Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fantasy Football Deep Sleepers: Andre Roberts and Four More to Watch For

I love me a deep league. You give me 15 friends and a five-hour, 18-man roster draft and I am smitten. The longer you play fantasy football, the more you yearn to deviate from the Standard Leagues where you started playing. You experiment in points per reception (PPR) leagues, you try an auction draft, even venture into the realm of the individual defensive player (IDP). But for my money, there is nothing more satisfying, or challenging, than a deep league.
You get a chance to flex your NFL knowledge and show off to your friends that your powers of prediction are the stuff of legend. You take notes during preseason games. And you find the gems, the unsung heroes of fantasy. There is nothing like it. So, enjoy this list of deep sleepers, the guys that don't make the cut in a standard draft, the men with average draft positions of 200 and beyond. Because you go past the starters. You're a warrior.

1) Andre Roberts, Wide Receiver, Arizona Cardinals
Andre Roberts. His ADP isn’t even listed in the top 180 meaning that you can probably pick this guy off waivers right now.
For those of you that have never heard the name, there is likely good reason for it. Andre Roberts is in a position battle with Early Doucet for the WR2 spot on the Arizona Cardinals. Glamorous, I know.
In 2010, Roberts started two games for the Cardinals and ended the year with 24 receptions, 307 yards and two touchdowns, which is not a bad stat line for a guy backing up one of the most feared receivers in the game, not to mention the carousel of high school quality quarterbacks throwing near him.
There is a new quarterback in town and though his resume isn’t very long, he can bring a lot more to Arizona than Anderson or Skelton were able to last season. In the three games that Kolb started in place of Michael Vick last season, he threw for 810 yards and five touchdowns. And now to get to the fun stats…
In those three starts for Kolb, his second receiver, Jeremy Maclin, was far more productive than DeSean Jackson. Call it coincidence, call it a fluke, call it whatever you will, it’s a statistic. Maclin had 95 yards on six receptions in Kolb’s first game, and a massive 159 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions in Kolb’s second game.
So, with a quarterback that knows how to spread the ball around, I think it is safe to assume that Andre Roberts is a massive wide receiver sleeper. He will have the phenomenal Larry Fitzgerald to draw most of the coverage and could see a very high percentage of catches with the Cardinal offense.
If this man wins the second receiver spot on the Cardinals roster, get ready for some heavy PPR numbers and praise for selecting the sleeper pick of the draft.
2) Jerious Norwood, Running Back, St. Louis Rams
Now here is a player you have heard of before. Norwood served as the backup and change-of-pace to Michael Turner in Atlanta for years. He's a fragile back, but even when healthy, he was underutilized in Atlanta.
One of the major goals for the St. Louis Rams in the offseason was to acquire a change of pace runner to relieve some of the burden from star, Steven Jackson. Jackson has had over 320 carries in three of the last five years. And in the two that he didn't reach 300, he missed games due to injury. Lightening this man's extravagant workload and decreasing injury risk is a must for the St. Louis offense.
That is where Norwood comes in. As a backup for Michael Turner in 2006, Norwood ran over 90 times for 633 yards and two scores. His yard per carry average was 6.4. In 2007 and 2008 Norwood managed 6.0 and 5.1 yards per carry. So he can get the job done when he is asked.
Norwood is no slouch as a receiver either. He offers a change of pace to Steven Jackson and is a threat out of the backfield, with more than 900 receiving yards on 96 receptions throughout his career.
When it's getting late in your draft and you are down to backup running backs, make sure Norwood is on your list. If Jackson goes down, he is a speedy veteran who has performed well in this role before.
3) Visanthe Shiancoe, Tight End, Minnesota Vikings
Just one year ago, Visanthe Shiancoe was the new hot tight end that owners were scrambling to add to their roster mid-season. In 2010 however, his number dropped and he fell off the tight end rankings.
Last season, Shiancoe nearly matched the yardage and reception numbers that he had posted in 2008 and 2009, but his touchdown number greatly decreased. But with a new quarterback under center, it is likely that we could see a re-emergence of the 11-TD tight end that we saw in 2009.
Donovan McNabb is taking over the reigns and he is no stranger to the tight end in the endzone. McNabb gave Redskin's tight end Chris Cooley 77 receptions for over 800 yards last year. And in 2009, McNabb's tight end Brent Celek posted the most receptions of any Philadelphia Eagle and came just short of 1,000 yards with eight touchdowns.
If Shiancoe can shake off a hamstring injury that has been hampering him this preseason, he could easily post his highest career fantasy numbers.
4) Steve Breaston, Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs
Steve Breaston served for four years as the second receiver behind Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona. In that time, he posted over 2,500 yards, 187 receptions and seven touchdowns. Not too shabby for a guy who isn't getting picked up in your fantasy football league.
It's no big news that the thorn in the side of the Kansas City offense last season was the passing game. The Chiefs had the highest yards per game on the ground in the league, a dizzying 164.2 ypg. But managed third to last in passing yardage. In fact, the Chiefs passing offense had a mere 341 more yards than their rushing offense.
This is largely in part to their second highest wide receiver posting 213 yards. But now there is a new receiver in town, looking to make his mark again as a number two receiver. Not only will he boost the value of Dwayne Bowe by opening up the passing game, he will give quarterback Matt Cassel a much needed second target.
I don't expect much of a dip in the run-heavy offense of Kansas City, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. But having a legitimate number two receiver is just what the Chiefs needed. Expect Breaston to perform at a high level, surpassing the 47 receptions and 700 yards he managed last year.
5) Kendall Hunter, Running Back, San Francisco 49ers
Kendall Hunter is rookie out of Oklahoma State and has elusiveness rivaling some of the top running backs in the NFL. Downside, he's the backup to Anthony Dixon, the backup for Frank Gore.
Gore has a knack for not lasting the entire season, allowing backups a good chance to see some playing time. And because of his injury history, I wouldn't be surprised to see the San Francisco 49ers give more looks to the second string running back.
The only hurdle that Hunter is facing this year is taking over Dixon's backup job. This shouldn't be too hard of a task for the rookie. In Week 2 of the preseason, Hunter broke a huge 53 yard score and ended the game with 105 yards on just nine carries. In his other two preseason trials he has posted 4.1 and 5.0 yard per carry performances.
Now compare that to the 2.3, 4.4 and 1.9 yards per game performances of Anthony Dixon. In addition, Hunter's running style is complimentary to Gore's, providing the change-of-pace and receiving abilities that a true second running back must possess. At 30 pounds lighter and six inches shorter than Dixon, Kendall Hunter definitely wins that matchup.
I expect Hunter to take over the second spot and be in prime position to put up big numbers if (when) Gore goes down. Even if Gore manages to stay healthy, we could see some split carries where Hunter sees the field.


  1. So I had my draft last night in the league that I really want to win. It is not that it is so better than the others, it's just that it's the only one with other brazilians so I can brag in portuguese....ahaha

    But the comissioner screw everything up.
    He left the league in autopick and when he changed it Yahoo demanded to wait for another day.
    So the draft had to made at midnight. I was falling asleep. Guess it is the same effect Jordan suffered in his drunk draft.
    I made some picks that I cannot imagine what I was thinking about.
    The worst, by far, was Matt Ryan at round 5. FIVE!!!!
    I could get Wes Welker or Santonio Holmes instead and still get Ryan or Eli Manning 2 rounds later.
    At the time I, stupidly, thought that I could get Ryan in round 5 and Santana Moss in round 6.
    Man, I felt stupid the moment I hit the draft button.

    Anyway, I guess I'll have to work harder on trades and the waiver wire. (depressed...)

    Here's my team:
    Matt Ryan
    Adrian Petterson
    Steven Jackson
    Vincente Jackson
    Austin Collie
    Steve Smith
    Antonio Gates
    BN - Addai
    BN - Pierre Thomas
    BN - Braylon Edwards
    BN - Lee Evans
    BN - Lance Moore
    BN - Matt Cassel
    Jay Feely
    Kansas City DEF (I'm going to use SDS)

    All in all, not that bad for a 12-team league (I still feel I have a decent shot for the playoffs).
    I just don't like my starting WRs corps. Would feel much better if I had Santonio holmes instead of Steve Smith, which I could get easily if I didn't screw up the QB pick.

    Anyway, I feel my bench is solid and I can get some important victories in the bye weeks.
    If I can get off to a good start maybe I can start working on the roster through trades by week 5 planning for the playoffs (getting players with better matchups).
    But the week 1 matchup is not a favorable one so I'll have to make really smart decisions to maximize my roster potencial.

    Would like to hear your thoughts.

  2. Drafting high in a 12 team league is tough, and very impressive that you managed Peterson, S Jackson and V Jackson. Ryan is alright, he is going higher in some leagues than others, you could have waited later, but he's not too bad so don't beat yourself up. Got some sleeper WRs starting for you, its risky, but might pay off. Lets see if anyone can get the ball to Steve Smith. Lee Evans could eventually fill one of those spots too if the Ravens use him right.

    Definitely some strong points and weak ones. Dont feel bad about it though. I think that it was a solid draft. Keep your eyes on FA as Thomas, Edwards and Moore could all fizzle out this year. Good luck, I'll help you through the year if you teach me some Portuguese curse words.

  3. Alright, I have this trade proposal...I give Stevie Johnson, I get Jason Witten....

    This is a 10 team standard yahoo league...

    My current roster:

    QB - Schaub, Stafford
    RB - Rice, Greene, Best, Wells, McGahee, Jennings, Snelling
    WR - Andre, Nicks, Marshall, Stevie, Knox
    TE - Cook, I have a waiver in for Gronk dropping Snelling
    No K or Def yet

    BTW, I got Schaub in the 8th and Cook in the 13th

    I probably shouldn't give up WR depth and I could possibly get Gronk but Cook and Gronk are not as proven as Witten.

    Any thoughts?

  4. Yes, I don't think it is a bad draft but if I got Santonio Holmes over Steve Smith it would be a very good draft.
    I absolutely did not want to draft Steve Smith because of the QB situation, but there was nothing much left on the board at the time. At least he's got talent and could surprise depending on Cam Newton.
    Austin Collie has potential too, but it is risky. If he AND Manning remain healthy though, I'm gonna be ok.
    But I would feel much better if I had a consistent number 2. Then I could live with Collie or Smith as a risky number 3.
    I really like my bench WRs, though. All of them have upside and might became starters eventually.

    About the portuguese curse words, no problem. My pleasure.
    First lesson:

    Caralho - it literally means Dick, but we use it much like Fuck, in order to give emphasis.

    1) You're set to draft Antonio Gates in round 5 but the guy before you snatch him up.
    You say: Fuck!
    I say: Caralho!

    2) Your WR is open and the QB throw him the ball. He just have to catch it and run free towards the endzone for an easy 70yd TD but the referee makes a phanton call, wipping out the TD.
    You say: What the fuck is that?
    I say: Que caralho é esse?

    3) You draft Petterson, Gore, Austin and Hakeen Nicks with your first four picks.
    You say: My team is fucking good!
    I say: Meu time é bom pra caralho!

    I guess you get the point.
    I hope I didn't bore too much, because it's a loooong season.

  5. Fantastic! Thanks for the lesson!

  6. Youve got great depth at WR. Carrying only 4 could be problematic though. Once you get Gronk, I would go ahead and drop him for the best WR on the board just for depth if you make the trade.

    Personally, I think its a good one. Witten was the best TE last year and they had nearly identical seasons last year. You still have all three of your starting receivers, and just in case Cook doesn't pan out, you will have Witten.

    You are pretty set either way. but I have to think that having two top-5 receivers, one top-3 running back and a top-3 TE will make you borderline untouchable.

  7. Thanks. I'm gonna do it, why not? I take the yahoo standard thing back, we have 2 RBs, 2 WRs, and a RB/WR, so I only have to start 2 WRs a week minimum.

  8. My second and final draft of the year is in the books! While I'm not quite as stoked as the last one, I still feel fairly good about it. I do think my depth is a lot better in this draft. This league is 0.5 PPR and the positions are QB, 3WR, 2RB, TE, Flex (R/W/T), K, D/ST with 6 bench spots. Here's how I fared:

    1. (5) LeSean McCoy (Foster, AP, and Rice gone)
    2. (16) Calvin Johnson
    3. (25) Felix Jones
    4. (36) DeSean Jackson
    5. (45) Mario Manningham
    6. (56) Jason Witten
    7. (65) Ben Roethlisberger
    8. (76) Jahvid Best (Can't believe he fell this far.)
    9. (85) Danny Amendola
    10. (96) Lance Moore
    11. (105) Fred Jackson (Another surprising fall.)
    12. (116) Sam Bradford
    13. (125) San Diego
    14. (136) Antonio Brown
    15. (145) Thomas Jones (Slightly surprised at this one too)
    16. (156) Alex Henery

    This draft was also 10 teams, but seemed harder at the beginning than the last. Taking F. Jones in the 3rd really threw off my draft strategy. In my last draft, I got him in Rd 5, but those darn "experts" at Yahoo kept bumping him further and further up the boards! With most of the managers using the Yahoo rankings for reference, and with 4 managers on auto-draft (which usually takes off the top of the list), I had no choice but to take him in the 3rd, because I knew he wouldn't last until my next pick. What good is it for these "experts" to pick a guy as a huge value pick if they're just going to hype him up until he's lost all his mid-round value? The last half of the draft seemed easier, though, and I feel good about those picks. I don't know if the others didn't do their homework or what, but I felt like there were clear quality choices available to me, as opposed to feeling like I was "settling" for people in my first one. I guess we'll just see how it pans out!

    (I can tell already that picking a flex guy each week is going to be a bitch!)

  9. Well, youve got depth all over the place at RB/WR. Go for it. And feel good about it.

  10. Flex will definitely be difficult as the year goes on. Right now though, youre lineup is pretty great. Awesome at receiver. A top TE, I like both of your starting RBs and You have a handful of guys that can fill the flex. I'm not crazy about Big Ben as a fantasy footballer, but he'll do the trick.

    Dont be hard on yourself with this lineup either. These are all guys that I shoot for in my drafts.

  11. Maybe you should list the best receivers available in your waiver wire so you can get feedback which WR you could pick up.
    In a 10-team league there must be a few good sleeper receivers available and you could take a shot with one of them after the trade, which I absolutely believe you should do.

    Andrew/Jordan, is it ok to give our thoughts to others too or we should stick to our own questions?

  12. Yeah, I know how you feel about Big Ben. :) Part of my draft strategy was to wait on getting my QB and get my other positions filled. 3 QBs went in the 1st round, and after Brady and Rivers were taken in the next 2 rounds, I felt like I could take any of the 2nd-tier QBs and be happy. Dez Bryant went 3 picks before I planned to grab him in the 4th, which is part of why I went with Whitten In the 6th instead of a QB. By that time, everyone else had already grabbed your top 9 QBs. I didn't really feel like I wanted Eli or Stafford as my #1, so I went with Ben. Call it a gut decision. Also, I managed to get Bradford again, so I can play to my matchups. I actually got mildly cussed out when I took Ben, because the guy after me was planning to get him on the very next pick to back up Vick. Ha ha! I think my biggest surprise was that I resisted getting Tate at the end of the draft. I asked the guy who drafted Foster if he was going to draft Tate later and he said, "Who?"

    Thanks for the input! Gonna bug you a lot about how to fill that flex!

  13. Should I trade Felix Jones for Frank Gore????????

  14. Douchebag backed out...wants Marshall now.

  15. Hi, I recently discovered this site and want to thank you for your insight! I was involved in 12-person, 20-round draft a week and a half ago (my first ever). I thought I did okay, but after a week of much more research and an ongoing free agency w/ no limits or restraints, made a handful of changes via undrafted free agents (UFA) and via other teams' drop/add decisions. By doing so, I know it means I likely missed some opportunities in the draft, but without getting into my original picks by round per se, I'm curious of what you think of my roster as it stands now and how it's evolved since the draft. I had the #1 overall pick, followed by #24 and #25, and so on....

    QB - Tony Romo
    RB - Arian Foster (#1 overall, pre injury)
    RB - Felix Jones
    WR - Mike Williams - TB
    WR - Mario Mannigham
    TE - Greg Olsen
    K - Nate Kaeding (dropped by another team, replaced Josh Brown)
    RB/WR/TE - Javid Best
    DEF - San Fran (based on wk 1 matchup, did not draft DEF initially, replaced Dustin Keller on roster)
    DL - Trent Cole
    LB - Chad Greenway
    DB - Roman Harper (replaced Michael Griffin via UFA)

    BN - Ryan Fitzpatrick
    BN - Tim Hightower
    BN - Ben Tate (replaced CJ Spiller via UFA based on Foster injury)
    BN - Percy Harvin
    BN - Antonio Brown (replaced Michael Crabtree via UFA)
    BN - Elvis Dumervil (dropped by another team, replaced Matt Shaugnessy)
    BN - Desmond Bishop
    BN - Charles Woodson (replaced Charles Tillman via UFA)

    Again, I'd love to hear your thoughts...and am especially wondering what you think of the Ben Tate for Spiller move (also, other backs like Woodhead, Sproles, and Jennings are currently available) and how you'd rate my move w/ someone like Antonio Brown (I since felt Crabtree was a bad pick), or if I should be getting more of a known commodity such as Earl Bennett or Deion Branch (who are available). Thanks!

  16. Thats a bit rougher. Marshall has a terrible QB, but there is no way that he will disappoint like last season. You still have S. Johnson to fill in at WR3, but this does make it tougher. If you are comfortable with S Johnson as your number three, then go for it. If you think losing marshall is too much. Then say no. My previous comment still stands about having the top player at almost every position.

  17. Feel free to bug away. Thats what I'm here for.

  18. I'd need to know more about your lineup. I'd imagine that this is a PPR league, which give a bigger upside to Jones. If you have a great number 1 RB with some good PPR potential, then this could be ok.

    No one would offer you this trade if they didnt think that Jones was going to absolutely blow up this year. Its definitely possible. Gore is a bit more consistent. Both are very fragile.

  19. I hate having the first pick, but overall you did really well for being at that disadvantage. Starting lineup looks solid. And some of your free agent pickups are great moves. I agree with Tate over Spiller. You could maybe even start him in Week 1. Dumervil is a great pickup. He was a monster two years ago and could return to that glory again and take over as a starter. Antonio Brown over Crabtree is a little questionable. Brown had a great preseason, but he is in competition for receptions with three other great WRs in Pittsburgh. Replacing a number one receiver with him was risky... but it is your bench, so its a good gamble.

    Overall I think youve made some great moves. I like that you are takings a few gambles on your bench. If they don't pan out, it doesnt matter too much, but if they do, you have a potential starter or great trade bait for later in the season. Congrats.

  20. Hey Allan. I'm cool with you commenting on other people's comments when you have something important to add.

    Since a lot of my value on this site is answering people's questions, it is very important that I keep all of the comments organized. So some extra comments make it a little difficult to do so.

    By all mean, if you have something valuable to add to the conversation, go ahead.

  21. That's So RavensSeptember 3, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    getting kind of afraid of starting percy against the chargers week 1… would u start any of my other WRs ahead of him?

    Collie (v. HOU)
    Burleson (v TB)
    Bess (v. NE)

    collie is dealing with foot injury and scared of starting bess v. NE, kinda leaning towards burleson… thoughts?


  22. Houston's D was awful last year. But the injury like you mentioned and probability of Manning might make me shy away from that. Burleson could be good, TB looked rough in the preseason.

    I'd make it one of those two, for sure. Check the status of Collie (and Manning) later in the week. Go with him if things look alright. If not, probably Burleson and hope that offense is as good as people are predicting.

  23. That's So RavensSeptember 3, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    cool, thanks for the quick response. so you'd def lean towards those guys over percy??

    also, in another league i just dropped greg olsen for lance kendricks. i got scared watching shockey catch all those passes in their last pre-season game, plus i don't think olsen will find the end zone very often anyway with their crappy offense. kendricks was risky, but has a ton of upside - you think this was a good move? the rest of my starters are really solid (stafford/bradford, calvin, marshall, mccoy, best, blount) so i felt like i could take a chance...

  24. Kendrick has a lot going for him. Outside of maybe the top 5 tight ends, there are about 15-20 guys who could still have great years. TE is incredibly deep in 2011. I say go for it.

    I'd like to see the Vikings for at least a game before I can stay to start anyone besides AP. And San Diego is a hell of a first matchup. They are the top Defense from last season.

  25. Thanks, I definitely appreciate your feedback! Regarding Antonio Brown, do you think I should hang onto him for now to see if he pans out? Or do you see any other possible sleeper candidates that are more likely to pay off? Currently, guys like Greg Little, Davone Bess, and Andre Roberts are still available for me to take at WR. Thanks again!

  26. I hope all your fantasy drafts went well this year. I have been trying to decide who to draft first this year in my draft. My draft is on the 5th and it is a 12-team standard scoring league with QB's getting 4 pts for passing touchdowns. We start QB, 2RB, 2WR, RB/WR, TE, DEF, and K. I have the 5th pick this year.

    I heard the people who are drafting before me saying they are talking AP, Foster, and Rogers respectively. I do not know who the person drafting 4th will be taking though. So that leaves me with C. Johnson, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, or Vick. One of those will be chosen 4th.

    I was initialing considering Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles but with CJ signing his new deal it makes it even more difficult of a choice. Right now I am leaning towards Rice and CJ and taking the one that is left. What are your thoughts?

  27. Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to just roll with Gronkowski. I won this league 2 years ago (and two years before that and last year, ha) with an inconsistent TE so I'm going to keep the WR depth.

  28. I like all the sleepers you listed, but I feel that A. Brown has the most going for him right now.

  29. In order from the four you think you have to choose from. I would go Rice, C Johnson, Charles, Vick.

    CJ definitely has a ton to prove this year after his holdout and big deal. So he might be worth making the jump on.

  30. Thanks I appreciate your advice.

  31. Yesterday I got through my IDP league draft.
    It was exausthing. We draft 30 players each. 20 teams. Auction Draft.
    It took 5,5 hours. I'll post more about that later, on the IDP post.

    I had Joseph Addai as my target for RB because each team has to play 3 RBs and I thought he could come cheap and is a starter on a good offense.
    He went cheap indeed but he was taken during the only 2 minutes I letf to go to the bathroom. That hurt a lot.

    Well, I still managed to get Felix Jones, Cedric Benson and Pierre Thomas (he would be my backup if I had gotten Addai, which I would because I was prepared to pay more for him).
    And for backups there was nothing much respectable left so I got CJ Spiller and your recomendation, Jerious Norwood.

    My question is:
    Do you think any of these guys should be replaced for Chester Taylor, who is available on the waiver wire?
    The Cards picked him up and he could steal some goal line carries from Beanie Wells.
    In a league this deep, a back who can be a threat for a TD in any game is a valuable weapon.

    Your thoughts?

  32. LaRod Stephen-Howlings is available too.

  33. My starting WR's are Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. My bench is a little scarce w/ WR's. Should I worry that I'm starting 2 WR's from the same team or just roll with it and try to grab someone of the waiver wire once the season begins?

  34. do you ever not like someone's draft???????????????????????????????????????

  35. There have been a few that I don't like. And I've given advice on them.

    A lot of the people posting their draft results are frequent readers of the site and based their picks on my predictions, so what's not to like. I haven't seen any drafts that I have hated, so it looks like I am doing my job.

    I'm actually pretty damn proud about some of the drafts that people have posted on this site. Jealous even. Go ahead and read through some of the comments. See if you find any you dont like.

  36. Both are good receivers. I wouldnt be complaining with that combo. I have seen a number of teams that have Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. In a league last year, I had Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie. So it is possible, and when its a good combination, they can do good stuff for you team. (Also, you won't scream as much at your TV when the WR2 gets the TD reception over your guy.

    Keep an eye on the waivers, you'll need it when bye week rolls around.

  37. I dont really know who will get the most of the backup carries. I have to think that Taylor will get more work that Stephens-Howling. But I would keep what you have. Jerious Norwood has to compete with Cadillac Williams, so if you were to drop anyone for Taylor, it would be him.

  38. Thanks a lot! I appreciate the feedback