Fantasy Football Top Sleepers: Week 5

T.O. looks a little tired after posting 222 receiving yards in Week 4.

They say hind-sight is twenty-twenty.  Fantasy football owners know this all too well.  So allow me to go back in time “Lost”-style and re-write my Week 4 column which was originally titled “Week 4 Sleepers” but will now be titled, “Under No Circumstances Should You Start These Players.”

Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins

My prediction: Henne will play so poorly that we’ll be seeing Tyler Thigpen in the 4th quarter on Monday night.  The Patriot’s defense is due for a big game.  I’m sure they’ve worked all the kinks out after giving up 30 points to the Bills in Week 3.  It’s true that Henne has only thrown one interception in 93 pass attempts this season, but he could easily throw three this week.  Also, look out for a guy named Pat Chung.

(In my defense, Henne was not a complete miss.  He did throw for 300 yards and two touchdowns.)

John Kuhn, RB, Packers

Since Brandon Jackson has turned out to be nothing more than a mediocre option for Green Bay, I feel like they will completely abandon their running game.  I predict that Rodgers will hand the ball off only 18 times even though Detroit’s rushing defense ranks dead last in the NFL.  In fact, not only do I think Shaun Hill will throw for more yards than Aaron Rodgers, I think Hill be the game’s leading rusher.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants

I have a feeling that in spite of the fact that the Bears have the best rushing defense in the league, Ahmad Bradshaw and the Giants are going to run all over them.  Bradshaw will carry almost 25 times and Manningham (who had six catches in Week 3 and is currently the Giants’ leading receiver) will be held without a catch in Week 4.

Louis Murphy, WR, Raiders

Murphy had 119 receiving yards against the Cardinals in Week 3 but I don’t see him playing well against Houston’s 32nd ranked passing defense this week.  Sure Gradkowski may throw for over 250 yards, but most of that will be accumulated by the tight end and running back.  So what if Houston got torched through the air for the third straight week last Sunday?  The Raiders’ top receiver will be held in check this Sunday.

Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals

Forget about Gresham.  Terrell Owens is the guy to watch here.  Who cares that his season high in receiving yards is only 57?  I can already see the shots of T.O. on the sideline shouting “You can’t stop me!” even though it seems like he’s been “stopped” in his last 19 or so games.

Do you see?!  Do you see how ridiculous that all sounded?  Needless to say, even when you lean predictions upon stone cold facts, they are still predictions.

I went 3-1 in my fantasy leagues this week.  In the one game I lost, I left Terrell Owens tucked away on the bench in favor of Jeremy Maclin.  Here’s why:

2010 Receiving Stats (After 3 Weeks)

Owens: 14 catches, 152 yards, 0 touchdowns

Maclin: 11 catches, 147 yards, 4 touchdowns

Here are their Week 4 numbers:

Owens: 10 catches, 222 yards, 1 touchdown

Maclin: 1 catch, 15 yards, 0 touchdowns

Admittedly, I did not see that one coming.  Sleepers are tough.  That’s why they’re sleepers.  It would be easy for me to sit here and tell you to make sure you start Peyton Manning against the Chiefs this week.  When trying to uncover sleepers, we can only manufacture educated suggestions based on the evidence we’ve analyzed up to that point.  And when we err, we can only try to bounce back using the new evidence and injecting it into our newest considerations.  Well for this week, I’ve gathered my evidence, I’ve analyzed, I’m feeling educated, and I’m ready to suggest.  My Week 5 sleepers:

Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles

Vick will be out a minimum of one week.  Kolb has now had four weeks to recover from his concussion which should be enough time considering early reports are saying Cutler is not likely to miss any time after his concussion last week.  I know most of us jumped ship on him after Week 1, but let us not forget how high on him we were coming into this season.  Assuming he stays on the field, I have a good feeling about an impressive comeback week from him against the leagues 20th ranked pass defense in San Francisco.

Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills

ESPN has reported that the Eagles contacted Buffalo regarding the acquisition of Marshawn Lynch.  This means one possibility and one likelihood.  The possibility is that Lynch could be moved before this Sunday.  The likelihood is that if the Bills are close to or realistically considering trading him, it means they’ll want to give Jackson and/or Spiller some more work to access what they have in the two young backs.  If you happen to have both and your league gives out kick return points to individual players, I think Spiller is the play.  If your league does not score like that, look at Jackson as he’s had more carries of the two thus far.

Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs

I’ve noticed a lack of love for a guy who leads his team in carries and is averaging a respectable 4.2 yards per carry this season.  His upside is admittedly not as high as Jamaal Charles’, but he’s only starting in four percent of fantasy leagues* and I feel like he’s a much better play than that.  I could continue to raffle off some more persuasive statements but I’ll just remind you that a decent running back is always a good play against the Colts.

(A reader pointed out to me that I named Dexter McCluster in the “Guys I Like…” portion of my last article even though Kansas City was on a bye.  Evidently I was looking for him to have a big week watching TV and going to Target.  A bad job by me.)

Lance Moore, WR, Saints

Moore is a must-play right now in most formats.  He’s always been productive while healthy and there don’t seem to be any problems at the moment.  He’s had three touchdowns in his last two games and has 14 receptions on 19 targets which means when Brees goes his way he’s most likely going to find a way to haul it in.  The only problem with a Saints receiver is that the Saints are in the same group as the Colts as teams whose quarterback is almost guaranteed to have a solid game but you don’t how the passes will be doled out.  He’s still a great play against the NFL’s 22nd ranked pass defense.

Greg Olsen, TE, Bears

I’m usually not one to break out the sabermetrics, but I feel that you can get some use out of them when looking at tight ends.  Who throws to their tight end efficiently?  What teams look for their tight end over a wide out or running back when in the red zone?  What teams have had trouble containing tight ends?  Well according to the footballoutsiders.com DVOA ratings (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), the Panthers are the second most likely team to allow a big game out of the opposing tight end (Buffalo is first).  Speaking in not-so-technical terms, Olsen has just had a good season.  He’s second on the Bears in both receptions and touchdown receptions. And for the PPR leagues he’s had five catches in each of his last two games.

Other Guys I Like in Week 5: Eli Manning (QB), Sam Bradford (QB), Mike Tolbert (RB), Chris Ivory (RB), Hakeem Nicks (WR), Harry Douglas (WR), Santonio Holmes (WR), Danny Amendola (WR), Dante Rosario (TE)

*Purtaining to this and all future columns, if I say a player is starting in “X” percent of fantasy leagues, I am averaging that number of four different fantasy football websites that I play on.  That should be enough to provide relevant and unbiased information.

Week 5 pick-up questions?  Start-sit questions?  E-mail me at and I will try to include a few questions in next week’s article.  You can also follow me on Twitter @JoeDorien13.


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