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Sleeper Spotlight: Arizona Cardinals

As part of the premium content package, we’re not only releasing exclusive team capsules (complete with commentary), but also focusing on one sleeper from all 32 teams in the NFL.

While many publications are destined to unleash such sleepers as Demaryius Thomas and Jared Cook this season in order to play it safe, we’re focusing on the more obscure names or players people are simply not talking enough about. After all, you guys are the best of the best in terms of dynasty coaches and you want something different.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s more value in looking more closely at the deeper prospects. We invite you to keep an open mind and consider adding a few of these players we focus on this Summer – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.


Early Doucet, WR ARI
Age:  26 (10/28/85) 

Early Doucet will be entering his fifth year as a pro after being drafted out of LSU in 2008.  There’s little question that both the Arizona Cardinals, as well as Doucet’s fantasy owners, expected greater production than he has provided thus far in his short career.  Given recent changes to the receiving corps in Arizona, 2012 may just be his make or break season.

Are there reasons to be optimistic about his prospects?

Following the departure of Anquan Boldin in 2010, Doucet was a popular sleeper candidate as the expectation was that he would be the prime benefactor to Q’s absence from the offense.  To say what followed was a disappointment for all involved is an understatement as he could only muster a line of 26/291/1.  From 2008-2011, Doucet played in 26 games amassing a total line of only 57/595/2.

Returning from an injury that limited his production in 2010, many questions remained as to Doucet’s ability to stick on the roster in 2011, let alone return as a starter.  To his credit, Doucet not only played all 16 games in 2011, but nearly surpassed all previous years of production by notching a line of 54/689/5.  Also notable in 2011 was his highest yards per catch average (YPCA) of 12.8, with 64.8% of those receptions resulting in a first down.  He converted on 55.7% of his targets in 2011, a lower percentage likely due to erratic quarterback play.

Starting across from perennial all-pro Larry Fitzgerald should yield constant single coverage and open space to work.  Doucet was able to hold off fellow receivers Andre Roberts and Stephen Williams for that honor in most situations and his numbers rose accordingly.  Fantasy production-wise in 2011, Doucet was at (or near)  WR41 in PPR leagues and WR38 in non-PPR formats.

So, what can we expect in 2012?

2012 Outlook

Before the draft, rumors were spreading that Doucet was on the trade block, fueling expectations that Arizona was eyeing a big named receiver in the draft.  True to those rumors, the Cardinals selected receiver Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame with their first selection in the first round, immediately casting doubt on all Cardinal receivers not named Fitzgerald.  But as of this writing, Early Doucet remains a Cardinal.  Floyd is almost certain to start as a rookie as the WR2 in Arizona, relegating the trio of Doucet, Roberts and Williams to vie for three receiver set duties.

The size of both Fitzgerald and Floyd will cause significant matchup concerns for opposing defenses.  This should allow for production from a tough receiver who can work the middle of the field and occasionally in the seams – Doucet is just this type of player.  At 6′ and 212 pounds, he is a slightly smaller version of Anquan Boldin with excellent toughness and sneaky quickness.  As long as Arizona’s quarterback play can retain a level of consistency, we believe there can be enough balls to go around to provide for an even greater performance in 2012.

Doucet’s upside will most certainly be limited and he likely won’t surpass 75 receptions.  However, due to the other pieces in play within the offense, it’s very possible for a greater conversion rate not only from his targets, but also in touchdown production.  Many offenses can turn productive third receivers into productive fantasy players.  Third receivers like Mario Manningham and Jordy Nelson are good examples of what can be achieved when the situation and environment is right.

For the Arizona Cardinals in 2012, we believe Early Doucet is a realistic sleeper candidate.

Jeff Haverlack
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bbwayne
10 years ago

Why is Doucet a sleeper over Roberts? Word is Roberts might move to the slot.

Admin
Reply to  bbwayne
10 years ago

It’s mostly just about how we define the term “sleeper.” Since most people simply expect Roberts to win it and have discounted Doucet altogether, he fits the criteria a little better for us. He’s likely available in many more leagues than Roberts. I’m not saying I’d want him any more or that he’s a better player than Roberts, but we thought he fit the bill of a player who is being lost in the shuffle and has that “sleeper value” since not much is expected of him in many circles. You’ll find we focus on many of these players in the series.

As far as Housler goes, we do like his potential. He does need to improve in quite a few areas, but he should have a legitimate opportunity to be a good player if can show that improvement.
We’ve focused a lot of attention on him recently with our interview series, so we felt it would be best to talk about the merits of Doucet here instead. No sense beating a dead horse!

Best thing about this series is our ability to make these comments as a community and share our collective thoughts. That’s what it’s all about and I look forward to seeing lots of them!

MR ROURKE
10 years ago

The best sleeper in Arizona is Robert Housler. I’d rather my sleepers have long term value over short term value.

Reply to  MR ROURKE
10 years ago

Housler is going to be a BEAST once he gets some experience.

MR ROURKE
Reply to  Jeff Haverlack
10 years ago

That’s fine if you don’t like him, but scheme’s change and the TE is the new big thing right now in the NFL. Arizona really wanted Houslar in the draft and were considering trading up to get him.

On a some what related note… I don’t see why a dynasty focused site should be giving what appears to be redraft advice as a featured sleeper. Just my opinion but an article on a dynasty focused site should have a lot more of a future slant then Doucet, which is why I think Housler would have been a better focus. If you are doing these for all the teams, I hope that the future one’s focus on dynasty sleepers and are not short sited roster filler sleepers, which are more suited to redraft. Perhaps my expectations are too high or I’m totally off base in my thoughts of what constitutes a dyansty sleeper… I’m not sure which of those two are right.

Ben Clark
10 years ago

Wish I would have read this earlier as Doucet was a roster casualty while making room for my rookie draft and one of my competitors picked him up earlier than expected. I like Doucet better than Roberts in this system. You mentioned strength across the middle. A physical 6’0″ 215 as opposed to 5’11” 195 for Roberts. I probably should have kept him around, but I just do not see him matching last years numbers with the shaky QB situation and the addition of Floyd. I do agree that Doucet is the best sleeper choice for the Cards.

10 years ago

I’d much rather have Roberts than Doucet. 5’11” 195 vs 6′ 212 is a mark against Roberts, but age (24 vs 26) and injury history are both points in Roberts favor. Additionally, Roberts won the job head to head last year, so if Floyd fails (not that I expect this to happen), Roberts would be the likely winner of the #2 job. There’s a reason Doucet is more commonly available.

Admin
Reply to  Scott Daniel
10 years ago

Sure…and this piece isn’t about who is worth more between the two at all. I think most would take Roberts if they had the choice.

It’s really about who could possibly emerge from the team as a surprise contributor. Roberts performing well wouldn’t really surprise many, thus he really doesn’t fit the bill of “sleeper.”

Meanwhile, not much is expected of Doucet…

Stoney Curtis
Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

You’re digging deep. Don’t go to China on me, now.
ATL sleeper next(?)…Harry Douglas (he’s just an injury away). But, Jaquizz Rodgers will be the new fantasy-falcon-force.

Admin
Reply to  Stoney Curtis
10 years ago

Stay tuned…

Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

I understand where you guys are coming from but people need to consider their current rosters and not just grab every deep sleeper. I suspect most teams have room for a few of these guys at most, so be selective.

MR ROURKE
Reply to  Ken Kelly
10 years ago

If the article is supposed to be surprise contributor, then don’t label it sleeper on a dynasty focused site. Label is something like “2012 budget help” or “Desperate times? We’ve got your desperate measures”. However, I won’t rehash my recent comment above.

Admin
Reply to  MR ROURKE
10 years ago

Well, I think this illustrates that it’s tough to label some of these players as the definition of sleeper can be different to everyone. We’ll do our best to focus on as many players as possible throughout these team capsules and invite everyone to do what they feel is best with the information.

Some of the sleepers we’ve chose are deep, DEEP sleepers while others like Doucet (and the player we’ve chosen for Atlanta) have a better chance of immediate value. My goal with these isn’t to necessarily box everyone in to such a clearly defined criteria, but the ones we chose to focus on really merit more than just a paragraph or two.

Admin
10 years ago

Thanks for the comments Scott! As my league nemesis, I always enjoy seeing your posts.

We’ll certainly try to be as selective as we can. Of course, nobody is going to have room for all 32 of our sleeper choices. What we like to do is generate some interest and discussion on some of the non-mainstream players. Our hope is our readers take a look at it and make a good list of players to add now, players to add later, or simply just players to monitor. By the end, our expectation is that everyone will perhaps pick their favorite two or three and toss them on their rosters.

Our intention ins’t for all these players to be immediately rostered. We’ve been telling people for years that having a watch list for the off-season is critical. I encourage everyone to add players to those lists and read up as much as they can on them so they have a good idea of who and what they are. That way when they start to shine in the preseason or in Summer practice and news breaks on them, they don’t spend two hours researching who they are and if they should add them on their rosters – they’ll already know about them and won’t risk having someone else pluck them off the wire while they’re scrambling to do their due dilligence.

Personally, I can’t stand the sites that play it safe with their sleeper choices. This Summer is going to be littered with “sleepers” like Demaryius Thomas, Jared Cook, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Lloyd. I mean, really, there’s not a ton of “shock and awe” that goes with that.

We like to take chances because we hope it adds value and provides a greater understanding of the entire pool of players, not just the ones everyone is talking about.

Brady Lawson
10 years ago

Thank God. An actual sleeper for once. I am sick of seeing “sleepers” that are the players everyone expects to break out. How is that a sleeper?? Even if I don’t agree with someone like Doucet, at least it gets me thinking about someone I wasn’t. Which is the whole reason I want to read these sleeper articles. Thanks for the great article, keep ’em coming.

studstables
10 years ago

Is Doucet taking a whiz in that picture?

Mike Burke
Reply to  Jeff Haverlack
10 years ago

looks like a urine stream too me!

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