Identifying sleepers is one of the most ambiguous topics you will read in fantasy football blogs. Some writers will identify a “sleeper” who isn’t really sleeping on anyone’s radar. I like to find the sleepers that have great matchups, a proven history, and are real bargains you can either find off of the waiver wire, your bench, or in the bargain bin of weekly fantasy games. So with that said here are a few guys that you won’t see at the top of anyone’s Start/Sit list and that is a good thing if you are looking for some sneaky plays.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans – I love this guy against the Raiders this week. I don’t want to pick on ESPN consensus rankings but I will use them as a barometer. Fitzpatrick is ranked as the 27th QB this week by the experts. As I used to say often back in my days as a pro wrestling announcer, “Excuse me!” Fitzpatrick for one has a great history against the Raiders, as recently as last year. With the Titans Fitzy put up over 26 FF points depending on your scoring, throwing 2 TD and lighting it up for over 300 yards. Just two years prior he put up over 27 points scoring 3 TDs and 264 yards. Wouldn’t you say that he has better weapons this year than he did with the Titans? I would and with the Texans defense bound to snare some turnovers, I look Fitzpatrick to have a top 10, maybe even top 5 day on Sunday.
Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I know you all had the Rams D ranked in the top five back in August but I hate to break it to you, it was over-hype. They are good but they aren’t that good. McCown comes into the game with a great history against this team. Last year with the Bears he put up 26 points scoring 2 TDs and throwing for over 350 yards. Now I know that these are two completely different teams and the Rams have a new D-coordinator but the Bucs are way better than they showed last week against arguably the second best defense in the NFL. McCown put up 2 TDs against the Panthers who are much better than the Rams. I look for him to have another 20 point day and throw his #30 ranking right back into the face of the experts.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets – This one is a lot of feel and a lot of what I saw the Packers do and not do in the opener against the Seahawks. I think the Jets are a much better defense than they get credit for. I think they are going to frustrate Aaron Rodgers and keep this a low scoring game. Rex Ryan knows the only way to win this game is to make this is to chew up clock with his running backs. Ivory is a lot like Marshawn Lynch in that he is a bruising running back. I think Ivory is going to wear this Pack defense down and see a lot of carries. The Packers were awful last year against the run and I believe they are not nearly as improved as some think. Ivory put up double digits anytime he had over 15 carries last season and only once did not score a TD. I have no reason to think he won’t get 15 carries thus I love him regardless of his #27 ranking on ESPN.
Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers – Yes that Ryan Matthews who everyone is telling you to sit against the terrorizing Seattle Seahawks. Would I play Matthews over some of the more popular options at running back? No but I think he is being highly undervalued this week. Let me make my case. At home last year Matthews was a machine. He had double digits in all but one, yes one home game. Now do I think he is going to go off against the champs? No but I do think he will get enough volume and maybe even something in garbage time to put him into double numbers. It’s a stretch I know but I think he will get you serviceable numbers if you are looking for a cheap buy or sneaky play.
Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars – I am all in on Hurns. Is he still a sleeper? According to ESPN he is at a #45. Hurns had a monster game last week against the Eagles but was quieted in the second half. Every analysis I have read on the guy tells me that his skills are the real deal. This week he plays one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the Washington Redskins. Cecil Shorts is likely out and Washington gave up a ton of points to wide outs last week in Houston. I don’t think Hurns is an every week play, but he has an opportunity to pay high dividends in week 2. Hurns is the real deal if you watched him play in Miami and as long as Henne takes advantage of opportunities, he should shine.
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints – It’s all about the matchup here. Markus Wheaton ripped apart the Cleveland Browns last week for 97 yards picking on that poor rookie corner on the Browns. I think Colston and Jimmy Graham are going to get a lot of attention which opens up some nice opportunities for Cooks. The 33rd ranked wide receiver had a nice week 1, I think he goes off for more in the Dog Pound.
Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams – Talk about a broken record. Other than a crazy week 1 last season, this guy has failed to live up to expectations. That could change this week. He has a Tampa Bay team that Greg Olsen tore apart last week. Cook was the second most targeted receiver for the Rams in the first week which tells me he will be a big part of the offense. I like the matchup more than I like Cook but everything aligns here for a sleeper day from the 21st ranked TE.