My apologies for interruptions in this week's blog schedule. I was actually doing real reporting for a change. (I know, crazy talk.) But I still had time to stay on top of my many fantasy football leagues. I completed another draft last week, and I have three more between now and next Thursday's regular season kickoff.
I’ve noticed some trends in the drafts I’ve conducted so far. Quarterbacks are flying off the board in the first few rounds. There isn’t a consensus on the order of the top running backs. And some owners must be stuck in 2008 because Donovan McNabb, Cadillac Williams and Randy Moss are still getting selected.
I’ve also noticed that some serious fantasy sleepers have lasted well into the later rounds -- and a few have gone undrafted. Here are six overlooked players you should consider scooping up in the teenage rounds:
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: I can’t believe a big-name quarterback who has thrown 50 touchdown passes the past two years can be considered a sleeper. But somehow, Cutler has been on average the 17th quarterback off the board in ESPN drafts. With an improved supporting cast and a year of experience in this offense, Cutler has a chance to become a top-10 QB for the first time since 2009.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Lions: I like Jahvid Best a lot, but he has serious durability concerns (and that was before he suffered a concussion this preseason). If Best goes down -- second-round draft pick Mikel Leshoure is already out for the season -- Harrison will be in line to become the Lions’ lead back. He showed at the end of 2009 that he can carry the load when given the opportunity.
Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos: We all know Willis is capable of vulturing touchdowns, and he's worthy a pick for that alone. But my gut tells me he will become Denver’s top back at some point.
Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: Olsen had a breakout season in 2009, catching 60 passes for 612 yards and eight scores. Then known tight end hater Mike Martz came along and made him Mr. Irrelevant. Olsen has landed in Carolina where Jimmy Clausen and rookie Cam Newton are competing for the quarterback job. I hate to stereotype, but young QBs usually like throwing to big tight ends like Olsen.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks: Rice is another guy who had a breakout campaign two seasons ago, but injuries derailed his 2010 season, as did spotty QB play from Brett Favre and Co. But this guy just turned 25, and is a year removed from a 1,300-yard season. I suspect owners are fearful about Tarvaris Jackson. But it’s worth noting that Rice knew Jackson was the quarterback when he signed in Seattle.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Rams: Despite scoring seven touchdowns, Sims-Walker drove me nuts last year with his inconsistency, so much that if he stayed in Jacksonville, he would have made my don’t-draft list. But he landed in a great spot in St. Louis, where second-year QB Sam Bradford is looking for a go-to guy. If Sims-Walker doesn’t drop this opportunity, he will be an intriguing bench option.
Matt Vensel is a blogger and community coordinator for The Baltimore Sun. Send your fantasy questions and comments to Matt.Vensel@baltsun.com, @mattvensel on Twitter or leave them in the comments section below.