Week 1: Super Sleepers of the Week

Every week, Fantasy Football Expert Jeb Gorham digs in his list of rankings to find the best sleepers for deeper formats. Consider giving these players a chance, but be aware of the risk!

Super Sleepers are those players who can significantly help you manage your roster from week to week. Yes, these picks carry some risk, but the reward can greatly outweigh that risk if you play your cards right. These guys are not going to score a ton of points, just enough to boost your team to a matchup win. When looking for super sleepers, review depth charts, matchups, injury reports and playing-time trends. If you get this down to a science, you can beat the odds and make strides toward participating in your fantasy playoffs.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins

With Tim Wright now on New England’s roster, Seferian-Jenkins takes over at backup tight end behind Brandon Myers in Tampa Bay. The second-round rookie, who grabbed four passes for 54 yards in the preseason, is expected to accompany Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans as monster red zone targets this season. Given the trend of sending big, athletic tight ends to the end zone and hoping they make a play, the 6-foot-5, 262-pound tight end has the potential for fantasy value. This week’s matchup against a stout Carolina defense may not sound appealing, but it might be just the right place to play ASJ.

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Mohamed Sanu

Sanu moved into a starting role when Marvin Jones fractured his foot in August. Reports indicate that Jones will miss all of September, and this provides Sanu with a huge opportunity to put up numbers early this season. In the preseason, Sanu was solid starting opposite A.J. Green, and the duo look like a good bet to exploit a Baltimore defense that already has a notable injury concern. Top cornerback Lardarius Webb is questionable for Sunday, so Jimmy Smith and others would then have to cover Green and Sanu. In any coverage combination, Sanu appears to be a solid option to get open, especially if Green draws double coverage as anticipated. Last season, Sanu recorded 47 receptions for 455 yards and scored two touchdowns. His increased role should allow him to produce a little bit more.

James White

The Patriots’ rushing attack never seems to be that appealing to fantasy owners. This season is no different. This backfield is by no means secured by any one running back, and it appears that Bill Belichick’s mix-and-match strategy will persist. Shane Vereen looks to be on top right now, but as we know all too often with Belichick, a back can fall and fall hard right off the fantasy radar with a few errors. In Stevan Ridley’s case, fumbles are his nemesis, and he might very well be the next running back to fall from grace in New England. Ridley fumbled in three consecutive games last year and saw his playing time decrease in a big way. He fumbled this preseason and was benched accordingly again. White has good hands and might find his way into a greater role if Ridley does not perform well. White may even surpass Vereen if the opportunity arises as Belichick does not hesitate to change his RBs on a weekly basis. In Week 1, we should see plenty of Vereen, especially in the passing game, and White has big-time sleeper potential.

Andrew Hawkins

Hawkins should be very appealing given the release of Nate Burleson and the suspension of Josh Gordon. However, he has not received much attention. Hawkins is only 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds, but the slot receiver known as “Baby Hawk” will have the opportunity to add significant value to fantasy rosters this season as the Browns’ No. 2 WR.

Cleveland Browns WR Andrew Hawkins

Whether it is Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel throwing the ball, tight end Jordan Cameron will likely be the top receiver on this squad, but Hawkins will also be a commonly used target. This week, Hawkins faces a mediocre Pittsburgh defense. He does not have much in the way of stats for his three years in the league, but Hawkins now has a chance to shine on a roster that desperately needs a wide receiver to step up.

New York Jets DST

The Jets’ defense might be one of the most underrated defensive units this season. In Week 1, this squad faces off against an Oakland offense that seems to have found a starting quarterback in rookie Derek Carr instead of Matt Schaub. That situation alone is appealing for those looking to acquire a sleeper defense. Rex Ryan is 7-1 as the Jets’ head coach against rookie QBs because his plethora of blitz packages and different looks seem to work wonders. Carr might say he is ready for this pass rush, but we will see. The Jets’ defense has had some injury issues and position changes, but it will be ready to bring the heat this season.

Shaun Hill

The ACL injury that will sideline Sam Bradford for the entire season provides the perfect opportunity for Hill to start in the NFL for the first time since 2010. In that season with the Lions, he started 10 games and averaged 268 passing yards and 1.6 TDs per game. This season, Hill takes over a St. Louis team with a talented receiving corps that includes Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Chris Givens, Brian Quick and Jared Cook. Hill is not afraid to let the ball loose and take shots downfield. This strategy could pay huge dividends in Week 1 when he faces a Minnesota defense that was ranked 31st against the pass last season. Hill is certainly an option in two-QB leagues, but it can be argued that he’s a sneaky start in one-QB leagues given his matchup. If you are in a bind at quarterback because you opted for upper-tier running backs and receivers in your draft, Hill might be your Week 1 ticket.

Shonn Greene

Greene appears on top of Titans’ running back depth chart, yet he is ranked 57th at the position for Week 1. Meanwhile, rookie Bishop Sankey shows up at No. 23, and many experts believe he will be the primary ball carrier. However, Sankey has struggled with technique, and it looks like he might be fumble-prone. Many fantasy owners have jumped on the Sankey train since he was promoted to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Greene, but rookie backs can be risky. Greene does not have the flash nor the general appeal of a highly drafted rookie; he can just put his head down and run. This week, don’t let Greene’s weekly rank discourage you from throwing him into the mix. Through his career, Greene has averaged 4.1 yards per attempt. You might just see him surprise everyone with a solid, low-risk outing against a Kansas City defense that has its flaws.

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