Sleeper: A player that is either very young and or expectations are relatively low – for the most part this “unheard of” doesn’t get drafted in the first 10 rounds of fantasy drafts and is, more often than not, undrafted.
That’s right, all those sleeper articles led by Marshawn Lynch, Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, Earnest Graham and Thomas Jones are just flat out ridiculous. Sure, they may be undervalued now, but they are by no means sleeper – they were either good last year, are great rookie players, or were good prior to last season. My wifey (that’s right) even knows who McFadden and Calvin are – that should be deal breaker number one seeing if a player makes “sleeper” lists. Josh Morgan? No clue who that is – sign him up! Here they are, enjoy. The numbers in parenthesis are projections for the season.
1. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans (140 carries 800 rush yards, 45 catches 450 receiving, 8TDs): In a PPR league this kid is a lock to put up startable stats week in and week out. He’s the fastest guy on the field every single time he steps on the turf. When I say a guy is a sleeper it means he has the chance to be startable for at least half of the season and he usually gets picked after Round 10. Chris has the upside of a starting running back – that’s my kind of sleeper.
2. Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans (130 carries 600 rush yards, 30 catches 280 receiving, 4 TDs): For lack of a better option in Houston, Steve could end up getting about 15 touches a game. He’s already the scarriest and most dynamic rusher on the team, now he just has to get over the rookie jitters and the urge to bounce outside. Slaton was dominant two seasons ago in college, and believe me, he still has that ability. I’m not as high on him as I am on Chris, but Slaton’s small stature shouldn’t keep you from taking a chance on him. He has the makings of a good one cut runner.
3. Ryan Torain, RB, Denver Broncos (155 carries 750 yards, 7TDs): You know Selvin Young is going to fumble once or twice and Splinter is going to lose his marbles. That’s about when Ryan will be coming off of the injured list and stepping right into a nice little time share. Torain’s style reminds me of Ryan Grant and he could be a great option for a Denver attack that hasn’t had a tough runner in some time. He will likely miss the first 4-6 games but remember, Ryan Grant only started 10 games and what kind of impact did he have last season?
4. Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos (55 catches 850 yards 6 TDs): First of all, I love Jay Cutler’s game. Second of all, Royal is already a starter in Splinter’s master plan, and he’ll stay with the #1 unit even after Marshall gets back. Royal has a lot of explosive potential and it looks like he’s going to get his fair share of chances. He’s basically not getting picked right now, but with Cutler and Marshall and Scheffler and a running game to worry about, Royal might just find himself with room to run and that’s a good thing for Fantasy owners.
5. Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets (40 catches, 420 yards, 5 TDs): I’m basically relying on Brett to make a relationship with the young speedster out of Purdue. Honestly, Keller is much more of a receiver than a TE, but that’s great for Fantasy Football. Keller is a big match-up problem for most teams, and the fact that the Jets grabbed him early makes me think that they want him to get the ball. Coles and Cotchery will leave him all by himself with a safety to beat, and with his speed that’s very possible.
6. Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco 49ers (70 catches, 840 yards, 4 TDs or look at Shaun McDonald’s numbers last season): I know they are just pre-season stats, but 4 catches for 68 yards, then 5 catches for 114 yards and a TD, he’s a possible super Mike Martz unknown 3rd receiver – c’mon, he has to be on sleeper lists, right? Not yet, but he is now. Take this guy in the last round, watch every other owner in your league look at you like you’re a moron, and then manage to start him and beat other teams with his production. Its a fun game I call “Told you so, Bitches!”. Play it with the people you are closest to, it’s a blast. Mike Furrey and Shaun McDonald – did you think they’d be fantasy relevant? Exactly.
1. Justin Gage, WR, Tennessee Titans (67 catches 900 yards, 5 TDs) : I don’t know if I fully believe it, but apparently Vince Young is more accurate than ever. If Justin can improve on his 750 yards and two touchdowns he might just be fantasy worthy. I think Young will be a little better throwing the ball, and right now Gage is the only sure-thing receiver in the starting line-up. That’s worth a very late pick right there.
2. Devin Hester, WR, CHicago Bears (60 catches, 900 yards, 11 TDs): Call me a Hester fan, hell, make me the president of his fan club, I don’t care, the guy is electric with the ball in his hands. He sees the game at a high speed, and he can take angles and make cuts that didn’t previously exist. Right now he’s the #1 receiver in Chicago, and while that’s not too much to be excited about, it does mean that he’ll be targeted quite a bit. If Hester gets 10 targets a game I bet he scores double digit touchdowns. He’s getting picked way too late right now. People are calling him a “bust” potentially but that’s some awkward joke, right? I mean, he doesn’t get picked until after the 10th round, even if he has a bad year it’s not like you blew an early pick on him.
3. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (3,300 yards, 22 TDs): The Packers may have been a little bit stubborn with Brett, but they didn’t get rid of the icon to give the reigns of this team to a guy without the ability to drive the sled. Rodgers has a great arm, a solid offensive line, and one of the best receiving corps in the entire league. Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, James Jones – these guys are studs that do quarterback’s favors. Defenses will be focussed in on Ryan Grant and that rushing attack, and Aaron will get the best of them early.
4. D.J. Hackett, WR, Carolina Panthers (65 catches, 800 yards, 6 TDs): I’ve always liked D.J. I’ve seen him play a lot and I always thought, when he was on the field, he was the best receiver in Seattle. If he stays healthy all season in Carolina he’ll bust those numbers I projected above. I think he’ll get those numbers in 12 healthy contests. He should start the year off with a bang too, he’ll be the #1 in Carolina, a receiving position that always justifies fantasy attention.
5. Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals (45 catches, 600 yards, 4 TDs): So, there are many people that like Early Doucett to take Bryant Johnson’s old #3 gig, and a the others seem to like Jeremiah Urban – well I like Breaston. We’ll see how it works out, don’t draft him unless it’s a deep, deep league – but pay attention to this guy and see if he wins the gig. Boldin could be a wild card and Breaston might make it to #2???
6. Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans (3,500 yards, 20 TDs): This kid is a stud. He had some great performances in 2007, but had a season cut short by some injuries. I like his chances to carve up the AFC South. The Colts don’t really have much of a secondary and he’ll have to throw against the Titans and Jaguars. He still doesn’t have a stud running back to depend on, but Slaton will give him some nice yards on dump down passes, and if Chris Brown can stay relatively healthy he can be a good compliment. As a back-up, Schaub will have some nice starts for fantasy owners.