Week in and week out we bring you fantasy football analysis and advice, and now we’re expanding upon that coverage as I’ll be bringing you a weekly “sleepers” piece.
My goal will be to point you toward the guys on the waiver wires, or deep on your benches, who should be piquing your interest for various different reasons.
We’ll look at the obvious guys – for example, the backups filling in for injured players; we’ll look at the deep sleepers that you may not have considered; and finally, we’ll delve into others who could add value to your team going forward.
After all, fantasy football is a game drive by value … a point you may hear me make a time or two moving forward.
So grab a snack, settle down, and without further ado let’s get into the fantasy football sleepers of week 6.
Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6: QB
Kevin Kolb, Arizona
Until their disappointing Thursday night loss to the St. Louis Rams last week, the Cardinals were becoming the surprise story of the NFL. They stood undefeated, having beaten good teams like Philadelphia and New England.
While the loss to the Rams in prime time brought them back down to Earth, don’t let it be mistaken: this is a solid ball club. And like always, it starts and stops with the QB.
In ESPN Standard leagues, Kolb put up 15, 17 and 20 points during weeks 2-4, numbers that I think he can replicate several more times throughout the season – including this week as the Cardinals welcome the Buffalo Bills to town.
The Bills are 32nd against QBs fantasy-wise, as their opponents’ signal caller has averaged almost 23 fantasy points a week. In fact, if you take out Browns’ Branden Weeden’s 9-point performance against them in week 3, their opponents’ QBs are scoring over 26 points per game, including back-to-back 30+ point showings.
The Cards are likely to be throwing early and often, as their top two running backs (Beanie Wells & Ryan Williams) are now on the Injured Reserved list (IR). Heck, the RB likely to take over the starting job, LaRod Stephens-Howling, may even be most most explosive as a pass catcher – yet another nod in Kolb’s favor.
Bills’ wide receiver opponents are also succeeding this year, scoring over 7 points more per game against Buffalo than the rest of the league. And with a talented receiving corps to throw, to led by Larry Fitzgerald, Kolb is sure to have some open receivers to target.
However you slice it, the former Eagle should be a good play this week against the lowly AFC East opponent. Kolb, along with the rest of the team, is going to be eager to prove to the world that starting off 4-0 wasn’t a fluke. Luckily for fantasy owners looking for a Week 6 QB start, it’s Buffalo set to take the beating.
There certainly is a lot of upside to starting Kolb this week, and you may even consider it a low-risk move. While that may be enticing enough for you to give him the nod this week, let’s not forget that Kolb does at least have the potential to be a good long-term investment as well.
Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee
If you’re looking for a safe play that may not have the biggest upside, but should still be able to get you a fair amount of points, Hasselbeck is the way to go for Week 6.
His Titans play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football this week. While the game is in Tennessee, it’s still not a favorable matchup for the Titans team as a whole.
Tennessee hasn’t been able to impress much on offense this year outside of their 44-41 week 3 win over Detroit, as they’ve averaged 11 points in their four losses. If I were a betting man, I’d be picking the Steelers in this one. But that doesn’t mean fantasy points can’t come for the veteran Hasselbeck.
If the Titans are losing and struggling to stay in the game, which seems likely, Tennessee is going to have to throw the ball. That obviously bodes very well for Hasselbeck, as having to throw the ball is always the situation fantasy owners dream of.
Now you may be asking, “But Zach, what if they have a lead and are in a position to win the game?” Well, sure – you never know, the Titans certainly could shut me up and come out with a surprising performance.
However I think we all can agree that they’re not going to blow the Steelers out, which would be the only situation where they’d start to lean heavily on the running game. And starter Chris Johnson returned to his lackluster form this past Sunday, so there doesn’t seem to be much there to lean on.
Steelers’ QB opponents have averaged just over 15 fantasy points a game, a number pretty much exactly at the league average. So you could do worse.
If you’re looking for a safe play for Week 6, look here … some points are bound to be had for Hasselbeck.
Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6: RB
As we all know, injuries to starting running backs are huge in fantasy football.
It means that all of the sudden, someone else (usually on the waiver wire) has great value. That’s been the case a few times already in 2012, and in Week 5 injury struck a few major-ish names: Ryan Williams, Donald Brown, and Cedric Benson.
Benson is expected to miss about 8 weeks with a foot injury, Brown will be out likely 2 or 3 weeks. And Williams was placed on IR as previously mentioned with a shoulder problem. So needless to say, their backups are guys you should pick up if you’re high enough on the waiver order. Specifically, LaRod Stephens Howling of the Cardinals who we’ve already mentioned, Vick Ballard of the Colts, and Alex Green (and James Starks) of Green Bay.
I’m not sure if I consider them to be “sleepers,” however, because they’re now starters and will be mentioned many times in the coming days on ESPN, Yahoo!, CBS, or wherever else you play fantasy football. They’re more of the ‘big names’ now. But I do have some guys that I really see as sleepers, and here are three of them …
Cedric Peerman, Cincinnati
Last week Bengals’ starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis (who I traded for prior to Week 5 in my league) rushed for just 14 yards on 9 carries against the surprisingly solid Miami Dolphins rush D. But still, 9 for 14 was rather upsetting for fantasy owners and equally as upsetting for Cincinnati’s coaching staff.
It didn’t take long for BJGE to become the 2nd favorite back on Sunday, as backup Bernard Scott rushed for 40 yards on 5 attempts. However, he got banged up and was placed on IR after the game.
BJGE is now obviously in less of a position to lose his starting job, as 3rd down back/full-back Brian Leonard and inexperienced Cedric Peerman are the only ones who stand behind him. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see any sleeper value coming out of this situation, which is why Peerman is our topic of discussion.
Green-Ellis is a solid back, but he’s never been explosive. With the Bengals recently trying to shift more to Bernard Scott, they could really use some explosiveness, or as ESPN Fantasy Football puts it, a little “change of pace.” Since Leonard is not that, Peerman is now in the best position to be the Bengals’ 2nd guy on a consistent basis.
Should he go into your starting lineups this week? No, certainly not. But he may be a worthwhile long-term investment.
I’ll compare it to the running back situation in Atlanta with Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Many have said Turner just “doesn’t fit” in their offense while Rodgers does seem to. Green-Ellis, like Turner, is a work horse. Prior to Sunday’s game he was averaging well over 20 carries per game, which could very likely take a toll on him in the 2nd half of the season (which has happened to Turner in recent seasons).
So what I’m saying is that Peerman is worth a shot if you can afford the roster spot. If BJGE’s struggles continue, their “change of pace back” could become one that plays with a little more regularity, as it looked was happening with Bernard Scott before his injury.
Joique Bell, Detroit
If you’re not one for waiting, look to Detroit’s running back Joique Bell, who has 13 carries on the year. Yep, I know what I just said … it wasn’t a typo. But while getting only 13 carries through 4 weeks of play, Bell has scored 6, 6, 6, and 7 points, respectively, before the Lions’ bye last week.
Say what you want, but points are points. Sometimes you just need to throw someone in who will get you a handful of points, and it’s starting to look like Bell will have a good shot to do just that week-in and week-out.
Could he easily go unheard from in the coming weeks? Definitely. But until that happens, let’s give credit where credit is due … and for now, Bell is not a bad bet to get you some FLEX points.
Detroit is facing the Eagles this week, which is a very good run defense. Nonetheless, it’s a matchup between two very capable offensive squads, so many players may get into the mix at some point through the 4 quarters.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Atlanta
For those of you who are impatient – again, I’m sorry. But I can’t ignore a potentially high-reward investment when I find one.
Jacquizz Rodgers, backing up Michael Turner in Atlanta, is about as good of an investment as you’ll find throughout fantasy football. Owned in only about 16% of ESPN leagues, it’s time to get up off of your couch and grab Rodgers while you can.
Well, I guess you can stay on your couch in order to do so – oh how I love fantasy sports.
In recent years, Turner has been the definition of a workhorse in the ATL, carrying the ball consistently at a high rate and being one of the best goal-line RBs. But those years have in turn seen him really fall off later in the year, and the carries have had to be spread out more.
With Rodgers now having a tight grip on the backup job over Jason Snelling, he could see a big spike in playing time in the later stages of the season. And don’t be mistaken – he’s played a lot already.
After only carrying the ball 3 times on Sunday, his fantasy point weekly average is down to 4.0 … so he’s not yet a viable flex option. But he definitely could be in the near future. He’s in about as dynamic of an offense as there is in the NFL, and henhas big-play potential every time he touches the ball. As I mentioned earlier, he simply fits their offense better than Turner does.
Frankly, had I checked the % of leagues he’s owned in earlier, he would’ve been on the top of this list. He’s not a sure thing anytime soon, but that’s how good of an investment I think he is. It’s all about value … and Jacquizz has a ton of it.
Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6: WR
A bit more abundant on the waiver wires in most leagues are WRs, so here are some names you should look to add to your team. And no, I’m not listing the Cleveland Browns’ receivers that all the “experts” are suddenly so high on.
Mike Williams, Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers don’t have too consistent of an offense. Rookie RB Doug Martin has not yet proven that he can perform well on a weekly basis, and the same with youngster Josh Freeman, who has spoiled many fans’ breakout season hopes.
One thing that they do have going for them on offense is their wide receiving corps, led by star off-season acquisition Vincent Jackson.
In fact, “V.Jax” being their number one go-to guy is really the most consistent factor they’ve got going for them. So with defenses locking in on him, QB Freeman often has to look elsewhere, and so far their number two guy has been Mike Williams.
Owned in just over 57% of ESPN leagues, Williams has averaged 8.0 points per game headlined by 11-point efforts in week 2 and 4. We’ve seen in the past that Wiliams is talented, so the potential isn’t the question.
This week his talents may shine once again as they welcome the struggling Kansas City Chiefs to town. And while the Chiefs are struggling, the Bucs are too at 1-3 on the year. But they’ve now had two weeks to prepare for KC, so I think their offense will be plenty ready.
Don’t forget about how bad Tampa Bay’s defense can be, especially late in games as we saw exhibited in weeks 2 and 4 against New York and Washington, respectively. If the Chiefs are able to put up at least around 20 points or so, the Bucs will have to be in ‘throw mode’ at some point or other. And with Williams as the number two guy in that offense, he could be a solid play.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay
A great place to look for wide receivers are dominant, pass-heavy offenses. Obvious? I guess so, but even when you’re hesitant to bite on a guy who plays in an offense where the ball gets spread around, it’s often a much better bet than some of the other guys.
Owned in just 28.8% of ESPN leagues, Cobb is coming off of a strong 4-catch, 82-yard performance to go along with a touchdown this past Sunday.
Greg Jennings’ possible return does take away a bit from Cobb’s value, but it doesn’t change the fact that whenever the ball is thrown his way, there’s big-play potential – he’s that electric.
Green Bay plays undefeated Houston, which has a defensive unit that is one of the best in the game. But in primetime, I think the Packers will be able to put up some points, though they may have to get creative in doing so. Cobb provides the speed and talent needed to harness said creativity, which is why I think he is a good play.
Let’s make it clear – Cobb is a high risk/high reward guy. If your matchup this week doesn’t seem too favorable and you’re looking for someone that at least has a chance to have a big game, Cobb is a good guy to look to.
Andre Roberts, Arizona
No Arizona receivers have been great this year, including Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald. Matter of fact, their highest scorer in standard ESPN leagues at the receiver position is indeed the man of the hour (or the minute it’ll take you to read this blurb), Andre Roberts.
Averaging 9.8 points per game, Roberts is only owned in 29.1% of ESPN leagues as he’s coming off his worst fantasy output of the year – 3 points on 5 receptions totaling 39 yards.
But he’s set himself apart as the consistent number two target behind Larry Fitzgerald. And with no proven running game, the Cardinals are going to want to come out of the gates throwing the ball against the Bills after their first loss last week.
The Bills are letting up an average of 28 fantasy points per week to opposing WRs, so some of those points are bound to go to Roberts. As long as defenses continue to lock in on Fitz, as they will all year, targets are bound to keep going Roberts’ way.
If his weakest performance came last week and consisted of 5 receptions, then he’s bound to put up a respectable number for fantasy owners more weeks than not.
What’s most appealing is the 10 targets that he saw. I buy into receiver’s targets … maybe too much. But it tells you how much the offense sets up for a given WR and how much the QB does or does not favor him. So when I see double digit targets and several receptions more weeks than not, I see a solid, safe play.
Chris Givens, St. Louis
In the deeper leagues it can be really tough to find waiver wire pickups on a weekly basis – trust me, I know your pain.
But St. Louis’ Chris Givens may be someone worthy of stashing on your bench this week. Sam Bradford’s favorite target Danny Amendola is out for about a month, and Givens is likely to be the guy starting alongside Brandon Gibson.
Givens only has one catch in each of the Rams’ last two games, but each of them went for over 50 yards (52, 51). Last week’s even went for a touchdown. Since he’ll be on the field more than he has to this point, the opportunity is there.
Say Sam Bradford targets him 4 times on short-to-mid level passes and 3 times on big-play attempts. If he could pull in just two of the shorter balls and 1 of the longer ones, he could easily give you somewhere around a 5 point performance in a standard scoring league.
Givens is risky, but if you’re not too confident about your chances going into Week 6′s matchup, are in a deep league, and aren’t afraid of taking a big chance, then Givens probably appeals to you.
Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6: TE
Jared Cook, Tennessee
This explanation will be rather simple:
While Jared Cook is very talented and has caught a touchdown in 2 of his last 3 games, those aren’t the reasons I’m listing him as a sleeper for Week 6. For one, Matt Hasselbeck is starting, who favors him more than normal starter Jake Locker does. In addition to his recent success, the Steelers, who the Titans are playing on Thursday night have let up scores to opposing TE’s in 3 of their 4 games this season.
As I mentioned earlier in the “Quarterbacks” section of the piece, I think Tennessee will be in a position to throw the ball a lot, so I wouldn’t be surprised if at least somewhere around 9 or 10 targets went Cook’s way.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota
Minnesota has surprised many of us this season, currently only with 1 loss on the young season. But what shouldn’t surprise us too much is the success of young tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Rudolph, a very smart and sound player in his 2nd year out of Notre Dame fits perfectly with Christian Ponder, the Vikings’ sophomore QB who is not known for having a huge arm, but for being accurate and extremely smart under center. So it makes perfect sense that a QB like that would rely on someone like Rudolph, a very under-control, disciplined player.
Rudolph is 9th among fantasy tight ends in ESPN standard leagues, averaging 7.6 points per game, but he is owned in just over half of ESPN’s leagues and started in barely over one-third of ‘em.
If you’re looking for a TE to start this week, he’s definitely a good sleeper against a weak Washington Redskins defense who ranks 31st against TE’s, allowing over 11.2 PPG to them. Rudolph, like Cook is a very wise pickup not only for this week, but for the rest of the season.
Fantasy Football Sleepers for Week 6: Defense/ST
New England Patriots
Owned in 42.9% of ESPN leagues and started in just 25.8% of them, the Patriots have been pretty solid fantasy-wise, averaging 7.6 PPG in standard leagues. Why have them as a sleeper this week, though? Well, Russell Wilson and Co. in Seattle just aren’t very good offensively.
Lackluster defenses like St. Louis and Carolina have done well against the Seahawks in each of the last two weeks, scoring 12 and 17 points against Pete Carroll’s boys respectively. If you’re one who plays defenses week-by-week, the Pats should be a safe play this week with the potential to put up a lot of points.
If Tom Brady gets his team out to a comfortable lead, Russell Wilson could start to try to force things against their defense while trying to play catch-up, which likely won’t go too well. Especially considering the replacement refs are gone, and all.