Week 9: Super Sleepers
This week I have two QBs who will keep starting, four wide outs for deep format help, a ghost from the past running back and a newly minted TE1.
There are a slew of QBs out with injuries or churning in the quarterback blender on a struggling team. I lost Jay Cutler and now have to decide to keep with Terrelle Pryor or consider other options. This week Jason Campbell appears to be a good candidate on paper. Josh McCown looks like another option, as do Christian Ponder and Thad Lewis. Cleveland will be at home this week vs. a 3-4 Baltimore team that is coming off the bye. Campbell threw for nearly 300 yards and two TDs last week. If you need a plug-n-play QB this week, Campbell should be on your short list in 12-team plus formats as he could make a sneaky play. I suspect we will see the air attack often from both offenses and Campbell will be asked to attempt another 35 plus passes. Given this scenario, Campbell should be able to put up some solid fantasy numbers staying in sync with Josh Gordon. He excelled last week against a stout Kansas City defense and now faces a Baltimore defense allowing the 16th most fantasy points to QBs. Look for Campbell to outperform expectations again this week.
Of the lesser evils that we may need to consider at QB this week are Christian Ponder, Jason Campbell, Josh McCown and Thad Lewis. This week I picked Ponder and Campbell as guys who could surprise. Ponder makes the cut because of his match-up against a Dallas defense that allows the most fantasy points to QBs this season. Ponder had a lackluster game in Week 8 in his return as a starter. So far this week Leslie Frazier has not named his QB, but has eliminated Matt Cassel from the running. That means Ponder is likely to get the nod, but Josh Freeman could steal the day. If Freeman starts, avoid him like the plague. If Ponder starts, I think he has the ability to short-pass the Dallas defense to death and also capitalize on his rushing ability.
Dexter McCluster added his first TD of the season in Week 8 and has now had back-to-back games with 70 and 67 yards receiving. He is the possession receiver choice of Alex Smith and has the ability to add real value as a short and intermediate passing game target. This week the potent Kansas City offense faces a weak Buffalo defense that is allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers this season. The odds are stacked in McCluster's favor this week given the match-up and his increasing role. In 14 plus team formats, he is a plug-n-play this week before his Week 10 bye.
James Starks is a ghost of fantasy running backs past, but he still has it. Coming off a knee injury, Starks returned to back-up Eddie Lacy last week and rushed seven times for 57 yards and a late second half score. Starks filled in nicely in Week 2 with Lacy out and is definitely Lacy's handcuff. However, if Green Bay can play from the lead, Starks could capitalize fantasy-wise off garbage time. This week I like the odds of Starks cleaning things up against a Chicago team reeling at the loss of Jay Cutler. Chicago will not likely be able to keep pace with Green Bay offensively. Starks will see his 8-10 touches and maybe more given how the game plays out. Starks is a RB4 in most leagues, but in deep leagues his 50-60 yards and scoring potential is appealing.
With Roddy White hobbled and Julio Jones lost for the season, the Atlanta receiving corps has had to drastically transform. Drew Davis has emerged as a secondary option to Harry Douglas for Matt Ryan. The appeal to Davis is his ability to play every snap opposite Douglas, his now Julio Jones-esque role in the offense, and his awareness in creating separation to make plays. Matt Ryan is going to have to throw early and often given the struggles of Atlanta's rushing attack. This means more targets for a guy like Davis and in deep leagues he could be the medicine your fantasy team has been looking for. This week he faces a Carolina team that is not giving up much to wideouts, but if Ryan is throwing then Davis has a chance to produce.