The season starts today, so it’s my last chance to announce my Sleeper Picks. In my case, “Sleeper Picks” means players who will outperform their draft spots, not just players who are totally under the radar.
Anthony Gonzalez – Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Marvin Harrison will ever be able to play without knee pain. Harrison is currently #2 on the depth chart. This will change when reality intrudes and it’s obvious that Harrison just can’t be as productive as he was prior to the injury. Which opens the door for Anthony Gonzalez to have a 3/4s of year of production similar to his last five games of last season (22 rec for 370 yards and 3 TDs).
Jerry Porter - News flash: Reggie Williams totally stinks. Porter is the lone Jags’ WR with talent. In some leagues, Porter’s not even being drafted, probably because he’s out for week 1, recovering from a knee injury. But after his knee heals (around week 3 or 4) he’ll produce like a WR3 at best WR2.
Santoio Holmes – He’s a sleeper in the sense that I see him as a Top 10 WR, not just a Top 20 WR.
Bernard Berrian – Despite Tarvaris Jackson’s lackluster development and performance, Berrian will have a good year. For some reason, people don’t seem to realize he’s the #1 WR on the Vikings. Kyle and I have seen Sydney Rice and Nate Burleson go ahead of Berrian in multiple leagues, which is just incomprehensible to me.
Finally, I agree with Kyle about Bryant Johnson. #1 receivers in Mike Martz offenses have awesome fantasy production.
Rashard Mendenhall – Outside McFadden, I like him and his situation the best of all the rookie RBs. Chris Johnson is someone whom I can see outperforming the other rookies as well.
Fred Taylor and Edgerrin James – Easy to forget, but they are far less risky this year than any rookie RB (outside McFadden).
Laurence Maroney – Like Taylor and James, Maroney is far less risky than any rookie RB, together with great upside thanks to his role as primary RB in the League’s best offense.
Eli Manning – Boom! Not as good as the playoff Eli, but not as terrible as late-season Eli either.
Aaron Rodgers – The packers are one of the best teams in the NFC. Rodgers just has to show up, and Jennings, Driver, Jones, and Grant will get him great numbers.
Matt Schaub, Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell – I think each of these QBs will outperform their draft spot. In each case, as long as their offenses’ #1 threat (Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Clinton Portis) is healthy or not suspended, they’ll put up great numbers.
Jeremy Shockey – Shockey is moving to a pass-first, high octane offense in NO. Yet most fantasy GMs aren’t marking up his value accordingly (especially Giants fans, who strangely seem to think Kevin Boss is just as good a player as Shockey. Boss may be far easier to root for, but he’s not nearly as good at pass catching, especially deep or over the middle.)
Owen Daniels – I would mention Tony Scheffler, but he’s way too popular now to be considered a sleeper (I think every magazine and on-line source called him out as a TE sleeper). Instead I refer you to Owen Daniels, who may not block worth a darn, but he’s got potential in Houston’s offense.