Welcome to The Huddle’s Deep Sleeper Report for Week 1. 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 email@example.com if you want to discuss the players in further detail or recommend a name or two.
Rey Maulauga (CIN): Dhani Jones had a pretty solid 2008-9 campaign and holds down the starting MLB spot in Cincinnati for now, but with the Bengals set to struggle again, you gotta think that they’ll give the young ex-Trojan a chance.
Jamar Williams (CHI): Williams has served as a role player for the Bear defense now for a couple of years and is the primary WLB backup to Lance Briggs. Should Briggs go down, Williams would most certainly be first off the bench and ready to fill in.
Deandre Levy (DET): Larry Foote is manning the MLB spot in Detroit for now, but is already losing significant time, especially on passing downs. Levy is a better fit in the middle than last year’s linebacker pick (Jordan Dizon) and could lead the Lion team in tackles if he takes over in the middle early in the season.
Other to Consider: Joe Mays (PHI)
Aaron Maybin (DE – BUF): The rookie arrived late, but is probably the best pass-rusher on the team and the Bills defense needs his presence. The trio of Aaron Schobel, Ryan Denney and Chris Kelsay have been solid (especially Schobel), but all three are injury prone and Maybin is quite talented.
Domata Peko (DT – CIN): Haloti Ngata is about to be a household name in most IDP leagues, and Peko is a poor man’s Ngata. He doesn’t have quite the motor, but is a talented run stopper and had a boatload of assists last season; a trend that could continue.
Other to Consider: Connor Barwin (DE - HOU)
Patrick Chung (S – NEP): The Pats coveted Chung in this summer’s draft; that should tell you something. He can play either safety spot, and both positions could net decent to very solid fantasy stats this season. An injury to either Brandon Meriweather or James Sanders could put Chung on the map in a hurry.
Rashad Johnson (S – ARI): Johnson was one of the most talented defensive backs in this summer’s draft, but landed in a tough spot: behind Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle. He would be best suited for the FS spot, so if Rolle gets dinged, Johnson could excel.
Sherrod Martin (CB – CAR): Martin is a versatile defensive back that is backing up the excellent corners for the Panthers, but can also play FS. He’s a small school wonder, but has size, speed, and could be a big hitter for the Panther D.
Other to Consider: Zack Bowman (CB – CHI)