Desperation is a Stinky Cologne: Deep Sleepers for Week 12, 2008

Attention, all ye 4-7 and 5-6 teams: The playoffs are officially here for you. Of course, this all depends upon your league’s settings, but chances are that if you’re even a smidge below .500 at this point, your only shot is to win out and pray that the tiebreakers work out in your favor. If you’re holding off on picking up a free agent because you’d have to drop that injured player who might be ready in time for the playoffs, it’s time to wake up and do what has to be done. Better to limp into the playoffs with a snowball’s chance in hell of winning than to miss the postseason entirely. (Owners of Carnell Williams and Selvin Young – I’m looking at you.)

Here’s a look at some players who are owned in less than 50% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues and would make a decent play this week. The % owned statistic next to each player’s name is an average of all Yahoo and ESPN leagues.

Quarterbacks

Kerry Collins, TEN, 36% owned – Quick, name another MVP candidate who’s owned in just 36% of fantasy leagues. The Titans have been out to prove that they can win through the air, and this looks like another matchup that will lead them to pursue the same strategy. The Jets are tough on the ground but near the bottom against the pass, so expect lots of old-fashioned Vodka Collins action in this one.

Jamarcus Russell, OAK19% owned – Before you throw up all over your keyboard at the prospect of owning any part of the Oakland offense, consider this: Russell actually has five serviceable fantasy performances to his name this season, and one of them came against Denver, his opponent this week, which just happens to have the fourth-worst pass defense in the NFL. 

Running Backs

Ahman Green, HOU, 25% owned – Houston’s week 12 opponent, Cleveland, is just plain awful at stopping the run; it allowed the Bills, who had been struggling mightily to run the ball all season, to rush for 186 yards, giving Marshawn Lynch his first 100-yard game of the season. Green’s obviously the backup to Steve Slaton here, but he should be able to make the most of his carries (he gets around 10 per game). Were his two scores a sign that he’s assuming goal line duty for the rest of the season? Who knows, but the matchup’s good enough to take a chance on.

Pierre Thomas, NO, 48% owned – Sneaking in just below the 50%-owned mark is Thomas, who could be an interesting start even if Reggie Bush is able to play (which it looks like he will be). Green Bay is the kind of team even New Orleans will avoid passing on as much as possible – they’ve picked off more passes than any other team in the league, while they allow the 6th-most rushing yards per game. With both McAllister (who didn’t practice yesterday and could miss the game entirely) and Bush nursing injuries, expect the Saints to give Thomas enough touches to make a fantasy impact.

Wide Receivers

Justin Gage, TEN, 41% owned in ESPN leagues – I’m not sure what the deal is with people in ESPN leagues, but they’re missing the boat on Gage here (he’s 73% owned in Yahoo leagues); take advantage if you can. Like I mentioned above, the Titans are likely to call a lot of pass plays in this one, and Gage is talented enough to burn the Jets’ secondary. Normally I wouldn’t include Gage in this post, since he’s hardly a sleeper at this point, but that 41% jumped off the screen at me.

Ronald Curry, OAK, 5% owned – Here’s a deep sleeper for ya, and a good indication of just how bad I think the Denver defense is. Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect Denver to destroy the Raiders in this contest thanks to their high-powered offense – but that’s exactly why I like Curry and his QB Russell this week (Well, perhaps “like” is too strong a word. Let’s go with “dislike far less than usual.”) Russell’s going to have no choice but to air it out, and he should be able to find Curry lurking in a few of the holes in that swiss-cheese secondary.