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 that you wouldn't necessarily consider that you need to get into your lineup.
Note: All statistics are from Week 7 to Week 10, unless otherwise noted.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
Derrick Ward, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
Ward continues to run his secondary role to Cadillac
Williams but has received an averaged of 12.0 utilizations in his last
three games for the run-heavy Bucs.
Ward useful even as Tampa Bay's No. 2
- Formerly a stalwart against running backs this year, the Saints
recently have sustained significant defensive injuries, including a debilitating
absence by D-tackle Sedrick Ellis (knee).
They have allowed the fourth most offensive yards (181.5) per contest to tailbacks.
The Saints have also played to Ward's strength,
allowing 5.00 receptions per game to backs in that time.
- Ward's matchup warrants a pickup. Tailback-hungry owners can find him available
in 56 percent of polled leagues.
Chris Jennings, Cleveland Browns at Detroit Lions
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- Judging from Jerome Harrison's statistical goose egg in Week 10, it looks like Jennings has taken over the No. 2 role in the Browns' backfield. The latter received nine utilizations but only amassed 28 total yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
- Jennings will have a much easier foe if the Browns incorporate him again. The Lions have coughed up 186.7 offensive yards and 8.67 catches per outing to running backs, ranking them 31st in both categories. Jennings' role as a pass catcher and Jamal Lewis' relative ineffectiveness as a receiver predicates that the former will have more opportunities to abuse this loophole.
- The Browns' faith in Jennings means he's worth a pickup in deep rosters as a stashable running back with some potential beyond this week's matchup. He's available in just about every league.
NEW - Steve Slaton, Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
Fantasy value: Low-end No. 2
- Slaton isn't a do-not-bench option anymore, so his lineup stability might be up for debate in numerous leagues. Ryan Moats has been the No. 1 back in the last two weeks, so it isn't like Slaton has done much.
- In the last two games, Slaton has carried the ball just seven times for 18 yards - sneaking in an inside-the-5 touchdown - but has snared five passes for only 22 yards. His fumblitis took a break last week, but he has turned over loose pigskin in five of his nine games this year.
- Now, to the positive. The Titans have yielded 119.7 ground yards, 1.00 rushing touchdowns, 5.67 catches and 39.0 receiving yards per game to this position.
- Slaton has continued to work on his fumbling issues, and despite his presence in a committee, the Texans will continue to trot him out there to improve his butterfingers. The coaching staff is prepared to give Slaton every chance in practice to win back his starting job, so don't be surprised if he is the primary back on game day. He isn't an ideal play in terms of workload, but he's explosive enough to take advantage of a solid matchup.
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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