Desperation is a Stinky Cologne: Extreme Sleepers for Week 8, 2008


In a bind? This column is for those of you who, due to injuries or other circumstances, find yourselves with a gaping hole at QB, RB or WR and need a stop-gap player to plug in for one week.

Unlike our waiver-wire columns, 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 usually useless players are worth a look this week, but probably aren’t good long-term options.

Note: “% owned” statistics are an average of that player’s ownership percentage in all Yahoo and ESPN leagues, rounded to the nearest percent.


I’d love to be able to suggest a desperation-use-only quarterback for this week, but the truth is that none of the guys I’d normally consider here (those with 50% or lower average ownership) have good enough matchups to make them worth starting. Brad Johnson against Tampa Bay? Pass. Marc Bulger at New England? No thanks, not after what the Pats did to Denver. JaMarcus Russell against Baltimore? No friggin’ way. Kerry Collins against Indy (or anyone for that matter)? A couple of weeks ago I would have considered it, but it’s now crystal clear that his only role is to give an occasional breather to the Titans’ wrecking ball of a running game. Dan Orlovsky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Seneca Wallace, and Tyler Thigpen are all stashed in my No Way, No How drawer until further notice.

The best option in the under-50% crowd is probably Joe Flacco against the Raiders, who give up 224 passing yards per game, 11th-worst in the league. But he’s far from what I’d call an intriguing option.

Moving on to other positions and hopefully greener pastures…

Running Backs

Kolby Smith, KC (18% owned) You could do far worse for a bye-week plugin than Smith. He supposedly will split carries with Jamaal Charles, but given that Charles was only given three carries last week to Smith’s 10, I’m willing to bet that the split will again be in Kolby’s favor. The Jets rush defense is better than most, though, so Kolby’s no more than a desperation start – don’t pick him up unless you really need him.

Shaun Alexander, DET (% owned) – Silly, extremely risky – and kinda tempting. Like I mentioned earlier this week, Clinton Portis has been taking a beating, and I’m willing to bet that Jim Zorn is hoping for an opportunity to get a big lead early and let Portis take most of the second half off. True, Rock Cartwright is penciled in as the 2nd-stringer with Ladell Betts sidelined, but… it’s Shaun Alexander against the Lions! It wasn’t too long ago that you’d be drooling about this matchup. That’s good for something, right? (OK, never mind. He’s a terrible start. But I’m leaving this here, crossed off, for nostalgia’s sake.)

Wide Receivers

Arnaz Battle, SF (6% owned) – Battle had a big game (7 catched, 120 yards) against another terrible defense (the Saints), so against the Seahawks’ sad unit, he’s got a shot at another nice day. 

Chris Henry, CIN (10% owned) – The Bengals clearly need his deep-threat presence to take some heat off Ocho Cinco, Houshmanzilly, and the running game, and this soft matchup with Houston may be their opportunity to fully reincorporate him into the offense. Still, Henry’s past success had a lot to do with his chemistry with Carson Palmer. Henry only caught three of the seven passes thrown his way last week. It seems likely that they’ll continue to target him, but will he and Fitzpatrick be able to connect?