SleepersOctober 5, 2012

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Sleeper Watch

By R.J. White

We’re back to looking for sleepers in Week 5. This week, we touch upon a running back in Green Bay who could reclaim his starting role, a running back in San Francisco who could be a goal-line threat, a receiver in Cleveland who could capitalize on injuries and ineffectiveness to emerge as a No. 1 threat, a receiver in New York that is the new No. 1 passing-game option by default and a quarterback in New York who could be the savior (but probably not The Savior).

RB James Starks, GB at IND

Starks is set to make his 2012 debut this week after missing the first four weeks with turf toe. Cedric Benson is entrenched as the starter, and the team seems satisfied on the surface with Benson so far, but I have to point out that he’s only gaining 3.6 yards per carry on the ground this season. In fact, he’s only topped 4.0 YPC once since 2007. If I’m the coach, I’m looking for someone better. Starks had 4.3 YPC in this offense last season and could be a candidate for lead-back duties when 100 percent. That’s probably not going to happen this week, but he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues just in case.

RB Brandon Jacobs, SF vs. BUF

Like Starks, Jacobs has yet to play in a game this season and, like Starks, Jacobs is set to return in Week 5. Frank Gore has had a great month of production, but the coaches will likely give Jacobs short-yardage and goal-line work moving forward. The Bills are tied as the second-worst team at allowing rushing TDs with six surrendered this season. Jacobs could provide owners with a plunge or two over the stripe this week, making him worth a look if you’re struggling at RB.

WR Josh Gordon, CLE at NYG

The Browns receiving corps was never good to begin with, but it’s taken some hits with Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin dealing with injuries. That puts Gordon in the position to see an extended role this week against the Giants, a team that has allowed a lot of production to receivers this year. Gordon has been impressing in practice and could be close to turning a corner in his development. The opportunity is there for a receiver to emerge in Cleveland, as Greg Little simply isn’t getting the job done at this point. Gordon will have a battle on his hands against Prince Amukamara this Sunday, and we’ll see if he can win out.

WR Jeremy Kerley, NYJ vs. HOU

The Jets are hurting at wideout with Santonio Holmes out for the year and rookie Stephen Hill likely out again this week with a hamstring injury. Unfortunately for them, they’ll likely have to pass a lot on Monday night as the Texans figure to control that game. That could be good news for Kerley, who has managed to catch two TDs in his first four games. He has just 10 catches this season, but his number of targets figures to rise here. The Texans don’t allow a lot of production to WRs, but this is a volume pick more than a matchup pick. Kerley is the Jets’ No. 1 option for the immediate future.

QB Tim Tebow, NYJ vs. HOU

With how poorly the Jets offense has performed over the last three weeks, there’s a very real chance that Tebow will be the starter by this point next week. He was a fantasy boon last season thanks mostly to his rushing numbers, and he could be a worthy fantasy play if he gets the starting job. With the Jets sunk at the receiver position, what is there to lose? Owners that need a QB should try and find a spot for Tebow before game time, because if he does in fact get named the starter, he’ll be the hottest commodity on the waiver wire next week.

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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