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.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
Have more patience
Shonn Greene, New York Jets at Oakland Raiders
Fantasy value: Low-end No. 2
- We won't sugarcoat anything about Greene ... he has been awful so far. In his defense, though, the Jets' offense line has not been blocking very well. They have lost center Nick Mangold (ankle) for about two games, and rookie Colin Baxter is expected to replace him.
- Greene has averaged only 2.9 yards per carry through 26 attempts, but he is the type of back that needs 20 to 25 carries in a game to get going. The third-year rusher has struggled in the second half of games (1.4 yards per carry compared to 4.7 in the first half), which is a product of teams expecting the run and suggests Greene's conditioning may not be up to par after an abbreviated offseason. He was a little better last week than in his first game of the year, but we realize that isn't saying much.
- The Raiders have given up an average of 102.5 rushing yards and a ground score per game to the running back position through two contests. Those numbers are respectable, but the silver lining for Greene is the 6.6 yards per carry that enemy backs have averaged against the Raiders this year.
- Greene probably will not be the breakout back that we predicted he would be in 2011, but he can still be useful with the right matchup, and this is one to take advantage of. Don't expect huge numbers from him, but this game could help boost his confidence and provide you double-digit fantasy points in standard scoring.
Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Fantasy value: High-end Flex
- Buffalo has given up a lot of real estate to running backs. A lot of it has come through the air, where backs are averaging a whopping 10.50 receptions per game through two weeks. The aerial work has translated to 62.0 yards per game and an average of one touchdown. On the ground, rushers have averaged 105.5 yards and one score per outing.
- New England has been blowing past their opponents this season, but division rivals always play tougher, especially at home. Even still, Woodhead is a vital part of the passing game, and will especially be with Aaron Hernandez (knee) likely out for a month or more. Woodhead has averaged 4.5 yards per carry (18 for 81) but has only three catches for 21 yards this season.
- Point-per-reception owners should value Woodhead higher than the non-PPR flex designation we have assigned him.
Brandon Jacobs, New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- Through two games, Jacobs has totaled 79 yards on 22 carries. He found the end zone on a 9-yard run in Week 2. His yards-per-carry average dipped from 4.8 in Week 1 to 3.1 against the St. Louis Rams. This likely was a byproduct of playing with a commanding lead.
- The Eagles have struggled mightily against power rushers through two weeks. The middle of their defense is inexperienced and hasn't played well against the run. On average, this unit has surrendered 25.0 carries for 150.5 yards (6.0 per attempt) and one rushing score per game. That is good, well, bad, enough for allowing an average of 26.5 standard fantasy points per game, which ties them for the second most allowed in the league so far.
Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- Graham seems to be a staple in the Buccaneers' passing game out of the backfield. He has 13 catches in two games and is on the field regularly when the offense is in passing situations. This could be one of those games when Graham has to be on the field often.
- The Falcons have allowed running backs to average 98.5 rushing yards and one ground score per outing. Through the air, opposing RBs have managed 4.5 receptions for 55.5 yards (12.3 per catch) and 0.50 receiving scores per game in this young season.
- Graham is only worth considering in PPR leagues for owners in deep setups. If you are desperate, look no further than a rejuvenated Graham for a handful of receiving points.
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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