2009 Fantasy Football Sleepers
Every year opens the door for a new undiscovered, or underrated, NFLer to burst through the fantasy football gates and ruin all the preparation and research of fantasy football fanatics. Every year there’s a RB your buddy’s wife picked up because he looks good in his uniform, or any number of insane possible reasons, and takes her team, The Cutie Pies, all the way to the Super Bowl.
Managers, fear the sleeper no more!
Here is the 2009 All-Sleeper Team.Just make sure of two things: you hold this information closer than a good poker hand and hope your buddy’s wife hasn’t seen any of these guys in tights.
QB – JOE FLACCO (Baltimore Ravens)
I know what you're thinking…sophomore slump! Flacco is coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he led the Ravens to the AFC Championship game and posted over 2,900 yards through the air. Granted Flacco only threw for 14 touchdowns and added 12 picks, but the Ravens where a little reluctant to put the ball up inside the red zone.
This year, OC Cam Cameron will show more trust in his second-year commander around the end zone, especially with an athletic L.J. Smith, a very enticing red zone target. I would have liked to see the Ravens pick up a deep threat in the offseason to add to a mediocre WR core, but last year Flacco had no problem hooking up with his crew. Factor in a revamped line, a strong running game, a more expansive Harbaugh playbook, and more confidence and I predict more yards, more TDs and fewer picks.
If you are in a keeper league Flacco will be a gem for years to come.
QB Matt Schaub
Schaub’s health concerns are enough to overlook him in the draft; however, if he stays healthy he has the talent to put up big numbers and the skill players around him to make it happen
RB – DERRICK WARD (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Playing second fiddle to Brandon Jacobs is one thing, sharing carries with Ernest Graham is another. Don’t get me wrong, Graham can play football, but he is not the red zone black hole that is Brandon Jacobs.
Playing behind Jacobs in New York was no easy task and Ward managed a solid 1,ooo yard season. Doubters may add that Jacobs was injured for a few weeks, but that does not take away from the fact that Ward averaged 5.2 yards per carry. The one thing that hurt him in New York was the pigskin-toting Panzer that Eli handed to inside the 20. Ward only managed 2 touchdowns on the year, not sure if that is including the over-the-top score from the Canon Rebel commercial.
Regardless, Ward will add a dynamic element to the Tampa Bay ground attack and he will see success behind a much-improving line. Plus, I don’t foresee Tampa Bay letting their QB _____________ (fill in the blank with washed-up nobody or unproven rookie) toss INTs inside the 20, so, look for more carries deep in opposition territory.
RB Darren McFadden
There are couple big question marks with this talented RB: Can he stay healthy? Will the Raiders have enough of a passing threat to take some pressure out of the box? Will Al Davis cut his losses with Fargas & Bush and give the pill to McFadden?
If those question marks don’t scare you away like they will scare many FF owners, McFadden may be worth the risk, especially in deeper keeper leagues.
WR – MILES AUSTIN (Dallas Cowboys)
Alright, I’m going to do my best to attempt talking about the Cowboys WRs without mentioning the departed Terrell O…DAMN! Guess I’m not better than those network hack reporters.
Well, to try and put it poetically…TO has left the Big D, now Romo is left with three wide receiver options, one of those being the inexperienced Miles Austin. Austin may only have 13 career catches, but he has the tools to be a quality No. 2 or 3 receiver.
He’s tall, run’s crisp routes, and has good hands…and if he gets 100 balls thrown his way then mathematically he should have about 23 TDs this year (3 TDs for every 13 catches. Patrick Crayton has moved to the slot opposite Roy Williams so Austin will have the opportunity to see some work in three-receiver sets.
The Dallas run game, Romo’s talent, and a majority of focus going toward Williams, Whitten and Crayton should allow Austin to see some balls thrown his way. Once Romo learns that Williams may have trouble getting open as a No. 1 receiver, Austin should be right there to reap the benefits. If you’re looking for excitement on your team, don’t expect Austin to be knocking out driveway sit-ups or shedding tears over Romo’s love life, but he should be a solid sleeper pick in ’09.
WR Domenik Hixon
Hixon has the tools to be a good WR, and we saw last year that Manning trusts him. I think many owners will be baited with the Hakeem Nicks hype, but my money is on the experience. You can thank me and Plaxico “Drunk Wyatt Earp” Burress when Hixon puts up some quality numbers in ’09.
TE – JOHN CARLSON (Seattle Seahawks)
Disclaimer: I love all things Notre Dame, even Charlie Weiss’ beltline. That being said, John Carlson should be a big time sleeper pick up in 2009. This is Carlson’s second year and you can expect better performance than his rookie season, which racked up over 600 yards receiving and 5 TDs…not overly impressive by anyone’s standards, BUT…a Charlie Weiss-sized BUT, Carlson was playing pitch & catch with a second-string QB and didn’t have much WR talent surrounding him.
This year, a healthy Matt Hasselbeck has the skill to throw strikes over the middle of the field. An added factor will be incoming Pro Bowler T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who will be pulling the double-team,and a healthy Deion Branch, who should draw more attention away from the 6’5” Carlson, who's a great route runner with great hands. With T.J. Duckett (poor man’s Brandon Jacobs) and Julius Jones being virtual non-threats inside the red zone I would expect Carlson to see more TDs as well.
TE Chase Coffman
Being a rookie and playing for Cincinnati should get this TE overlooked by most owners; however, Coffman is the most talented pass-catching TE on the Bengals and should see the field if Marv Lewis is any bit of a decent coach. Plus, Carson Palmer should be around to get him the ball.
DEFENSE - Anybody playing the Lions
Anybody playing the Chiefs
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