This column highlights players with low perceived value. When a players value drops, or is low to begin with, there can be several causes. Injuries, changes in playing time and/or role, diminished skills due to aging, etc. The key to Fantasy Football is deciding whether a decrease in value is justified or not.
The best trade targets are players who have started slowly but are likely to turn it around. You will see most of these players in Tiers I and II. In Tier III we have players who are available on waivers in many leagues. These are players who played well recently or who have a great deal of potential to make an impact if given an opportunity.
Getting in to the specifics is not all that important. The formula I pretty much look at is as follows:
Sleeper Equation: (#) = talent + team skill + opportunity
So pretty much we want to make a judgment about how good this player is (an inexact science, admittedly). Next we want to estimate how good of a team this player is on. Simply put, it is better to own players on teams that score a lot of touchdowns. Opportunity simply looks at whether this player is featured in the offense, a starter, or a plays sparingly. The highest total number a player can get is 20. For talent, the max number is 10 and for skill and opportunity it is 5 each.
Larry Fitzgerald (20) – Kevin Kolb looked great on Sunday, albeit against the Panthers. Even so, the Cardinals Offense should deliver a lot more this year and Fitz is healthier than last season. The fact that he did not put up digits is an anomaly to me. I am buying all day on this stock
Chris Johnson (19) – He managed 49 total yards with 6 receptions and no TDs. The Titans offense actually looked promising with Hasselbeck at the helm. Ask yourself this- can they possibly be as bad as they were last year? People are spooked about CJ2k because of the holdout and workload the past couple seasons. He was discounted at the draft and should be discounted further after a poor Week 1. I look in to my crystal ball and see a lot of cagey people making trades for him.
Vincent Jackson (19) – Rivers is going to be a stud this year, as usual, and Vincent Jackson will be a big part of the offense. 2 cathces for 31 yards might scare some people, but not me. If he stays healthy, I still like him to go for 1,200+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. I own him a lot of my teams, but I wish I owned him on all of them.
Roddy White (19) – Matt Ryan and the Falcons just looked flat, which was unexpected given their flashes of brilliance in the preseason. White had a monster year in 2010 and there is no reason to doubt a repeat.
Matt Schaub (17) – 220 yards, 1 TD and 2 picks? I hate everything that you love Matt Schaub. There is enough upside and history of production for me to jump on board. The Colts are a doormat and it is surprising to see him do so little against them in such a blowout. You have to keep in mind that the game was over by half time and the Texans were basically just trying to run the clock out. Schaub should be back to his normal self soon.
Ben Roethlisberger (17) – 280 yards is solid but 5 turnovers is brutal. He has plenty of weapons, a solid offensive line, and great coaching. There is no reason to believe this is anything more than a bad game against a really good defense.
Matt Ryan (17) – 319 yards is fine with me but no TDs and 2 turnovers leaves a lot to be desired. People are retreating quickly from their predictions about an Atlanta Super Bowl run. I did not put them on that high a pedestal, nor will I be so quick to question that they are a very good football team. With so many toys at his disposal, Matty Ice will be productive.
Jeremy Maclin (16) – This is a vote of confidence simply based on the fact that he looked healthy on Sunday. That was my main concern with him. 1 catch for 20 yards is very mediocre, but Maclin should improve as the season progresses. The discount on him should be substantial at this point.
Mike Williams (16) – You might be surprised to see him on here given that he had a decent game on Sunday but I believe there is more upside than that. Do not expect a big discount, or one at all, but Williams would make a great addition to any team looking for a receiver.
Early Doucet (15) – He is a player I have been keeping my eye on for a few seasons. Without seeing much from him, I was not too anxious on drafting him. If teams continue to double team Fitz, expect Kolb to call his number often. You might have to use a waiver claim on him because he had a breakout game on Sunday, but if you need a receiver it is probably worth it.
Carnell Williams (15) – Steven Jackson will most likely miss next weeks game. Cadillac was a BEAST on Sunday- he looked like his old self again. Scoop him up and feel free to start him if Jackson’s out.
Ben Tate (15) – Arian Foster will probably be in the lineup on Sunday but with his injury history you really have to question the likelihood of him staying on the field. Tate is very talented and if Foster does go down long term it will be Tate, not Ward, that becomes the feature back.
Deji Karim (15) – Jones-Drew shows no signs of slowing down but the reality is he has taken a pounding the last few years. Karim looked great in the preseason and performed admirably when given an opportunity on Sunday. If he gets the starting job, watch out.
C.J. Spiller (14) – Fred Jackson will stay atop the depth chart barring injury, but Spiller has made great strides since last year. He did score a touchdown on Sunday, but I would not start him any time soon. I am very optimistic about what Spiller could do as a starter.
Jason Snelling (15) – Turner is still churning away in Atlanta but Snelling has stepped up when given a chance. If Turner does break down in 2011, you want to own Snelling.
Javon Ringer (14) – Earlier I lauded CJ2k but without OTA’s and training camp there is a greater likelihood of injury. Ringer looked good in the preseason and would make a great Sleeper stash on your bench.