Fantasy football sleepers: IDP - Week 1

by Tim Heaney on September 9, 2009 @ 17:00:00 PDT


Also see: Fantasy football busts: IDP - Week 1

In this article KFFL breaks down 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.

Fantasy football sleepers: Defensive linemen

Kenyon Coleman, Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings

Fantasy value: Strong No. 1

  • The ex-New York Jet joins a Browns run defense that will probably still have trouble containing opposing backs, meaning more rushing attempts against this D.
  • The Vikes gave up the sixth most solo wraps (12.4), the second most assisted tackles (6.6) and the third most sacks (2.1, tied) per game to defensive linemen last season.
  • For as good as Minny's O-line has been, they still allowed 43 sacks last year, and the soon-to-be 40-year-old Brett Favre was sacked 30 times as a Jet. Coleman may have some insight on his old teammate's tendencies in the pocket.

Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy value: Weak No. 1 or strong No. 2

  • Double D led the Cards' linemen in assisted tackles per game last year (0.8) while also averaging 2.3 solos (second) and 0.2 sacks.
  • The Niners may wind up being a stellar IDP matchup for opposing front sevens this year; San Fran is instituting a ground-heavy offense. In a pass-heavy set last year, they still provided acceptable per-game numbers for opposing linemen: 10.6 solo wraps (14th) and 2.2 sacks (second).

Ryan Pickett, Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3

  • The Pack looks to be comfortable in their switch to a 3-4 defense, and Pickett should continue his plug role. He registered seven tackles (five solo) in two matchups with Chi-town last year.
  • Pickett's total '09 tackles may suffer a bit because of his move to nose tackle, but the Bears ranked fourth in solo tackles allowed per game to linemen last season.
  • This may change because Jay Cutler replaced Kyle Orton under center, but the Bears still ranked in the middle of the league in sacks per game allowed (1.4) to this position.

Fantasy football sleepers: Linebackers

Rocky McIntosh, Washington Redskins at New York Giants

Fantasy value: Weak No. 2 or strong No. 3

  • Not much has changed for the Giants offense, and that's probably a good thing for McIntosh. He totaled 11 tackles (seven solo) in two contests against them last year. Now he has defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth in front of him, too.
  • Along with London Fletcher, McIntosh will have ample tackle chances against the Giants' rushing game. The Blue provided the eighth most solo tackles per game (15.2) to this position last year. New York also allowed linebackers 0.8 sacks (tied for sixth most) per contest.

Adalius Thomas, New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills

Fantasy value: Weak No. 2 or strong No. 3

  • Thomas returns after missing seven games due to injury last year. He scraped together five sacks and four passes defenses before breaking his arm in Week 9. In his first full season as a Pat ('07), he registered 78 tackles.
  • The Bills' shaky O-line compounds potential problems with their recent shift at offensive coordinator. There's a lot to be scared of when it comes to this offense.
  • In '08 Buffalo averaged 15.0 solo tackles allowed per contest to linebackers, the ninth most in the NFL, and 0.7 sacks allowed per game, tied for 11th.

Mike Vrabel, Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens

Fantasy value: Weak No. 2 or strong No. 3

  • Like the Giants, Baltimore boasts a linebacker-friendly approach with their three-headed ground wave. The Nevermores yielded the second most solo wraps per game to this position last season with 17.4.
  • Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco wasn't immune to sacks, either, as his line allowed 0.9 sacks per game to linebackers.

Fantasy football sleepers: Defensive backs

Kerry Rhodes, New York Jets at Houston Texans

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 1

  • Houston enjoys airing it out. They retained much of their components from an '08 unit that yielded 19.6 solo tackles per game to d-backs, which tied for the seventh largest average.
  • The Texans also yielded 5.4 assisted wraps per game, which was the fourth highest tally, and 0.9 picks per game, which tied for the sixth most, to the position.
  • Any improvement on the Jets' already stout pass rush would increase the chances of Texans turnovers, which would help the playmaking Rhodes contribute to stat lines.

Leon Hall, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 2

  • The Broncos allowed the most solo tackles per game to defensive backs last season (22.0). The departure of free-dealing quarterback Jay Cutler definitely hurts the chances of this stat repeating, but the Broncos may be throwing a lot in the second half this year.
  • Hall averaged 4.4 solo tackles per game last season and retains his role in what should be a busy Cincy secondary. The Bengals plan to apply pressure with the front seven and leave their starting corners on islands.

Dunta Robinson, Houston Texans vs. New York Jets

Fantasy value: Midrange No. 3

  • After holding out, Robinson returned to the team and will resume his starting role. He stayed in shape by doing strength and conditioning drills during the offseason.
  • The Jets were mildly friendly to opposing defensive backs last year, allowing the third most assisted tackles to the position per game (5.9) with Brett Favre under center.
  • Conventional wisdom says these Jets won't attack as much via the pass, but rookie Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez showed confidence in airing the deep ball throughout the preseason. Robinson is also very good in run support.

Also see: Fantasy football busts: IDP - Week 1

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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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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