Fantasy Football: 10 Late Bloomers to Watch

Usually, the term “late bloomer” is used to describe someone that raises his level of play later than usual in his career, but in this case I’m referring to guys that have become fantasy relevant late in preseason. I wasn’t thinking about these players when I put together our fantasy football preview or even when I suggested several late round WR sleepers. These guys emerged as viable fantasy players as injuries took their toll, position battles were won and depth charts were adjusted.

Maybe it’s too late to draft these players, but they’re worth considering when scouring the waiver wire for help.

In no particular order…

1. Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins
I really like Davone Bess and Greg Camarillo in PPR leagues, but it appears that Hartline has passed both on the Miami depth chart. This is a fuzzy, fluid battle. Hartline is a deep threat as evidenced by his 56-yard grab against the Bucs last week. Reports this week have Hartline and Camarillo rotating at flanker with the first team. Given his rise, I like the rookie Hartline here, but since he plays with a weak-armed QB on a run-oriented team, he’s only worth a flier in the late rounds. 9/7 Update: Now it appears that Greg Camarillo is the starter opposite Ginn in MIA. This situation continues to be very fluid.

2. Justin Gage, WR, Titans
3. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
Nate Washington’s hamstring injury opened the door for both these players to get off to a good start early in the season. Britt is the high upside rookie, while Gage is the under-the-radar vet. Gage appears to be the safer option at this point, because he should still be the starter when Washington returns and has always been pretty productive when healthy. In the last preseason game, he posted 6-57-1 and looks to be Kerry Collins’ go-to guy. Meanwhile, Britt has shown flashes of excellence (like his 89-yard effort in the previous game), but he still looks overwhelmed at times. If you need help early on, Gage is your man, but Britt isn’t a bad guy to stash on your bench.

4. Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers
Now that it’s finally clear that he’ll be the 49ers’ starting QB, it’s safe to draft Hill in the later rounds. He was quite productive fantasy-wise in 2008, posting 227 yards and 1.4 pass TD over the last nine games. He also rushed for two TD. He faces an easy schedule and should have more weapons in the passing game once Michael Crabtree signs and if Vernon Davis ever reaches his potential. Hill is a sneaky good pick in the 11th or 12th round as a backup (or as part of a QBBC).

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