Fantasy sleepers are what you need to survive the midseason bye weeks. As six more teams are set to take the week off in Week 9, you need to think outside the box and take some gambles in order to keep your team on schedule.
We’re not talking about guys like Zac Stacy or Darrius Heyward-Bey, either. Chances are, those guys are already being claimed much higher than your position on the waiver-wire order. Unless you’re on top of that list, unfortunately, then by all means grab them if you have the chance.
For those of us who have enjoyed winning, here is a look at a group of sleepers that can be had on most waiver wires this week.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans at St. Louis Rams
Owned in just 16 percent of leagues, Jake Locker has been a pleasant surprise for those fantasy owners willing to take the gamble on him. After a dismal Week 1 performance, and despite a couple of missed weeks due to injury, Locker has compiled around 100 fantasy points.
Since Week 2, Jake Locker's averaged over 21 fantasy points in his four games played.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) October 22, 2013
On the contrary, the St. Louis Rams are surprisingly being abused through the air. Before the Week 8 numbers are all in, they were giving up the 17th-most points to opposing quarterbacks.
The Rams are going to be struggling without Sam Bradford, likely putting their defense on the field a lot next weekend. Look for Locker to post over 200 yards and multiple touchdowns to provide a good, if not great, bye-week substitution for your usual starter.
Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
If you expected Jason Campbell to put up big fantasy points against the top-ranked Kansas City Chiefs defense, you’re smarter than the rest of us. It’s hard to think anyone predicted he would have that type of success in his first start this season.
Next week’s task won’t be any easier against a stout Baltimore Ravens pass rush. However, Campbell showed good elusiveness against the Chiefs last week and was only sacked once by a defense that had dropped opposing quarterbacks 35 times in the previous seven games.
Campbell has weapons in Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron, and the Browns have shown little commitment to a running game, especially with the plodding and ineffective Willis McGahee. Look for Campbell to have another solid afternoon managing the Browns offense.
Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Shane Vereen will likely be back soon, so the time to capitalize off Brandon Bolden—owned in just in 14 percent of fantasy leagues—is seemingly drawing to a close. Against a porous Miami defense, Bolden found value by getting into the end zone.
As the passing-down back in New England’s offense, he’ll continue to be a useful bye-week option until Vereen is back in action. As a rusher, he has some upside and received eight carries in Week 8.
Against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9—a team surprisingly struggling to play decent defense—Bolden could have a big day.
Bolden is a strong candidate to receive double-digit touches, which makes him a valuable play when other options are scarce.
Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Never regarded much as a reliable pass-catching option, Ted Ginn Jr. is starting to make that shift this season. His primary value truly comes in return-yardage leagues, as he has nearly as many return yards as he does receiving yards through seven games—348 to 358, respectively.
If not for a dropped pass—one of the primary inhibitors of his success at the position—against Tampa Bay, Ginn could have had a huge game.
Atlanta is struggling in all facets of the game right now. With plenty of attention being placed on Steve Smith, and even Brandon LaFell to an extent, Ginn can hurt a beatable Falcons defense this weekend.
David Nelson, New York Jets vs. New Orleans Saints
Call this my deep sleeper pick of the week. David Nelson, after being signed by the New York Jets four weeks ago, has recorded back-to-back 80-plus-yard performances. He’s developing into everything the Cleveland Browns hoped after signing him this offseason—before releasing him during preseason cuts.
Nelson, who was recovering from knee surgery during the offseason, is two years removed from fantasy relevance, but it looks like he’s back on the radar. No one has seemed to notice yet as he’s literally available in almost every league out there.
If the New Orleans Saints continue to roll on the arm of Drew Brees, it could get ugly for the New York Jets this weekend. They’ll have to pass to try to keep up, giving Nelson plenty of opportunities to cash in and reward you for taking the gamble.
Nelson is a sneaky slot receiver who finds open spaces in coverage and demonstrates reliable hands. This makes him especially valuable in PPR leagues.
Dallas Clark, Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Dallas Clark was largely absent from the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 2 win over the Cleveland Browns. However, over the past two weeks Clark has found the end zone twice and has received a healthy amount of looks in the passing game.
It’s not a coincidence that I’m picking Clark to have a big game this week. Cleveland’s biggest struggles come against opposing tight ends and running backs in coverage. Through seven weeks the Browns gave up the 11th-most fantasy points to the position.
Look for Clark to be a crucial piece for Joe Flacco to navigate the tough Browns pass defense. With Torrey Smith and Marlon Brown drawing the attention of Cleveland’s corners, Clark will draw favorable matchups against linebackers and exploit them multiple times as we’ve seen over the past few weeks.
Player availability is based on Yahoo! Sports fantasy league numbers.