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.
Jason Williams (CAR): Prior to going on IR on the 14th, Williams had posted back-to-back excellent outings as the Panthers’ WLB. The second-year pro from Western Illinois wasn’t really “one to watch” in terms of the stacked Panther LB corps, but those two games showed some promise. The Panther WLB isn’t normally a high point producing position (with the likes of Thomas Davis at SLB and Jon Beason in the middle), so take this with a grain of salt. But hey, in deep formats, he’s definitely worth a look.
Roddrick Muckelroy (CIN): The ex-Longhorn has had sporadic – at best – playing time in his rookie season, but is backing up an aging vet in Dhani Jones and a disappointing Rey Maualuga. Jones has proven that the Bengal MLB can put up some very consistent stats, so we really like Muckelroy’s chances in the next season or two.
Russell Allen (JAC): Allen has position flexibility; being able to back up Justin Durant at WLB and Kirk Morrison in the middle. That’s a plus. He’s no physical freak, but has done well with the limited time he gets. If you own Durant or Morrison, you might want to keep Allen in your back pocket.
Mark Anderson (DE – HOU): With Mario Williams now on IR, Anderson becomes a starter on the edge for the very disappointing Texan defense. Anderson was a general disappointment in Chicago and now gets a chance to redeem himself a bit. Antonio Smith has been just average for the Texans opposite Super Mario, so with some solid play Anderson may find himself a starter in 2011.
Dan Williams (DT – ARI): It may be late in the season, but we’re getting a small glimpse as to why he was drafted in the first round last summer. As a nose tackle in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, he’ll have some struggles putting up consistent fantasy points, but in deep leagues that start DT, he’s roster-worthy.
E.J. Biggers (CB – TBB): Ronde Barber has been one of the NFL’s best corners, and has been a fantasy stud for years. But heck, his twin brother has been retired for years, so you gotta think Ronde is not far behind. Yes, Aqib Talib is there and has long been the heir apparent as the Tampa-2 cornerback with a bright fantasy outlook, but don’t sleep on this guy either.
Usama Young (S – NOS): Both Saint safeties are old as dirt and Young is the “young”-est safety on the Saint depth chart. My sources tell me (like, common sense) that they’ll go after a safety or two in this off-season’s draft, but Young could be a front-runner for the FS spot for 2011 with relative ease.