Fantasy Football 2011: Ten Late Round Sleeper Picks to Draft

While the early rounds of a Fantasy Football Draft are reserved for elite players and the mid rounds for the tried and tested players who will deliver a steady performance year after year, the late rounds are there for owners to gamble on sleeper picks. Sometimes these late round gems may be the difference between a team having a good season, and one that wins a title. Here then are 10 late round sleeper picks to consider.

Ryan Torian (Redskins) Running Back
Torian took over for Clinton Portis last season and rewarded Fantasy owners with 742 yards in just 10 games, producing three +100 yard games along the way. The question is, “are the Redskins sold on him for 2011?” Most likely, though he will get a push from rookies Roy Helu and Evan Royster and a host of other veterans vying for a spot. Still, as long as there aren’t any major roster shake-ups during the preseason, you look for Torian to pick up where he left off last year and take a chance on him in the late rounds.

Ryan Mathews (Chargers) Running Back
Yes, the Chargers first round draft pick last season got off to a slow start and then missed three games in late November and early December. Still, Mathews closed out the season with a 120 yard 3 three touchdown performance. That and the fact that he still has the talent that made him the 12th overall pick last season, makes Mathews a can’t miss sleeper pick this season.

Jahvid Best (Lions) Running Back
Owners of Javhid Best last year must have thought they hit the jackpot after the rookie’s first two games of the season when he totaled 268 yards from scrimmage and scored 5 touchdowns. Unfortunately Best collected only 774 yards and 1 touchdown the rest of the way. So why should 2011 be any different? Mainly because Mathew Stafford will be back this season (he was out after three games in 2010), and the Lions have upgraded their offense with rookies Titus Young and Mikel LeShoure. Young will help stretch the field, while LeShoure should soften up the defense with hard inside running. All of which should play to Best’s advantage making him a good lower round draft pick.

Stevan Ridley (Patriots) Running Back
Drafted in the third round out of LSU, Stevan Ridley certainly caught the attention of head coach Bill Belichick during the first pre-season game this year, gaining 64 yards on 16 carries and scoring 3 times. Ridley is coming off a banner season at LSU where rushed for 1,147 yards and scored 15 times, and should be able to compete for a job in the less than stellar Patriot backfield. The 225 lbs rookie back may be worth a late round draft pick, or a waiver pick up after the first few games of the season.

Darren Sproles (Saints) Running Back
Now with the Saints instead of the Chargers, Sproles is a must in leagues that give points for kick returning and a sleeper in deep leagues with 12 or more teams. Though only 5-6, Sproles is an electrifying runner who has collected over 1,500 yards from scrimmage, and 9 touchdowns over the last two seasons. Look for Brees to integrate him into the role Reggie Bush once held on offense.

Dwayne Harris (Cowboys) Wide Receiver
Is it too early to get excited over Cowboy rookie receiver Dwayne Harris? You bet, though his first pre-season game yielded 5 catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. It is worth noting that the Dallas’s sixth round draft pick, was Conference USA’s player of the year last season, and that he is a very capable kick returner as well. All which means that the Cowboys will find a home for the rookie, though most likely he may be a few years from being a starter in the league.

Ronnie Brown (Eagles) Running Back
Any fantasy coach who has suffered through Brown’s sluggish performances the past two seasons is sure to pass on the Eagles running back this year. But a chance of scenery may be just what the doctor ordered and Brown may once again thrive in the high octane Eagles offense, so give this former first round draft pick a look this season.

Riley Cooper (Eagles) Wide Receiver
Riley who? The 6-3, 222 lbs, former Gator is buried deep in the Eagles depth charts, but concerns over Jeremy McClain’s health may provide the opportunity Riley needs. That and the fact that his size may make him a factor around the goal line, may make Cooper a high risk- high reward, late round sleeper.

Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks) Running Back
After back to back, 1,000 yard rushing seasons his first two years in the league, Lynch worn out his welcome in Buffalo and landed in Seattle last season. If he is able to pick up where he left off last season, that is, if he can duplicate the talent he showed in a spectacular playoff game against the Saints last season, Lynch may make the perfect sleeper this season. That he also catches passes out of the backfield is a huge bonus.

Bernard Berrian (Vikings) Wide Receiver
Berrian all but disappeared last season in Minnesota, though the Vikings have penciled him in as a starter opposite of Percy Harvin this season. If McNabb can find chemistry with Berrian, look for the return of the receiver who averaged over 20 yards a catch in 2008. You can color Bernard a high reward sleeper who is worth a late round gamble.

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