Our weekly rankings have just been updated, and as always, they will provide you with a dependable resource to help with those difficult lineup decisions. Here is a look at some additional players that I believe could provide you with high quality production this week, if you are inclined to utilize sleepers in your starting lineups. For a look at defenses to grab from your waiver wire check out my column here.
E. J. Manuel vs. Steelers
Owners in deeper leagues who are searching for a QB2 this week can certainly consider Manuel in a week that does not necessarily supply an abundance of sleeper QBs. While he was not assembling mind-numbing numbers at the onset of his rookie season, he was generating moderate success prior to suffering a knee injury in Week 5. Particularly when you consider that he was thrust into the lineup at the season’s inception. Manuel was averaging just under 200 YPG as a passer (197), had thrown five TDs, and limited his INTs to three. Plus, he had accumulated 91 yards on the ground. Much of Manuel’s sleeper appeal is derived from the fact that the unit which surrounds him has generated success despite multiple injuries and inferior quarterbacking. The upgrade that instantly occurs with Manuel back under center will only help an offense that has already been bolstered by C. J. Spiller’s improving health, and can also rely upon Fred Jackson and Steve Johnson. Fellow rookie Roberts Woods had been targeted heavily by Manuel when both were in the lineup, and he could provide his QB with another weapon if he can overcome his troublesome ankle. This is not to suggest that Manuel will have an enticing matchup, as only three teams have allowed fewer YPG through the air than the Steelers. But Pittsburgh has managed just 13 sacks, which ties them for 29th. Plus, they have picked off only four passes, which ties them for 27th in that category.
Mike Glennon vs. Dolphins
This will go somewhat against the grain, as there is general sentiment that the Dolphins will provide a formidable test for Glennon and the Tampa Bay offense. However, the 6' 6" rookie has performed admirably since ascending into the starting role. And his output in the extremely hostile confines of Seattle's CenturyLink Field should not be dismissed, as he completed 17 of 23 passes and manufacturing two TDs last Sunday. Overall, he has produced seven TDs while limiting his INTs to just one during his four starts. While his arsenal of weaponry does not resemble that of the upper echelon offensive units, he should connect with Vincent Jackson and Timothy Wright with enough regularity to accumulate fantasy points against Miami’s 22nd ranked pass defense. To clarify, Glennon should only be considered in two QBs leagues. Plus, it is logical to expect that if Tampa Bay can forge a lead, they will employ Mike James extensively, and become less reliant upon Glennon to air it out. But if you find yourself in need of a second QB option, he is more feasible than it may initially appear.
Rashad Jennings at Giants
Well, well, here we are again. Darren McFadden has suffered yet another injury. And the owners who started him in Week 9 were hurt after he was sidelined for nearly the entire contest. Now, begins one more familiar part of this process, as alternative RBs must be employed while McFadden recovers from a reoccurrence of the hamstring pull that originally took place in Week 4. Jennings became an integral component in Oakland’s offense during that contest, generating 116 on 22 touches. 71 of those yards were produced as a checkdown option for the overwhelmed Matt Flynn. But when Jennings received the start in Week 5 his contributions were strictly as a rusher, with 41 yards on 10 attempts. However, he also ran for 102 yards and a TD last Sunday in relief of McFadden, and history makes it easy to envision Jennings on the field this Sunday. This vaults him into sleeper status, as he should accumulate fantasy points for owners. Just be warned that Marcel Reece will also garner some touches in that scenario.
Andre Brown vs. Raiders
We remain focused on the same matchup as Brown is expected to make his 2013 debut after fracturing his leg during the preseason. Brown became fantasy relevant last season by amassing eight TDs, and should garner a large percentage of touches that the Giants will distribute to their RBs. Even though Brown will be sharing opportunities, New York's other options possess limitations. Brandon Jacobs temporarily turned the clock back to 2008 when he steamrolled Chicago’s injury depleted defense in Week 8, but he is not going to supply New York with consistent production. Nor is Peyton Hillis, who has performed adequately since his hurried return to game action, but will only provide moderate results. And with David Wilson still sidelined, Brown is left as the team’s most feasible RB option. But even though he qualifies as a sleeper, and should garner most carries in the red zone, it is wise to temper your expectations for his return. He will be blended into the RB mix this week, rather than immediately assuming a feature back role. Plus, the Giants’ coaching staff will certainly be aware of Nick Foles’ 406-yard, seven TD performance versus a Raider secondary that appeared unprepared and thoroughly lost in Week 9. That should provide a blueprint for how to attack Oakland defense, and is much more logical then to repeatedly pound the ball against the Raiders’ sixth ranked rush defense. Still, Brown should manufacture sufficient yardage, and is a strong candidate to discover the end zone.
Doug Baldwin at Falcons
It has been proven through the regular season that whenever Baldwin is targeted with frequency, he will take advantage of the opportunities. In Week 1 he received eight targets, and responded by collecting seven receptions for 91 yards. That had easily been his best performance until Week 5 when nine targets resulted in five catches for 80 yards. Then last Sunday, when Russell Wilson launched a team high 10 passes in Baldwin’s direction, the third-year wideout assembled six catches for 75 yards and a TD. Wilson should utilize Baldwin repeatedly once again this week, against an Atlanta pass defense that has already yielded a shopping 17 TDs. Sidney Rice’s season ending injury, and the careful nurturing of Percy Harvin, has elevated Baldwin into a critical role within the Seahawks’ offense. He was on the field for 55 of 63 snaps in Week 9, and joins teammate Golden Tate as Wilson’s primary receiving weapons. Not only can he can provide owners with a viable WR this week against Atlanta, but Baldwin can be utilized for an enticing Week 11 matchup with Minnesota.
Mike Brown vs. Dolphins
A forgettable season continues for the Jaguars, as they even managed to suffer a loss during their bye week. Justin Blackmon has been suspended once again, which certainly does not improve the team’s chances of attaining a win. But it does provide fantasy owners with an enticing sleeper option, as the intriguing Mike Brown now ascends into the starting lineup. The rookie sustained a back injury in Week 1, but received 20 targets since his Week 6 return. He responded by collecting 12 receptions for 212 yards, and scoring his first NFL TD in Week 8 against San Francisco. He almost assuredly will assume the role of Jacksonville’s WR2, which provides the potential for him to deliver even better numbers. Blackmon had been averaging 12 targets per contest, and nearly all of them will be absorbed by Brown and Cecil Shorts. While Shorts will certainly become Chad Henne’s primary option, he will also receive even more attention from opposing defenses. That will increase opportunities for Brown, who now becomes a viable WR3.
He only produced four catches for 44 yards in his first three games combined, then missed the next three contests completely. But his production has increased sizably in the past two weeks. After garnering just 15 targets all season, Drew Brees launched a season high 10 passes toward Moore last Sunday. That enabled him to establish season bests in receptions (six) and yardage (70). While Jimmy Graham continues to lead the NFL in receiving TDs, Brees is somewhat bereft of consistent weapons beyond his excellent TE. Marques Colston had averaged a mere 49 YPG and scored just one TD before a knee issue sidelined him in Week 9. Darren Sproles’ output has been disappointing throughout the season, and his concussion has added a level of uncertainty to his situation. Kenny Stills can make contributions, abut has yet to establish consistency. Robert Meachem’s production has been sporadic at best throughout his seven year career. All of these factors should keep Moore locked into a role of a frequently utilized weapon for the foreseeable future, and definitely make him
a viable sleeper for the Saints' matchup with Dallas.
Timothy Wright at Seahawks
Wright was included in this column last week, yet remains the most feasible sleeper option at this position. His previous history with Greg Schiano when both were at Rutgers was a prevailing factor in the Buccaneers’ decision to sign Wright as a free agent immediately after the 2013 NFL Draft. He was quickly converted from wide receiver to tight end, and has recently developed into an major weapon within Tampa Bay’s offense. 31 of his 33 targets this season have occurred in the past five games. Which has enabled Wright to amass 23 receptions, and average 51 YPG during that span. He has also scored in two consecutive contests, and become a more dependable scorer than many more prominent TEs. He should remain Mike Glennon’s second option behind Vincent Jackson, and provide a boost to your roster when he lines up against Miami.