Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PV's Sleeper WRs, and Fake-Sleeper WRs

My definition of a sleeper WR: a player few regard as a starter before the season (or at best, a fringe #3 starter), that will produce like a starter and be recognized as such at the end of the year. Michael Crabtree: not a sleeper. I see no ceiling on him and expect him to far exceed his draft value, but if you draft Crabtree, you're expecting starter production, and will be disappointed with less. Another thing that's not a sleeper? A flier. You can't just name a bunch of young, so-far-unproductive WRs and call them sleepers. There are dozens and dozens of WRs that haven't done anything yet but might break out. I'm listing guys I believe will break out.

I love everything about "Where's Wallace?" As a rookie he was a distant 4th in receptions on the Steelers, he's an explosive deep threat that should see more bombs coming his way with the absence of Santonio Holmes. The Steelers may throw less, but Holmes should get more targets as the #2 WR.

Shall I list the things I know about Kenny Britt?
1. He went to Rutgers.
2. He was a first round pick last season.
3. He had some nice downfield plays last season, gaining 701 yards.
4. He evidently has a lot of traffic tickets.
5. The Titans are a run-first team that hasn't had a real #1 WR since Derrick Mason left, and they've been desperately tagging somebody to take that role for years.

Yet I still like him.

Two weeks ago Berrian wasn't on this list. But Sidney Rice hasn't practiced in camp yet, Percy Harvin has missed many practices for personal reasons and is still dealing with migraines, and suddenly Berrian looks like a legitimate option. In 2007 and 2008, healthy Berrian got mediocre to awful quarterbacking and totaled over 950 yards each season. He was dealing with injuries all of 2009. Now healthy goes into 2010 with the potential of good quarterbacking, and he's a much more likely pass target for his team than he seemed a few weeks ago. That's bad news for the Vikings, good news if you draft Berrian.

Cleveland completed 49.4% of its passes last season, and only threw for 2,255 and 11 touchdowns. Let's say Jake Delhomme, a career 59.2% passer averaging 205 yards per game, brings the Cleveland air game from more-awful-than-can-be-described to decidedly-mediocre. Let's say Delhomme completes 55-59% of his passes, and the Browns, by completing more of their pass attempts get more yards, and by completing more of their pass attempts sustain drives (thus get more attempts), get up to 3,000-3,200 yards passing. Does Massaquoi's 624 yards receiving turn into 1,000+? I think it does.

Speed. Mike Martz. Speed. Mike Martz. Speed. Mike Martz. I debate considering him a flier, but I'll take a risk and call him a sleeper. Wait a minute: what risk? I write for free on a blog, I don't gamble, I don't play fantasy football leagues for money. This is a non-risk. Well, screw it, I'll go out on a non-limb and call Johnny Knox a sleeper. Plus, he has a kick-ass football player name. I think I'll just call him Mox.

I debate putting Maclin in the Crabtree you-are-supposed-to-produce category, but I'm guessing a lot of people see him as a fringe #3 WR. I think he's better than that. The Eagles throw a ton, and if a) Kevin Kolb is more accurate than McNabb, and b) Andy Reid calls shorter, safer, easier routes for Kolb, Maclin could be a major target.

Fake Sleepers
Have you ever had a reason to pretend to be asleep? Me too. So are these guys: a lot of people think they're sleeping, but I think they're just pretending.

I want to like Garcon: he's young, he's a legitimate deep threat, and he's in a pass-happy offense with the most reliable QB in the league wanting to throw deep. But I can't help but thinking that Reggie Wayne is Manning's #1 target, Dallas Clark is his #2, and after that he'll throw to whomever is on the field between Garcon, Austin Collie, Anthony Gonzalez, Joseph Addai, and Donald Brown. Garcon is enough a deep threat that he'll make big plays and have good games, but I expect he'll put up enough dud games that you'll regret starting him.

I like old Rock Boy, I really do. I just don't see him as a fantasy starter yet.

With 56.4 receiving yards per game as a rookie in 2009, Nicks looks like a breakout player. Until you look at Eli Manning's passing yards for his previous four seasons: 3244, 3336, 3238, and 4021. If the Giants' running game and defense improves in 2010, could Manning revert to around 3,200 yards passing again? I think so. Is a return toward the mean possible? I think so. If Manning doesn't throw for 4,000 yards again, he'd have to be targeting Nicks hard (at the expense of Steve Smith and Mario Manningham) for Nicks to get to 1,000 yards. Nicks is a nice deep threat, but I don't see the targets required to make him a fantasy starter.

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