Fantasy Football Sleepers: 10 Players To Pick up in Case of Injury
Drafting your starting fantasy football team is easy, but equally drafting those ancillary players to help cover your potential losses is another beast altogether.
Today, I want to take a look at 10 players who I think you should consider drafting, in the event your team deals with the inevitable injury bug.
This will not be a slideshow discussing handcuff picks only, rather, it will focus on players who are quality considerations to occupy bench space on your roster, in the event of one of your starters going down with an injury and why.
But I'll throw in a few handcuffs for good measure anyway.
Let's take a look, and if you're interested, take a look at my current WR rankings and other player rankings which you can find through the provided link.
Jeremy Kerley: New York Jets, WR
Jeremy Kerley is currently expected to handle return duties this season, as well as play at WR in specific situations.
I can't imagine Plax going a full 16 games this season with so much time being spent away from the game, and Derrick Mason is more of a possession receiver than a deep-ball threat, making Kerley an intriguing consideration at the tail end of your draft.
Out of everyone on this list he offers the least potential value, but his return value makes him a solid insurance pick if you have room on your roster.
Jonathan Stewart: Carolina Panthers, RB
DeAngelo Williams is the obvious primary back now that the RBBC used by ex-coach John Fox will be no more, but that only means a higher risk for injury to an already injury-prone Williams.
Stewart has long been viewed as a cheap handcuff pick in just about every draft type, and 2011 will be no different.
If Williams does go the distance, Stewart will still be good for roughly 200 carries, adding to his bench value.
Fred Davis: Washington Redskins, TE
Fred Davis was a fab waiver-wire grab last season when Chris Cooley went down with an injury, as he provided fantasy owners with 21 catches for 316 yards and three TDs.
Chris Cooley is still dealing with his knee (swelling) and despite his own prognosis of "being ready" by Week 1, one has to assume that at some point in the season Cooley's knee is likely to act up, ultimately benching him which is where Davis comes in.
Finding a quality handcuff tight end is difficult in fantasy football, but Fred Davis is the one guy I can think of that can not only fill that role for fantasy owners admirably, but also has the highest chance of becoming that guy.
Rashad Jennings: Jacksonville Jaguars, RB
Aside from being one of the best "must-have" handcuff running backs in fantasy football, the chances of Jennings playing as a starter at some point in the season are a lot higher than they have been in the past.
While there haven't been any reports of a setback with Maurice Jones-Drew and his surgically repaired knee thus far, his surgery was such a tender case that doctors prohibited him from running for seven months.
MJD has been babied through camp which indicates to me that the team and organization have reason to err on the side of caution.
To be honest, I don't see MJD lasting a full 16 games.
Randall Cobb: Green Bay Packers, WR
Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb has been turning heads in camp and impressing everyone that watches him, which is both a good thing and a bad thing for fantasy owners.
The good thing is that Cobb is coming along nicely, and will someday hold value—good news for dynasty owners.
The bad thing is that there are so many receivers ahead of Cobb on the depth chart, he simply holds little starter value in the 2011 season—bad news for everyone else.
One aspect to think about is whether or not Packers veteran Donald Driver will stay healthy.
If he doesn't, utility receiver Jordy Nelson will step in to fill his shoes, leaving Nelson's role open for the taking.
Enter in Randall Cobb.
Shaun Hill: Detroit Lions, QB
There is no guarantee that Matthew Stafford's shoulder will hold up for a full 16 games, but there is a small guarantee that these Lions receivers will make any quarterback look good.
The trendy pick would be Drew Stanton, but I can't see the Lions passing up on a veteran who is a lifetime 62 percent passer, and a guy who came in and passed for 2,686 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games as Stafford's replacement in 2010.
Trendy picks mean nothing in fantasy football.
Titus Young: Detroit Lions, WR
The Lions want to deploy a three-wide set look as often as possible this year which is one of the reasons for drafting Titus Young, but injuries and missed camp time have disallowed the coaching staff from truly seeing Young's full potential.
The good news is, despite the missed time he is still in line for the No. 3 WR job, which speaks volumes about his abilities.
But because he isn't a lock, many owners may pass altogether on Young which may be a mistake.
The Lions have very little options on the depth chart if someone gets injured at WR, making Young extra valuable if someone does.
He is worth a late-round insurance pick.
Domenik Hixon: New York Giants, WR
Domenik Hixon and Victor Cruz are currently locking horns for the No. 3 WR job, but whoever wins the job, fantasy owners are looking at two receivers with a lot of upside, especially if Hakeem Nicks or Mario Manningham goes down with an injury—a very real possibility.
My guess is Hixon wins the job given his veteran experience and knowledge of the role. But even if he doesn't, he will still handle return duties giving him some slight initial value.
If one of the starters becomes injured, no matter what his role is, Hixon is a guaranteed player who will make the most of the situation which bodes well for fantasy owners.
Michael Bush: Oakland Raiders, RB
Bush is another quality handcuff pick at RB considering Darren McFadden's injury-prone history and his ability to immediately be plugged into the system and provide the Raiders, and fantasy owners, quality results.
McFadden isn't known to be a safe bet for a full 16, and Bush is known to be a quality insurance draftee who can easily be utilized for supplemental points, and replacement points should you own McFadden.
He is worthy of a late-round flyer grab.
DeMarco Murray: Dallas Cowboys, RB
A show of hands: How many people actually believe that Cowboys running back Feliz Jones will last a full 16 games this season?
The Cowboys intend to start Murray out the same way they did with Felix Jones in his rookie year—around 32 touches over 16 games.
But the team also won't rule out a bigger role earlier on if the other veteran backs—Tashard Choice and Jones—don't come through.
The fact of the matter is this: Choice has never been a reliable back for the Cowboys in a starting role, and neither has Jones, making Murray a tasty back-end choice for insurance purposes in a system that can afford any back quality opportunities.
I hope you guys enjoyed, and feel free to mention your own player since there are plenty others out there.
And if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below and don't forget to check me out at Fantasyknuckleheads.com for all your free advice and start-sit questions this year.
Good luck, everyone!
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