Welcome to this week's Deep Sleeper Report. 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.
Matt Roth (CLE): He’s not built like your traditional, tackle-gobbling linebacker. He’ll never be a steady force in the tackle column. But he’s showing that he can at least tackle (6 solos last week), get to the opposing QB (2 sacks Week 4) and defend some passes (2 passes defended on the season). Worth a look in deep dynasty formats as a bye week or injury fill-in.
Takeo Spikes (SFO): Spikes was, at one point, a pretty fearsome force on the football field (that’s alliteration, folks). Now he’s clawing his way out of the doghouse in a 3-4 scheme, fighting for tackles with one of the game’s elite in Patrick Willis. Still, Spikes will show flashes of brilliance and can help your deep dynasty league team.
Cameron Wake (MIA): Wake is apparently flourishing in the Miami defensive scheme, totaling 3.5 sacks and showing he can not only tackle but make some plays on passed balls as well. He’s considered a pretty deep sleeper.
Other to Consider: Pisa Tinoisamoa (CHI)
Dave Ball (DE – TEN): The Titan D is actually playing pretty well without a true, game-changing stud in the front seven. Ball has 4.5 sacks on the season and is definitely an option in larger leagues that heartily reward owners for sacks.
Chris Canty (DT – NYG): Canty is one of my favorite DT free agents (in 12+ team leagues, more than likely). The Giant offense will continue to make things happen, and Canty has shown that he can make solos from the interior (2 straight games with 4 solos each).
Other to Consider: Justin Bannan (DE - DEN)
Chris Croker (S – CIN): Sure, he’s 30 and obviously on the down side of his career, but with DB being as deep as it is, you can always reach into the free agent pool and utilize guys like Crocker, who’s starting at FS for the Bengals, as a one-year fill-in. No real need to soak up all your dynasty contract years on big-name DBs when you can get Crocker, who’s averaging nearly 15 fantasy points over the past 3 weeks, as a filler.
Perrish Cox (CB – JAC): I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you just gotta love rookies that get significant playing time opposite elite DBs. In Cox’s case, he’s getting the bulk of the snaps opposite Champ Bailey in Denver. As a bonus, he’s the Broncos’ kick returner and does have some value there.
Other to Consider: Shawntae Spencer (CB – SFO)