Drafting Sleepers
August 4, 2009, 12:15 AM
Filed under: Fantasy Football

By Jerry Coon

Since everyone has started up their drafts, and I have approximately 17 different teams, I will give you some sleepers to look for in your preparation.


Carson Palmer (Bengals): Let’s look at Palmer prior to last season (when he only played four games). The three seasons prior, Palmer played all 16 games, and averaged around 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns. Losing Houshmanzadeh hurt, but adding Laveraneus Coles eases the blow. With a positive attitude from Chad Johnson (I refuse to call him Ochocinco) and finally having an established first-string running back (Cedric Benson), Palmer could have the offense back in the highlight reel.

Trent Edwards (Bills): Last year’s stats were decent (2,699 yards, 11 touchdowns, 10 interceptions). This season, they added a little help at wide receiver. And by a little help, I mean one of the top five receivers in the NFL with Terrell Owens. Making Owens the new number one pushes Lee Evans to the two slot, giving Edwards many options on offense.

Kyle Orton (Broncos): Orton finds himself in a new jersey for the 09-10 season, and with many more weapons than he had in Chicago. Throwing for 2,972 yards and 18 touchdowns a year ago for the Bears, Orton now inherits the starting role for Denver. And instead of looking out to throw to unproven receivers, Orton now has Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley to rely on.

Philip Rivers (Chargers): Okay Rivers isn’t so much a “sleeper,” but he is definitely undervalued. Many quarterbacks are being positioned before Rivers, who threw for 4,009 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. This year, Rivers has Chris Chambers for a full season, paired with Vincent Jackson and a healthy Ladanian Tomlinson. This offense could be explosive, and Rivers deserves to be considered higher than he is going for.

Matt Schaub (Texans): Before you call me a homer, allow my explanation…Schaub only played 11 games last season and still threw for 3,043 yards and 11 touchdowns. It is understandable that there is a paranoia against Schaub because of his ability to get injured. However, with Houston’s targets (Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels) and Steve Slaton in the backfield, Schaub could very well be a top three quarterback in the league this season.

Running Backs:

Ryan Grant (Packers): Grant was under the radar last season, even though he still rushed for 1,203 yards. Not to mention Grant was bothered by his hamstring all year long. Now that Rodgers has settled in, the offense can stay more consistent, and Grant could have a pretty nice year.

Pierre Thomas (Saints): Deuce McAllister-gone. Reggie Bush-not what they thought he would be. Sean Payton is looking for his premiere back, and Thomas has everything he needs to become just that. Thomas came around full force in the second half of last season, rushing for 625 yards and nine touchdowns. Now, Thomas can take over the reign and be a great asset for the Saints and fantasy owners.

Rashard Mendenhall (Steelers): Not only will he get the goal-line looks, but with Willie “handle with care” Parker in front of him, he could be getting many more touches than that. Mendenhall is the one “back-up” running back that everyone should take a chance on early because of the potential he brings.

Donald Brown (Colts): Joseph Addai is still the number one option in Indy, but Brown is looking like he will get considerable playing time this season. Especially if Addai goes out, as he has each of the last two seasons.

Corell Buckhalter (Broncos): Buckhalter never truly got his shot in Philadelphia, always playing second fiddle to Brian Westbrook.  This season, he still looks to split time with rookie Knowshon Moreno, but should get most of the touches. The only thing to ponder is if the departure of Shanahan leads to the downfall of the Broncos’ always famous running game.

Wide Receivers:

Devin Hester (Bears): I did state before that the Bears lack a number one receiver, however, if anyone is going to make the leap, it would be Hester. Now having Jay Cutler behind center, Hester’s speed could make him a favorite target, especially with the talk that he has become a tremendous route runner.

Donnie Avery (Rams): I don’t know what Marc Bulger did to deserve the karma of the last two seasons, but I feel like things should turn around. Cutting ties with an unhappy Torry Holt make Avery the new ace receiver in St. Louis. Avery started 12 games last season and had 674 yards and three touchdowns. Now that everyone is healthy, Avery’s quickness could help him explode on a team trying to redeem themselves.

Domenik Hixon (Giants): No Plax, no problem? Eli Manning needs a new favorite, and Hixon should be able to suffice. Sinorice Moss and rookie Hakeem Nicks provide help at the receiver position, but Hixon will be the one getting the looks primarily.

Miles Austin (Cowboys): I see a trend with these receivers now. Star receiver leaves, someone needs to step up and takeover the throne. Although Dallas still has Roy Williams to do that, Austin will slip into the second slot, and become a nice target for Tony Romo.

Lee Evans (Bills): Evans is definitely a legitimate primary receiver, but now doesn’t have to be with T.O. coming into Buffalo. Evans is one to demand a double team, and that isn’t something defenses will be able to do with Owens on the other end. If Edwards takes the leap I expect, Evans could have a ridiculous season.


New York Jets: The Jets already had 41 sacks last season. Now you add a few newcomers from the Ravens (including new coach and former Ravens’ Defensive Coordinator, Rex Ryan) and you could have a tough defense to score on.

San Diego Chargers: Two years ago, the Chargers had the best fantasy defense in the league. Now you add the return of Shawne Merriman and Antonio Cromartie, and include four defensive draft picks, and you have a team that could return to the top.

Green Bay Packers: Adding Clay Matthews to the linebacker corps of Nick Barnett and A.J. Hawk is a good start. Then, adding Dom Capers as the defensive coordinator, which switches the defense to a 3-4 makes things interesting.

Houston Texans: With Antonio Smith taking over at the other end, it will be difficult for offensive lines to double Mario Williams. Brian Cushing and Cato June were added to the linebacker corps and the secondary concerns were addressed in the draft. Not neccesarily a top choice for a team defense, but keep an eye on them.

Washington Redskins: Albert Haynesworth. Brian Orakpo. The sacks should pile up. The Redskins team defense last year was fantastic, however, not a big fantasy point scorer. Things might change with the additions made and a second year of adjusting to each other.