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 1 to Week 3, unless otherwise stated.
Fantasy football sleepers: Running backs
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Fantasy value: High-end No. 3
- J-Stew continues his No. 2 role behind DeAngelo Williams, averaging 9.5 utilizations per game in the last two weeks, good for just 3.2 yards per carry. His offensive line continues to have issues. Same can be said the Carolina's offense overall, which hasn't been able to get the ground game going, partly because they're playing catch-up often.
- On the bright side, Stewart vultured a touchdown last week and has a good chance to contribute more in Week 4. The Saints have been a favorable matchup for running backs so far; they're yielded 126.3 rushing yards, 6.00 receptions, 44.7 receiving yards and 1.33 offensive touchdowns per game to the position.
- Carolina would like to keep New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees off the field as much as possible; it'd also help to spark the running game to support rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
- Stewart has scored three touchdowns in his four meetings with New Orleans; his last meeting against them (Week 17 last year) was a 125-yard, one-touchdown day on the ground with a 7.8 yards-per-carry average.
Shonn Greene, New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Greener pastures in Week 4?
Fantasy value: High-end No. 3
- It has been the LaDainian Tomlinson show for Gang Green so far. Greene has averaged 13.0 utilizations per game in the last two weeks, during which he has six red zone utilizations, but he's stuck in the mud with 3.5 yards per carry on the season.
- Luckily, the Bills could be a nice jumping point for Greene's fantasy stock. Carriers have averaged 126.3 rushing yards and 1.33 touchdown rumbles per game so far this year against Buffalo.
- Greene didn't gain anything on one carry versus the Bills in Week 6 last year, but in Week 13, he totaled 59 yards on 11 carries - not a bad full-time translation of numbers.
NEW - Ryan Torain, Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- As you know, Mike Shanahan loves to play games with the backfield.
Last week, everyone suspected Keiland Williams would be Clinton Portis' complement,
but a late-week promotion for a practice squader had fantasy owners scrambling.
Torain was that call-up, and he ripped off 6.6 yards per carry in Shanny's
one-cut system. Torain finished with seven carries for 46 yards while Portis
sat for much of the second half. There is a modicum of familiarity here, too,
as Shanahan was head coach of the Denver Broncos in '08 when Torain played
in a couple of games (15 carries for 69 yards and one TD).
- Philly has allowed an average of 25.3 carries for 109.7 yards (4.3
per attempt) and 1.00 touchdowns per game. They are really getting slain by
backs through the air, but that isn't so much Torain's area of expertise.
For the record, though, the Eagles have allowed opposing backs to average
5.33 receptions for 63.7 yards and 0.33 scores per outing.
- Fantasy owners can enjoy the windfall of Shanahan's neurotic ways,
just as long as they are smart about how much stock they put into each back.
Portis remains the lead, and until we see consistently otherwise, don't expect
more than a handful of carries per game for Torain. However, it's what he
is capable of doing with them that makes the second-year rusher a worthwhile
flex play in Week 4.
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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