SleepersAugust 10, 2012

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Sleeper Watch

By murphysxm

This year, more than any year I can remember, the wide receiver position is deep. I mean silly deep. I want to demonstrate this fact with one of my top WR sleepers of 2012. Nate Washington finished last season as a top-24 PPR WR. He is currently being drafted as WR41, with an ADP of 10.11. Look, I get that he isn’t flashy, I get that he probably isn’t going to magically turn into a stud No. 1, but the 10th round for a WR coming off a 74-reception, 1,023-yard, 7-TD season is crazy to me. Here are some players being drafted ahead of him currently: Lance Moore, Santonio Holmes, Anquan Boldin, Randy Moss, Titus Young and Malcom Floyd. Those players averaged 50 receptions on a 720-yard, 7-TD pace. It doesn’t compute to me.

On top of Washington being undervalued, I am really excited about breakout potential that others aren’t seeing or factoring in. In 2011, Jake Locker played major minutes in three games. In those games, Washington flourished as Locker’s prime target, tallying 22 catches, 307 yards and 4 TDs. I’ll do the math for you: Take that over a 16 game season and you have 117 receptions, 1,633 yards and 21 TDs. To put that in context, Calvin Johnson finished 2011 at 96 receptions, 1,681 yards and 16 TDs. That’s right — the small subset we have of the Locker-Washington connection has Washington as fantasy football’s No. 1 WR.

Now, turning the spotlight on 2012, we have Locker leading the way and looking to be the starting QB opening day. The Titans have Kenny Britt unable to play due to injuries and a rookie WR in camp. Jared Cook is the only other pass-catcher on that roster to compete with. Is anything here leading to Washington’s role diminishing? Quite the opposite — he is the clear No. 1 WR (until Britt graces the NFL field with his presence) on a offense that is above average.

Now, coming back to reality, Washington isn’t going to produce those numbers over the course of a full season. I get that. However, go back up to that list of players being drafted ahead of him and ask yourself if any of them even the potential to post numbers like that? For me, I see Washington as a player with a relatively high floor for a player being drafted in round 10, but with an unexpected high ceiling. As far as the Kenny Britt factor, I don’t think there is one. In the two games Britt played in last year, Washington still averaged 6.5 catches for 83 yards. Seeing as Washington will probably be drafted as a WR3, I can live with that all day long.

Just an average guy that enjoys talking fantasy. Follow me here in the forum under username murphysxm.
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