SleepersDecember 10, 2008

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Sleeper Watch

By Roberto Baltazar

Injuries to our fantasy players are starting to bite and their owners are starting to feel the pain. Suddenly, backups have become hot properties to own and if you are not fast enough to catch them in your free agency or waiver wire moves, the glimmer of hope on your path towards reaching the finish line could become dim. Desperate times call for desperate moves so let’s see if there are players worth picking up to plug and play this week to help save some owners from fading into the dark side of the fantasy world.

QB: Seneca Wallace - Hasselbeck with his injured back won’t likely return this week. This means that Wallace could be the candle that can help 2QB league owners see a shadow of hope in their quest for the superbowl championship. Wallace was given the starting job last week against the Patriots and managed to produce 3 touchdowns and 212 passing yards. This week’s matchup against the Rams should be more favorable to him as the meek Rams’ defense has allowed opposing quarterbacks to post huge passing yardages (Warner was able to throw for 279 yards and a touchdown last week). With that in mind and considering the Seahawks have some good offensive weapons to work with including Branch, Engram, and Carlson, Wallace is definitely worth playing this week.

QB: Jason Campbell – The Bengals’ weak pass rush defense should enable Campbell to get back on track with his passing game. Injuries to their offensive line, however, might be a factor. Start him only if you are desperate for a quarterback.

RB: Maurice Jones-Drew – With Fragile Freddie finally out for the season, MJD rises to the top of our sleeper RB list. MJD, with his power running style and good receiving talent, ala Westy, is poised to make a big fantasy impact in PPR Leagues and could reward his patient owners with solid numbers this week and for the remainder of the season. MJD shared carries with Taylor last week against the grizzly Bears defense, but was still able to produce 21.7 fantasy points specifically in leagues which includes scoring for return yards. This week, MJD will be playing against the Packers whose run defense is not that good, so start him with confidence.

RB: Sammy Morris – Fully healed and in a much better shape, Morris is a solid option at the RB2/flex position this week as he will be playing against the Raiders’ horrible run defense which ranks 30th in the league.

RB: Dominic Rhodes – The Colts will be playing against the Lions’ last ranked run defense which has allowed 23 rushing touchdowns this year. And if Addai cannot play this week, consider him as a solid sleeper. Expect Rhodes to see a lot of touches and yardage and surprise his owners with 2 touchdowns.

RB: Leron McClain – With McGahee and Rice injured and questionable to play this week, the Ravens will once again have to rely on McClain for their running offense. He faces a tough matchup against the dreaded Steelers’ defense, but take note that during the last time they played the Ravens (Week 4), McClain was able to bully his way through the Steelers’ defense and was able to register 63 yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 3 catches and 26 receiving yards. If Tashard Choice was able to run for 88 yards and 78 receiving yards last week against the Men of Steel, then McClain with his aggressiveness might again be able to put up some decent numbers this week.

RB: Tatum Bell – Another injured back who goes by the name of Peyton Hillis will spend the rest of the season in the Broncos’ mobile infirmary. This means that the next player to be plugged in the backfield will be Tatum Bell. His name does “ring a bell” as he used to be the main running back and this means that he is already familiar with Shanahan’s system. At most, Tatum may just be a serviceable RB3 or flex play for this week as he would be facing a fiery Panthers defense. Just hope and pray that his fumbleitis would not reoccur, but if it does don’t be surprised if he ends up being benched.

RB: DeShaun Foster – He remains as a forgotten man until last week when he was called upon to replace an injured Gore. He could emerge as the starter if Gore is declared out and it will be interesting to see if he can still make an impact for a team where the Martz System is being established. Start him only if you are a very desperate owner looking for a third running back.

RB: Maurice Morris - He is playing against the Rams’ 29th ranked run defense but consider him only as a deep sleeper if you are desperate in the RB3/flex position as the Seahawks might also utilize Weaver and Duckett as additional weapons in their running offense.

WR: Randy Moss – This Patriot star receiver gathered some moss again and was a disappointment in the past 2 weeks and was hardly a factor in the close battle against the Seahawks. He will be playing against his former team, Oakland Raiders, and maybe that would serve as motivation for him to bring out his best and show some of his breathtaking catches.

WR: Davone Bess - Bess and Pennington are developing a good connection ever since Camarillo was injured. Last week, he was able to haul in 9 receptions/74 passing yards against the sloppy Bills. He could be a great sleeper this week in the WR3 role as he is playing against the 49ers’ defense which is ranked 25th against the pass.

WR: Deion Branch – He is back on track and was actually a sleeper wide receiver last week as he managed to register two touchdowns against his former team. He has a good and solid match-up this week against the Rams’ poor secondary, so a repeat performance is possible.

TE: Zach Miller – He has been the only major weapon in the Raiders’ passing offense. He has a favorable match-up this week against the Patriots weak secondary and aging defenders who have struggled to defend against tight ends. If his quarterback can exploit the Patriots’ questionable pass defense, there is a great chance for Miller to have a shot at hauling in 8 receptions, 64 yards, and catching a touchdown pass.

D/ST: Washington Redskins, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks – All these teams will be playing a team with a weak offense and weak defense so any of these defenses look to be solid sleeper defenses this week.

Roberto is a football enthusiast living in Asia and who recently became a Cafeholic. He's also a creative photographer and considered a signature design expert. You can catch up with Roberto in the Cafe Forums where he posts under the name of madaslives911.
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