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.
Note: All statistics are from 2011 Week 1 through Week 16, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Wide receivers
Already making noise
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Fantasy value: High-end No. 1
- Jason Witten (spleen) is a game-time call, so that could open up a few more opportunities for Bryant to excel. In two games last year against one of their big rivals, Bryant caught seven passes for 120 yards, including a 50-yard scoring grab. These clashes typically feature highly active passing games, so Bryant should see plenty of work.
- Big Blue was kind to opposing wideouts last year, yielding 12.33 catches, 181.7 yards and 1.20 touchdown snares per game to the position. Plus, their secondary carries some health woes with cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee), Prince Amukamara (high ankle sprain) and Jayron Hosley (turf toe) all banged up. Fourth option Michael Coe might be starting opposite Corey Webster. Depending on where Dallas lines up Bryant, this could be a bull's eye for Dallas' passing game that Bryant could manipulate.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Fantasy value: High-end No. 2
- Robert Meachem has not earned Philip Rivers' trust yet. Floyd has experience with the slinger and should be where the scuffling QB goes for comfort in Week 1 against a familiar opponent.
- That foe allowed 12.07 catches, 170.3 yards and 1.27 touchdown grabs per game to the position. Their new defense from HC Dennis Allen and coordinator Jason Tarver installed some different blitz and coverage schemes this year. It's not a stretch to think this unit won't be at full speed with its new intricacies in the opener.
- In two games versus the Silver and Black last year, Floyd grabbed seven passes for 127 yards and a touchdown.
Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2
- With Kenny Britt (knee) suspended for Week 1, Washington should have a bigger role for the Titans, who'll have Jake Locker slinging. This should allow Washington time to find more space to work, unlike what would've been there with Matt Hasselbeck.
- The Pats forgot to cover wideouts most of last year, coughing up a league-worst 28.6 fantasy points per game (standard scoring) to the position in the form of 14.73 catches, 220.9 (miles ahead of second place 187.9) and 1.20 TD catches. They should improve this year, but it's hardly a safe bet to expect that in Week 1, especially since shaky Tennessee might have to play catch-up.
Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy value: No. 1 or bench
- Blackmon has shown beyond-his-years aggressiveness against cornerbacks as well as an instant connection with Blaine Gabbert, who actually looks like a quarterback this year. The rook already ranks as Jacksonville's top target heading into the opener, and they might emphasize the passing portion of their game sooner than expected, especially with Maurice Jones-Drew likely to be eased in after ending his holdout.
- The Vikes' secondary is battling some injuries, and they were already a vulnerable unit last season, allowing 24.7 standard-scoring points on 12.07 catches, 176.1 yards and 1.40 touchdown traps per game to this position. Blackmon's vicious after-the-catch game should have a field day.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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