Bad news. The cat is out of the bag for several sleeper picks this year. Make sure you don't wait too long to snag one of these fast-rising players.
The data below are from 12-team standard-scoring ADP from Sept. 2nd and Sept. 3rd, 2011.
He's got a hold on the starting running back job. If he can just keep a hold on the football, he could put up his best year ever.
Six weeks ago, Hightower's ADP was in the 13th round. Now he's being drafted at the end of round 5. The Washington offense isn't going to put up huge numbers this year though, so his upside is limited a bit.
Any way you break down the stats from last year, Tolbert was more productive than Ryan Matthews. All signs point to a similar year again in the San Diego backfield. Only this time, most people have caught on and you'll actually have to spend a 7th round draft pick on Tolbert.
The Giants' receiving corp has been in flux for the past few years, and it can be hard to keep track of who's got the hot hand. Hakeem Nicks is the obvious leader, but his ADP is in the 2nd round. Mario Manningham could end up being a much better value than Nicks this year.
Manningham started slow in 2010, but over the last three games he averaged 5.3 catches, 115 yards, and 1.3 touchdowns. He's a late fifth-round pick with a lot of upside.
And finally, the biggest fantasy draft pick that benefited from free-agency is... the Philadelphia Defense. After they signed Nnamdi Asomugha and traded for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Philly D rocketed up 5 rounds to become the #3 fantasy defense by ADP.
With the best cornerbacks in the league, they'll surely put a stop to the big passing plays they allowed last year. But will they have much more of a fantasy impact than cutting the points per game allowed?
Last year, Philadelphia was already 3rd in the league in defensive interceptions with 23. How many can they expect to have this year, 50? Yes, the improved pass coverage can give the D-line more time to cause sacks (and fumbles). And maybe they'll get an additional pick-6 or two.
The problem is that good fantasy defenses aren't always good in real-life also. Last year, the #1 fantasy defense was the Arizona Cardinals, who were near the bottom of the league in points allowed per game. Also, the Raiders were the 3rd-best fantasy defense, and they were an average defense at best.
But wait... didn't both of those teams have their #1 cornerback sign with the same team this past off-season? Which team was that again...
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