Fantasy Football: A Trio of Sleepers for the 2009 NFL Season

Taylor RummelSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - MAY 1:  Wide receiver Tory Holt #81 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs for a pass May 1, 2009 at a team minicamp near Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

"Sleepers" are an essential part of any fantasy team. 

The amount that you are able to grab in your draft will more than likely dictate the success that you will achieve during the course of the season.

One must do their research to better their chances of finding and picking out "sleepers" during the course of their draft.

To identify a potential sleeper, you have to run a player through a few tests.

  1. Has this player encountered success in his past?
  2. Has this player been injured recently?
  3. Is this player in a situation where he can experience success?

Here is my list of sleepers for the upcoming season, being put through each of the tests.

Chris "Beanie" Wells: Running Back, Arizona Cardinals

Certainly, Beanie has encountered success in his past.  At Ohio State University, he amassed 3,382 yards and 30 touchdowns in only three seasons withe the Buckeyes. He also was a finalist for the prestigious Heisman Trophy last year.

Wells missed three games in his final season at OSU, thus raising concerns about his durability.  However, he is healthy now, and that is what's most important.

"Beanie" got drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the second-to-last pick in the first round.  In the off-season, the Cards released Edgerrin James, thus opening the door for a new back to step up, (Tim Hightower or Chris Wells). 

However, it is widely assumed that Wells has more upside than Hightower, which would result in an increase of playing time.  One of the only knocks on him is that the team passes more often than they run, but Wells should still get a handful of looks in the redzone.

Pros:  Talented runner, Great chance of starting.

Cons:  Has a bit of injury history, on a "pass first" team.

Torry Holt: Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars

Torry has talent. Granted, he didn't show much of it last season, finishing with 796 yards and a mere three touchdowns.  But what people fail to realize is that he only had 64 receptions, his lowest total since his rookie season. 

Take out those two years and Holt averages 94 receptions. a huge increase.  The fact that Holt had 30 less receptions than what he normally averages can certainly make the case as to why he experienced a drop in numbers.

Holt has a sparkling clean record when it comes to injuries, missing only two games in his storied career.  No issues here.

Holt was traded to the Jaguars this off-season, after Matt Jones left, and thus automatically became the No. 1 receiver on the team. David Garrard is a reliable quarterback and can be trusted to throw the ball Tory's way. 

The knock on Holt is the exact opposite of Beanies, the Jags are a "run-first" team and pass second.  However this is not all bad since it will more than likely cause the defense to stack the box, opening up pass lanes on the sides for Torry to exploit.

Pros:  No. 1 receiver on team, reliable quarterback getting him the ball.  Can be had later in the draft, and has the potential to still produce like a No. 1 WR.

Cons:  On a "run-first" offense.  Old, (chuckle).


Kyle Orton: Quarterback, Denver Broncos

Kyle Orton may not have all the talent in the world, but he's shown improvement, and for a quarterback, that may be just as good.  In Orton's first year in the league, (2005) with the Bears, Orton struggled.  He managed only 1,869 yards, (through 15 games), and showed a completion percentage of 51.6 percent. 

However, the next year, (while splitting time behind center with Rex Grossman), he improved that number to 53.8 percent.  Then, the next year, (and his last with the Bears) Orton was handed the reins to the offense, and finally found some success.  His completion percentage jumped nearly 5 percent, to 58.5 percent, and he also set new career highs in ards passing, (2,972), touchdowns, (18), and rating, (79.6, previously 73.9 and 59.7).

Orton has a minor injury history, his most recent one coming against a game versus the Detroit Lions, where he sprained his ankle and was sidelined for a month.  Again, like Holt and Wells, he is healthy now, and that's what matters.

This offseason, Orton was shipped to Denver Broncos as part of the Jay Cutler trade.  Orton went from a "run-first" nitty-gritty minded Bears team to a Broncos team who likes to air it out a bit more, albeit still remaining a "run-first" team. 

Josh McDaniels, the Broncos new coach, (formerly the offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots), saw what could happen with a good quarterback with good wide receivers, so expect him to try to repeat the success with his new team.

It is also important to note that the Bears had no legitimate wide receivers helping out Orton, and that that may have been a major factor in Orton not producing great numbers.  With Denver, he gets a top 10 wide receiver in the entire NFL, (Brandon Marshall), an emerging wide receiver, (Eddie Royal), a great TE, (Tony Scheffler), and a handful of capable backs to help keep the defense's honest.

Pros:  New, "pass-happier" coach in Denver, more weapons to utilize, no backup to take away playing time.

Cons:  Hasn't had a "breakthrough" season yet, not yet elite.

Anyone can draft a fantasy football team that contains a couple of stars and favorite players.  It's up to you to find the "sleepers" and gain an edge on the competition.

That's been Fantasy Football:  A Trio of Sleepers for the 2009 NFL Season by Taylor Rummel.


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