Ranking the 10 Best Sleepers Heading in Fantasy Football's 2nd Week
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and Week 2 fantasy football lineups are ready to be set. So whether you're seeking redemption for an opening loss or want to continue your first week's dominance, you're looking for under-the-radar players to keep on your bench, grab from waivers or trade from your friends.
So whether you're looking for a running back to add off of waivers like Bilal Powell or you want to grab an underappreciated wide receiver like DeSean Jackson from your friend before he breaks out, here's a list of 10 players you should keep your eye on.
It's difficult to define a sleeper. So for the context of this article, a sleeper is anyone who isn't a top option at their position and who is not being valued properly by the average fantasy player.
Therefore, the top 10 sleepers will be ranked not in order of overall points scored, but in how far they'll exceed current expectations.
Let's get started with No. 10...
10. Brandon Myers, TE, New York Giants
The New York Giants proved on Sunday night that they will have to throw the football to be successful.
He sneaks in at No. 10 on the rankings because he's a tight end, and there's a plethora of other options at the position in a standard 10- or 12-team league. But if Myers' owner let him go in favor of Julius Thomas this week, pick him up and use him.
Myers caught 79 passes last season with the Oakland Raiders and started this season with a seven-catch performance. He's clearly proven that he's the king of the second-tier tight ends with his reliable amount of targets and receptions.
9. Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins
As Andrew Garda mentions in the video above, Hartline is not a touchdown guy.
But if that stops you from adding him to your fantasy team, you're missing out.
Ryan Tannehill is not going to move away from his preference to throw to Hartline, even with speedster Mike Wallace streaking down the field as a deep threat. Hartline's nine catches during Week 1 should be sufficient proof.
If you're in a points-per-reception league, Hartline is a must-own player. But even if you're in a standard league, Hartline could be in line for a Wes Welker type of season with no reliable running game and a deep threat like Wallace as a No. 1 receiver to take away defenders.
Plus, if he does score one more touchdown per month than he has in the past, you'll have a WR2 to use all season, and it will be one you likely got for nothing off of waivers.
8. Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald got back on track during Week 1 after a nightmare of a season in 2012.
That's a great moment for Fitzgerald owners and Arizona Cardinal fans alike.
But it should also be a very encouraging moment for Carson Palmer, who is emerging as one of the best backup quarterback options in fantasy football this season.
And if you play in daily fantasy football, Palmer is going to be a great option every week to provide a value at quarterback instead of spending a large chunk of salary cap on top quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers.
Palmer threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns to open the season against a fairly strong St. Louis defense, proving once again that he's a much better fantasy football quarterback than he is a real-world quarterback.
The Cardinals may have lost, but that doesn't matter in fantasy football. Take your points where you can get them, and you can be sure you'll get them from Palmer all season long.
Palmer comes in at No. 8 on the rankings because he's unappreciated, but yet he still doesn't have a high ceiling. Stick around for a duo of quarterbacks who can exceed their expectations in a way Palmer can't even dream about.
7. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos
Get used to the sight in the photo above. You're going to see a ton of it this season.
Yes, Knowshon Moreno is not the most fantastic athlete in the history of the running back position. But while he won't be confused with Barry Sanders anytime soon, he also won't be confused with Tim Tebow.
Moreno is going to play, because he's effective at what he does.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Moreno was on the field more than twice as often as rookie Montee Ball, and almost three times as often as seemingly promising young runner Ronnie Hillman.
And you can't score if you're not on the field.
Moreno is only seventh because he's still Knowshon Moreno. But you're doing yourself a disservice if you leave him on the waiver wire and hang onto your backup kicker.
Moreno already has the trust of his coaches and his quarterback, and that means he's going to play and play often.
And that makes him the perfect emergency substitute to have on your roster in case a player is injured or suspended.
6. EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Manuel is the first of two quarterbacks who find themselves on this list because they have found the "cheat code" for fantasy football.
Check out this article from Rich Hribar of numberFire.com, who points out that standard scoring in fantasy football is broken by elite running quarterbacks.
The short version of the story is that rushing yards and rushing touchdowns earn more points per unit than passing yards and touchdowns, and that creates a higher floor for mobile quarterbacks that almost guarantees success.
Combine this with the ability to be successful through the air, and you have the potential for massive points.
Manuel trumps traditional quarterbacks like Carson Palmer because every week, Manuel can add five to 10 points with his running statistics, and then he'll still contribute passing statistics.
5. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
So you're still worried about Brian Hartline's inability to score touchdowns?
You'll need to do a bit of trading, but you should go and get DeSean Jackson.
Jackson is owned in nearly every fantasy league on the planet. But in Chip Kelly's offense, and with a healthy Michael Vick at quarterback, Jackson might really shine and be a leading fantasy receiver.
Jackson kicked off his first season under his new coach with a seven-catch performance, totaling 104 yards and one touchdown.
If you're in need of a wide receiver, Jackson is the guy to target. Provided you don't have to overpay based on his Week 1 performance, he's got upside beyond his 26th wide receiver average draft position, according to ESPN.com.
In fact, if you took Mike Wallace hoping for a deep threat, trade him for Jackson and get a true deep threat in a much better offense.
4. Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders
(If you're too young or not enough of a nerd for that reference, just Google it.)
Pryor was the leading rusher in the NFL until LeSean McCoy's Monday Night Football performance. And as I mentioned with Manuel, that's a solid base of points for a quarterback that guarantees success.
And while he's not the best passer, he's going to get points through the air by default. The Raiders are going to be throwing the ball a lot this season, so he'll score via the air whether he's talented as a passer or not.
And judging by the video above, he has the right attitude about improving himself.
Pryor is 2011 Tim Tebow taken to a whole new level. Pick him up now, even if you have Aaron Rodgers, just so you don't have to play him every week. (I'm only partially joking.)
3. Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
Powell's Week 1 letdown against a sturdy Tampa Bay defense that's dedicated to stopping the run is the best thing that could have happened.
Bilal Powell might not have ever been picked up in your fantasy league, and if he was, chances are that his owner dropped him to pick up Julius Thomas or another hot Week 1 addition.
As I wrote for numberFire during the preseason, Powell is the primary runner in New York and the ideal running back to have because he's versatile and efficient.
Chris Ivory is not to be relied upon, nor is rookie QB Geno Smith or anyone in the New York passing game. Powell is going to see his touches, and he's going to earn points.
Powell has more raw ability than Knowshon Moreno, so he can actually do something with his touches. If Powell is available, he needs to be on your roster.
2. Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots
Just like Bilal Powell, Edelman plays the same position as an injury-prone big-name player. And as we saw in Week 1, Edelman is ready to take advantage of the opportunities he's been given while oft-injured Danny Amendola sits out with various maladies.
But unlike Powell, Edelman plays in what should be a great offense thanks to an all-time great lining up under center. With Tom Brady delivering the ball, all a receiver needs is legs that work and a reliable pair of hands.
For now, that means Edelman, and not really anyone else.
Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari has been keeping up to date on the health of star receiver Danny Amendola. One of the updates Mike posted from NFL Network's Albert Breer showed concern that Amendola might not be back for Week 3.
That's a huge opportunity for Edelman.
Edelman was likely on your waiver wire this week, and he could wind up being a top-30 receiver by the end of the season if he gets reliable playing time.
1. Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions
Joique Bell proved on Sunday that he's more than worthy of a spot on your bench right now, especially if you're in a PPR league.
He's more than just a backup, since he's going to be used to keep Reggie Bush fresh and healthy.
Because Reggie Bush has been known to get hurt.
So if you're lucky enough to have the waiver priority to get Bell, or if he's still sitting on your waiver wire, get him now. He's going to get plenty of work spelling Bush, and he's an unfortunate injury to Bush away from being the primary back in a decent-looking offense.
Bell can do everything Bush can, since he can run the ball reliably and catch the ball out of the backfield. And while he's definitely not the same athlete Bush is, he is certainly good enough to help move the football in the Detroit offensive scheme.
Bell trumps everyone else on this list because he has current value with the potential for a massive upgrade in value if Bush were to go down. He's in a better offense than Bilal Powell, he's a better athlete than Knowshon Moreno, and he's at a more scarce position than any of the receivers or tight ends.
He's like a savings account for your bench. He'll be there in case you need him, and he'll gain value as the season goes on and Reggie Bush wears down.