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.
Pierre Woods (NEP): Did you know that Woods is the starting WLB for the Pats? To be perfectly honest, I thought he was merely a part-timer. With Jerod Mayo out for several weeks, someone is going to have to step up on the Patriot linebacker corps to make some plays. Very well could be the young Woods, who will be integral in stopping the pretty balanced Jet offense.
Chase Blackburn (NYG): If you’re in a league where you start a player once, this would be the week to play Blackburn, if you are trying to conserve the bigger names. Michael Boley has returned from suspension, but Blackburn will still get the start until Boley is back up to game speed, recovering from off-season hip surgery. Blackburn could be busy come Sunday night against the Dallas offense.
Corey Mays (KCC): Mays’ name was bandied about in the preseason and has got off to a pretty decent start (14 fantasy points during Week 1). The Chiefs face a suddenly resurgent Raider offense which ran right at the Bolt defense last week. Mays could be in on a few tackles come Sunday.
Other to Consider: Tully Banta-Cain (NEP)
Ray Edwards (DE – MIN): I always like the opposite end to a stud. In this case, Edwards plays opposite Jared Allen (who had a quiet Week 1) and could have a solid Week 2 against the Lions.
Cullen Jenkins / Johnny Jolly (DE – GBP): The starting DEs for the Packers aren’t the most talented or athletic guys, but they sure got it done last Sunday night. They host a Cincinnati team that struggled against the hapless Broncos last week, so you could see solid numbers from this pair again.
Other to Consider: Casey Hampton (DT - PIT)
Jarrad Page (S – KCC): Page may be the safer bet between himself and veteran Mike Brown, who also had a nice start to the 20099 season. With Bernard Pollard gone, one of these two could be the leading fantasy-stat’er this year. Figure Page will be integral in helping stop the downfield attack of the Raiders this week.
Abram Elam (S – CLE): We’ve talked about Elam in articles already this week, and he bears mention here as he appears on my 12-team IDP dynasty league waiver wire. So, he could be on yours too. Elam appears to have the starting SS spot nailed down for the hapless Browns.
Anthony Henry (CB – DET): Cornerback is ultra-deep in terms of fantasy, but you gotta like the fact that Henry plays for the Lions, who will be tested on defense every week. Henry was the highest-scoring free agent IDP in my 12-team IDP dynasty league, and should probably be on rosters in all leagues come this weekend.
Other to Consider: Bryan Scott (S – BUF)
WEEK ONE REPORT CARD
Eric Barton (CLE): 6 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles (14 fantasy points). Not a bad starting effort for Barton, especially considering they faced a Raven offense which aired it out a bit more than expected.
Keith Rivers (CIN): 2 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles (8.5 fp). Kind of a slow start to the 2009 season for the ex-Trojan. He’ll look to shake things up this week against the Packers, but don’t expect a bunch of solo tackles.
Shawne Merriman (SDC): 3 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles (8 fp). Honestly, Merriman did not look 100% healthy last week. The Raider offense ran right at him, and he looked merely average.
Aaron Curry (SEA): 4 solo tackles (8 fp). I guess you can look at the glass half full for Curry in terms of his start to his NFL season. You’ll probably have to wait until later in the season for the breakout game, though.
Haloti Ngata (DT – BAL): 1 solo tackle (2 fp). Yikes. Well, I was just going off what the Raven coaching staff said in the pre-season about Ngata. Still, he’s probably one of the better DT options out there.
Antonio Smith (DE – HOU): 3 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble (8 fp). Not a horrible start, and as a 2nd DL in larger leagues, 8 fantasy points is nothing to shake a stick at.
Tommy Kelly (DT - OAK): 1 solo tackle (2 fp). Yawn. The Oakland defense looked OK in spots, but if they are to improve, the big gap-filler will have to yield more than one tackle.
Chris Gamble (CB – CAR): 3 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackle, 1 pass defensed (8.5 fp). Not a bad start to Gamble’s 2009 campaign. I own him in a league and will start him against teams that really throw the rock.
Donte Whitner (S – BUF): 6 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles (16 fp). Nice start for Whitner, who also saw fellow safety starter Bryan Scott have a solid opener. Gotta like his prospects against the Bucs this week, too.
Antrel Rolle (S – ARI): Zip. Well, if you have him in a league that gives punt return yardage points, he got ya a bit. Better hope Rashad Johnson doesn’t start stealing significant action.
Champ Bailey (CB – DEN): 1 solo tackle, 6 assisted tackles, 1 pass defensed (9.5 fp) I was called out a bit last week, asking me why Bailey could be considered a sleeper. Well, not only was he coming off an injury-marred 2008 season, but it’s been a few years since he was a difference-making fantasy option. Love the fact he was in on SIX assisted tackles (a pretty gaudy number for a corner) but the rest? Meh.