This week, we’re keeping it simple. A couple of sleepers at every position. Are these guys going to be viable every week? Probably not. Some of them are going to only be fine as a weekly play, but hey, we all need stopgaps until we stumble across our own personal Odell Beckham. Some, though? Some might just end up lasting you a good long while. So let’s get to it!
Ryan Mallett, HOU – If you haven’t picked up Mallett yet, then it may be too late at this point. If he’s hovering around your waivers, though, there are few QB sleepers that are more intriguing. Mallett has a huge arm and in his first drive, he threw a strike to Nuk Hopkins. While he may not be the most accurate QB out there, his huge arm offers a lot of potential. Definitely a high risk, high reward play, but it’s one that I’m taking.
Kendall Wright, TEN – All I’m going to tell you here is to watch the tape. With the move from Locker and Mettenberger to Mariota, there’s a distinct change in Tennessee’s offensive style. In week one, there were a number of plays meant to get Wright open in space, taking advantage of what made him so special in Baylor. If the Titans keep this in their game plan, this could be a career year for Wright.
Devin Street, DAL – With Dez Bryant out, those targets have to go somewhere. Cole Beasley has a well-defined role in the offense that shouldn’t see too much of an increase in targets. Brice Butler hasn’t had time to get up to speed with the Scott Linehan offense. My bet is on Devin Street. He’s got great size and speed, but there are questions about his ability to get off of press coverage. A few years in an NFL strength and conditioning program should make that a bit easier for him than it was in college, though.
Dion Lewis, NE – While it’s taken Lewis 3 years to get to this point, he’s finally one of the lead backs in an NFL RBBC. Most people tell you that you should avoid New England running backs, but I say that logic isn’t always true. Despite his fumbling, there is little competition in New England that matches up to Lewis in the speed back role. He has great vision, hip fluidity, and patience. It won’t be long before Lewis isn’t a sleeper anymore.
Benny Cunningham, StL – Once again, Tre Mason and Todd Gurley are likely out for the week. After an admirable performance as the lead back, Cunningham proved that he can hold his own. If you need a spot start at RB, Cunningham is your guy. While the offensive line shouldn’t be completely trusted just yet, Cunningham should still function as a good RB2.
Henry Anderson, IND – One of the few bright spots on Indianapolis’ terrible defense last week was Henry Anderson. Although he spends far too much time on the ground, Anderson has the length and athleticism to always make plays on the ball. For tackle-heavy leagues, Anderson is a great up-and-comer at the DT position.
Phillip Hunt, DET – Hunt has bounced around the league, the CFL, etc. Finally, he’s find a place that he has a substantial role in Detroit, where he’s a high end rotational end. In that role, he managed a sack and multiple defensive stops. The small, quick DE is in a great place to clean up plays, especially with studs like Haloti Ngata and Ezekiel Ansah as his linemates.
Jared Crick, HOU – The Houston DE that no one has heard of is finally coming into his own. The 26 year old who lines up opposite of Watt started to emerge last year, and he is finally showing just what he can do in a starting role. Crick is a thick 6’4” with long arms to reach into the backfield. While players are running from Watt and new linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, Crick will be there to clean up the mess.
Preston Smith, WAS – No, we’re not going to expect him to repeat his week 1 performance where he had ridiculous production with a sack, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and two tackles. It would be absurd to believe that he would do that multiple weeks in a row. But this is what he’s capable of. Being a game changer. If he lives up to his early production, Washington fans won’t miss Brian Orakpo for long.
Marcus Peters, KC – While his game for the week is over, if he isn’t on a roster, pick him up now. He was unanimously considered to be the best cornerback in the 2015 draft, and he’s shown it in every game he’s played at the NFL level. He blanketed Demaryius Thomas for most of the Denver game, which in itself is a feat. While I generally advise to steer clear of corners for your DB position, if you can’t get a safety that you like or have a designated CB spot, then Peters is a hell of a pickup.
Jason Verrett, SD – Verrett is one of my favorite corners in the league. While he may not be big, Verrett is an athletic monster that just plays the position with such skill. To put Verrett’s skill level in perspective, the Detroit Lions avoided throwing to Calvin Johnson while he was covered by Verrett. Now that’s saying something.
Adrian Amos, CHI – Chicago’s defense sucks. Awful. And they’re going to be even worse this week with Pernell McPhee out. And who’s to benefit? Young safety duo Brock Vereen and Adrian Amos. If my hunch is correct, Amos is the one of the pair that you should be really betting on. Back in college, Amos was incredibly well-rounded, able to make plays on the ball in the air and against the run. He’s aggressive, but not overly so. Amos has a sort of veteran presence despite his young age. Pick him up now before he flourishes and gets expensive.
Jaquiski Tartt, SF – I said at an early point this offseason that I’m avoiding any San Francisco players. At this point, though, I’m beginning to feel comfortable gambling on the unpolished but intriguing Tartt. While he may not be close to a finished project, Tartt’s role should be a productive one, taking over not only at safety, but at the nickel linebacker role as well.
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