Now that we’ve finished processing the various performances of week one, it is time to dissect which players who have not previously appeared in your starting lineups, could now provide a scoring boost if you choose to use them in week two.
These are players who were either drafted in the latter half of your fantasy drafts, or spent time residing on your leagues’ waiver wires until this week. Either way, a combination of their ability, and their specific week two matchups, have propelled them into a position to enhance your scoring total, should you decide to start them.
With that, here are the sleepers for week two.
Christian Ponder (vs. Colts)
He will be an infrequent option this season, but this is a good week to utilize him if you are in a two QB league, or are looking at starting a different quarterback for any other reason. Ponder has an outstanding opportunity to generate points against an Indianapolis defense that will struggle mightily throughout the season. The Colts will have great difficulty with the Vikings primary weapons this week, and Ponder should connect with Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph frequently. If Adrian Peterson is employed as a target from the backfield, he should accumulate sizable yardage after the catch to help you even more.
Jonathan Dwyer (vs. Jets)
He was listed as a sleeper heading into week 1 because he appeared to be Pittsburgh’s best RB throughout the preseason. And you now see his name here again, because it appears that he has captured a significant role in the Pittsburgh offense. He demonstrated that he is a more effective runner than Issac Redman during the Steelers’ opener, when Dwyer was allotted nine attempts, while Redman carried 11 times. Dwyer was far more proficient, gaining 43 yards (4.8 YPC), while Redman could only manage 20 yards, for a paltry 1.8 YPC. Dwyer was on the field for 18 more snaps, and as this was being written, Mike Tomlin’s comments make it appear that his role will be increasing. Dwyer is worth a flier versus a Jet run defense that permitted a league worst 195 yards in their opener.
Dexter McCluster (vs. Bills)
I play in leagues that have McCluster listed among RBs, but yet in my other leagues he is available as a WR. And I even have one league that allows you to use him at either position. Which is emblematic of how the Chiefs are taking advantage of his versatility, by using him as a receiver who is a dangerous open field runner. He led the team in targets during week one (10), along with receptions (six) and receiving yards (82). There is potential for him to amass a similar yardage total this Sunday against a Bills defensive unit that just surrendered 384 yards to the Jets.
Curtis Brinkley (vs. Titans)
He qualifies perfectly as a deep sleeper, but his viability is predicated on whether or not Ryan Mathews will be sidelined again this Sunday. He gained 40 yards on 13 touches against Oakland, and performed far more effectively than Ronnie Brown, whose tank emptied in 2009. Mathews’ status should be monitored closely as Sunday approaches. If he is unable to perform once again, Brinkley should have demonstrated enough proficiency to convince Norv Turner that he is a superior backfield weapon to Brown at this point. If you need help at RB he is a sneaky play… albeit a risky one.
Randall Cobb (vs. Bears)
He was heavily discussed as a sleeper candidate throughout the summer, then the buzz tapered off somewhat as the regular season approached. But Cobb is a hot topic once again, after he collected nine passes for 77 yards in week one. He established new career highs in each category, and also scored on a 75-yard punt return. Not only was the versatile Cobb employed as a WR, but he also lined up in the backfield, caught swing passes, and also ran slants. All of which indicates that his role has indeed continued to expand. If Greg Jennings is unable to perform against Chicago, Cobb's potential for a highly productive game increases significantly.
Stephen Hill (vs. Steelers)
Hill has quickly ascended from residing on the waiver wire, to being a popular roster addition who merits consideration as a starter. While he won't catch the Steelers off guard like he did versus Buffalo (89 yards, two TDs), his initial NFL performance served notice that he possesses both the talent and opportunity to collect fantasy points for owners. Your expectations should be tempered somewhat since Pittsburgh’s pass defense is very capable. But Hill can still be employed as a sneaky WR3 if you are looking for more production at the position.
Alshon Jeffrey (vs. Packers)
Brandon Marshall remains a viable candidate to ultimately lead the NFL in targets this season. Therefore Jeffrey will not be a high volume collector of receptions. But he could be effective, simply because opposing defenses mush account for the Bears' other weapons. In Chicago’s season opener, he was targeted five times, and garnered three passes from Jay Cutler for 80 yards and a TD. Green Bay’s defense has consistently displayed the inability to limit opposing passing attacks. Which should only accentuate their LBs and DBs’ focus on containing Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Michael Bush. That will supply Jeffrey with enticing matchups throughout the contest.
Coby Fleener (vs. Vikings)
Fleener has the opportunity of lining up against a Minnesota pass defense that has been extremely vulnerable when opponents throw the ball. Not only did they allow more TD passes than any other unit in 2011 (34), but they just enabled Blaine Gabbert to generate a career high 23 passes and 260 yards in week one. That included five throws of 52 yards to TE Marcedes Lewis, who also scored his first TD since 2010. Andrew Luck will look for Fleener against this vulnerable group, and they will combine for sufficient yardage. They could also connect for a score.
Raiders (vs. Dolphins)
Oakland has an overabundance of problems, but their defense has actually improved under Dennis Allen and DC Jason Tarver. Their schemes are more aggressive and significantly less predictable than in previous seasons. Plus, the coaching staff has the freedom to blitz with more frequency, without fear of repercussions from ownership. All of which creates a stern test for Ryan Tannehill in just his second career start. While the Raiders’ weak link defensively is at CB, the Dolphins’ equally challenged WRs will be unable to capitalize with any consistency. For this week at least, this unit is a strong play.