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.
Antwan Applewhite (SDC): Is Applewhite the next Shawne Merriman, less the steroids? Shaun Phillips, for now, is the one putting up all the stats that come with being an OLB for the Bolts’ 3-4 scheme. But Phillips has been somewhat inconsistent over the past two seasons and deeper league owners should keep an eye on Applewhite as an emerging star should Phillips get injured.
Perry Riley (WAS): Both Riley and H.B. Blades are vastly undersized, but so is the stalwart they’re learning under; London Fletcher. We’ve highlighted Blades in this article before, but it stands to reason that you could also keep an eye on the ex-LSU Tiger. He’s definitely taxi squad worthy since Fletcher is just about ready to start collecting Social Security.
Rennie Curran (TEN): The WLB spot for the Titans has long been a very valuable spot fantasy-wise. Right now, the aging Will Witherspoon is kind of withering away at the spot, holding back the rookie Curran. We expect Curran to challenge the fellow ex-Georgia alum next season. Also a taxi squad worthy LB.
Corey Wootton (DE – CHI): Injuries made Wootton a slightly risky proposition, but it appears he’s healthy and will have a chance at a starting DE spot for the Bears in the next couple years. A Huddle favorite Israel Idonije is presently playing well opposite Julius Peppers, so it’d take a significant injury to either Peppers or Idonije for Wootton to matter, but we feel he’d be ready.
Jeremy Mincey (DT – JAC): We can’t keep but putting Mincey on this list, as he’s been a pretty consistent performer since returning from injury Week 10. Since then, he’s only had one “stinker” outing. He has 5 sacks since that time, and as Marcus Stroud and John Henderson have proven in the past, you can definitely get production from a Jaguar interior lineman.
Reed Doughty (S – WAS): When given regular playing time, this guy is a consistent performer. With LaRon Landry on IR, Doughty has made the most of his starting role. He racks up tackles with regularity, and he should be owned by Landry owners or anyone in deeper formats. Heck, with his position flexibility, he probably should be on the radar of all league owners.
Cedric Griffin (CB – MIN): Just wanted to remind everyone about this guy. He only played in two contests this season before going on IR, but for the past three seasons was a highly under-rated tackling machine opposite Antoine Winfield. There was talk of perhaps moving him to safety, but either way, he’ll be a name to watch in 2011.