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 Week 4 to Week 7, unless otherwise specified.
Fantasy football sleepers: Defensive teams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Fantasy value: No. 1 or bench
- The Bucs' defense doesn't typically create many fantasy points and have averaged just 0.33 sacks, 1.33 interceptions and 0.67 fumble recoveries per contest. They were competent in their first three games, though: 1.33, 2.00 and 0.67, respectively. They faced the Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers but struggled against the Ben Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh Steelers.
- This matchup could conjure memories of the Browns and Panthers matchups. Whether Max Hall (concussion) or Derek Anderson starts for the Cardinals this week, they should continue their futility: 5.0 sacks, 1.33 interceptions and 1.67 fumbles lost against opposing defenses per game. Maybe the Cards get to Tampa's weak run D, but that part of 'Zona's offense hasn't been consistent enough to begin with.
- Though hardly a safe bet, the Bucs have a favorable enough statistical matchup that they could serve as a one-week play. After all, six teams are on bye this week, including the defenses of the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys
Preying on Kitna
Fantasy value: No. 1 or bench
- In most weeks, the Jags are a fantasy defense to avoid; they've produced just 1.25 sacks, 0.25 interceptions and 0.25 fumble recoveries per game. If your league doesn't penalize heavily for yardage and points allowed, the Jags might benefit from a matchup against the Jon Kitna-led Dallas Cowboys. They're not as intimidating without Tony Romo (clavicle), who's expected to miss at least six weeks. Kitna is a statue in the pocket and found most of his Week 7 success against a prevent defense.
- In Weeks 4 through 6, Dallas had allowed 3.00 sacks and 2.50 interceptions per game. In Week 7, a combo of Romo and Kitna gave up 3.00 sacks. Dallas might keep their offense conservative, but Kitna is a ripe target for a pass rush, even one as uninspiring as Jacksonville's.
- Much like the Buccaneers, Jacksonville has desperation rental value for owners of a bye week defense.
NEW - New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy value: High-end No. 1
- New England is averaging 2.33 sacks, 1.67 interceptions and only 18.0 offensive points allowed per game.
- The Vikes are averaging 308.7 yards per game. They're also giving up 2.67 sacks, 1.33 interceptions and 1.00 fumbles lost per game.
- The Pats have been a bit susceptible through the air, so Brett Favre (heel, ankle, elbow), provided he plays, and Minnesota's wideouts could have a decent day. Still, with Favre's bad ankle, you can probably count on quite a few sacks, especially with Minny's poor offensive line play.
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, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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