Sleepers are just one of the many keys to winning your fantasy football league. I would consider a sleeper as any player taken after the fifth round, that puts up top five round stats. A perfect example from last season would be Carolina's DeAngelo Williams who put up 18 rushing touchdowns in 2008 while only collecting fou rushing touchdowns in 2007.
Of course there are always those rookies who break out their rookie season and become fantasy studs [to check out who we think will be the break out rookie of the year check out our "Top 10 fantasy rookies of 2009" article. This article will not cover any rookies as the previous article already has]. Wouldn't it be nice if you could look into a crystal ball and find out who this year's sleeper is going to be?
Well put away your crystal balls, throw out your magic eight ball and completely forget about that psychic hotline you've been considering calling because we've got your sleepers for you, right here, right now. We're going to break down our top two or three sleepers based on each position to help you win your fantasy league. You can come back after Week 16 and thank us.
Trent Edwards - Buffalo Bills
He has to be the easiest sleeper for us to pick. Some fantasy guides have Edwards as low as No. 20 on their list of quarterbacks. Critics will cite the inexperienced offensive line as reason for concern but were not buying into that hype.
Ask any Buffalo Bills fan and they will tell you just how big of a cancer Jason Peters was last year and how he dogged it on too many plays. Even though official stats are hard to come by, many places site Peters as having allowed the most sacks at his position (left tackle) last year. We won't buy into the loss of "Pro-Bowler" Jason Peters hype places like ESPN are throwing around.
The fact still remains the Bills added Terrell Owens this off-season. Edwards won't hesitate to get him the ball and with Lee Evans, Steve Johnson, Roscoe Parrish and James Hardy the Bills may have the best depth at Wide Out in the league. Couple the wide receivers with a running game that includes Marshawn Lynch (who will serve a three-game suspension), Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes and this offense looks extremely potent.
Edwards will definitely benefit from all of these weapons. As long as Edwards can step up and become a leader he shouldn't have a problem securing 25 touchdowns at least. Interceptions could be a reason for concern with Edwards but his 65.5 percent completion rating was fourth best in the NFL last year which leads us to believe his INTs may be low.
Carson Palmer - Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer may be another easy pick for sleeper this year because he was injured last year. The Bengals added Offensive Tackle Andre Smith with their first round pick this year which should help the Bengals offensive line. Even though T.J. Houshmandzadeh is now in Seattle, the Bengals still have Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson and Laveranues Coles as their Nos. 1 and 2 wide receivers.
The Bengals are hoping rookie Chase Coffman, as well as Cedric Benson will have an immediate impact on this offense. For some reason we are buying into this idea and think Palmer will return to his Pro Bowl form of past. Just remember that until last year Palmer had yet to throw less than 26 touchdowns. Palmer should recover from injury and become a perfect sleeper for any team.
Ronnie Brown - Miami Dolphins: The Wild Cat formation, injuries and Ricky Williams all cut into Brown's fantasy numbers last year but we think all of that will change this year. First we're not sold yet on the Wild Cat formation. Next we're sure Brown will recover from his injury and make Dolphins fans forget about Ricky Williams.
Brown has only broken 1,000 yards once in his career (2006) but this year will make it twice. The Dolphins will rely on the newly recovered Brown to carry the running back load. Brown is also in his contract year and will be looking to perform well on the field, to get paid big off the field in the off-season.
Brown should top 10 touchdowns and 1,000 rushing yards. We wouldn't be shocked to see Brown as a top five running back at the end of the year.
Steven Jackson - St. Louis Rams
Several people might argue that Jackson is far from a sleeper but we think otherwise. Jackson was hampered last year by turf toe and couldn't compete in all 16 games. He should bounce back from the injuries and benefit from the newly acquired Jason Brown and rookie Jason Smith.
With a quality line in front of him, Jackson should return to become the best running back in the league and THAT is why we think he'll be a sleeper. If you can grab the best player at his position in any round outside of round two then you've done your homework. Jackson should lead the league in total yards this year and can easily top 10 touchdowns in 2009.
While the Rams may not win their division, Jackson should be their star player.
Kevin Walter - Houston Texans
The Texans found a mid-round player, turned starter, turned star last year in Steve Slaton. Walter will benefit from not only Slaton but also Andre Johnson. The Texans improved last year in the win column from year's past and if they want to improve even more, Walter will have to be part of that plan.
The Texans enjoyed targeting Walter in the red zone last year and that shouldn't change this year. While teams focus on Andre Johnson they will seemingly forget Walter. Walter could compliment any star receiver on your fantasy team this year.
Expect Walter to be close to 800 yards and nine touchdowns.
Anthony Gonzalez - Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Gonzalez will be a sleeper because of one man, Peyton Manning. There is no question that Manning can throw the ball and people are starting to learn that Gonzalez can catch the ball. His numbers didn't improve that much between 2007 and 2008 but this year may be Gonzalez's year.
Marvin Harrison is no longer there in Indianapolis and Manning will need a new No. 2 to throw to. Gonzalez should fit those shoes perfectly. Donald Brown and Joseph Addai should help to open up the passing game as well.
If Manning plans to lead the league in touchdowns or passing yards he'll need a No. 2 receiver to emerge. Gonzalez should accumulate 1,000 yards this year and could top 10 touchdowns if Manning has another career year.
Kevin Boss - New York Giants
The Giants targeted Boss often in the red zone last season and that should continue this year. Eli Manning will continue to search for his new favorite target and Boss should be his favorite in the red zone. While tight ends may not get you a lot of touchdowns or yards they can help you win your match-ups from week to week.
Fans had hoped Boss would take over for Shockey and this could be the year he finally does. Boss should still be around in the later rounds of your fantasy draft and should be a great steal. Expect at least six touchdowns from Boss in 2009.
Well there you have it, some of our NFL sleepers for 2009. We only picked one tight end because there aren't as many tight ends to choose from in the league. Defense and special teams may be left to another day and another article.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on who you believe will be the 2009 sleepers. If you would like to leave a comment, I'll gladly get back to you.
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