2011 NFL Fantasy Football Sleepers: Marcus Easley

Ken KellyContributor IIIJune 11, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 28: Wide receiver Marcus Easley of Connecticut runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

You’ll be combing through sites all summer long in search of unearthing that little known gem who eventually blows up into a bona fide star like Mike Wallace or Arian Foster. Every site out there is going to have a sleeper list this year with players they believe could be on the path of  a breakout.

For loyal readers of DLF, they’re mostly useless.

You don’t need us to give you names like Josh Freeman, Mike Thomas or Jimmy Graham. You know those players already and they’re nicely stashed away in your league. Most sites play it safe with their sleeper list in fear they could be wrong and lose credibility.

We don’t care about that.

Over the years, we’ve built up a reputation as a site willing to put our necks out there and take chances. We’ve been right and we’ve been wrong.  Both will happen again. We stand by the fact we’ve been right much more often.

Today, we begin our Summer sleeper series with Marcus Easley of the Buffalo Bills.

Easley is a second-year player and former fourth-round draft pick from the University of Connecticut. He missed all of last season with a left knee injury he sustained on August 2 during a training camp practice. The extent of the injury is still a mystery, but it was obviously significant enough to put him on the shelf for the entire 2010 campaign. Easley was supposed to compete for the team’s starting flanker position lsat year until that injury derailed his season.

Easley has an uphill road to climb, but he isn’t a stranger to having to work hard to get what he wants. He was actually a 2007 walk on at UConn and eventually blossomed into the team’s leading receiver in 2009, pacing the Huskies with 48 catches, 893 yards and eight touchdowns.

His 18.8 yards per catch in college raises an eyebrow, as does his combine workout from last year where he posted a 4.46 forty and his private workout at UConn where he ran a 4.42. His collegiate numbers may not be eye-popping compared to many others, but you have to also consider he played in a run heavy offense installed by Randy Edsall. It’s also worth noting that he came out of nowhere and had to work for everything he ever received.

Reports this offseason about Easley have been very positive.

He’s reportedly up from 210 pounds to around 225.  Even more promising is the fact he’s apparently retained all his trademark speed, even after a long rehabilitation from his knee injury. He also possesses adequate height at 6’2″, which is easily forgotten when finding yourself consumed with his speed numbers. 

Both Steve Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick have gone on record saying he “looks like a beast” this offseason. While that’s not too hard to accomplish in an informal workout, it’s still something to note. They’ve both noticed his ability to run routes effectively and separate from defenders with relative ease.

Those are all very positive signs.

The lockout is a serious threat to Easley’s ability to make the final Bills roster. He would greatly benefit from OTAs and training camp to give the coaching staff an extended look at his ability. There are two things that do work in his favor, though.

First, Easley did have a chance to show what he could do last Summer. At one point he was running with the first team at training camp—that won’t be easily forgotten by the coaching staff. The Bills obviously liked what they saw last year. Dynasty owners should remember that, too. Many owners tend to have short term memories, but that’s a mistake in a dynasty league.  Owners tend to write players off way too quickly.

Second, the Bills took no other wide receivers in this year’s draft, keeping Easley in a great situation. While Steve Johnson has developed into a star at the position, the cupboard isn’t exactly stacked. 

At the very least, Easley is in position to make the team as a deep compliment to Johnson.  Lee Evans certainly isn’t getting any younger. Roscoe Parrish, David Nelson, Donald Jones and Naaman Roosevelt round out the corps. That isn’t exactly scaring the rest of the league.

When looking at deep sleepers, Marcus Easley is a name that should be stashed away in the minds of deep dynasty league players. Every year brings us some surprises and our job is to have those players safely protected from our opponents. Easley could just be one of those guys.