Week 1 Sleeper Report

Week 1 Sleeper Report

This article is a weekly look at players generally ranked around the edge of those considered "startable". 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.


Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Kurt Warner - ARI - Arizona has truly been the tale of two quarterbacks since they drafted Matt Leinart. Last year, Matt Leinart opened as the team's starter, against San Francisco, and he completed 14-of-28 for 102 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions and 35 yards rushing. He stunk. Eleven weeks later, Kurt Warner started for the Cardinals against SF and completed 34-of-48 for 484 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. What a difference a year makes. Warner probably won't go off like that again this week, but he should be able to produce on par with most QB1 started this week.

Jon Kitna - DET - The Falcons secondary is about as green as it gets. They may prove to be a formidable group by year's end and the Lions are bound to test them early and often with Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams. The Lions will definitely try to run the ball more this year. It's hard not to, but they won't ignore the two best players on their offense either. As a Lion, Kitna played the Falcons in week 9 of 2006. He completed 20-of-32 for 321 yards, 1 TD and 17 yards rushing. He should throw for 2 TDs this week and throw for well over 200 yards. The question with Kitna is always how many turnovers go with that?

Brett Favre - NYJ - The Dolphins were among the worst pass defenses in the league last year using fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs as the primary criteria. Much has changed with the Dolphins since last year, of course, but the same thing applies to the Jets -- and Brett Favre, too. The Dolphins allowed just shy of 2 TDs per game last year despite teams throwing only 26 times per game (lowest in the league) against them. Actually, Chad Pennington threw only 22 passes against them last year for 124 yards and 2 TDs and scored another on the ground. Later in the year, Kellen Clemens completed 15-of-24 for 236 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Favre makes the whole Jets offense better and their offensive line should be better as well. Dolphins' corners Will Allen and Andre Goodman will have their hands full.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

This group of quarterbacks is all about the risk/reward. Each of these guys are likely to hang up big numbers on any given Sunday, but they are equally as likely to get knocked out of the game, implode, or both.

Aaron Rodgers - GB - This is the biggest game of Aaron Rodgers life so far. His first NFL start replacing Brett Favre. The Vikings understand that well. Armed with Jared Allen now, they'll be after Rodgers relentlessly in this game. It will come down to whether Rodgers can take advantage of a suspect Vikings secondary playing without Madieu Williams or whether Allen and company get to him first. The Vikings allowed 280 passing yards/gm last year -- tops in the league. If Rodgers can handle the pressure, the talented Packers receivers should help him make some plays. Unlike Favre, Rodgers should add 10-20 yards a game with his feet. Let's just hope he finishes as many games as he starts against a strong pass rush like he'll probably face this week.

Derek Anderson - CLE - Anderson is making his first start of the season coming off a concussion suffered in the preseason. This is not the way you want to come into a game against a defense like the Cowboys who can rush the passer and make plays in the secondary. If the Browns can protect Anderson from DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis, he should be able to make things happen with Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow and Donte' Stallworth. The Cowboys secondary is talented, but still adjusting to their roles and they remain vulnerable to big plays. Roy Williams will not play nickel or dime this year after being abused in coverage last year.

Vince Young - TEN - There are few players who are more polarizing to fantasy owners than VY. Every pundit in the universe expected the Titans brass to accommodate Young with either a top pick or even an impact free agent during the off-season. Instead, they got Chris Johnson and Alge Crumpler. Who knows? That might be the right mix. Johnson has been explosive in the preseason and Crumpler seems like a great fit for both parties. Now, the rubber meets the road. Young has been a Jekyll/Hyde fantasy QB in his brief career. In two games against the Jags last year, he underwhelmed in the season opener with an 11-of-18 for 78 yard day with an interception and 22 yards rushing and a TD. Later in the year, after Young owners lost confidence in him, he surprised everyone with a 24-of-41 day in which he threw for 257 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs and ran for 51 yards. Ride or die with VY. Either you're all in, or you're out and probably losing your game because of him.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Jeff Garcia - TB - The Saints allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs last year -- 20-of-33 passing for 257 yards, 1.9 TDs and 0.8 INTs. The Saints were one of the worst teams in the league at forcing turnovers, especially interceptions. Garcia is also one of the quarterbacks you don't want to start your fantasy defense against because he usually takes care of the football and avoids sacks. In week 2 last year against New Orleans, Garcia completed 10-of-16 for 243 yards and 2 TDs (no INTs). In week 13, Luke McCown was able to throw for 313 yards and 2 TDs, 1 INT on 29-of-37 passing. The Saints drafted Tracey Porter and signed Randall Gay to improve their pass defense implicitly by sending Jason David to the bench. Garcia may not have as much success as last year, but he is a safe pick , running a Jon Gruden offense, for about 200 yards and a TD or two.

J.T. OSullivan - SF - All hail the next iteration of a mad Mike Martz fantasy quarterback. Sure to throw often and potentially for uber yardage providing they can sustain 7-step drops after 7-step drops with nobody by the offensive line pass protecting. It's amazing that Jon Kitna is still in one piece. O'Sullivan is a Martz-style QB, too. He'll take his chances, but he'll pay the price with picks and sacks. The Cardinals allowed 247 passing yards per game last year -- and that was facing an inept 49ers passing team twice. Playing at home will help. If you can stomach the risk that comes with O'Sullivan (multiple turnovers, benching, injury, all three) then he could reward you with 300 yards and a couple of TDs. In week one, there's usually safer plays.

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

Chad Pennington - MIA - It's ironic the way the NFL schedule works this year. Pennington's first start for a team other than the Jets is against the Jets. Classic. The Jets are starting rookie Dwight Lowery at corner opposite Darrelle Revis. The Dolphins WR corps is a wild card, though Pennington has looked solid in the preseason. The Jets need a pass rush or Pennington should be effective. Ted Ginn, Derek Hagan and Anthony Fasano are all on the sleeper watch knowing there is some added incentive for Pennington this week.

Running Back

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Michael Turner - ATL - The Falcons signed Turner during the offseason to be their lead running back. This week, he'll get his first crack at it going against the Lions, who were the worst defense in the league last year at slowing down opposing RBs. Of course, Turner will split time with Jerious Norwood so it's hard telling whether he'll be the bell cow and carry the mail 20-25 times or if he'll split the touches more evenly with Norwood. Turner certainly is the more physical of the two and Norwood, by far, the more accomplished receiver. Turner should be more than a safe start in week one while Norwood is an intriguing option in PPR leagues with 12 or more teams. It's generally not wise to open your fantasy season by starting a RB that isn't a starter on his own team, but if there's an exception to be made then perhaps Norwood is the one. The Lions allowed 24-112-1.1 rushing and 8-67-0.3 receiving to RBs last year. With the departure of DT Shaun Rogers, arguably the Lions best defender, you could make an argument that the Lions defense will be worse, not better, heading into this year.

Ricky Williams - MIA - The Dolphins named Ricky Williams as their starting RB for the season opener against the NY Jets. Williams was by most accounts the best player in the Dolphins training camp this summer. Re-energized, focused and hungry, Williams' resurgence couldn't come at a better time for a young team focused on rebuilding the Bill Parcells way. Williams ultimately will split carries with Ronnie Brown, but for now, expect Williams to be more of a featured back than a RB-by-committee; at least until Brown has more time to recover from his torn ACL last year. Williams faces a Jets defense that promises to be improved against the run with NT Kris Jenkins keying the defense. MLB David Harris could lead the league in tackles in his second season if Jenkins can shield him from blockers. The Jets allowed 29-127-0.9 and 4-30-0.2 to opposing RBs last year. Expect Ricky to get 20 carries this week and a few catches and possibly a TD to throw into the mix.

Kevin Smith - DET - The wind was blowing the sails of Kevin Smith throughout the summer as Tatum Bell appeared more interested in collecting a paycheck than running the football. As teams cut down to 53 players the Lions seized the opportunity to sign Rudi Johnson and thereby release Bell. While that may affect the number of carries Smith gets this season, it shouldn't have a great effect on Smith's touches for week one. Sitting out the entire preseason, Johnson seemingly has some work to do before he's ready to roll. So it seems plausible that Smith should get a full workload on Sunday. If Smith loses any touches, it might be at the goal line. If Rudi is active, he could get the call in the red zone considering he's bigger and more physical. Rookie FB Jerome Felton is another option. That's not to say that Smith won't get those touches; but it's an area where he has yet to establish himself in practice. The Lions are steadfast in their pursuit to run the ball this year. For that to happen, they'll need to control the tempo and get better blocking up front. Against the Falcons, that seems possible, though not necessarily probable. This is the Lions, after all, and they've yet to show that their offensive line is capable of getting a consistent push to spearhead Jim Coletto's offense, but at least the players have bought into the philosophy. Credit Rod Marinelli for that much. The Falcons allowed 27-120-0.8 and 6-37-0.2 to RBs last year. With Rudi onboard, Smith has plenty of opportunity and fuel to come out of the gates strong and put the RBBC whispers to bed.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Chris Perry - CIN - As Marvin Lewis said, Chris Perry always wanted to get his shot at the starting job and now he has it. Perry went from being an oft-injured, first round bust out of Michigan to the guy within a period of a few weeks in August. This is another one of those situations where if you own Perry, you almost feel obligated to start him because he might not be healthy for week 2, much less hold the spot all year long. The Ravens defense has lost a little of its edge over the past few years, but they remain one of the more stout units in the league against the run. The Bengals may very well abandon the run in this game and simply air it out. If they play to their strengths, that is what they would do. If they do, Perry should benefit since his receiving skills fit that style of offense perhaps even better. Kenny Watson will get some carries, too, but if you believe Marvin Lewis then Perry will be the team's featured back and this will be the game for him to reward the Bengals front office for their confidence in him; although it probably had more to do with saving money than talent.

Selvin Young - DEN - For those of you that own Selvin Young, I would encourage you to ride this guy like a pony while you can. If we've learned anything over the years, it is that Mike Shanahan cannot be trusted with your investment in the Broncos backfield. As long as Young is starting (he is for now!) and playing against a Raiders defense that appears better on paper, but was among the worst against RBs in 2007, then you have to roll him out there. The Raiders allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to RBs last year, though the Broncos only took advantage of them once (Travis Henry rolled up on them for 128 yards in week 2). The risky part of rolling with Young is that he may not get any goal line touches (Andre Hall got those carries in the preseason) and Michael Pittman could steal some of his 3rd down charm, which makes him less appealing for PPR league. If Young is your 3rd/4th back consider using him but understand his limitations and the possibility that Mike Shanahan could pull a fast one on us at any time.

Laurence Maroney - NE - Last year proved to be a difficult year for anyone who drafted and expected Laurence Maroney to be a trustworthy fantasy RB. He was anything but that until the playoffs came around, which was long after fantasy leagues gave a hoot. Maroney is once again a huge question mark as far as how many touches he'll get from week to week. If anything, the Patriots signing LaMont Jordan sent a smoke signal to all fantasy owners that they're going to more of a committee approach this year, not less. On the flipside, the Chiefs defense was among the worst against RBs last year allowing 26-121-0.7 and 4-32-0.1 per game. They are probably better up front with DT Glenn Dorsey keying the run defense, but this looks like a game that could be over with before it starts. As such, Maroney, Morris and Jordan could combine for 30-to-40 carries -- or Belichick could once again decide to throw the ball well into the 4th quarter with a 20 point lead. Maroney may be a top 25-rated fantasy back by most pundits, but the reality is that he could be top 5 any week or not even get double digits in carries.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Chris Johnson - TEN - Finally, the hype surrounding Chris Johnson will meet the reality of a regular season NFL game against the formidable defense of the Jaguars. But let's put this into perspective. Last year on opening day the one who shall not be denied, Chris Brown, ran roughshod over the Jags defense for 175 yards on 19 carries. LenDale White ran another 18 times for 66 yards. Now, Johnson isn't Brown -- and that's a good thing -- but he has shown in the preseason and practices that he is equally dangerous in the passing game as he is lining up at tailback. Expect new offensive coordinator to take as much pressure off Vince Young as possible. That means a lot of White and Johnson. It also means that Young will throw easier passes to help him get in the groove. Look for Johnson to be targeted 5-10 times as a receiver and run the ball 10+ times as well. If he gets into the open, put him down for six.

Ray Rice - BAL - Willis McGahee practiced on Monday according to Ravens HC John Harbaugh, but he apparently is not "100%" either. The Ravens have kept McGahee's status under wraps as much as possible, but the truth is that until Monday he hadn't practiced at all since the first week of training camp. He has been running in the pool, for what that's worth, and he has gone through some mental reps, but even if he makes progress and starts against the Bengals, rookie Ray Rice is almost certainly going to get some of the touches until McGahee actually is 100%. Rice isn't a great start given the uncertainty of McGahee's health, but if you can wait as long as possible, you just might get the news you're hoping for as a Rice owner - that McGahee will be held out for the first week and Rice will lead the Ravens ground game. Either way, Rice should get double digit touches.

Leon Washington - NYJ - Washington fits this category quite well. Given his past performances against the Dolphins, you're just as likely to get a 100 yard effort out of Washington as you are an ill advised start. Last year, Washington produced a paltry 7-18-0 in week three, but later ripped off 103 combined yards and scored 2 TDs against them in week 13. In 2006, he managed an 11-58-0 day in week 6, then busted out for 134 combined yards in week 16. The Jets offensive line was retooled in the offseason, but so was the Dolphins front seven. This game is anyone's guess, but the Jets have Fav-rah and the Dolphins don't. Advantage: Jets and Leon Washington.

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

Steve Slaton - HOU - If you're going to roll the dice with the Texans RB situation without seeing how it will play out for a week or two, then good luck and Godspeed. I'm not sure if Ahman Green knows whether or not he is able to handle a full load this week. If Green isn't active, then Chris Taylor will likely get the starting nod. Taylor has some pop and he's played relatively well when given the opportunity, but he's also in his first year following a torn ACL, too. Either way, I would advise you to steer clear of Green and Taylor completely. At some point this year, Steve Slaton is almost certainly going to get his chance to be the Texans top back. For PPR leagues, he might be someone you gamble on early as a flex starter knowing that neither Green nor Taylor are exactly trustworthy. Slaton is the one back on the Texans roster that has demonstrated the ability to run and catch the ball this preseason. Unfortunately, the Steelers defense is still pretty good against the run so you'd be much better off waiting on Slaton and seeing what takes place with the Texans backfield this week.

Andre Hall - DEN - The Raiders run defense left a lot to be desired last year as they allowed more fantasy production to opposing backs than 30 other NFL teams. The Broncos running game isn't what it used to be, but if they get within striking distance than Hall is the guy that could finish off their drives. He took almost all of the goal-line and short-yardage carries during the preseason and he appears to be ready to deliver now that the regular season games are here. Hall likely won't carry the ball more than 10 times this week, but he could get into the end zone once or twice making him a possible flex starter or option in TD-only leagues.

Wide Receiver

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Patrick Crayton - DAL - The Cowboys WR corps is short handed at the moment due to injuries suffered by Sam Hurd, Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback in the preseason. Tight end Jason Witten is expected to fill some of that void by playing as a slot receiver when the team lines up with three WR sets, though Crayton may naturally absorb some of those targets as well. Crayton had a strong preseason and he has improved every year he's been in the league. Never mind that the Browns corners have a lot to prove this year considering their lack of experience. The Browns defense will do all it can to stop Marion Barber, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. Crayton looks like an excellent play considering the Browns pass defense is already suspect and nobody will be doubling him or keying on him this week.

Santana Moss - WAS - The Giants lost two of their best pass rushers during the offseason with the retirement of Michael Strahan and the season-ending injury to Osi Umenyiora in the preseason. It's not like their cupboard is bare, but if their pass rush falters much it could leave their secondary far more susceptible than it was a year ago. The Giants could disguise their weakness in the secondary by having such a strong rush up front. This year, things could be different. Moss has been flying under the radar this offseason and he enters the season with an ADP around WR29. Last year, Moss wasn't quite healthy but he still managed to produce 3-82-0 (8 targets) and 3-75-0 (9 targets) against the Giants. In 2006, he went 3-39-0 in one game, but blew up for 6-103-1 in the other. The Redskins passing game should flow through TE Chris Cooley and Moss until their rookies catch up in the playbook and on the field. For now, look for Moss to produce higher than expectations.

Marvin Harrison - IND - This might be the only time a sure-fire Hall of Fame receiver has appeared or will appear in this column. Harrison won't be a sleeper to the Bears defense this week, but to many fantasy owners he has been swept aside as washed up, lost a step or (even more worrisome) lost his desire to play. Tell that to Tony Dungy. The Colts head coach doesn't expect anything less out of Marvin than he did entering the 2005, 2006 or 2007 seasons. If Harrison is truly back, even with a senior discount, he'll easily out-produce his ADP and expectations. Of course, there are wrinkles to projecting Harrison early in the season. Is Peyton ok? Will the Colts offensive line be as good? The Bears will almost certainly play Harrison physically to see how much fire is in his belly this week. Don't be surprised when Manning and Harrison answer with a "quick 6".

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

Isaac Bruce - SF - The 49ers promise to be a pass happy team under Mike Martz this year and nobody knows Martz's offense better amongst the 49ers receiving corps than the venerable Bruce. The Cardinals aggressively addressed their secondary deficiencies in the offseason by drafting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (aka DRC) and moving ball hawk Antrel Rolle to free safety. They also have Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson back at strong safety. The Cardinals were among the worst teams in the league last year at defending opposing receivers. Whether their improvement is offset by the pass-happy tendencies of the 49ers offense remains to be seem, but ultimately it promises to be a busy day for the 49ers receivers -- and Bruce is the best bet early in the season since he's the most experienced and the healthiest coming into this game.

Ted Ginn - MIA - Ginn showed flashes of his potential during the preseason and he enters the year as the unquestioned #1 WR for the Dolphins. In week one, they open up against a Jets defense that will either start rookie corner Dwight Lowery or veteran Justin Miller. Miller (toe/foot) is hurt and may not be ready to play, so it might be Lowery matching up with the speedy Ginn. With Chad Pennington at QB, Ginn's chances of being productive this year increased significantly. Don't be surprised if those

Ronald Curry - OAK - The Raiders passing game is not one you want to bank on for the 2008 fantasy season. That said, this week could be an interesting matchup with Curry likely going against veteran Dre' Bly of the Broncos. Bly is a former Pro Bowler, but he's a shell of his former play making self. Bly is vulnerable to speed and big plays. Plus, playing opposite Champ Bailey he will be targeted frequently. Curry is arguably the Raiders best (only) solid receiving threat, but with so many question marks with Russell and the Raiders offense in general, Curry is a more risk than reward in week 1. The Raiders plan to run the ball 600 times this year, if you trust HC Lane Kiffin's assertions, but Curry might be targeted enough in this game to be useful.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Kevin Walter - HOU - One player that stood out to me in the preseason for the Texans was Walter. He quietly put together a solid season last year and as an EMU alumnus I have a soft spot in my heart for the guy. With that out of the way, Andre Johnson is clearly the team's #1 target and TE Owen Daniels the likely #2. So, why would Walter be worth a shot? He and Matt Schaub demonstrated a rapport in the preseason that I believe will carry over into the regular season. Nobody on the Steelers will be scheming to double team Walter, but they may likely be doing that for Johnson and even do some things to account for Daniels. He's not Ed McCaffrey, of course, but Walter is well versed in the offense and, if my gut feeling is correct, the Texans will be throwing the ball much more than running it this week.

Rashied Davis - CHI - He's Kyle Orton's go-to guy and he's not even on some people's radar yet. He's been around Chicago for a while now and he played well in the preseason. The Colts have never been a great matchup for opposing receivers and Davis may not get a ton of targets if the Bears rotate their receivers, but coming into the season he might be the best chance of squeezing anything out of the Bears passing game.

Eddie Royal - DEN - With Brandon Marshall suspended for a game, Darrell Jackson assumes his starting spot opposite rookie Eddie Royal. Unfortunately for Jackson, he is probably in for a long night matching wits with the Raiders lockdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha, while Royal may find more room to operate lining up against DeAngelo Hall and his broken hand. Shut down corner, Hall is not. It's hard to expect much from a rookie in his first NFL game, but Jay Cutler has looked phenomenal in preseason game and he is primed for a breakout year. With Marshall out, expect Royal to get targeted frequently along with TE Tony Scheffler, despite Mike Shanahan's depth chart saying otherwise.

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

Donte Stallworth - CLE - I may be in the minority in saying this, but the Cleveland Browns scare the heck out of me this year. I don't mean that in a flattering way either. With Derek Anderson coming off a concussion, Braylon Edwards recovering from a gash on his foot and lots of questions on the defensive side of the ball; they have their work cut out for them against the Cowboys this week. On the plus side, Stallworth is healthy (which won't last long) and he has proven to be a viable big play threat that defenses must account for. The Cowboys have loads of talent in the secondary, yet they remain susceptible at the same time. With Stallworth, I'd argue to strike while the iron is hot. It's a solid matchup for Stallworth. The Cowboys will almost certainly put plenty of points on the board and the Browns may be throwing the entire second half.

Hank Baskett - PHI - Basket steps into the starting lineup replacing Kevin Curtis and a Rams secondary that was torched week in and week out last year. While the Rams have made improvements in the offseason, Baskett still enjoys about a half of a foot size advantage over the Rams corners. .

Tight End

Prime Cut (Great matchup, strong sleeper)

Alge Crumpler - TEN - Let's face it. The Titans best two receivers this year might turn out to be rookie RB Chris Johnson and TE Alge Crumpler. The Titans receivers are uninspiring with Justin Gage and Justin McCareins in the starting lineup. These are two receivers who couldn't crack the starting lineup, much less earn significant playing time with their previous teams. Young has been TE friendly, as most young NFL QBs tend to be, and while they Titans front office neglected the WR corps mostly, they did add this former Falcon and Pro Bowler to the mix. As a Falcon, Crumpler produced 3-53-0 against the Jaguars last year while Bo Scaife managed 2-18-0 and 33-8-0. Titans offensive coordinator ran a TE-friendly offense in his first run with the team during the Steve McNair era and we suspect he'll be just as TE-friendly this go around knowing that the way the current roster is shaped. Plus, the Jaguars defense was among the most productive for opposing TEs last year allowing an average of 4-51-0.4 per game.

Zach Miller - OAK - The Raiders passing game may be one of the more engaging train wrecks we witness in the 2008 season. However, the shrewd owner who paid attention to the nice preseason turned in by Miller just might be able to use it to their advantage. JaMarcus Russell seemed to have his sights locked onto Miller as his primary target at times during the last month. He might have the best hands of all the Raiders receivers. Miller faced the Broncos twice as a rookie. In week two he was still getting used to the NFL but managed 3-18-0. In week 13, Miller produced 3 catches, 58 yards and a TD. The Broncos pass rush struggled in the preseason and their best player is not 100% (Elvis Dumervil). The Broncos secondary has some talent, but Champ Bailey can't do it alone and Miller should find plenty of seams on intermediate routes to make plays. Even though 2008 is a new season, the Broncos ranked 2nd in the league last year in fantasy points allowed to opposing TEs.

Worth a Gamble (Good matchup, solid sleeper)

L.J. Smith - PHI - Smith is finally healthy after an injury-marred season in 2007. Unfortunately, teammate and WR Kevin Curtis, coming off his finest season as a pro, is out for the first part of the season due to a sports hernia -- which is similar to what sidelined Smith most of last season. Donovan McNabb won't get any healthier than he is entering week 1 and with his receiving corps less than 100%, expect Brian Westbrook and L.J. Smith to pick up the slack. When healthy, Smith has been a featured receiver in the Eagles red zone offense with McNabb at the helm. It's tough to throw Smith into your lineup with last year as your most recent memory of his production, but he could get off to a quick start given the Eagles past tendencies and their current limitations at WR with Curtis sidelined.

Anthony Fasano - MIA - Some players simply need a new environment to live up to their potential. Fasano seems like a potential poster child for that scenario. Buried in Dallas behind All-Pro Jason Witten, Fasano never had a chance to make any fantasy impact. When Bill Parcells became the GM of the Dolphins, one of his first moves was to acquire Fasano. In the preseason, Fasano quickly emerged as one of the most reliable receivers for the Dolphins. The Dolphins are an entirely different team this year and with Tony Sporano and Bill Parcells running the show, it seems like a logical extension to expect a mild increase in production for their tight ends. Fasano enters the season with an ADP suggesting that he's barely draftable, but within a few weeks don't be surprised if he's consistently ranked within the top 15 TEs. If you bungled your TEs on draft day, it's not too late to regroup. Go get Fasano and don't be afraid to roll the die on him from the get-go.

Solid Reach (backup / situational player with upside)

Greg Olsen - CHI - Similar to Alge Crumpler and the Titans, the Bears didn't exactly address their deficiencies at WR by letting their top two receivers depart via free agency only to replace them with journeymen like Brandon Lloyd and Marty Booker. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner's scheme is TE friendly and the Bears roster should reinforce that supposition. Greg Olsen and Desmond Clark combined for 83 catches last year; each player was targeted 66 times. The Colts were one of the top ranked defenses in the league last at defending the TE, so don't expect Gonzo numbers, but Olsen is a huge target for Kyle Orton and he will likely be one of the featured players the team leverages in the red zone more often this year.

Kevin Boss - NYG - When Jeremy Shockey was lost for the season last year with a broken foot/ankle, it opened up a door for Kevin Boss. In the final three weeks of the regular season, Boss was slowly worked into the team's offense and he produced 6 catches for 81 yards and 2 TDs. One of those games was a 2-31-1 against the Redskins in week 15. Make no mistake, Boss is no Shockey. But he figures to be a nice player who will compliment the stockpile of talent they've assembled at WR and RB.

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

Dante Rosario - CAR - While Steve Smith may have lost some locker room respect for beating up teammate CB Ken Lucas in training camp, Dante Rosario might owe him a thank you -- as strange as that may seem. Smith's loss could be Rosario's gain for the first two games of the season. The Panthers are expected to use more two tight end formations and utilize Rosario more than usual in Smith's absence. Rosario didn't play as a rookie until week 13 when he caught a 5-yard TD. In the team's last three games he produced 1-54-0, 1-13-0 and 3-36-1. Rarely will you find a TE sleeper as deep as this with a legitimate shot to produce this week.