Welcome to another year of The Huddle’s IDP Sleeper Report. To start the season off, we’ll pull a few linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs from the latter third (or half, in the case of the DL) of our preseason rankings. Good luck this season and feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to suggest a player or discuss my picks.
Eric Barton (CLE): Here’s the vet’s chance to prove to the Browns that adding him over the off-season was a positive move. The Browns face an Adrian Peterson led Viking team. Barton should have plenty of tackling opportunities, and has a year of experience with the Viking QB (in case you hadn’t heard, Brett Favre is the new Viking QB).
Keith Rivers (CIN): The young LB will have some big-play chances against the Bronco offense. He started last season hot, totaling 9 solos and an assist in his first game as a pro. He’s feeling healthy after an off-season surgery.
Shawne Merriman (SDC): Is he healthy enough to make a difference against the Raiders on Monday Night Football? Probably. You know he’ll be fired up mentally, but can the body keep up with his ferociousness?
Other to Consider: Aaron Curry (SEA)
Haloti Ngata (DT – BAL): The plans are to let Ngata loose this season, and what better way to start out that plan than against a Kansas City offense that will feature a weak offensive line and more than likely a backup QB.
Antonio Smith (DE – HOU): Just assume that the Texans will be testing the rookie QB for the Jets, and the Jets’ OL will be concentrating on Super Mario on the other side. Could lead to a potential sack and/or big play for the “other” Texan end.
Other to Consider: Tommy Kelly (DT - OAK)
Chris Gamble (CB – DET): Gamble will try to stay with DeSean Jackson and could have several attempts at knocking balls down and could log 4-5 solos.
Donte Whitner (S – BUF): Gone is Ko Simpson, so Whitner has the Bill FS all to himself. Should have plenty of opportunities against the Pats on Monday night.
Antrel Rolle (S – ARI): Adrian Wilson is certainly one of the best fantasy DBs in the game, but the real value in the Cardinal defensive backfield might be Rolle. He had a monster, 10-solo game in Week 16 against these same Patriots last season. Expect big things from Rolle this season, starting Week 1.
Other to Consider: Champ Bailey (DB – DEN)