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.
Nic Harris (CAR): He’ll probably get a mention in tomorrow’s weekly sleeper list, but for those of you in dynasty formats, he may be available and is certainly worth a look. With Thomas Davis out and now Dan Connor done as well, Harris has stepped into the extremely productive WLB spot for the Panthers. Looks like there may always be some injury issues with the Panther LBs, so Harris is worth stashing.
Tyjuan Hagler (IND): Hagler’s been a name to watch – and probably a name that was owned at some point – in dynasty formats. With Clint Session out, Hagler has been getting time at WLB, although Kavell Conner (another name to watch, mind you) has been the official starter.
Antwan Applewhite (SDC): Aside from Shaun Phillips, the outside of the Bolt line doesn’t really have many names of note. Applewhite is technically the WLB for the Bolts and has shown some flashes. Those in deeper dynasty formats could add Applewhite in hopes he remains the starter in 2011 and their defense starts making big plays again.
Jeremy Mincey (DE/DT – JAC): MyFantasyLeague.com has him listed as a DT, but with Aaron Kampman now on IR, Mincey moves over to end. He logged 5 solos last week, and could be a nice sleeper.
Ron Brace (DT – NEP): In the deepest of dynasty formats that start DT, Brace is worth noting. He’s done generally nothing all season, but had a 4-solo “outburst” against the Browns two weeks ago. He was a second-round draft pick, from nearby Boston College, after having a solid collegiate career. Perhaps he’ll start to get things together in the second half of the season and will be the next game-changer on the Pat line. He plays both NT and end for them, so the Pat brass does flex him around a bit.
Aqib Talib (CB – TBB): He’s likely owned in deeper dynasty leagues, but in some 12-team leagues, he may be out there. We’ve been waiting for him to finally supplant Ronde Barber as the better of the two Tampa Cover-2 corners, and it may be happening.
Alan Ball (S – DAL): There were reports that Ball was about to get benched in favor of an undrafted rookie, after incredibly lackluster play. He responded last week with 4 solos and a pick. If the Dallas defense is to improve, Ball may be a big part of the uptick.