’t.

As most fantasy football veterans know, take your kicker and Team D in your last two picks, but right before that consider these guys as “deep sleepers.”

Aug 11, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; NFL: Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright (13) is tackled by Seattle Seahawks defensive back Marcus Trufant (23) after making a catch in the second quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

1. Kendall Wright – WR – Tennessee (#157 in ADP) Drafted in the first round by the Titans out of Baylor, Wright has had a solid preseason and seems to have connected with new QB Jake Locker. He had four receptions for 44 yards and a TD in week three of the preseason and caught eight of his nine targets in his five quarters of action. Kenny Britt came off PUP yesterday but still may face a suspension. Even if he doesn’t, he won’t be ready right away for a full load and is a injury risk throughout the season. Wright will provide speed and play-making ability on kickoffs and punts and could explode if the opportunities come his way early in the season. Most thought he was a year or two away when he was picked, so even if he doesn’t get the reps this year keep an eye on him going forward.

2. Greg Olsen – TE – Carolina (#165 in ADP) Last year Olsen and then-teammate Jeremy Shockey had 151 targets. For comparison Jimmy Graham was the top-targeted Tight End last year with 149. Jeremy Shockey probably isn’t going to get any targets this year since he’s still unsigned. It’s overly optimistic to think Olsen gets all those looks, but it goes to show that Cam Newton and the Panthers offense is built for TE success in addition to running the football. If you miss on the 3G’s at the top (Graham, Gronk, Gates) I’d wait until late and take a couple guys with potential like Olsen, Fred Davis, or Kyle Rudolph (see below).

3. Randall Cobb – WR – Green Bay (#166 in ADP) Cobb stayed under the radar throughout the preseason, but still has major upside since he plays on the same team with Aaron Rodgers and has run-after-the-catch ability like he demonstrates on kickoff returns. He’s buried on the depth chart right now but did get some first team reps week three of the preseason. Rodgers spreads the wealth and if Cobb’s on the field it could be big things.

4. Ronnie Hillman – RB – Denver (#172 in ADP) Hillman is buried on the Brocos depth chart behind Willis McGahee, Lance Ball, and Knowshon Moreno. Those guys don’t have a great track record of staying healthy and the running back in Peyton Manning’s offense will always get scoring chances. If you can stash Hillman, he may get a chance this year in his rookie year out of San Diego State.

Aug 24, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) catches a pass during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at the Metrodome. The Chargers defeated the Vikings 12-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

5. Kyle Rudolph – TE – Minnesota (#180 in ADP) Rudolph is another late-round TE with big time potential. The Vikings passing game usually comes down to Percy Harvin and nobody else. Rudolph has a chance to emerge as Christian Poder’s second target as he and Ponder both spend their second year in the league. Rudolph has looked solid this preseason and showed flashes last year. He’s a great backup TE if you draft such things.

6. Brandon LaFell – WR – Carolina (#189 in ADP) LaFell has been on many sleeper lists this preseason but is still going very late in drafts. He hasn’t blown up this preseason, but he’s slated to lineup up across the field from Steve Smith every down once the season begins. Cam Newton makes this offense explosive and LaFell could emerge as a serious option since he’ll get the reps on a weekly basis.

7. Daniel Thomas – RB – Miami (#204 in ADP) Thomas is still the #2 back in Miami behind Reggie Bush. If you’ve watched Hard Knocks you know the Dolphins coaches aren’t big on him either. The best thing that could happen to Thomas would be a trade to Detroit where they’re searching for a running back. Whether due to a Bush injury or a trade, Thomas could end up with carries somewhere and the second-round pick from last year still has plenty of potential to make him worth a flier.

8. Alshon Jeffery – WR – Chicago (#207 in ADP) Some in Chicago are already saying Jeffery has moved up to second in the pecking order for the Bears behind only Brandon Marshall. Whether or not he gets more snaps right away than Devin Hester or not, Jeffery’s solid work in Preseason is earning him opportunities for the Bears. If Jay Cutler can stay upright and healthy, Jeffery will have limited value across from target-monster Marshall. He could be a nice flex play or even WR2 depending on how things play out. He and LaFell are players with playing time coming their way; it’s just a question of whether they can seize their chance.

9. Davone Bess – WR – Miami (#228 in ADP) Another receiver who will get plenty of playing time is Davone Bess. Bess is about all the Dolphins have as far as experienced, reliable pass catchers. He’ll be limited by Ryan Tannehill’s development but there will be catches and yards somewhere in this offense and Bess will get the majority of both. If you want limited upside but plenty of snaps and targets, Bess is the final round flier for you.

10. Josh Gordon – WR – Cleveland: (#279 in ADP) Gordon has impressed this preseason in Cleveland after being drafted in the second round out of Baylor. It looks like he’ll start across from Greg Little to open the season. He’ll be with another rookie QB, but Brandon Wheeden and he have connected numerous times in the Preseason and Gordon could end up useful in fantasy football this season if the Browns’ rookie-heavy offense can pull it together and get some drives rolling.

If you’re stuck in the last round, any of these guys could prove valuable over the course of the year. They’ll definitely help your team more than having a backup kicker will, so do your homework and make the pick you like the best. Stay away from that auto-draft button and choose wisely all the way to the end of your fantasy football draft

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Tags: Brandon LaFell Fantasy Football Draft Fantasy Football Sleepers Greg Olsen Kendall Wright

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