Desperation is a Stinky Cologne: Extreme Sleepers for Week 4 2008

In a bind? This column is for those of you who, due to injury or just plain poor team management, find yourselves with a gaping hole at QB, RB or WR. It’s crunch time – let’s head to the free agent pool and see what we can dig up! There’s gotta be a few diamonds in the rough who might be able to help us out this week.

Remember, this differs from a standard “waiver wire” post in that I’m not advising you to pick these players up if you’re seeking long-term production. Thanks to matchups, injuries, or other favorable conditions, these normally ignorable guys might just be useful this week if you really need them, but in most cases aren’t worth a long-term roster spot.

Last week, I predicted that you might be able to get useful production out of the following players. Let’s see how we did:

Just get out of his way.
  • J.T. O’Sullivan, 49ers189 pass yds, 2 TD, 0 INT, 32 rush yds – Not too shabby! I wouldn’t start him against many good defenses, but he’s useful this week as well against New Orleans.
  • Matt Ryan, Falcons 192 pass yds, 1 TD, 0 INT, 15 rush yds – Ryan’s 120.6 passer rating didn’t translate into a ton of fantasy points, but he clearly had no trouble with the Chiefs defense.
  • Michael Pittman, Broncos – 2 rush yds, 1 TD, 8 rec yds He did what Michael Pittman does – score. Look at the guy – are you getting between him and the end zone? He’s a walking He-Man action figure.
  • Fred Jackson, Bills – 24 rush yds, 1 rec yd – Good news for Marshawn Lynch owners: Lynch is still the feature back (and clearly deserves to be). I whiffed on this one because Jackson looked every bit as effective against Jacksonville in week 2 as Lynch did.
  • Michael Jenkins, Falcons – 19 rec yds – You’ll see me list guys like Jenkins here often when the matchups are right. Jenkins falls into the category of receivers who are hit-or-miss – they’ll either do nothing or connect on a long touchdown reception. Devery Henderson comes to mind immediately as another player like him. So does Chris Chambers. When you’re desperate, this kind of risk suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
  • Mark Clayton, Ravens – 14 rec yds – Another risky WR. 0-2 on those this week.

I’ll count that as three hits, three misses. On to this week’s picks…


Damon Huard, Chiefs – Denver’s pass defense has been far worse than their undefeated record would indicate. Huard and receiver Dwayne Bowe have a good rapport and will likely have a good day.

JaMarcus Russell, Raiders – This is likely to be a blowout, so Russell’s going to have to pass at some point. The Chargers have allowed 284.7 passing yard per game, so this might be the game that the Raiders let Russell throw a bit more. He’s put up passable fantasy numbers in two out of three games so far.

Running Backs

Deuce McAllister, Saints – Owned in just 37% of Yahoo leagues, Deuce is my favorite sleeper this week. He’s healthy, the fans are screaming for the Saints to give him carries, and with the Saints struggling to gain yards on the ground, it seems likely that they’ll listen. Note that there are dissenters who believe that coach Payton won’t give in to the pressure, but after the Saints’ extremely disappointing 2007 season, I find it hard to believe that Payton is willing to thumb his nose at the fans.

Wide Receivers

DJ Hackett, Panthers – Hackett can’t hack it when he’s the go-to guy, but Steve Smith should be able to attract enough attention from the Atlanta cornerbacks to give Delhomme the chance to get him the ball at least a few times. This isn’t a boom-or-bust kind of thing; Hackett’s not a good bet to score, but he’ll probably catch enough passes to justify a desperation WR3 plug-in. He’s not the kind of guy you want clogging up a roster spot for very long; hopefully by week 5 you’ll be able to unceremoniously boot him off your roster and forget this ever happened.

For whatever reason, as I pore over the lists of likely free agents, I’m not seeing a lot of great matchups for unowned players this week. I’m not going to pick out two guys per position just because that’s what I arbitrarily decided to do last week. So I’ll just stop now. It’s beer o’clock anyway.

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