These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.
We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.
While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.
Marcus Easley, WR BUF
Age: 24 (11/2/87)
Once again, DLF delves into a roster in search of a sleeper candidate worthy of your consideration. And once again, we’re hitching out proverbial wagon to Marcus Easley. The 2010 fourth round selection has yet to record any stats and has fought numerous injuries along the way.
Last year appeared to be a prime situation for Easley. The Bills were in dire need for another receiving threat to start along side the under-appreciated Stevie Johnson and few other receivers on the roster had the combination that does Easley. However, a heart ailment put Easley’s 2011, and potentially his career, on hold.
With Easley out of the picture, Donald Jones and Donald Nelson shared time and hauled in greater than 80 receptions between them. Nelson, in fact, put together a noteworthy season wth 61 receptions, 658 yards and five touchdowns. Even second year player Naaman Roosevelt showed some level of ability and could be a difference-maker in the slot.
Let’s fast forward to 2012 and and look at Easley’s prospects.
After what appeared to be a career threatening heart condition, Easley has been cleared to resume his football activities and has suffered no setbacks in camp. Head coach Chan Gailey said that he has shown no signs of limping from previous injury nor shortness of breath related to his condition. Gailey went further to say that while he expects him to ultimately be successful on the field, he has a lot of ground to make up.
Camp reports have said to have Easley looking extremely capable to date and consistently making tough catches. His endurance and conditioning appear to be very good and it’s obvious he’s been working during the off-season to ensure he performs well in all activities. It certainly appears as though he has reached that goal.
Beyond Easley’s return, the Bills are in great need for a consistent vertical and possession threat to create match-up difficulties for defensive secondaries that wish to take Stevie Johnson out of the equation with double-teams or bracket coverage. Easley, at over 6’2″, much like the aforementioned Nelson, has the size and speed to challenge on deep routes or in the red-zone vs. much smaller cornerbacks. We still believe that Easley is the player that combines all the tangible and intangible qualities enough to develop into a productive WR2.
Returning in 2012 is veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick who has shown a willingness to spread the ball around. With the return of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller who, himself, had an impressive 2011 campaign, it could just be that the lowly Bills are beginning to turn it around offensively. While we don’t expect great numbers from Easley in 2012, we are expecting that he’ll be eased into no less than the WR3 role and potentially challenge for the second most receptions from all receivers on the roster. As our focus remains firmly on the dynasty format, we’re excited about the potential of Easley, especially in that he can be added from the waiver wire in many cases.
Marcus Easley hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy even through training camp, let alone an NFL season. But for a team looking to expanding their offensive passing game, it’s likely that a consistent WR2 from their system will eventually emerge. Should Easley steer clear of the injury bug and suffer no further setbacks from his heart condition, we believe he is the sleeper to own from the Buffalo Bills.