In fantasy football, there are sleepers and there are deep sleepers. Sleepers make for great backups and should be snagged up late in the draft. Only consider putting deep sleepers on your roster after watching them play for a couple games or if you are in a deep league of 12 or more owners.
Alex Smith (SF) – He threw 18 passing touchdowns in the 10.5 games he played last season. There are several reasons why Alex Smith will have an even better season: Vernon Davis is emerging as one of the best tight ends in the league, Michael Crabtree is more experienced, Josh Morgan and Alex Smith are building chemistry, and the 49ers drafted two linemen in the first round of the draft. Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook in the backfield should also help take some pressure off of the starting quarterback. There is only one reason why you should be down on Smith this year and that is because he was considered a flop early on in his career. But the past is the past, and I guarantee Smith will throw for at least 30 touchdowns in 2010.
Chad Henne (MIA) – Other than the addition of star receiver Brandon Marshall, he’s had a good amount of time to get comfortable with the starting offense. Expect Henne to improve and throw for at least 23 touchdowns in 2010.
QB Deep Sleepers
Matt Hasselbeck (SEA) – The 34 year old Seahawk is ranked as the 28th best fantasy football quarterback on NFL.com and ranked 27th on ESPN.com. Now he is nowhere near a top 10 QB, but a bounce-back season is expected out of Hasselbeck as long as Forsett, Jones and Washington back him up with a solid running game.
David Garrard (JAC) – When you look up mediocre in the dictionary, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ logo should be there. Garrard was disappointing even as a fantasy football backup last year, but things could change. Garrard will improve from his poor 2009 performance, assuming MJD and Mike Sims-Walker will have continued success. With Torry Holt gone, young wide receiver Mike Thomas has the potential to rejuvenate the Jaguars’ offense and help boost Garrard’s stats.
Jahvid Best (DET) – This explosive running back can be the missing piece of the puzzle for the Lions. Rookie receivers don’t always contribute right away, but it is not the same case with running backs. Best should have much success in Detroit. Let’s just hope that nobody is going to steal those goal line carries.
Justin Forsett (SEA) – It was mind boggling why Forsett did not start over Julius Jones. Assuming that the new head coach, Pete Carroll, is sane, Forsett should get more touches. When Julius Jones was injured last year, Forsett showed his versatility. The 24 year old caught the ball 8 times for 80 yards against the run-stuffing Vikings in week 11 and scored two rushing touchdowns against the Rams in week 12.
Michael Bush (OAK) – The departure of Justin Fargas puts even more pressure on Darren McFadden. Run-DMc or should I say Bench-DMc will disappoint his fantasy football owners by proving that he will never be a great football player. With his brutal running style, Michael Bush will be a touchdown vulture and more than likely end up being the starting running back in Oakland.
C.J. Spiller (BUF) – The Bills have a long list of running backs, but Spiller can be the next Chris Johnson. You are taking a huge gamble drafting a rookie with a lot of competition, but you can also get a huge reward. In a keeper/dynasty league, Spiller is worth the risk.
Mike Wallace (PIT) – Santonio Holmes went off to the Jets and Limas Sweed is out for the entire season. Mike Wallace showed that he was a talented wide receiver last year. The problem with Wallace is that nearly every owner has heard about him and is hardly even considered a sleeper. Wallace probably won’t drop below his expected draft position, so you might be better off letting someone else draft this Steeler.
Malcom Floyd (SD) – This 6’5, 225-pound, wide out is definitely worth putting on your cheat sheet. Even if Vincent Jackson will play the first ten games, Floyd can do some damage in fantasy football. Keep a close eye on Vincent Jackson’s situation to know when to draft Floyd because there is a good chance you can get a great value for this draft pick.
Josh Morgan (SF) – Vernon Davis and Crabtree will be the main receivers in San Francisco, but Morgan will be right behind them. It is anticipated that Morgan will have a breakout year and his rapport with Alex Smith keeps getting better and better.
WR Deep Sleepers
Julian Edeleman (NE) – With Torry Holt on IR, Edeleman really has a chance to shine on the Patriots’ offense. Count on Tom Brady to be a consistent quarterback while spreading the ball.
Davone Bess (MIA) – One of the most talented wide receivers in the league, but last year he was merely a possession receiver. His lack of big play ability caused him to get lost in the rankings, but this year look for Bess to be a solid #3 or #4 wide receiver on your team, especially in PPR leagues.
James Jones (GB) – Jermichael Finley’s performance in the postseason boosted his rankings, but let’s talk about another Packer that has been slept on: James Jones – a deep sleeper. Aaron Rodgers is a gunslinger and will find Jones in the end zone this season. Keep a close eye on who Aaron Rodgers targets this year.
Bernard Berrian (MIN) – Favre’s favorite targets in Minnesota are Rice, Harvin and Shianco, but right after them comes Berrian. With Percy Harvin’s severe migraines, there might be just enough room for Bernard Berrian to see a spot on your roster.
Chris Cooley (WAS) – He had a disappointing season in 2009, but look for all that to change with a new head coach, Mike Shanahan, and a new quarterback, Donovan McNabb.
Zach Miller (OAK) – A very talented tight end on an improving team. With Jason Campbell being the new quarterback, Zack Miller finally has a chance to reach his potential this year. Expect Miller to have some big plays in 2010.
TE Deep Sleepers
Anthony Fasano (MIA) – You’ll be lucky if Fasano is a top 20 fantasy football tight end by the end of the season. Ronnie Brown might even throw to him once or twice in the wildcat offense. If you are in a deep league of 16 or more owners, Fasano is worth considering.
Colts D/ST – As long as other teams are putting the ball in the air and trying to catch up with the Colts’ high-powered offense, you can expect turnovers. The Colts’ have a great d-line that loves to pass rush and put pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Raiders D/ST – A true sleeper. You should be able to get great value for this draft pick. The Raiders will take their defense to the next level by utilizing their first-round draft pick Rolando McClain and having Nnamdi Asomugha play both sides of the fields.
D/ST Deep Sleepers
Browns D/ST – Go ahead and laugh, but in a deep league this can be a great pick. Since this defense is such a sleeper, they will go undrafted in most leagues, thus you can look at their matchups. Depending on your specific situation, the Browns might be a good start in week 1, 2 and 14 when they play the Bucs, Chiefs and Bills. Also, having the best special teams player in the league, Joshua Cribbs, gives you another reason to pickup the Browns D/ST.