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 6 to Week 9, unless otherwise noted.
Fantasy football sleepers: Wide receivers
Sammie Stroughter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins
Fantasy value: No. 2 or No. 3
- Stroughter has received 23 targets over his last four games, making his presence known in a receiving corps looking for consistency. While they don't show outstanding numbers, his four straight games with three catches speak to the earlier point.
- The Dolphins have been tormented by wide receivers in their last three games, which have included dances with the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. The per-game numbers: 12.67 receptions, 189.7 yards and 1.00 touchdowns allowed to wideouts.
- Of course, we're not putting the Bucs on the same offensive level as two deadly aerial attacks, but rookie quarterback Josh Freeman proved at least competent in moving the passing game downfield when necessary. Also, Miami's rookie starting cornerbacks are waiting to be exploited again.
- Stroughter's rapport with Freeman makes him an ideal addition target in deep setups. He can serve as valuable fantasy depth and is available in nearly every surveyed setup.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears
Fast learnin' point-earner
Fantasy value: No. 2 or No. 3
- Crabtree has received no fewer than six targets in each of his first three
NFL games while gathering 14 passes. His quick
learning has impressed the Niners' coaching staff, which has already initiated
a youth movement in their starting receiver unit.
- He'll next face a Bears secondary that has been
torched for 11.50 receptions, 141.5 yards and 2.00 paydirt trips per game
by wideouts. The Bears' defensive backs will also carry numerous injury issues
into this Thursday night matchup.
- We're not saying Alex D. Smith equates to
Kurt Warner or Carson
Palmer, but the Niners have improved their downward movement through the
air since he was named their starting quarterback.
NEW - Bryant Johnson, Detroit
Lions at Minnesota Vikings
Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3
NEW - Donnie Avery, St.
Louis Rams vs. New Orleans Saints
- Calvin Johnson struggled in his return last
week, and the Lions are struggling to find complementary
targets. Despite only totaling four receptions in the last two weeks, our
subject has 12 looks in that time and found the end zone in Week 9. Johnson
has averaged 17.5 yards per haul in his last three games.
- The Vikes have yielded 11.67 catches, 182.0 yards, 15.6 yards per grab and
1.33 scores to this position per game. The yardage, reception average and
touchdown numbers all reflect top-10 fantasy matchups since Week 5.
- A possible return for Minny cornerback Antoine
Winfield (foot) would be bad news for Megatron. B. Johnson could benefit
as a secondary option in an offense that should be chucking the pigskin often.
- There's a good chance Detroit will be playing from behind this week against
a superior Minnesota team. If so, that would necessitate the Lions
airing it out a bit more.
Fantasy value: Flex or bench
- Avery, coming off a bye, hasn't been utilized much in the Rams' last three
contests, compiling just 13 targets.
- He has performed when they've been able to find him: In Weeks 4 through
8, Avery averaged 18.67 yards per grab. That's a top-five figure among receivers
with double-digit grabs (12 for Avery).
- That deep prowess will probably serve him well this week against a Saints
secondary that has been touched for 15.2 yards per reception to this position.
This presents a top-10 fantasy matchup and is accompanied by the Saints' average
of 0.75 scores allowed per game to enemy receivers.
- The Rams will have to throw often to keep pace
if they fall behind early. While the Saints' run D was butchered by the Carolina
Panthers last week and St. Louis boasts Steven
Jackson, Rams receivers should see ample looks
in the second half.
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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