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.
Chad Henne, QB JAX
Age: 27 (7/2/85)
Not often can a backup quarterback be called a sleeper, but after the offensive woes of the 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars, anything is possible.
Chad Henne was drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft following a successful career at the University of Michigan. The Miami Dolphins chose Henne to be their quarterback of the future and paired him with veteran Chad Pennington. Henne barely played his rookie season, but was thrust into the starting role in 2009 when Pennington suffered a season ending shoulder injury. Henne improved throughout the season, even putting up multiple 300 yard passing games. For his fantasy owners, Henne finished as the QB21 from his starting debut in week four on. This gave dynasty owners much hope for the future as Henne was still learning the nuances of the NFL game.
The 2010 season put a damper on those high hopes as Henne was benched for the veteran Pennington, suffered a knee injury, and threw more interceptions than touchdowns on the year. Henne started 2011 with a bang as he posted career passing numbers in a week one shootout with the Patriots and Tom Brady. He threw for over 400 yards and two scores and even added a rushing touchdown and almost 6o yards on the ground. It was a shock to fantasy owners and Dolphins fans alike. Again, we would all be disappointed as Henne suffered a season ending injury during the week four matchup with San Diego – this would effectively end his Dolphin career.
As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Henne had few offers from teams willing to make him their starting quarterback, but several teams did want him to come in and compete for the job. He reportedly drew interest from the Broncos (before the Peyton Manning signing), the Chiefs (to compete with Matt Cassel, the Jets (before the Tim Tebow trade), and the Seahawks (before the Matt Flynn signing) before ultimately agreeing to sign a two year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
His choice to sign with Jacksonville quickly put him back on the radar of dynasty players as he’s now poised to back up disappointing sophomore quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Even though Gabbert was a top ten pick in the 2011 NFL draft, many Jaguars fans and almost all fantasy owners are ready to call an end to the Gabbert era in Jacksonville and are looking for any way out. After all, Gabbert led all NFL passers in fumbles with fourteen and he finished at, or near, the bottom in nearly every passing statistic. He tallied the second worst completion percentage (50.8%), the lowest passing yards per attempt (5.4 yards) and the worst passer rating (65.4). In short, Gabbert posted one of the all time bad quarterback campaigns and there is little reason to expect that to change.
Unlike Gabbert, Henne has displayed the ability to post big passing numbers with subpar receiving options. Now, the team has upgraded their receiving corps by adding Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon to hold down the starting wideout positions.
While many are expecting Henne to unseat Gabbert at some point, it will not be an easy task. The Jaguars are invested in Gabbert and hope he can be their leader for many years. Soon after Henne signed with the team, head coach Mike Mularkey commented that Henne was “coming in as a backup, competing for a starting job.” He has since backed off these comments, likely due to the confidence the team wants to show in Gabbert.
Combining all of these factors; the weapons added on offense, Gabbert’s poor play and Henne’s ability to post above average passing numbers, and once Henne unseats Gabbert in Jacksonville, he will be an option as a solid backup quarterback for your dynasty team.