As I admitted to you yesterday in my Week Two Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em post, Week one was not my finest hour. There were a few hits, but more than a few misses, and I am determined to turn that around this week.
Luckily, I set the bar a little higher for myself with my Week one sleeper selections. I didn’t necessarily pick any superstars, but certainly some guys that could have helped you depending on your roster situation.
- Week one Sleeper hits: Brady Quinn (205 yards, TD, 12 pts.); Mike Bell (143 yards, 12 pts.); Isaac Bruce (4 rec, 74 yds, 8.2 pts)
- Week one Sleeper misses: Martellus Bennett (1 rec, 13 yds); New Orleans D (27 pts given up, 3 INTs, 6 pts)
The key thing to remember with sleepers, at least from my perspective, is that they shouldn’t matter all that much until the bye weeks or major injuries start to pile up. If you drafted well, you shouldn’t be doing too much trolling in the 50 percent-or-less owned pool of players unless you are in a very deep league.
It is still too early to tell if your highly drafted players are busts, most everyone is still healthy, and one week is not enough time to tell whether that potential diamond the rough will become a weekly starter.
Still, the earlier that you can identify and latch onto a player who was significantly undervalued on draft day, the better you will be moving forward.
So each of this week’s sleeper picks will be a combination of a) a guy that has a favorable Week two matchup; and b) a guy with the potential to be a weekly starter down the line should certain circumstances fall his way.
Let’s get right to ‘em.
Week 2 Sleeper Picks
I was high on Shaun Hill in the offseason and continue to be high on him after the 49ers QB ran his career record to 8-3 in Week one with an efficient (18-31) 209 passing yards and TD. Currently Hill is owned in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, most likely as a result of the purported QB competition that took place in San Francisco during the offseason.
But with Mike Singletary as the coach, do you really think he was ever going to pass over a guy who has won that high a percentage of his starts?
Hill is not flashy, just effective, which makes him perfect for Singletary’s tastes. And what this means is that, barring injury, Shaun Hill should be starting 16 games this season.
For his career, Hill has a 90.4 QB rating and a 19-9 TD-INT ratio. The 49ers receivers are nothing special, but Hill has an experienced veteran target in Isaac Bruce and a young guy with upside in Josh Morgan. Hill also has a tight end with a lot of potential in Vernon Davis (who you will read more about later.)
Most importantly, Hill has Frank Gore behind him in the backfield.
Although Gore and the 49ers running game struggled in week one, he gives Hill a solid option to dump the ball off to. Gore caught three passes in Week one and took one of them in for a touchdown. He has 53 and 43 catches respectively over the past two seasons.
Here is one more reason to like Hill: the 49ers schedule down the stretch. In weeks 14-17, the 49ers play Arizona, at Philadelphia, Detroit, and at St. Louis. The Philly matchup is tough, but the other three defenses present opportunities for big games.
If you own Tom Brady or Drew Brees, you are probably thinking playoffs right now. What if those guys get hurt? It might not be a bad idea to have a QB on your team who won’t hurt you (a la Jake Delhomme, owned in 43 percent of leagues) and who could be poised for some big games down the stretch.
Week 2 projection for Shaun Hill: 210 yards passing, 1 TD
If you want to know how bad Cleveland’s run defense is, I offer you the following two links:
I basically called the Browns-Vikings game exactly as it went, and based much of that prediction on the Browns’ porous run D. Granted, the team looked better in the first half when they had A.P. and the Vikings pretty well bottled up, but Eric Mangini is working no miracles in Cleveland this year.
The Browns will still be at least 20th or lower in rushing defense at season’s end.
Enter Correll Buckhalter (45 percent owned) and the Denver Broncos.
Now, we all know that Knowshon Moreno is the long-term answer in Denver. How soon he will start getting the bulk of the carries though, i’m not sure. Last week, Moreno got eight carries and went for 19 yards. He caught no passes. Buckhalter, on the hand, caught two passes to go along with his eight carries and 46 yards.
Clearly there is a timeshare going on in Denver.
With the Browns putting a surprising amount of pressure on now-statuesque Vikings QB Brett Favre, with a lot of it coming from blitzing safeties, Denver has to be concerned about its backs’ ability to pick up blitzers.
Because Buckhalter is the more experienced of the two, that should give him an edge over Moreno on 2nd-and-long and 3rd down situations.
He has never been a full-time player, but Buckhalter has always produced when given opportunities (4.5 yard career average, 26 catches in 2008.)
He will get few opportunities as sweet as this Sunday’s against the run defense of the Browns, and could have decent value as a bye week flex fill-in moving forward—especially in PPR leagues—even if Knowshon Moreno becomes the feature back on 1st and 2nd downs.
Week 2 projection for Correll Buckhalter: 65 yards rushing, 30 yard receiving, 1 TD
Other RB sleepers I like specifically in Week 2: Michael Bush, Oakland (at Kansas City, 37 percent owned); Ladell Betts, Washington (vs St. Louis, 14 percent owned)
Week 2 WR Sleeper Pick: Robert Meachem, New Orleans (@ Philadelphia)
All offseason we heard about how former first round pick Robert Meachem was finally ready to begin producing for the Saints after two lost seasons. If Week one is any indication, those reports may well prove true.
The Saints’ WR depth chart is interesting. The top two receivers, Marques Colston and Lance Moore, were drafted in the seventh round (Colston) and not drafted at all (Moore). Numbers three and four on the depth chart, however, were drafted in the second round (Devery Henderson) and the first (Meachem.)
So things are a little inverted in New Orleans.
Things are also extremely productive in New Orleans right now, and while Drew Brees won’t be throwing for six TDs every game, the Saints offense is showing every possible sign of being an unstoppable juggernaut in 2009.
Whether Meachem can overtake Colston or Moore in terms of targets is highly doubtful. Those two guys have a better rapport and more game history with Brees, and will most likely end the year with more catches, yards, and touchdowns than either Meachem or Henderson.
But—and it’s a big but—both Colston and Moore have been hurt within the past year. Colston missed time last year and Moore missed the bulk of the preseason. If either goes down, Meachem slides one step closer to getting starting-level WR targets. In New Orleans’ offense, this is a big deal, as Moore unexpectedly proved last year.
This week, Philadelphia will do a much better job of defending Brees than Detroit did. We know that. And in Asante Samual and Sheldon Brown, the Eagles have two pretty good starting corners on the outside. This could be a good game for the Saints’ other WRs, matched up on nickel corners and safeties, to get some increased targets.
And long-term, there are far worse futures buys than a talented former first round pick in his third season who plays in the NFL’s best offense and who also returns kicks.
Week two projection for Robert Meachem: 4 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD
Week two TE Sleeper: Vernon Davis, San Francisco (vs Seattle)
Well, it looks like my work concerning Vernon Davis is not yet done, as Davis still is only owned in 45 percent of leagues. The former first round pick is starting to see more targets though, seven in Week one, and is now more able to turn those targets into production (5 receptions, 40 yards.)
The 49ers are a good team, play in a so-so division, and are devoid of big-time playmakers on the outside. They also have a good, efficient quarterback who will be able to help them keep the chains moving.
Add all of that up, then sprinkle in some of Davis’ immense physical talent and newfound maturity (he’s a captain), and everything appears to be in place for a breakout year from Davis.
This week, San Francisco plays Seattle. The Seahawks should be better this year, and are 1-0, but we really know nothing about them because they’ve only played St. Louis. And for goodness sakes, they gave up four catches and 44 yards to Randy McMichael. No, those aren’t great numbers, but…Randy McMichael?
Watch out, because this could be Vernon Davis’ breakout game and then you’ll all wish you’d listened to me when I told you to pick him up.
Week two projection for Vernon Davis: 6 receptions, 65 yards, 1 TD
Week two D/ST Sleeper: Washington Redskins (vs St. Louis)
Well, that was easy. The Redskins have a very good defense, and it should only improve this season with Albert Haynesworth. This week they are playing the St. Louis Rams, a team with the worst offense in the NFL west of Cleveland.
Start the Redskins. You won’t be disappointed. (And if you are, it probably means that Jim Zorn is getting fired on Monday.)
Remember to use the comment section for any and all fantasy questions leading up to the start of games on Sunday. I’ll do my best to answer them promptly.