These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.
We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.
While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.
Age: 27 (4/15/85)
What’s not to like about Andre Caldwell? Four years in the NFL, a total of 124 receptions, 1,172 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Okay, seemingly nearly everything about Caldwell screams “uninspiring,” but nonetheless, he’s flying under the radar in 2012.
While Bronco receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker have received all the attention from the media thus far, slowly securing the WR3 role is none other than Caldwell himself, fresh off a four year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals. Although he never connected all the dots as Bengal, there are reasons to believe that 2012 may be his coming out year in terms of fantasy production. And most all of those reasons rest upon the right arm of Peyton Manning. Quite simply put, Manning has the tendency and ability to fill up the stat sheet for his team’s WR3.
Need some examples?
In 2004, current Bronco receiver Brandon Stokley, then playing with Manning in Indianapolis, came from nowhere to catch 68 balls for 1,077 yards and ten touchdowns. Stokley returned to mediocrity in 2005 and 2006, largely due to injury, before finding his way to Denver in 2007. In 2009, Manning made the name Austin Collie noteworthy when they combined for 60 receptions, 676 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2010, until an injury ended Collie’s season, he played nine games, hauled in 58 receptions, 649 yards and eight touchdowns. If not for his injury, Collie was headed for a WR1 season.
Looking into Denver’s wide receiver corps., it’s easy to like the prospects for Caldwell. At 6’0 and 204 pounds, he’s nearly the identical size as Collie and may be more dynamic as a receiver. Behind him on the depth chart are Matthew Willis, Jason Hill and the aforementioned Stokley. Outside of Stokley, there just doesn’t appear to be much competition for the athletic Caldwell. Beyond that, at least five other receivers are battling for the last two spots. While the road to the WR3 may not be paved for Caldwell, it’s a relatively easy projection to make.
Peyton Manning has been successful at creating fantasy relevance where, with most other teams, there would be none. To think that a healthy Manning wouldn’t do the same in Denver is a ludicrous thought. Much of Manning’s passing success has come from his command of the offense in which he knows where EVERY receiver will be for the play called against that play’s defense. He doesn’t force a ball to a play-making receiver and challenges defenses with looks and motion that serve to confuse and isolate spots on the field. In many cases, this highlights receivers beyond the WR1 and WR2. Both Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker stand to benefit handsomely from Manning’s acquisition, as does Manning’s old part-time tight end, Jacob Tamme and perhaps even tight end Joel Dreessen. However, stopping the exercise there in this case is ignoring what the past suggests.
The WR3 in Denver is a position to watch and very few are talking about the player who is likely to assume that role. We believe Andre Caldwell is in the driver’s seat and could surprise in 2012 and possibly beyond.