2007 Fantasy Football Sleepers

Last updated: 8/21/07

Although it pains me to write this article, knowing that all of my opponents in my four fantasy football leagues could potentially read it, I felt it necessary to enlighten people as to my predicted sleepers of the season. However, I figure my superiority at watching the waiver wire will be enough to carry me past most of those amateurs, so here we go…


Alex Smith (SF): In his 3rd year, Smith could surprise. New weapons Ashley Lelie and Darrell Jackson should nicely compliment Vernon Davis and Frank Gore. Although you might not want to draft Smith as your starting QB going into the year, taking him as a backup could prove to be an excellent decision.

Jay Cutler (DEN): In his first year, Cutler proved that he could contend in the NFL, throwing 2 TDs in his first four games as the starter and 9 TDs overall in the five games he stared. Look for Cutler to resume where he left off, although this time with more chemistry between himself and his receivers. Look for Brandon Marshall to step up this year and provide a good outlet for when Javon Walker is double covered. If you’ve waited too long and all the top tier QBs are off the board, taking Cutler to be your starting QB this year isn’t the worst thing you could do…and could end up being a great decision.

Running Backs

Adrian Peterson (MIN): He’s a lot like San Diego’s Michael Turner – talented but stuck in a backup role – but he’s arguably more talented than Turner (hopefully the link stays active for a bit), and Chester Taylor is no LT. It’s frankly unclear why the Vikes are still sticking with Taylor as the starter, but don’t expect it to last long.

Tatum Bell (DET): Bell was good for Denver the past two years, averaging around 100 yards, but losing out on the goal line carries. This year, with starting RB Kevin Jones potentially starting the season on the PUP list, Bell might get to jump right in where he left off in Denver. Kevin Jones is no stranger to injury, so expect Bell to see a lot of action and if Detroit’s wide receivers can take some focus off the running game, Bell could end up being a good number 2 running back for your team. I probably wouldn’t draft him to be my number 2 back going into the season, but if you’re looking for a 3rd back and there don’t seem to be any solid options, take a flyer on Bell and see how it turns out.

DeAngelo Williams (CAR): I actually expected Williams to break out a bit more last year, but he was never really given a consistent chance. Even without being a full time starter, Williams was able to rack up 800+ combined yards rushing/receiving. Starter DeShaun Foster is an injury waiting to happen, so once Williams gets in there and has a chance to prove he’s a “starter” quality back, he’ll be a nice addition to any fantasy team. If you’ve gone the route of taking a top notch QB or WR instead of a second RB in the first two rounds, you might look for Williams to take your second RB position in that third round, where he should still be available.

Wide Receivers

Brandon Marshall (DEN): Although I’ve been talking up Brandon Marshall since before he came into the league (possibly because he shares my name), I honestly think he will prove to be a viable fantasy receiver this year. In his first year in the league, Marshall was only able to get 300 yards receiving behind Javon Walker and Rod Smith on the depth chart. This year, I see Marshall taking over the 2 spot from Smith early and running with it. Marshall showed what he can do with a 71 yard touchdown catch from Cutler last season and I see a lot more of that happening this year. He also provides a big endzone target at 6’4″, 220, so “Baby TO” should see looks from Cutler on a consistent basis, especially with Javon Walker drawing double teams. Odds are that in your league, Marshall will be available late in the draft, when you’re looking for a 4th or 5th receiver. If you see him there…I say scoop him up.

Donte Stallworth (NE): While Randy Moss draws all the media attention off the field and double teams on the field, watch for Stallworth to sneak in and slowly become one of Brady’s favorite targets. If he can stay healthy, Stallworth has the speed to be Brady’s biggest deep threat. Look for Stallworth to be a viable 3rd receiving option this year for your fantasy squad.

Greg Jennings (GB): Although I can’t take all the credit for this “sleeper” (my boy Ezal has been ranting about him since last year), I figure Jennings should have a breakout season this year, unseating Donald Driver as the number one option for Favre. Jennings had a few 100+ yard games last year…look for those to come on a more consistent basis this year. Like Stallworth, Jennings would make a good 3rd receiving option for your team.

Matt Jones (JAX): Entering the magical third year for receivers, Jones has to step up this year and prove that with all the size and skill that the Jaguars receivers have, they’re not ALL complete underachievers. Look for Jones to improve on both his yardage and touchdown numbers this year. With Maurice Jones-Drew proving to be a threat on the ground, defenses won’t be able to focus as much on Jones, allowing him to use his mismatch size (6’6″, 230 lb) to win balls in one on one situations. Jones would also make a good third receiving option this season for your fantasy team.

Tight Ends

Randy McMichael (STL): Whether it’s my undying love for Marc Bulger, or the fact that I think Miami is a place where players go to underachieve, I think McMichael will love playing in St. Louis. I’ve heard reports that he is already building up good chemistry with Bulger in training camp and I expect him to be a top six TE this season.

While doing my own research for sleepers, I ran across a few notes on Brandon Funston’s own sleepers. As he considers himself to be a fantasy sports expert, I feel that it is my obligation to make sure he is not tarnishing the “Brandon name”, so here are my select comments:On Jerious Norwood, Funston writes: “May favorite candidate to have a monster breakout campaign”Response: Well, despite the fact that he can’t spell “my” properly, I have to agree that Norwood should have a decent season. If Warrick Dunn’s back surgery hampers his game early in the season, see Norwood take over as the feature back in a run happy offense.On Braylon Edwards, Funston writes: “I’m expecting a big year if he can stay out of doghouse”Response: I’m expecting a mediocre year, if only because the QB situation is not there to provide for a great season. If Brady Quinn takes over for Charlie Frye at some point in the season, Edwards’ could see some quality games later in the season, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in Edwards at this point.On Vincent Jackson, Funston writes: “Excellent breakout candidate after strong ’06 close”Response: Agreed. Rivers should be more comfortable this year and it can only help Jackson.On Kevin Curtis, Funston writes: “Sneaky sleeper as No. 2 wide-out in pass-happy offense”Response: With Stallworth gone, Curtis moves in as the number two WR beside Reggie Brown. I see him having a solid year, probably enough to warrant him being a 3rd WR on your squad… but only if McNabb stays healthy all year.Well…that’s it for today’s sleeper picks. I guess Funston didn’t completely ruin my name, and I look to Brandon Marshall to carry on the legacy this year. Keep checking back for my next article when I delve into the fantasy “busts” of this year. (Hint: One of them graces the cover of a popular video game this year)