In fantasy football there are always sleepers, and that doesn’t stop in the fantasy football playoffs. We’re always looking for that diamond in the rough that’s hiding in the waiver wire or resting at the bottom of our team’s bench that can lead us to a championship.
In 2009 it was Jonathan Stewart, Jerome Harrison and Jamaal Charles. Pierre Thomas was a solid fantasy option to finish 2008. But who are the guys to watch out for this year? With players going down every week, there always seems to be somebody who steps up in a star’s absence.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Stewart is back in action, and with DeAngelo Williams on IR, Stewart should get most of the carries. His opponents aren’t going to be easy however, going against Atlanta twice and Pittsburgh in Week 16. Fortunately, Atlanta has been prone to big backs producing against them.
Kerry Collins, QB, Tennessee Titans
With Vince Young on IR, Collins will get the remaining four starts barring injury. Collins gets the weak Colts defense twice in the next four weeks and faces the Texans in Week 15. He also will get Kenny Britt back. Britt was a solid fantasy performer before going down with a hamstring tear.
Brian Westbrook, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Despite battling injuries, Westbrook gets the lead role in the San Francisco backfield. He gets to face Seattle and Arizona in two of his last four games, but has a tough road matchup against the Chargers and another road matchup against an improving Rams run defense. But his versatility and ability to make plays in the passing game make him a worthwhile Flex going forward.
Ben Watson, TE, Cleveland Browns
Watson has flown under the radar all season, but he’s making his presence felt more over the last few weeks. Jake Delhomme will continue to find Watson—as he’s the only Browns pass catcher that seems to get open—and he can make plays after the catch. Look for him to keep playing well, although he does have a few tough matchups going forward.
Ben Obomanu, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t given up on the season and is still finding his receivers. Obomanu has evolved into one of the better Seahawk receivers, and with Mike Williams battling injuries, you have to like Obo’s chances of seeing continuous targets. All four teams he'll face to finish the season struggle in the passing game and he could have a few big games leading you to a victory.
Earl Bennett, WR, Chicago Bears
With Devin Hester proving to be useless, Jay Cutler has turned to Earl Bennett to compliment Johnny Knox. Both Knox and Bennett have excellent downfield ability and Bennett has made a few big plays in recent weeks. He does not, however, have the most favorable schedule for your playoffs. Cutler should still continue to target him.
Felix Jones/Tashard Choice, RB, Dallas Cowboys
Both running backs are seeing more touches with Marion Barber ailing, and Jason Garrett being named interim head coach has made Jones a solid Flex option most weeks. He’s making plays on the ground and in the air. Choice will see more carries as well after his Week 13 performance and may end up making Barber essentially useless.
Derrick Mason, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Mason has scored three touchdowns in his last five games and has seen an increased role with teams attempting to focus more on stopping Anquan Boldin. Mason has a very favorable schedule going against Houston, Cleveland and Cincinnati. He does face New Orleans in Week 15 which could cause problems, but they have struggled against No. 2 receivers.
Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Rice is healthy and he looks ready to go. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, Rice is a play maker and a reliable wide receiver. He should continue to see many targets and is always a threat to score a touchdown. Other than his Week 14 matchup against the New York Giants, he has a pretty favorable schedule the rest of the way.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Hasselbeck has come into his own in recent weeks. Despite Seattle’s injury riddled team, he’s been making plays with guys like Mike Williams, Justin Forsett, Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler. Hasselbeck may have the easiest match-ups in the remaining four weeks, going up against the 49ers, Falcons, Buccaneers and Rams, all teams who struggle against the pass. He could be a solid QB2 for the rest of the season.
Don't forget to check out our 2011 NFL Draft coverage as well!