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.
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.
Domenik Hixon, WR
With two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning now having gone over 4,000 yards for three years in a row, and having approached 5,000 last year (4,910), and with his touchdowns steadily around 30 (27, 31, 29), it is safe to say that the old New York Giants style of beat ‘em down with the running game has been somewhat abandoned for the new NFL air attack parade. Manning is now 31 years old and is reaching that sweet spot in his career where the mental part of the game has developed and it meets peak or near-peak physical abilities. Combined with uncertainty and inexperience at the tight end position, and the fact that this position is not a highly targeted position in the Giants offense anyway (Jake Ballard’s 73 targets in 2011 was a Giants high since Jeremy Shockey’s last season with the Giants in 2007), this leads to the conclusion that the Giants’ WR3 can be a viable fantasy position.
Although the popular choice for this role is rookie and second round pick Rueben Randle, its not necessarily a given that he will be able to beat out Hixon, IF (and that’s a big if) Hixon can stay healthy. Hixon was originally a fourth round pick of the Broncos and ran a 4.39 40 yard dash at his pro day. He runs excellent routes, and Manning can rely on him to be in the right spot at the right time. He has had some issues with drops, but, similar to Victor Cruz, is capable of beyond-belief circus catches, such as this one against the Rams on Monday Night Football last year before he got hurt:
In 2008, when Hixon was counted on for a major role, he hauled in 43 of 72 targets (59.7% target percentage) for 596 yards (13.9 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. However, that occurred before the Giants really started opening up their offense. In Week five of 2008, Hixon started for a suspended Plaxico Burress, and had one carry for 13 yards, and caught all four of his targets for 102 yards and a score before leaving the game before halftime with a concussion.
That leads to the biggest question mark with Hixon – the injury issues. Hixon suffered a torn ACL in training camp and then missed the entire 2010 season. After returning in 2011, he tore his ACL making the spectacular catch featured above.
Hixon has garnered positive reports and compliments from Tom Coughlin in this year’s OTAs. He will be given the opportunity to compete for the Giants’ WR3 position and I believe that he has an above-average chance to win the job over the raw Randle. If he can stay healthy, Hixon could develop into a decent WR3 or flex play. In addition, he is only on a one-year deal, so if he has a good year, he could develop into a WR2 on another team in 2013.