Hines Ward Injury: Emmanuel Sanders Will Explode in Ward's Absence

Matt FaulconerFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders #88 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring on a 4 yard touchdown reception against the Arizona Cardinals during the thrid quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Steelers defeated the Cardinals 32-20.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Emmanuel Sanders is finally going to live up to his sleeper status today for your fantasy football team.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Hines Ward will miss this week's contest against the New England Patriots. The door has finally been opened for Sanders to get an NFL start.

In a conversation with The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Sanders said that he would get the start if Ward was unable to go for some reason.

"If he can't go, I am the starter, but as of right now, we're going with (Ward)," said Sanders, who has scored twice on 13 catches this season. "I saw him running today. Things are looking good."

Sanders and Antonio Brown should receive a huge bump this week, as both players have a legitimate shot at putting up huge numbers.

In Ward's absence last week, Sanders put up 46 yards on five catches and added a touchdown to his statline. He also added a nifty TD dance for good measure.

He likely wasn't in many fantasy lineups last week, not to mention on many fantasy teams. If he is still available in your league, he could be a terrific last minute addition to your roster, especially if you are struggling to fill your lineup due to injuries and bye weeks.

Ward couldn't have picked a better game to miss for Sanders' fantasy owners. The Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the New England Patriots this week, whose secondary has been horrendous this season. CB Leigh Bodden was just released, and CB Ras-I Dowling has been placed on IR.

The Pats are giving up over 70 yards per game to opposing No. 2 WRs and have the 32nd ranked pass defense in the NFL.

It's time for Sanders to shine, so be sure to work him into your fantasy lineups.