IDP Sleepers - Week 3

  Posted 9/18 by Anthony Borbely, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

This article is a weekly look at players generally ranked around the edge of those considered "startable". For the purposes of this article, I will define startable as all players on the edge of starting on a team that starts 2 DL, 2 LBs, and 2 DBs. Therefore, about the middle of DL2, LB2 and DB2 range are usually where the choices begin to get tough. Each position is covered in descending order beginning with the players who have the most prime matchups to those with more risk and less upside to those who are complete reaches. Your mileage may vary, but the idea is to discuss these players and provide you with some analysis that might help you make those difficult lineup decisions a bit easier. I hope that your expertise as an owner has filled your team with enough players that you don't need to consider players outside of the prime cuts discussed here. Good luck and always keep in mind that your feedback and comments are welcome. I also want to thank and give credit to Bob Henry for creating the format for this article.

Defensive Linemen

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Dewayne White, Detroit Lions: White has had a sack in each of the first two games despite his inconsistent play. Now White gets to face the San Francisco 49ers, whose offense is led by former Lion's offensive coordinator Mike Martz. While the Martz offense usually puts up huge passing yards, they are also prone to giving up a lot of sacks, as illustrated by the eight sacks they allowed to Seattle last week. White should have a ton of sack opportunities this week.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Robert Mathis, Indianapolis Colts: Mathis has a great matchup in week three against the injury-riddled Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags were already playing without starting center Brad Meester, then lost starting guards Maurice Williams and Vincent Manuwai for the season in week one. The running game has really suffered and that has led to a ton of third-and-long passing situations. Garrard has already been sacked nine times this year and he is likely to be spending a lot of time trying to escape the pass rush of Mathis.

Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs: Hali has yet to record a sack, but he has racked up 10 total tackles in run defense. Hali faces an Atlanta team with a rookie left tackle in Sam Baker protecting rookie QB Matt Ryan. He could have some sack opportunities, but even if he fails to record a sack, he should see plenty of RB Michael Turner and with his ability in run defense, he should at worst put up solid tackle numbers. A player like Hali with solid tackle numbers is a low risk start against a running team like Atlanta. Should he add a big play or two, he could turn a good week into a great one.

Lawrence Jackson, Seattle Seahawks: Jackson has had a tremendous start to his rookie season, racking up five solos and two sacks in his first two games. Jackson now faces the struggling St. Louis Rams, who have allowed seven sacks to defensive linemen this year. Jackson plays opposite stud pass rusher Patrick Kerney, who should draw a lot of double teams, so Jackson should have a lot of one-on-one blocking. Jackson is a rookie and they are prone to inconsistency, especially defensive linemen, but he definitely has a solid matchup.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Amobi Okoye, Houston Texans: The Titans run game has given interior defensive linemen a lot of chances to make tackles in run defense, which bodes well for Okoye. He is also a respectable pass rusher and with the statuesque Kerry Collins at QB, Okoye has a shot to get a sack if he can apply some pressure. If you need a spot starter with upside, Okoye is as good as any.

Quentin Groves & Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville Jaguars: Peyton Manning historically has been very difficult to sack, but he is not moving as well this year as he has in the past, and his starting left tackle and starting center are both hurt. If you really need someone to start, Groves and Harvey may be a couple of players to take a shot on this week.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Ray McDonald, San Francisco 49ers: McDonald faces a Lions team that has given up eight sacks and allowed defensive linemen to run roughshod over their offensive line in the run game. McDonald could be a sneaky play if you really need a starter in a deeper league.

Cory Redding, Detroit Lions: Redding is barely worth a roster spot in the majority of leagues, but if you are badly in need of a starter, you could do a lot worse than Redding. He is playing against the Martz-led 49ers offense and they gave up eight sacks last week. Redding is not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly has a great matchup and warrants a look in deeper leagues.


Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Stewart Bradley, Philadelphia Eagles: Bradley faces a Pittsburgh team that has ran the ball 70 times in two games. He had eight solos in week one before a disappointing effort on Monday night. The Steelers seem to be getting back to old-fashioned Steelers football, which is run the ball and play physical defense. Bradley should have a boatload of tackle opportunities this week.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers: Davis and the Panthers face the Vikings, led by all-world RB Adrian Peterson, in week three. All six starting LBs that the Vikings have faced this year have had five or more solo tackles. Besides the run game, the Vikings run a west coast offense that throws a lot of short passes, so either way, Davis figures to be in the middle of the action. Jon Beason will likely get the bulk of the LB tackles, but there should be enough left for Davis to make him a decent start this week.

Dhani Jones, Cincinnati Bengals: Jones has been reborn with the Bengals this year and has racked up 20 tackles so far, including 11 solos. He faces a Tennessee team that is second in the NFL in rushing attempts with 73. Jones is not the greatest and most athletic LB around, but you don't always have to be. When you have a lot of opportunities to make tackles, even a journeyman like Jones can be a solid start once in a while.

D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns: After having their game canceled last week due to Hurricane Ike, the Ravens return to action and should have the services of starting RB Willis McGahee. Even without him in week one, the Ravens ran the ball 46 times. They will probably try the same attack against the Browns in an attempt to take pressure off of rookie QB Joe Flacco. Jackson figures to be around the ball a lot this week and should be a solid start.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Kawika Mitchell, Buffalo Bills: Mitchell is not a player that fantasy owners like to count on, but he has a great matchup against the run-happy Oakland Raiders, who lead the NFL in rushing attempts with 77. They are clearly trying to avoid passing the ball since the passing offense has been anemic this year. Sometimes mediocre players can fill in when needed. Mitchell should be a respectable starter if you really need one.

Pisa Tinoisamoa, St. Louis Rams: Seattle has lost a bunch of WRs and they should try to run the ball early and often this week against the Rams. Tinoisamoa is not normally a player that fantasy owners count on, but if you are looking for a starter, Tinoisamoa has a decent matchup this week.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Andra Davis, Cleveland Browns: I rarely if ever start a 3-4 ILB who only plays two downs, but if I ever had to, I may take a chance on Davis, who has a great matchup against the run-first Ravens.

Defensive Backs

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers: Polamalu appears to be healthy (finally) and he has made a ton of big plays early in the season. He has a great matchup against the Eagles and is getting close to being an automatic start again. Many have put Polamalu on the back burner because he always seems to be hurt, but he has played very well, and the hope is that he is back to being a stud again. Polamalu has been hurt so much and has missed so many games that it is easy to forget how dynamic of a player he really is. A talent like Polamalu is normally an every week starter and thus would not be in this article, but right now, he is not starting for a lot of fantasy owners. Polamalu has largely been overlooked because of his injuries and I want to make everyone aware that he is playing like the Polamalu of old.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Mike Adams, Cleveland Browns: When you look at the top of the list for tackles among defensive backs, you will see the name of Cleveland journeyman safety Mike Adams. He replaced the injured Sean Jones and has racked up 17 solos in two games. This is a case where journeyman meets great opportunity and puts up solid numbers. He should put up solid tackle numbers this week playing a run first Ravens team. Adams is largely unknown and everyone should check the waiver wire and see if he is available. If you already own him, he makes for a decent start this week.

Daniel Bullocks, Detroit Lions: Lion's head coach Rod Marinelli inserted Bullocks into the starting lineup last week, replacing Gerald Alexander, and Bullocks responded with eight solos. He faces the pass happy 49ers and should be in the middle of the aerial assault this week. Bullocks may not be completely healthy, but that isn't necessarily bad for fantasy DB purposes. Being a step late to a passing play usually results in a tackle opportunity.

Leon Hall & Johnathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengal CBs have a great matchup against the Giants this week for a couple of reasons. First, the Bengals defense is not very good and they are on the field a lot. The second reason is the Giants offense has been a machine thus far and a great matchup for CBs. In the first two games, the four starting corners against the Giants have 22 solo tackles. Expect Hall and Joseph to continue the trend this week.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Aaron Rouse, Green Bay Packers: Rouse replaces the injured Atari Bigby this week and he will be thrown into the fire against the powerhouse Dallas Cowboy offense. Rouse is not the ferocious hitter Bigby is, but he is a willing run defender and is decent in coverage. Rouse was a first round pick in 2007, so the ability is there. If you need a starter this week, Rouse may fit the bill.

Brandon Carr, Kansas City Chiefs: Carr will make his first career start this week, replacing the injured Patrick Surtain. With him being a rookie corner making his first start, the offensive coordinator of the Falcons could target him in the passing game, although another rookie, Brandon Flowers, starts at the other corner. Carr is a willing run defender and the Chiefs play a lot of cover-2, so he should be in the middle of the action in both run defense and coverage. You could do a lot worse than Carr this week and he makes for a good start if you are thin at DB.

If you're desperate (worth a look in deeper leagues)

Dre Bly, Denver Broncos: The Saints like to throw the ball and one would think they will avoid throwing to the side patrolled by elite cover corner Champ Bailey. Bly does not usually put up big tackle numbers, but an odd big play or two could make him a decent spot start this week if you are in need. I generally do not like to start players who put up low tackle numbers, but sometimes we all get so desperate that we will take a chance on a player like Bly.