The big buzz word in fantasy sports is "sleepers." Everybody's looking for the next unknown player to emerge as a great value and win their league.
But sleepers come in all shapes and sizes ... and rounds of your draft. Here's a look at some of my great value picks, and where I think you should get them in the draft:
Tony Romo, Cowboys
He's almost too well known for his own good. When you think of Romo, you think of a guy who dates hot chicks, fumbles a lot and chokes in the clutch. But he's also quietly (kind of) put up some amazing numbers, especially last year. He won't throw more than a handful of interceptions, cut down the fumbles, and now has some great weapons in rookie Dez Bryant and emerging superstar Miles Austin.
Where to pick him: After the top four QBs (Brees, Manning, Brady, Rodgers) there's a glut of second-tier gunslingers. I would be perfectly happy with Romo as the next one off the board, even as high as the third round.
Kevin Kolb, Eagles
His situation reminds me a bit of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. The guy's seemingly been around forever, but with limited chances to prove his worth. With Donovan McNabb out of the picture, it's now Kolb's show, and he's got plenty of talent surrounding him. Doesn't it seem like Philly's offense has been missing something the past few years? Namely, a guy who can get the ball to everyone on the field, not make mistakes and air it out when necessary. Kolb feels like that guy to me. Throwing for 300 yards in each of his two starts last year doesn't hurt, either.
Where to pick him: If he's your starter, that probably means you've absolutely punted at QB and are stacked everywhere else (I hope). As far as backups go, I don't see anyone else I'd rather have. If he's your starter, get him in the 8th round. For a backup, you could probably wait until 9 or 10.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals
The mess at QB (Derek Anderson is the apparent starter over Matt Leinart) means they'll be leaning on the running game even more out in the desert. While Tim Hightower is always a threat to steal some touchdowns, he's by no means an every-down back. This guy is. Three scores in the final four games last year are a good omen.
Where to pick him: If you get him in the 3rd round, you've got an absolute steal. I wouldn't be above taking him in the second.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Yes, he will share time with Brandon Jacobs, but talent wins out, and he's got way more than his competition. As long as his feet stay healthy (he had surgery for a stress fracture in the offseason) he will be the man. Book it.
Where to pick him: Get him in the sixth round and just wait for him to take over the starting job for good at some point.
Bernard Scott, Bengals
Cedric Benson's the man in the backfield right now, but do you trust Cedric Benson? I didn't think so. Scott looked good taking over in the middle of the season before turf toe got the best of him. He's a must-handcuff if you do pick Benson, and a great risk to stash until Ced goes down or robs a liquor store or something.
Where to pick him: You can probably wait until the 12th round or so. Go a few round earlier if you have Benson.
Kareem Huggins, Buccaneers
The undrafted rookie has been turning heads in the preseason and is now the No. 2 back behind Cadillac Williams. The Bucs love him and seem to really want to get him on the field. Take advantage, hopefully before everyone else hears about him.
Where to pick him: He's been going in the 12th/13th. I'd go as high as 10 and hope the pick pans out.
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
I'm not particularly excited about this bowling ball's (231 pounds) skills, although he does have some wheels. But with Maurice Jones-Drew missing much of the preseason with knee issues, he's not a bad idea. An absolute handcuff if you take MoJo in the first round.
Where to pick him: Probably will be around in the 12th, and worth the risk.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Man, this guy has been on my sleeper list the past few years, and dammit, I'm sticking with him until he pans out. He's got supreme talent, size and speed that can't be matched. He's just a head case who developed an acute case of the dropsies last year.
Where to pick him: I'm taking him in the fourth, and there's nothing you can say to stop me!
Malcolm Floyd, Chargers
With Vincent Jackson suspended for the first few weeks (and who knows what will happen with his contract snit), Floyd is the man by default on the end in San Diego. TE Antonio Gates will still be the main target, but he can't catch everything. Floyd will get the chance to stake his claim, it's now up to him to live up to the role.
Where to take him: I'd go as high as the ninth round, but you could probably wait one or two more if you want to take a chance.
Jacoby Jones, Texans
I love everything about Houston's offense, and QB Matt Schaub proved he was the real deal last year. Jones only needs to overtake Kevin Walter to earn the No. 2 role, which is a great spot to be with Andre Johnson taking up all the double teams on the other side.
Where to take him: Take him in the 12th round and thank me later.
Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
Who else is gonna catch all those Brett Favre passes? This guy is sure-handed and knows how to get open, especially in the red zone.
Where to take him: He can be had in the top 10 rounds, and he'll be a steal.
New Orleans Saints
They were an opportunistic bunch last year, with five games of more than two interceptions and two more with three fumbles recovered. And while you probably can't count on that, they figure to be up a bunch in a lot of their games, leading to desperation from opponents and some easy sacks/turnovers.
Where to take them: I'm not big on taking any defense too high. It's just too fluid of a position (you'll probably change them at least a few times, unless you get one of the elite). Wait until the 12th or 13th round and grab these guys as a bottom-tier D with elite potential.