Welcome to the very first installment of The Huddle’s IDP Deeper Sleepers. This bi-weekly article will highlight some sleepers on the IDP side that are backing up injury-prone starters or that have a chance down the road to put up solid fantasy stats. Should you want to discuss IDP sleepers, deep or otherwise, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gerris Wilkinson, Danny Clark and Bryan Kehl (NYG): Pay careful attention to the linebacking situation in New York in the first part of the season. With Mathias Kiwanuka moving up to the defensive end spot, Gerris Wilkinson has secured the WILL spot, but word is Bryan Kehl has looked good in the preseason and could challenge for the spot. Danny Clark, a road-tested veteran, is manning the strong side. And while the SAM spot is not your typical fantasy point-producer, it could actually net some points this season with both Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora not playing this season. Kehl probably represents the best dynasty option.
David Thornton (TEN): With Keith Bulluck banged up in 2007, Thornton went on to post fantastic fantasy numbers (109 total tackles, 5 passes defensed). Word out of Nashville is that Thornton will wear the headset to relay play calls in, not Bulluck. This shows the coaching staff’s appreciation for the linebacker’s skills and may indicate that Bulluck may be starting to slide in conjunction with being an injury risk. Thornton’s slated to start as the SAM, but no reason to think he can’t put up decent numbers, especially if Bulluck goes down again. The Huddle has ranked Thornton as the preseason #47 LB. He could easily jump up into the early 30’s with solid play, and even into the 20’s or teens should Bulluck get injured.
Luis Castillo (DE – SDC): Castillo was made the sixth highest paid defensive lineman in the league, an indication of his worth to the tough San Diego D. With Shawne Merriman hurting, Castillo’s tackle and sack total could rise in 2008. He’s young (25) and has always had a “high motor”, perfect for the attacking Charger D. Look for a noticeable improvement this year. If you’re hurting at DL and Castillo is on your free agent list, keep a careful eye on him.
Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson (DE – CAR): Brayton’s the vet, Johnson is the upstart youngin’. Both are going to get time on the end opposite Julius Peppers. Peppers is on track for a bounce-back season and Brayton or Johnson could reap the benefits. Brayton has been somewhat disappointing, which shows that Johnson may not be coming along as fast as hoped, as Brayton is currently pegged as the starter. Keep an eye on both players, especially Johnson in dynasty formats, as the position could yield solid fantasy stats.
Reggie Nelson (S – JAC): There is no discounting the overall play of the Jacksonville defense, but in terms of fantasy studs, the pickins have always been on the thinner side from this unit. Nelson had 63 tackles last season, a number that should probably be in the 80’s this season. He did pick off 5 balls, which is a decent number for a strong safety. If Nelson starts the season off hot, that may be the indicator to grab and stash him.
Tyrell Johnson (S – MIN): The rookie Johnson will start in place of the injured Madieu Williams for the tough Vike D. Even when Williams returns, Johnson could see plenty of action and even move to the other safety spot if veteran Darren Sharper is not impressive.
Scoring system used for this report – solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defensed (1)
The “sleepers” this week were pulled from The Huddle’s IDP preseason rankings and ranked #45 and lower, and some un-ranked. In forthcoming weeks, these deeper sleepers will be pulled from various leagues’ free agent lists as well as preseason ranking #40 and lower.