Every season in the NFL, players have expectations. While many players fall short of their expectations, and are hit with a barrage of criticism some are able to exceed theirs, and really make a name for themselves.
If you're looking for a couple of players you could swoop up in fantasy, or perhaps you just want an idea of who to look out for, GMS Academy member Jamie Sewell runs down the top five underrated players in the sport.
Number 5: Chris Ivory
The HB was number 4 on the depth chart at the New Orleans Saints - yet at the New York Jets, he seems certain to be the number 1 HB on the depth chart now that Shonn Greene has left the Jets to partner Chris Johnson at the Tennesee Titans.
While Ivory has never had the experience of playing a full season (or, indeed, even half of a season) as a starter, the only question around him should be his health. Ivory has a lot of speed and can turn on the "Jets" when required.
He also has fantastic agility, and combined with his great knowledge of the game, watch out for him making quick changes of direction when he spots a gap.
Number 4: Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford has never quite seemed to live up to the hype. As a former number 1 overall pick, he seems to just be written off as an under-performer, and many fans and pundits alike have given up on him.
Which is why Bradford could be in for a highly successful season for his standards.
Bradford has never had the best offensive line to work with - in fact, he's been sacked a grand total of 105 times in his three seasons in the NFL. That's only 8 less times than Jay Cutler.
Getting sacked that often would rattle anybody. Yet now he has Jake Long, one of the best LTs in the league to help protect him. He now also has a WR that can help him out, as the Rams picked up Tavon Austin in the draft.
You may have to read this more than once to believe it, but Bradford could lead the Rams to the playoffs.
Number 3: Alex Smith
Alex Smith was a starting quarterback at the San Francisco 49ers. Until he got injured.
He was going along pretty good, too, with a career best 70.2% completed passes, getting 153 completions from 218 attempts.
Not bad, considering Peyton Manning had a completion rate of 68.6%. Aaron Rodgers managed 67.2%, while Tom Brady and Drew Brees both had a rate of 63%.
In fact, at a QB score of 104.1, Smith had a better score than both Brady and Brees last season.
While some 49ers fans may prefer Colin Kaepernick to Smith because of his running ability, there is no doubt Smith is a top class passer, and he could lead the Chiefs to a playoff place this coming season.
Number 2: T.Y. Hilton
By now, most people have heard about T.Y. Hilton. But with Andrew Luck improving on a game-to-game basis, T.Y. Hilton will be a big target for him.
After an inconsistent rookie season, this pre-season he would have had more time to work with Luck and develop with him. These two could strike up a great partnership, leaving T.Y. Hilton in position to create big plays for the Indianapolis Colts this coming season.
Hilton still managed 50 receptions last year, and an average of 57.4 yards per game gives him something to build on.
Number 1: DeAndre Hopkins
The rookie WR joins up with a Texans offense that boast one of the best WRs in the game, Andre Johnson. Add Matt Schaub, a consistent QB who has thrown for 4000+ yards in every 16 game season he's played in, and Hopkins has the tools he needs to make an impact.
It may not seem like a veteran WR will be a help to him having a big year, but it is. For two reasons.
One: He can learn from Johnson. Johnson is an outstanding WR, and will be able to help Hopkins take his game to the next level.
Two: Teams expect Andre Johnson to be a threat. It is common knowledge by now that Matt Schaub's favourite target is Johnson - the way he plays, it has to be. As teams put their best CBs on Johnson, and sometimes double team him, it paves the way for Hopkins to be open for big plays.
Hopkins improved his stats with each passing season while he was at Clemson, and with his incredible speed, good agility and a determination that is rare to find, he could be a future hall of famer.
In fact, he could be a pro-bowler this coming season.
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