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.
Tyjuan Hagler (IND): The Colt LB corps has been literally decimated by injuries this season. Clint Session and Gary Brackett have been battling injuries for the better part of the season and Hagler has been the fill-in at the traditionally productive WLB spot in the Colt scheme. Three of the past four weeks have been solid for Hagler. Pat Angerer has the inside edge as the MLB of the future for the Colts, and Hagler will battle Session for the WLB spot come 2011. Someone to keep your eye on for then, and someone you can probably plug into your lineup for the remainder of the 2010 season.
Keenan Clayton (PHI): Ernie Sims has been less than stellar for the Eagles this season and is a free agent come this summer. Clayton, a rookie out of Oklahoma, is a bit undersized at 6’1”, 220 lbs. But he can hit and is solid in coverage. With Sims a free agent, Clayton may be given a shot in 2011. Deep dynasty league owners should keep him on the radar.
Jamaal Westerman (NYJ): Here’s one for those of you crazy enough to play in 32-team leagues. And yes, they exist. Westerman is a heady, sizable edge rush LB with some ancient NFLers ahead of him. If he’s given more playing time as 2010 winds down, expect an extended look in 2011 camp.
Brian Robison (DE – MIN): Ray Edwards has a “mild” high ankle sprain, but whenever you hear “high”, “ankle” and “sprain” together, it’s never good. Enter Robison, a talented fourth-year vet out of the University of Texas. Robison has shown a good bit of promise, totaling 11.5 sacks in his first 3 seasons, and does have a pair of sacks in limited action here this season. Edwards is only on a one-year deal, and could bolt after this season, especially if this aging Viking team is dismantled (read: retirement of Brett Favre).
Desmond Bryant (DT – OAK): Bryant isn’t built like a prototypical DT, but with age and other factors causing Richard Seymour to miss time, Bryant has had some extended playing time. And with the aging (or “aged”) John Henderson and Tommy Kelly also on the roster, Bryant could see a starting spot sooner rather than later.
Tramon Williams (CB – GBP): I read a blurb on Williams a few days ago and even as a Bear fan, couldn’t help but be impressed. He’s an undrafted free agent who had 14 pass defenses in each the 2008 and 2009 season (in limited action) and already has 15 this season. He’s put up some big-time numbers on several occasions, and once Charles Woodson retires, I’d bet he slides into that playmaking role for the Packer D.
James Butler (S – STL): Butler has been a general disappointment after being brought over from the G-men to lead the new Steve Spagnuolo defense. He has battled some injuries this season, and while Craig Dahl has filled in admirably, Butler should have the inside edge for the Ram SS gig in 2011. There’s some solid talent (Kevin Payne, Dahl, Michael Lewis) at the position, but we fancy Butler the most.