If you’re like most fantasy players out there, you’re going to be spending lots of time this week looking at all sorts of rankings and projections out there in an effort to make an educated decision on your lineup for week two.
Most novice fantasy players are focusing too much of their time and effort on projecting the numbers they expect from their stars.
Simply put, it’s a huge mistake.
Face it, most sites are going to have some type of a top ten, fifteen, or twenty list and focus too much of the spotlight on players like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Maurice Jones-Drew.
If you’re reading this, you know focusing too much time on that information is completely useless. The real decisions have nothing to do with your star players. They have everything to do with your flex players, No. 3 or No. 4 options.
We define the “sneaky matchup player” as a second or third tier player on your team who you’re likely debating against someone else or not considering at all. These players won’t be found in the top 10 for weekly projections or rankings, but have some potential for the week based on a variety of factors.
This column will give you some names to consider adding to your superstars in your lineup. After all, these players tend to make or break a few critical weeks every single year.
Some of these players will be successful and others will fail. It’s inevitable. In fact, here’s how we did last week withour Twenty Sneaky Plays for Week One.
Five we hit on:
1. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI: 94 total yards, one touchdown
2. Santana Moss, WR, WAS: Six catches, 77 yards
3. Mike Williams, WR, TB: Five catches, 30 yards, and one incredible TD
4. Carson Palmer, QB, CIN: 345 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
5. Josh Freeman, QB, TB: 182 yards, two TDs, one INT, 34 rush yards
Five we missed on:
1. Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE: Nine carries, 52 yards
2. Sammie Stroughter, WR, TB: Two catches, 32 yards
3. Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU: Two catches, 29 yards
4. Louis Murphy, WR, OAK: Four catches, 28 yards
5. Marion Barber, RB, DAL: Eight carries, 39 yards
Without further hesitation, here are this week’s sneaky plays:
1. Michael Vick @ DET
If Kolb sits out as expected, Michael Vick will get the opportunity he’s longed for the past few years. The Lions aren’t as hapless as some tend to think, but Vick’s athleticism and renewed sense of focus and urgency make him a viable option this week. He showed us last week that he still has some of that vintage magic.
2. Brandon Jackson vs. BUF
Jackson is the hottest waiver pick in America this week after the Packers lost starter Ryan Grant for the rest of the season. Don’t be afraid to start him in a good matchup against Buffalo.
3. Peyton Hillis vs. KC
It was Hillis, not Jerome Harrison, who started for the Browns last week. The Chiefs did a nice job containing Ryan Mathews last week, but the Browns look to be very comfortable using Hillis out of the backfield. He could easily vulture a touchdown this week.
4. Seneca Wallace vs. KC
Two Browns on the list? You bet.
If Jake Delhomme sits this week, Wallace will draw the start. While he’s nowhere near a top option, Wallace has the athletic ability to put up good numbers in any league that starts two quarterbacks.
5. Donovan McNabb vs. HOU
The Redskins offense couldn’t get much going last week against Dallas, but give the Cowboys front seven some credit. McNabb reloads this week against a defense that allowed Peyton Manning to throw for 419 yards last week. Yes, much of that was in garbage time with the Colts trying to catch up, but the Texans secondary still has some growing to do.
6. Fred Taylor @ NYJ
Most would just pass by Taylor this week after seeing the Jets on the schedule. I wouldn’t say it’s that easy. While it’s not likely that Taylor could put up more than 10 points, he’s a great play for a team who just needs a safe bet for 6-8 from their last flex spot. Sometimes a nice, safe play is all you need.
7. Reggie Bush @ SF
Pierre Thomas dominated the touches last week for New Orleans, but wouldn’t it just seem fitting to see the Heisman-less Reggie Bush break one in his return to California?
8. Jacoby Jones @ WAS
Jones is going to stay on this list until he breaks through. Maybe it’s this week. Maybe it’s next. Maybe it’s 2011. Regardless, I believe he’s primed to break out.
9. Dwayne Bowe @ CLE
His first game featured one catch for 13 yards. Ouch. Keep in mind it was a very soggy night in Kansas City and the Browns tend to give up some big plays.
10. Eddie Royal vs SEA
He’s back! Eight catches for 98 yards last week puts Royal back on the fantasy radar. His owners have to be praying this is a sign of things to come.
11. Mike Williams (SEA) @ DEN
The other Mike Williams scored last week. If you weren’t watching, you’d miss the fact this one came one foot away from doing the same. He’s locked in as a top flight option for the surprising Seahawks.
12. Austin Collie vs. NYG
Take out his 73-yard touchdown reception from last week and he STILL had ten catches for 90 yards. He’s taken Anthony Gonzalez completely out of the equation.
13. Mark Clayton @ OAK
We knew he was a hot pickup, but nobody could have expected him to catch ten passes for 119 yards last week. Sam Bradford won’t be throwing the ball 50 times again anytime soon, but Clayton has earned some consideration.
14. Mike Thomas @ SD
We at DLF know Thomas very well since we’re based in the middle of PAC-10 country. It really looks like he’s doing everything possible to prove he’s more than a slot receiver. His six catches for 89 yards last week certainly helped that cause.
15. Davone Bess @ MIN
Many thought Bess would be an afterthought in the Miami offense after the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. He was targeted ten times last week, proving that theory to be false. Expect Miami to pass a lot against a Vikings team that stifles running games in a hurry.
16. Malcom Floyd vs. JAX
Floyd didn’t make anybody forget about Vincent Jackson last week as he posted a very pedestrian 48 yards on three catches. Don’t let that line fool you, though. He’ll get his chances.
17. Jordan Shipley vs. BAL
Shipley’s line from last week (5 catches for 82 yards) is a little misleading after he caught a 51-yard hail mary at the end of the first half. What is telling is the fact he played on more than 80% of the snaps. While the Bengals had to throw a ton in an attempt to get back in the game, it’s obvious Shipley is going to be used a lot this season.
18. John Carlson @ DEN
I still believe.
19. Tony Scheffler vs. PHI
Shaun Hill isn’t nearly as talented as Matt Stafford and will likely look at a lot of short and intermediate options this week. Meet Tony Scheffler.
20. Cadillac Williams @ CAR
Caddy’s 22 carries last week tied him for fourth most in the league. The Bucs have promised to ease his workload, but they really don’t have many options offensively right now.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK