Fantasy Football Sleepers 2012: Unheralded Stars That Will Win You Week 1

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  An American flag is opened on the field before the start of the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

With the real kickoff of fantasy football season 2012 Sunday, the unbridled joy that comes with winning fantasy games over your friends and family is unparalleled.

That’s why you need those sleepers that can help you start the season off right and ruin a loved one’s weekend. They do go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

All of the following plays can be bought low and could make starting the season with an injured player not so devastating.

If you have Ryan Mathews, Adrian Peterson or Stevie Johnson, you should be looking to start one of these players in their place.


Ryan Williams

With the news that starting running back Beanie Wells was questionable for Sunday’s game, backup Ryan Williams who was slated to see more action because of a stellar preseason is now in store for the bulk of the workload.

Running against the Seattle Seahawks is tough for any back, but Williams has the knowledge of missing the entire 2011 season on his shoulders and will capitalize on the chances he is given.

If the Cardinals give the ball to Williams 25 times total, he will earn over 150 yards of total offense and at least one touchdown. That is well worth a flex start in most leagues.


Titus Young

There is little doubt that defenses across the NFL will have a special gameplan when they face the Detroit Lions and Calvin Johnson, but that double coverage will also allow a player like Titus Young to exploit one-on-one coverage.

In Week 1 against an abysmal St. Louis Rams secondary, Johnson will be the main focus, but it will be Young doing the most damage. Matthew Stafford’s willingness to go to the air will force the Rams onto their heels and Young will find a nice niche as the QB’s No. 2 option.

If Young can beat his man coverage and exploit his matchup advantages, he should catch six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.


Stevan Ridley

Another running back benefiting from injuries to his teammates is Stevan Ridley from the New England Patriots.

With Shane Vereen out for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans, Ridley will not only get the bulk of goalline carries, he will get the majority of the backfield work period.

As tough as the matchup is, the potent Patriots offense will keep the team on the field for a big portion of the game and the back will get his chances. If he has a great game, the job is Ridley’s to lose for the entire season.

Ridley will get 25 carries for 100 yards and at least one touchdown to go with his 4 catches and 50 yards receiving.


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