Welcome to The Huddle’s Deep Sleeper Report for Week 1. Here, we’ll take a look at a few linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs that are “one injury away” (that is, a backup to a stud and just one injury away from being a fantasy somebody), or players worth a look in extremely deep leagues. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss the players in further detail or recommend a name or two. For purposes of this article, we’re pulling players that are free agents in a 12-team dynasty league.
Kevin Burnett (SDC): When given regular playing time, Burnett puts up pretty solid stats. In games that he actually played in 2009, he averaged right around 10 fantasy points per game (ppg). He’ll share time with Brandon Siler as one of the ILBs for the Bolts, but could emerge if he stays healthy.
Keith Ellison (BUF): With Paul Posluszny shelved in the early part of 2009, Ellison had a pretty solid first half of the season. Then he went down with injury, and “boom goes the sleeper dynamite”. Ellison’s relatively healthy here in 2010, but could have trouble fitting into the Bills’ 3-4 defense. If he proves he can play in the 3-4, he could put up decent LB4/5 stats in larger leagues.
Scott Shanle (NOS): Shanle is a heady linebacker that averaged a tick under 10 fantasy ppg last season and will start on the weak side of the LBs for the aggressive Saint defense. The Super Bowl Champs will be teeing off on old man Favre come Thursday night.
Other to Consider: Channing Crowder (MIA)
Robaire Smith (DE – CLE): The Browns may actually stop the run with some effectiveness again in 2010. To boot, Smith should be able to get to Buc QB Josh Freeman at least a couple times come Sunday.
Daniel Muir (DT – IND): If you’re in a larger league that starts DT, Muir is worth a look. He had a decent second half to the 2009 season and the interior of the Texan line is somewhat penetrable.
Other to Consider: Tony Brown (DT - TEN)
Jim Leonhard (S – NYJ): Leonhard is the strong safety for one of the best defenses in the NFL. He scored just under 10 fantasy ppg last season, and could be a decent third DB in larger leagues this week against the Ravens new-look passing offense.
Jacob Lacey (CB – IND): I’ve heard some rumors that Lacey could be the best corner the Colts have, and has flashes of absolute brilliance in camp/preseason. He had some big games in 2009 and could perform well against the Texans this week.
Other to Consider: Chris Johnson (CB – OAK)