Last week I brought to you guys the first edition of my weekly fantasy football sleepers piece, and to a bit of my surprise it wasn’t half bad.
I provided some suggestions for you guys that worked out, which I recognize is probably the only way I can gain your trust.
From Week 6’s list, the following ‘sleepers’ came through, at least to a solid extent:
- QB – Matt Hasselbeck, TEN: 290 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
- RB – Cedric Peerman, CIN: 8 receptions, 76 yards
- WR – Mike Williams, TB: 117 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
- WR – Randall Cobb, GB: 7 receptions, 102 yards
- WR – Chris Givens, STL: 3 receptions, 85 yards
- TE – Kyle Rudolph, MIN: 6 receptions, 56 yards, 1 touchdown
I also gave you guys some sneaky pickups that could have more long-term value like Jacquizz Rodgers, Jared Cook, and so forth … so I recommend you stick with those guys!
And now, I’ve got some more names for you guys who are scrambling to find the sleepers of Week 7. Remember to comment below this post with your questions, and I’ll do my best to get back to each and every one of you.
Anyway, here we go …
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 7: QB
Coming off of his best game of the season, both football- and fantasy football-wise, is Tampa Bay’s third-year man Josh Freeman.
Last week the Kansas State Wildcat threw for 328 yards, including 3 touchdown passes, at home against the lowly Chiefs last Sunday. And this Sunday the Buccaneers will welcome the New Orleans Saints to town.
The Saints are 27th on ESPN fantasy football against QBs, with those opponents scoring 19.4 points per contest. The dynamics of the Bucs’ offense seem to be coming together whether it be with wide receiver roles for Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams or with Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount (who we’ll discuss soon) with the ground attack.
I don’t think Freeman is quite ready to completely turn the corner and become the consistent force Tampa Bay thinks he can be, but I do think this week’s matchup, at the very least, bodes well for him in all aspects of the game.
If you’re one of the couple teams in your league that doesn’t have a surefire every-week starter at QB, then Freeman is definitely a good option to turn to for Week 7.
He is owned in about two thirds of ESPN leagues, but he is started in next-to-none of them. So if he’s available or on your bench, don’t be too wary of giving him the nod this Sunday.
The Harvard graduate and Buffalo Bills man under center started off 2012 well but has struggled mightily of late, combining for only 9 fantasy points through his last two games. Still, the 12 touchdown passes he had through the first four games of the season catch your eye.
Is there an explanation? There is indeed – and a pretty simple one at that: the matchups.
The defenses he’s done well against are the Jets, Chiefs, Browns, and Patriots, while the two defenses he’s faced most recently – and struggled against – are the very tough Cardinals and 49ers, both of which were faced on the road.
This week, the Bills are playing the Titans, who are 31st against the QB in ESPN leagues. They’ve let up 17, 21, 32, 16, 17, and 17 points this year while facing mediocre fantasy quarterbacks like Philip Rivers, Christian Ponder, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Schaub. So simply put, Fitzpatrick is the safest of the safe plays this week.
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 7: RB
As mentioned earlier, the Buccaneers offense looks to be coming together even though they’ve only been able to fully figure it out against poor defenses. But again, the Saints are indeed a poor team defensively.
While Doug Martin has been very serviceable for head coach Greg Schiano, it looks like LeGarrette Blount is starting to become more & more involved in the offense. In week 3 he carried the ball just four times, but then they gave it to him six times in week 4 and seven times after the bye in week 6.
Blount is fresh off of scoring in consecutive weeks and having his most productive game in a while this past Sunday. He averaged an impressive 8.29 yards per carry against Kansas City. I know it was the Chiefs. Nonetheless, the Saints are 32nd in ESPN leagues against running backs, so this week’s matchup may set up even better for LGB.
Blount will definitely be the goalline back more often than not, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs’ coaching staff wants to lay off of Doug Martin a bit to preserve him and keep his durability high during his rookie season.
If you have Blount, I think he is a great option to put in at the FLEX this week, and he could be more of a valuable piece to your team throughout the season than you would’ve thought a few weeks ago.
“J. Stew” may be the biggest ‘name’ of this week’s list, but he is possibly also the biggest surprise of the pack to make an appearance.
In the two weeks he’s seen substantial action, Stewart has rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries and 40 yards on 10 carries, which combines for a very solid 4.33 yards per carry. He hasn’t done much of anything in the other 3 games the Panthers have played, but I’ve got a hunch that he’s about to become a more consistent part of their offense.
With Cam Newton struggling in more weeks than not so far this season, it would be extremely logical for head coach Ron Rivera to try to build a foundation from the running game. If they can make defenses bunch up more near the line in an attempt to stop Stewart and DeAngelo Williams, things could really open up and the Panthers could start scoring some more points.
So let’s say the Panthers do start running the ball more … the question of J. Stew or DeAngelo is still raised.
Well, DeAngelo has only averaged 3.6 yards per carry this year and is coming off of a 6 rushes/6 yards/lost fumble performance before their week 6 bye. While that alone won’t have the coaching staff losing faith in Williams, it certainly won’t help … especially in Week 7.
The Panthers’ opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, are middle-of-the-pack against fantasy RBs, so adding Stewart to the list is more based on my hunch than the other sleeper picks, which are mainly influenced by their given matchups.
But while looking for more statistics to give to you guys as far as this sleeper pick goes, I did find something …
In the seasons that Jonathan Stewart has been most successful throughout his 4+ year career, he’s really picked it up in the latter half of the season, particularly in 2008 when he had many big games, 2009 when he had 9 total touchdowns from Week 7 on, and in both ’10 and ’11 when his YPC suddenly spiked.
Stewart is only started in 23.3% of ESPN leagues, which tells me his owners aren’t too confident in him. And understandably so. But if history tells us anything, it’s that he’s bound to become much more valuable in the near future.
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 7: WR
The Titans’ Kendall Wright may not be able to be called a sleeper for long. But considering he’s only owned in 14.5% of ESPN leagues, you still have to classify him in that category.
In weeks 5 and 6, Wright totaled 15 receptions and 137 yards. He just missed his 3rd touchdown catch of the year last Thursday night, which would have gone along with his scoring grabs in weeks 2 & 4.
As you can tell, he’s been pretty consistent in 2012, with weeks 1 and 3 being the only times he hasn’t produced at least a serviceable effort for fantasy owners. With Kenny Britt back, healthy, and producing more regularly, there’s a good chance Wright may not be able to put up huge fantasy numbers on a regular basis. But I do think he’ll still see many targets as team’s number 1 cornerbacks will be focusing in on Britt each and every week.
This week, the Titans are facing the Bills, who are undoubtedly one of the league’s worst pass defenses. QB Matt Hasselbeck should be able to have a solid day, as he was able to rack up 290 yards last week against the much tougher Pittsburgh Steelers.
As reported by the Florida Times-Union, Jaguars’ head coach Mike Mularkey is planning to get rookie first-round draft pick Justin Blackmon more involved in the offense as of Week 7. Obviously, that’s a statement that’s easy to read too much into, as it very well may have just been something said to please fans and the media.
Nonetheless, there’s some reason to believe that it may finally be Blackmon’s time to shine.
Over the past two weeks, Blackmon has brought in 9 catches after only grabbing 4 through the first 3 weeks, so he’s progressing in the right direction. If the Jags’ coaching staff is going to start focusing in on someone, it may as well be Blackmon. I mean, just take a look at the Jacksonville’s WR corps’ stats:
- Cecil Shorts: 8 receptions, 205 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Justin Blackmon: 13 receptions, 119 yards
- Laurent Robinson: 9 receptions, 134 yards
- Mike Thomas: 7 receptions, 44 yards
- Kevin Elliot: 5 receptions, 46 yards
- Taylor Price: 2 receptions, 39 yards
With a favorable matchup against Oakland, who ranks 22nd against WRs in ESPN fantasy leagues, plus the comment from Coach Mularkey, why not Week 7 for Blackmon?
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 7: TE
Mercedes “The Benz” Lewis is coming off of his season-high 5-catch effort two weeks ago (bye week) against Chicago, but he has really struggled to please fantasy owners on a consistent basis so far. He did catch touchdown passes in weeks 1 and 4, but he hasn’t done much outside of that.
Like we just discussed with Justin Blackmon, there should be some offensive production to be had this week against Oakland. I’d predict that Blaine Gabbert will throw for about 250 yards, give or take about 30. Considering all of their pass catchers have not been able to do much of anything outside of a big Cecil Shorts catch here and there, Lewis, as a security blanket, could be the safest pick going forward, including this Sunday.
Considering that the Jaguars can’t expect to make a playoff run in this 2012-2013 season, they may as well start throwing the ball early and often. If they still think Blaine Gabbert is their future QB, why not let him do his thing and be a gunslinger?
The Jaguars have a lot of favorable matchups coming up against poor pass defenses, so Lewis could have some solid weeks going forward and serve as a nice TE2 to stock on your bench.
Bills’ TE Scott Chandler had 4 touchdowns through the first 4 weeks played, but he has cooled off of late.
Though he’s only totaled 2 points the last 2 weeks, he’s still the 7th highest TE scorer in standard ESPN leagues. And like I said earlier when discussing his QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, I think that really comes down to the matchups they had weeks 1-4 and then in weeks 5 and 6. Luckily, they face the worst team against TEs, the Tennessee Titans, in Week 7.
Although my favorite receiver for the Bills is still Stevie Johnson, Chandler is closing the gap … especially in the red zone. Chandler is a guy that you should pick up immediately, as he’s only owned in about 54% of ESPN leagues. He’ll be well worth it from here on out.
Fantasy Football Sleepers Week 7: D/ST
Green Bay Packers
This call was tough for me. There’s several middle-of-the-road defenses going against lackluster offenses in Week 7. So where I chose to look was to St. Louis, which is where the Green Bay Packers will be headed this Sunday.
The Packers have had three solid defensive performances so far in 2012 and three others that weren’t so impressive. Nonetheless, they are fresh off of a very impressive win over Houston in primetime, so what I’m doing with this pick is trying to ride the hot hand.
The Rams don’t have a very electrifying offense, though they do have some very capable players. Green Bay has been good against the run this year, and if they can hold Steven Jackson and the running game to a mediocre performance, then QB Sam Bradford won’t have much of a foundation built to really shock the defense and throw to his receivers like Chris Givens and Brandon Gibson.
All in all, I think this is one of the safer plays among the lower-end D/ST’s in Week 7 because Green Bay is indeed a good team and St. Louis isn’t quite that just yet. It sounds simple, but sometimes you just can’t read too far into things.
Make sure to ask your fantasy football questions below or tweet them to @zach_gropper, and he’ll try to get back to each and every one of you!