SleepersSeptember 13, 2012

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Sleeper Watch

By R.J. White

Bradley Cooper hit you with several great plays in the Week 1 Sleepers column, including Week 1 breakout Stevan Ridley. I’m going to dig deep and look for a few guys that could pay off huge in Week 2.

QB Josh Freeman, TB at NYG

The Giants just can’t stay healthy at cornerback, and Terrell Thomas suffered yet another season-ending injury to decimate the unit once more. With Prince Amukamara (another regular on the injury report) recovering from a high ankle sprain, the Giant cornerback squad is again Corey Webster et al. That’s good news for Freeman, as he has two quality receivers to target in the passing game as well as a good pass-catching back in Doug Martin. If Freeman gets any time to throw, he should have a very nice performance.

QB Andy Dalton, CIN vs. CLE

The Browns completely shut down Michael Vick in Week 1, but now they take to the road to face division rival Cincinnati without Joe Haden, who’s serving the first game of a four-game suspension this week. Haden was the only match for A.J. Green, and when you throw in Jermaine Gresham and an emerging Andrew Hawkins, Dalton should be able to rack up impressive first-half numbers in Week 2.

RB Alfred Morris, WAS at STL

Morris had himself a nice little breakout in Week 1, picking up 96 yards and two TDs on 28 carries. Of course, everything can change at anytime with Mike Shenanihan at the helm, so maybe we should actually be plugging Roy Helu or Evan Royster. Either way, Washington goes up against a defense that just surrendered two TDs to Kevin Smith, so a big RB performance wouldn’t be surprising at all. Could it possibly come from free agent Tim Hightower? You know Mike’s thinking about it.

RB Pierre Thomas, NO at CAR

Thomas didn’t get much action in Week 1, touching the ball just five times, but when he was called upon he did well, racking up 17 rushing yards and 12 receiving yards. Mark Ingram was less than inspiring, rushing for 15 yards on six carries, so the door is open for Thomas to play clock-killer in Week 2 if the Saints are staked to a second-half lead. Against the Panthers, there’s a decent chance that could happen.

WR Dexter McCluster, KC at BUF

The slot receiver was called upon often in Week 1, picking up a team-high 10 targets against the Falcons and catching six passes for 82 yards. He’s clearly a focal point of the offense, so much more so than Jon Baldwin or Steve Breaston at this point. He’s a PPR boon but also worth using in standard leagues against the Bills. Buffalo allowed Jets slot receiver Jeremy Kerley to catch four passes for 45 yards and a TD last week, and it’s hard to imagine McCluster not topping that.

WR Brandon Stokley, DEN at ATL

The Falcons were dealt a huge blow when Brent Grimes suffered a season-ending injury last week, and it allowed McCluster to post big totals. Now the Falcons face Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 2, and if the pattern holds, Stokley could be in for a big game. He and Manning have a familiarity from their time in Indianapolis, and he managed two early catches last week for 36 yards. Those numbers could be on the rise in Week 2.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe and contributes to's MLB Rumors blog. He has previously written for FanHouse, Razzball and FanDuel. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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