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Fantasy Football Sleepers Edition

Now that we are progressing through the pre-season, have covered all of the main player ranking categories, explained hundreds of different types of league scoring/drafting/roster combinations, and done some other side work, we enter the second to last "dead week" before the fantasy season kicks off. Week 4 of pre-season usually means zip when it comes to Fantasy, as starters play 1-2 series and back ups fight for ST jobs and depth chart spots. The flip side is, over the last two weeks, and over the next two weeks, you will all be drafting teams, and sometimes the draft doesn't fall "your way". That's where scout team/sleeper lists come into play, to find the diamonds in the rough, the boom or bust prospects that look great as a 4th or 5th option on your bench if you don't trust your top depth...

Quarterbacks: This is always the toughest place to make up for bad selections in. Not a lot of waiver wire success to be found at the QB position around the NFL, especially in 12 team leagues where 24 or more QBs may have been drafted...Easy trades could net guys like Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, and Joe Flacco who I think all have real top 10 potential this season but if you want to wing it on the UDFAs, some guys who may be available:

Colt McCoy. I know, its the Browns, but if you don't trust your two guys, McCoy is a very talented young passer who has shown some significant flashes in the pre-season. The same Lions D that gave Brady fits in week 3 surrendered 3 passing TDs to McCoy in about a half of play, and he found rookie Greg Little and his Tight Ends to do it.

Ryan Fitzpatrick. How is he not a drafted player in 12 team leagues? For all the talk of how bad he finished last year (and he did), he was playing through some injuries and only had two sub 10 point performances - Minnesota and New England.

Donovan McNabb. I don't think he is a stud, but he did post 9 double digit games last year in 13 starts, and Harvin/Shiancoe/Berrian isn't the single worst pass catching lineup ever. Harvin makes a mean slot receiver and Berrian is a competent deep threat, and Peterson does take the pressure off.

Running Backs: The danger of sleeper Running Backs are that you usually have to wait for them to steal someone's job or someone to get hurt. This means letting a guy sit on your bench in the hopes someone gets injured (sick) or because you are expecting big drop offs from the guys in front of them. This year could show us some guys like:

Montario Hardesty. I think Hillis was a fluke, and I think with the lack of big play receivers, the Browns will start to slide to a faster receiving option in the backfield (notice I didn't say better; Hillis can catch). Hillis will still get work and this will probably morph into more of a timeshare than a starting job, but the Browns ran well last year and could again in McCoy comes along as I expect.

Jerome Harrison. He posted over 90 yards in 2 of the 3 games he got 10 or more carries in last year...And from 07-09 he averaged over 4.3 yards per carry each season. Detroit's offense has a lot of potential, and I have no faith at all in Best, and with LeShoure out, Harrison may get his chance for a new coming out party.

Roy Helu. If anyone is a surprise Shanahan pick, its Helu. Hightower and Helu are the two better playing, healthy backs in Washington and someone is gonna rush for over 800 yards.

Kendall Hunter. Gore gets hurt almost every year, and Hunter is the next best back they have right now.

Ronnie Brown. I think the fast and furious but small offense skill players in Philly take some beatings this year and open the door for a more powerful player...And Brown can do that.

Jacquizz Rodgers. This is more of a gut feeling/long shot, but I think the newer more pass happy Falcons, with a feared Turner decline, might turn to Rodgers rather than Snelling.

Other guys who will get #4-5 production this year with a chance for more: Marion Barber, Cadillac Williams, DeMarco Murray

Wide Receivers:

All the Bears receivers. Williams and Knox probably got drafted, and I don't know if I expect consistency from Hester yet, but Bennett has a lot of potential in any system, and someone (or 2-3 someones) will hit 800+ yards this season. You can do a lot worse for a #5 receiver than any of our guys.

Davone Bess is habitually ignored but will probably get 900 yards.Kevin Walter gets similar treatment but holds onto that #2 job in HOU every season.

Nate Washington might come back into form with a better (not great) QB tossing him passes (we saw some of that)

Antonio Brown could finish as the #2 receiver in Pittsburgh this season.

Mike Sims-Walker and James Jones bother figure to get more targets in their current offenses than last year, and both have good QBs throwing to them.

You could make cases for Donnie Avery (forgotten due to injury, not bad play), Early Doucet (the new #2 in ARI), Steve Breaston (complimenting Bowe), Louis Murphy (the underrated best receiver in OAK), and a stretch for Greg Little (the desired #1 in Cleveland, whether it happens or not).

Tight Ends:

Tony Moeaki. How did he get looked over in so many drafts? The Chiefs are going to use him like Clark, and he had a good season last year as it was. Brent Celek could have a resurgence if my earlier prediction of "toughness" being a need on the Eagles this year. Watch Fred Davis if Cooley's injuries persist. Aaron Hernandez is my pick for the leading TE receiver in NE this year, not Gronk. Visanthe Shiancoe could soar with a vet QB that loves his TEs (look at Celek with McNabb vs. Vick).

Q&A to come. Friday's post will be a forum for all of you guys to ask for Fantasy Football advise, whether that means going into your drafts, or who to watch to repair specific rosters with deficiencies, or thinking about trades to make to improve before opening day, whether for depth or for surprise starters. The post will go up at 2:00 p.m. EST, and I will be live on the board starting closer to 5:00 EST, but will check it regularly all day.

What to expect during the season: Waiver wire pick up recommendations in Tues. articles, as well as anticipated ups and downs for guys already owned and injury updates. Roster advise as solicited on Fridays, as well as predictions for guys set for big games during the upcoming weekend. Friday threads will be monitored pretty well through the season so I can respond to queries for suggestions and recommendations.