I wrote my first post on this year's potential sleeper picks back on July 1, before the start of training camp. How are those picks holding up after the first week of preseason games?
Each pick is rated an "up," "down," "hold" or "out." I've also added a couple of new players to the list.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh: Up. He's usually gettable in the 9th round or later, and if anything his stock is rising, not falling, among the fantasy obsessed.Yes, I still think you can get
Rex Grossman, Chicago: Up. He's having a hot training camp and looked good his first time out.
J.P. Losman, Buffalo: Hold. Not much new.
Alex Smith, San Francisco: Hold. No reason to change this ranking.
Ladell Betts, Washington: Up. Washington's starters looked horrible in their first outing, but they lacked two o-line regulars. That said, he's looking better because Clinton Portis isn't healthy. They're surely playing it safe with Portis, but I think Betts is likely to finish as Washington's leading rusher this year.
Brandon Jackson, Green Bay: NEW. Jackson inherits the sleeper spot, but beware: He could go higher in drafts, bumping him off this list.
Chris Brown, Tennessee: Down. LenDale White is a bust, but I've downgraded Brown because Chris Henry is going to get some opportunities. Also because Brown just isn't really that good.
Vernand Morency, Green Bay: OUT. Yes, he'll return from this injury, but strike him off your list. The opportunity that Morency had disappeared when he got hurt in training camp.
*Musa Smith, Baltimore: OUT. I still don't like Willis McGahee's chances to put up huge numbers, but I think this was a dumb choice by me back in July, pure and simple. I didn't think he was worth drafting, but I'm no longer convinced he'll be a brilliant free agent pickup in September. Despite his talent, the guy's just not durable.
*Tony Hunt, Philadelphia: Hold. No news here.
*Brian Leonard, St. Louis: Hold. He looks as good as I thought he would, but he plays behind Steven Jackson.
Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh: NEW. Put him on your draft list with a bullet. He's still going in the 9th round of 12-round drafts, which is a great place to get him.
Brandon Jones, Tennessee: Hold. Still going late, still in a decent situation.
Devin Hester, Chicago: Hold. Still talented, still progressing, still an enigma in a crowded position group. The classic final-round flier.
D.J. Hackett, Seattle: Down. Apparently Hackett is getting some serious competition from Nate Burleson. That's not a good sign for a supposed "sleeper."
Bernard Berrian, Chicago: Down. There's noting wrong with Berrian. It's just that Chicago has five talented WRs who are all going to play, and Berrian's production could be diluted.
Troy Williamson, Minnesota, Down. News flash: He still can't catch.
Matt Jones, Jacksonville: OUT. I'm striking this guy from my board until further notice. Unless something clicks for him -- soon -- he's going to turn into a first-round bust.
Greg Olsen, Chicago: NEW. I'm not swearing by this, but the buzz out of camp is really hot about this guy, and the Bears opened up their first preseason game Olsen as a starter in a double-TE set. Olsen caught Grossman's first pass and had two receptions on their opening drive. The Bears have no intention of ditching Desmond Clark, but Olsen is so talented that they're inventing sets around him. Sometimes he stays on the line. Sometimes he shifts out to a slot. Put him on your radar as a draftable player.
* ASTERISK INDICATES PLAYER IS AN ATTRACTIVE WAIVER-WIRE PICKUP SLEEPER, NOT A TRUE DRAFT-DAY PROSPECT.
What I mean by a "sleeper:"
- Isn't generally ranked as a legitimate fantasy starter;
- Can typically be found in the second half of a fantasy draft;
- Shows potential to become a significant fantasy contributor at some point in the upcoming season, producing numbers that will compare favorably to "consensus" starters.
(Players that have already been popularly identified as sleepers aren't discussed here because... well, if everybody knows about them, they aren't exactly "sleepers.")