Week 16: Super Sleepers
There's a reason we call these guys super sleepers. Often times they are filling in for a starter or we believe they'll get enough touches in garbage time to make them fantasy worthy. These guys aren't going to carry your team to the playoffs, but they could come in handy during a bye week or to fill a gap due to injury. If you're looking for someone then check these guys out. A good number of these guys are still available in a majority of leagues.
The Redskins may have nothing to play for, but that didn't seem to stop them last week and I don't think it will slow them down this week either when Washington hosts Minnesota. The Vikings' pass defense is one of the worst in the league. Through 14 games Minnesota has allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish with an average rating of 110.8 (league worst). In addition, the Vikings have allowed a league high 31 passing touchdowns. This could lead to big numbers for Grossman in what is likely the Championship game in many fantasy leagues.
Last Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs (led by Kyle Orton) handed the Green Bay Packers their first loss of the 2011-12 season. In doing so, Kansas City kept their playoff hopes alive. With wins the final two weeks against Oakland and Denver along with some help from Buffalo this week and Detroit this week or Oakland next week; the Chiefs could still win the AFC West. A big part of the Chiefs' success in their final two games will be the play of Kyle Orton. Against Green Bay, Orton completed 23 of 31 for 299 yards with no touchdowns and (more importantly) no interceptions. From a fantasy perspective, these are not great numbers however, if Orton sprinkles in a couple of touchdowns things look pretty good. This week's game against the Raiders could easily turn into a shootout. The Raiders have allowed the second most passing touchdowns in the league (27) and are ranked 23rd in yards allowed. If you're looking for a quarterback to start this weekend then check out Orton. His performance Saturday may surprise you.
If there is one thing the Broncos like to do it is run the ball. Last week against the Patriots (whose pass defense is the worst in the league), we saw Denver run for 252 yards and three touchdowns while passing the ball for just 194 yards. One would expect when you're up against a poor pass defense that throwing the ball would be the better option, but that's not how the Broncos operate. This week Denver heads to Buffalo to face a Bills run defense that is ranked 29th in the league, allowing nearly 140 yards per game. I have a feeling that we're going to see some big rushing numbers from the Broncos this Saturday. A key player in all this will be Lance Ball, who last week carried the ball 11 times for 64 yards and had 2 receptions for 41 yards; That's over 100 all purpose yards and oh by the way he took one to the house too. McGahee provides the power for this offense, while Ball provides the finesse. I believe we could see another 100 all purpose yard game from Lance this Saturday.
I wouldn't classify Stewart as a super sleeper, but when you look at Carolina's run game and see Williams and Newton with more rushing yards, Jonathan kind of falls into the background for many fantasy owners. This causes some to call Stewart a "sleeper" from time to time. While you may overlook Stewart for this reason, I caution against that this weekend. This weekend the Panthers are hosting a Bucs team which has lost 8 straight games. Tampa's run defense has been just awful over this stretch and Carolina's run game will take full advantage. Three weeks ago (when these two teams played in Tampa), the trio of Stewart, Newton and Williams ran for 163 yards with 4 touchdowns. That's right, Carolina scored 4 times on the ground in that game. Stewart led the team in yards with 80 and found the end zone once while Newton picked up the remaining 3 rushing touchdowns. We could easily see another game with 3-4 rushing touchdowns when these two meet up on Saturday. If for some reason you were thinking of not starting Stewart, think again. He should have another solid game for fantasy owners this weekend.
One thing that many fantasy owners probably never thought they'd see is Tomlinson's name on a super sleeper list. However, due to injuries and less than stellar play this season, Tomlinson is nowhere near a top tier (or even a solid flex start) this season. In fact, last week we saw LT finish the game with just 3 carries for 9 yards and 4 receptions for 12 yards. The week before Tomlinson scored a touchdown on one of 2 receptions for 50 yards, so his numbers were not all that bad. This week the Jets host the Giants, whose run defense this season has been mediocre at best. The Giants' run defense is currently ranked 22nd in the league, allowing 127 yards per game. I expect the Jets to try and control the clock through the run game and Tomlinson should be a key piece to the game plan. I don't believe we'll see 100 yards rushing from LT, but 30-40 on the ground (with another 30-40 receiving) is not out of the question. Both New York teams are playing for their playoff lives, so this game should be a barn burner. If this happens, a number of players in this game (including Tomlinson) could post quality fantasy numbers.