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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

IDP Sleeper Report - Week 1
Darin Tietgen
September 7, 2005

New to IDP leagues? In a deep IDP league and forced with some tough lineup decisions here in the first week of the season? Well look no further. The following list of IDPers might not be worthy of starting in smaller IDP leagues, but definitely warrant watching this coming week. The list is loosely based on preseason rankings and performances; they’re more specifically based on their Week 1 matchups, which is always a key component of selecting a good IDP roster in a given week.

Linebackers

Ian Gold, Denver: He’s not that deep of a sleeper, as he’s certainly a top-50 or even top-40 linebacker, but Denver’s facing Miami on Sunday. That means Gus Frerotte is under center, and rookie Ronnie Brown will be featured. It’s predictable that the Miami offensive coaching staff will be most concerned with LB uber-studs Al Wilson and D.J. Williams. Gold might have a solid effort in defending the run, in the short passing game in covering Randy McMichael (the Dolphins’ best receiving threat) and attacking the statue-like Frerotte.

Jeff Ulbrich, San Francisco: The Niner D is going to be on the field a lot. All season. Get used to it. Guys with non-stop motors like Ulbrich on horrible teams like San Francisco will pile up a ton of tackles this season. You can bank on it. St. Louis comes to town this Sunday and will be throwing the ball all over the place. The short passing game is a big part of the Rams’ attack, so Ulbrich will be integral in stopping Faulk in the flats as well as supporting the effort to stop the locomotive-like Steven Jackson.

Chris Draft, Carolina: All the ink goes to Morgan and Witherspoon here (and rightly so). They will both post huge games this season, and most likely will on Sunday. But if you’re looking for a 3 rd LB in a deeper IDP league, look at Draft. The Panthers face a weary New Orleans Saints team on Sunday. The Saints have no real threat at TE, so the strong-side LB Draft will be open to roam a bit with the efforts being placed on handling Morgan and Witherspoon.

Others to consider: Kailee Wong (Hou), Brad Kassell (Ten), Orlando Huff (Ari), Colby Buckwaldt (NO)

Defensive Linemen

Darren Howard, New Orleans: Another guy that’s not too deep of a sleeper, as he’s a top-40 defensive lineman. But he could potentially score like a top-20 lineman this week, based on his matchup. The Saints face the Panthers, who might start the between-the-tackles, straight-ahead runner in Stephen Davis at RB. If nothing else, they’ll be using him to pound the ball once they gain the lead. That should give Howard and the rest of the Saint defensive line plenty of tackling opportunities. Also, the Panthers allowed just about 2 sacks a game in 2004, so the sack-happy Howard (11 in 2004) might just get an opportunity to get to Panther QB Jake Delhomme.

Alvin McKinley, Cleveland: Pretty deep sleeper here. Fellow defensive lineman Orpheus Roye has been inconsistent and generally disappointing for the Browns. McKinley will have an opportunity to anchor the Brown line here in 2005, and it may just start with a battle with in-state rival Cincinnati. Rudi Johnson will be pounding the ball all game, and the Brown line will have plenty of opportunities to tackle Johnson, who lost one fumble every 4 games last season.

Chike Okeafor, Arizona: With Bertrand Berry on the other end, Okeafor will have plenty of opportunities this season to get to the QB. No better than the still-green Eli Manning in Week 1 to start teeing off on in his debut with Arizona.

Others to consider: Ty Warren (NE), Robaire Smith, Hou), Reynaldo Wynn (Was), Mike Rucker (Car), Shaun Ellis (NYJ)

Defensive Backs

Samari Rolle, Baltimore: It’s always a good bet to start your defensive backs when they’re facing the New Greatest Show on Turf, the Indianapolis Colts. Plenty of opportunities to make plays defending the passing game. The veteran Rolle played pretty well against Indianapolis last season (Week 2: 7 tackles, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery). With super stud CB Chris McAllister probably locking down Marvin Harrison, Rolle will be faced with covering the equally as dangerous Reggie Wayne. Rolle is coming off a mild knee sprain, but should be full of gusto after avoiding a one-game suspension.

Randall Gay, New England: In off-and-on action last season, Gay posted respectable numbers for a cornerback on a team with tackle-gobbling LBs and Rodney Harrison. Let’s just assume that Oakland will be doing the lion’s share of passing in Thursday’s opener, and that Gay will be busy knocking down (or catching errant) passes from Oakland signal caller Kerry Collins.

Corey Chavous, Minnesota: The new-look Minnesota defense has looked better than decent in preseason, and Chavous will be the anchor of the secondary, not highly-touted free agent pickup Darren Sharper. Week 1 opponent Tampa Bay will spread the ball around and will mix up the passing and running game. Strong safety Chavous will have to have a solid effort in supporting both the run and pass defense.

Others to consider: Darrent Williams (Den), Walt Harris (Was), Al Harris (GB), Oliver Celestin (NYJ), Marcus Coleman (Hou)