Many things go into a successful fantasy football season: good scouting, good drafting, smart trades, and good lineup decisions. Perhaps the most important key to winning in fantasy football is to stay on top of the guys who go unnoticed, undrafted, and largely ignored that break out as the season progresses and grab them from the waiver list. A player who was an early season savior in this regard was St. Louis Rams WR Mark Clayton.
Last season, Clayton went mostly undrafted and started strongly in the early season to the tune of 23 receptions for 300 yards and two TDs in five games. That’s an average of 4.6 catches a game, for 60 yards a game, and 0.4 TDs a game. Had an injury not cut his season short and Clayton continued his pace, he would have finished the season with 74 catches for 960 yards and about six TDs. While these stats aren’t spectacular, they are solid WR2/3 numbers and well worth the waiver pick up or late-round pick that you most likely spent on him in 2010. Fast forward to 2011 and Clayton has been all but forgotten again on account of his injury, and his ADP has dropped like a brick. In the Café’s Extremely Early Mock, Clayton went at an astounding 14.11 of 16 rounds. If Clayton returns to form healthy and Sam Bradford continues his development (and rapport that he and Clayton showed early last season), I think Clayton could far outperform this current position. I could see him matching, or beating, his 2010 extrapolation. If things go as they could, I could see Clayton posting a 75/975/8TD line in 2011. Not bad for a guy you can get well after Round 10.
Though Clayton will not offer you upside the likes of Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald, he certainly has the chance to put up numbers worthy of a WR2 or WR3. At the price you’ll be able to get him in the late rounds of a draft, can you really pass up on a guy who has that kind of potential this season? He’s a sleeper I’d take a chance on, and if you play your cards right, could go a long way to helping you get over the hump and to your championship down the road.
Jason is one of the many crazy folks who plays fantasy football. He's been playing since 2006 and is thoroughly addicted. He's an avid Eagles fan with a passion for all things Philadelphia. You can find him at the cafe under the name of m16a.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!