In this article KFFL breaks down the fantasy football sleepers of the week. We will avoid marquee names because players of that caliber are rarely benched, regardless of their matchup. Instead, we will focus on the players that make your fantasy lineup decisions stressful each week. Read on to learn which midrange to low-end players you wouldn't necessarily consider that you need to get into your lineup.
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Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
More reason to play him
Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs. St. Louis Rams
Fantasy value: No. 1 or No. 2
- Bradshaw is probably going to be in your lineup regardless of his opponent, but we felt compelled to point out that he is a better fit against the Rams' defense than backfield mate Brandon Jacobs. The smaller Bradshaw has the speed and outside edge ability to give this defense trouble.
- Cornerback Ron Bartell, who is strong against the run, will miss the year with a neck injury. Outside linebackers Brady Poppinga and Ben Leber have each struggled with outside containment in their respective careers. The secondary is inexperienced outside of free safety Quintin Mikell, who is in his first year with the Rams.
- Last week, the Rams allowed the ultra-talented LeSean McCoy to rip off a 49-yard run and average 8.1 per carry (15 for 121). He also added a receiving score on two catches. Expect a stronger than usual day from Bradshaw.
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts
Fantasy value: High-end No. 3
- His inaugural pro game didn't go so well, but Hardesty has the luxury of facing the hapless Colts' run defense. The good news for the first-year back is that starter Peyton Hillis stunk it up last weekend, too, so it is a combination of the team learning a new offense on short notice and still trying to figure their way without left guard Eric Steinbach (back).
- Indianapolis is meant to play from ahead, which forces teams to abandon the run, and allows their undersized defense can focus on getting to the passer. This group allowed an Arian Foster-less Houston Texans team to basically run at will against them in Week 1. Ben Tate rushed 24 times for 116 yards and scored once, while technical starter Derrick Ward posted an 11-39-1 stat line.
- Hardesty's involvement probably won't be tremendous, unless Cleveland is trying to run out the clock, as the Browns will look to get Hillis on track. If you're searching for a flex play, consider him a worthwhile candidate in all formats.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears
Fantasy value: Low-end No. 3
- It is really hard to not like Sproles' chances of succeeding this week. He'll be involved a lot on third downs and is a much better prospect in point-per-reception scoring formats. Owners in traditional points systems should consider him because he is lightning in a bottle. Any time this guy touches the ball he can score, and the Saints love using their running backs as receivers near the goal line (remember last week's PI call ... guess which player was the intended target).
- Last week, against the Green Bay Packers, Sproles caught seven balls for 75 yards and returned a punt for a touchdown, if your league rewards individual players for such. Lance Moore (groin) may not play again, and Marques Colston (clavicle) is out. Read as: The Saints need someone other than Jimmy Graham to catch short-range passes.
- Chicago allowed 14 carries for 110 yards (7.9 per carry) and 11 receptions for 105 yards through the air to Atlanta's running backs. While the first part of that stat line is nice, for Sproles, focus on the latter string.
Jason Snelling, Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- Snelling is a deep sleeper this week, and the logic is that after getting shelled last week by the Chicago Bears, Atlanta probably wants to do what they have done best under Mike Smith: pound the rock. Snelling will be there to help Michael Turner, and you can expect to see some of Jacquizz Rodgers in clear passing situations.
- Snelling is versatile as a strong inside runner and a sure-handed receiver. We feel the Falcons will do everything they can to keep Michael Vick off the field - a fast-track surface that Mr. Vick has racked up a million miles on.
- Philly's linebacking corps and safety duo make up the team's biggest areas of need on defense. They allowed Steven Jackson to break a long touchdown run before the carrier fell to a quad injury; his replacement, Cadillac Williams, tore them up on the ground and through the air. In all, the Eagles' defense allowed the running back position to account for 26 standard fantasy points, or 208 total yards and one ground score.
About Cory J. Bonini
Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.
Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.
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