Fantasy Football Deep Sleepers Who May Just Help You Win Your Pool
News Flash: Jeremy Maclin, Sam Bradford and rookie Mike Ingram are not sleepers. If you play fantasy football and you are not aware of the potential that these players possess then you have wasted your
The term Deep Sleepers should really be called True Sleepers as these refer to players that are either unknown, or undervalued for various reasons. Football fans know their names, but may not be aware of their breakout potential.
Case in point: LeGarrette Blount last year and Miles Austin in 2009
The following is a list of one player per position (excluding kickers) that I feel could have a significant impact this season and offer tremendous value for a late pick or post-draft waiver pick-up.
Lets get started
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @tdotsportwriter
Steve Breaston: WR
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After a breakout season in 2008 when Breaston recorded 77 receptions for 1006 yards, he quickly fell back to Earth with a pair of sub-800 yard campaigns in 2009 and 2010.
Now reunited with former OC Todd Haley in Kansas City, Breaston is poised to become the clear No. 2 receiver behind the mercurial Dwayne Bowe.
Breaston's competition in training camp is the electric yet hobbit sized Dexter McCluster and rookie Jonathan Baldwin. The former is best suited as a gadget receiver/running back hybrid and the latter is a rookie with a diva complex who will need to mature to see reps.
Projection: 70 receptions, 1025 yards, 5 TD's.
Other WR Sleepers: Early Doucet AZ, Titus Young DET, Dorin Dickerson HOU, Danny Amendola STL
Jared Cook: TE
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I usually skip the top five or six Tight Ends as I find they get drafted far too early. For instance, this year names like Jason Witten, Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates will most likely be drafted between rounds five and seven.
However, depending on your league's scoring system at least fifteen players taken in later rounds in 2010 outscored every single tight end in football.
Instead, I draft an upside guy like Aaron Hernandez and a deep sleeper to back him up. This year I have my eye on Tennessee Titan Jared Cook.
A third round pick in 2009, the former Gamecock has been called a "special talent" by his coaching staff and new QB Matt Hasselbeck has been ga-ga over the Chef since camp started. Although if he starts to generate any more buzz he may no longer be a true sleeper.
A Tight End's girth with a wide outs athleticism, Cook was inserted in to the starting lineup in week 12 last season and put up some big numbers. Based on his last six games of the year, his projected output for a full season was 64 receptions and 779 yards.
Good enough for eighth and fifth overall among tight ends last year.
Projection: 72 receptions, 815 yards, 8 TD's
Other Sleeper TE's: Ed Dickson BAL, Shawn Nelson BUF, Joel Dreessen HOU, Jimmy Graham NO
Chad Henne: QB
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Now that the Kyle Orton-to-Miami trade saga is over (for now), Chad Henne can get down to the business of proving that he's a viable starting Quarterback.
With Henne I am definitely in the minority as I think he has the talent to become a legit QB. Reports from various Miami media outlets have stated that the tandem of former Dolphins staffers David Lee (QB Coach and the ancient Dan Henning (Offensive Co-coordinator) were kryptonite for Chad.
They refused to allow him to call audibles even in the face of a defense that had clearly read the play. Meanwhile, the Dolphins offense was as predictable and vanilla as any in the league (run-run-pass-kick, run-run-pass-kick, rinse-repeat ad infinitum).
This year, Miami has bid adieu to that pair and has welcomed OC Brian Daboll (formerly the OC for the Browns) and QB Coach Karl Dorrell (promoted from wide receivers Coach).
What does this mean? At the very least its expected that this duo will work to Henne's strengths which mean more shotgun formations and mid to deep throws. I also expect a longer leash regarding audibles. Just these two developments will be a welcome change and should give Henne back the confidence he had beaten out of him last year.
Just for fun, lets compare the second year of Henne's career as a starter with Brett Favre's:
2010: Games 15, Yards 3301, TD's 15 INT's 19, Comp% 61.4
1993: Games 16, Yards 3303, TD's 19, INT's 24, Comp% 60.9
Projection: 3600 yards, 22 TD's, 17 INT's
Other Sleeper QB's: John Beck WAS, Jake Locker (Hasselbeck is so damn old) TEN, Tyler Thigpen BUF
Jason Snelling: RB
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Michael Turner of the Atlanta Falcons is an injury waiting to happen.
Don't get me wrong, as a fan I love Turner's style. Smacking dudes in the mouth, snapping necks with a stiff arm and running over safeties is a delight to watch.
As a potential owner in Fantasy Football he scares the hell out of me considering how high he'll be drafted. So, if Burner is your guy, make sure you handicap him with Jason Snelling.
When Turner was limited in week two last year with an ouchie, Snelling torched Arizona for 129 yards and two TD's on 29 carries to go along with five receptions for 57 yards and another score.
For those counting that's 32 points in standard scoring and 37 in ppr.
The previous year while filling in for an injured Turner for the last half of the season (see a pattern?), Snelling put up numbers good enough for a top-fifteen running back.
And unlike Turner, Jason Snelling can catch the ball.
Projection (per game average if Turner goes down): 22 carries, 93 yards, 0.5 TD's, 4 rec, 35 yards, 0.25 TD's
Other Sleeper RB's: Ryan Williams ARI, Marion Barber CHI, Montarrio Hardesty CLE, Roy Helu WAS, Delone Carter IND
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Regardless of your team's scoring system, the Houston Texans defense finished in the bottom five.
However, the team began their offseason with the drafting of new right defensive end J.J. Watt, outside linebacker Brooks Reed and cornerback Brandon Harris.
Then Houston went out and signed the Asomugha consolation prize, cornerback Johnathan Joseph as well as strong safety Danieal Mannig. This combined with the return to health of Brian Cushing, DeMeco Ryans and Connor Barwin and the continued development of CB Kareem Jackson and the shifting of DE Mario Williams to outside linebacker has the Texans defense looking poised for a marked improvement.
Beyond all this, the biggest factor contributing to a possible quantum leap in defensive output is the addition of shiny new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
The acclaimed defensive guru favors a one gap defense that showcases smaller, faster, more athletic edge rushers instead of the plodding two gap system previously used. Phillips also likes to blitz. Correction, Phillips LOVES to blitz.
What does this mean? Well, at the very least you can expect an increase in interceptions, turnovers and sacks if not a significant decrease in yards allowed.
Projection: Points Allowed 350, 20 INT, 38 Sacks, 12 Fumble Recoveries, 4 Def/ST TD
Other Sleeper Defenses: Denver (John Fox), Miami (increase in forced turnovers)