2012 Fantasy Football Sleepers: AFC South
also see our AFC East Sleepers
Undervalued: Matt Schaub (QB) (ADP:98.6) Like seemingly all of the Houston skill position players, Matt Schaub is considered a risky pick due to his inability to stay healthy. Schaub was off to a fine start in 2011 before a Lis Franc injury got him in the Texans’ tenth game. In 2009-2010, Schuab managed to play and start all 16 games and passed for over 4300 yards each season, finishing as a top ten fantasy qb in ’10 and top five in ’09. With a strong running game, don’t expect Hall of Fame numbers from Schaub, but that strong ground game will open the fieldÂ for opportunities downfield. Fantasy owners who gamble and wait on grabbing their starting signal-caller, or those that want a strong QB2 should consider Schaub as a good option after round eight.
Sleeper: Garret Graham (TE) (undrafted) Gary Kubiak loves utilizing two-tight-end-sets, a philosophy that allowed former back-up tight end Joel Dreessen (now in Denver) to lead the club in touchdown catches in 2011. Houston’s starting tight end, Owen Daniels, has a long history of injury troubles. That opens the door for the nearly unknown Graham to have the opportunity to put up the occasionally useful fantasy game. This preseason, Graham has made the most of his opportunity and his 141 receiving yards currently ranks 13th in the NFL. If you’re in a really deep fantasy league, or one like the FPPC that gives a significant bonus for tight end receptions, Graham is worth considering as late-round depth.
Undervalued: Donald Brown (RB) (ADP: 88.8) Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has shown flashes of ability throughout this preseason, raising expectatons for Indy’s dreadful offense. Should Luck live up to his billing, Brown is in line for a nice boost in value as the Colts’ starting running back. Brown hasn’t been the most consistent runner, but he showed some promise during the second half of the 2011 campaign, including a 16-161-1 Week 15 contest against the Titans. With an ADP in the seventh round, Brown is currently being selected as one of the last starting NFL running backs and in fantasy is an RB3 or flex play with decent potential.
Sleeper: Dwayne Allen (TE) (ADP: 225.4) Teammate Coby Fleener is getting all the hype for his well chronicled history with Andrew Luck at Stanford, but it looks like the second of Indy’s TE-rookie-duo, Dwayne Allen is emerging as the early favorite to make a fantasy impact. Apparently the Colts’ plan is to employ Allen in multiple formations, moving him all over the field and even using him in the backfield to take the occasional handoff. This makes him a versatile and potentially dangerous weapon that will be difficult for opposing secondaries to keep track of. According to Jim Day at Fantasytaz.com, Coby Fleener has been praised for his blocking ability and is expected to spend more time utilized as a blocker in a traditional tight end role.
Undervalued: Rashad Jennings (RB) (ADP: 137.5) Rashad Jennings is a fantasy stock that is on the rise and for good reason. Multiple sources are reporting that Maurice Jones-Drew‘s contract holdout could last into the regular season. It seems that the Jags might not be in any hurry to capitulate to MJD’s demands because Jennings has shown to be a more that capable player in his own right. He’s currently third in the NFL in preseason rushing and has done most of his damage against the opposition’s first-team defense. Jennings was inline for an expanded role last year before a knee injury caused him to miss the season. It’s looking like he’s going to get more playing time sooner rather than later. On Monday, new Jags head coach Mike Mularkey named Jennings as the week one starting running back.
Sleeper: Justin Blackmon (WR) (ADP: 95.3) Some questioned the logic of Jacksonville’s pedestrian offense using the fifth pick in the 2012 NFL draft on a wide receiver, but Blackmon looks like the real deal. The new offense installed by Mularkey and new offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski seems to be catered towards quarterback Blaine Gabbert‘s strenghts and rejuvenated on of the most punchless passing attacks of 2011. Blackmon is clearly the top receiver in Jacksonville and if the club can post a modest improvement in overall effectiveness, Blackmon stands a decent chance at approaching 1000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. That makes him a tremendous value in the eight round and a good sleeper WR3 candidate.
Undervalued: Jake Locker (QB) (ADP: 154.5) Even during his rookie season last year, Jake Locker badly outplayed veteran Matt Hasselbeck. In limited duty, Locker boasted a 99.4 QB-rating to Hasselbeck’s 82.4. Still, Hasselbeck took the vast majority of snaps and guided the Titans to a surprising 9-7 finish and helped the team finish a surprising 12th in the NFL in total passing yards.Now this is unquestionably Locker’s team and he inherits an underrated passing offense that will be infused with first round pick Kendall Wright. Wright will join Kenny Britt and Nate Washington to form a formidable trio of wide-outs that looks even more impressive when you add sleeper tight end Jared Cook to the mix. There’s a lot to like about this offense, and fantasy football owners could do worse than take a shot on Locker as their QB2. Boost him up a few spots for those in dynasty formats.
Sleeper: Nate Washington (WR) (ADP: 130.3) Now that the Titans have handed the reigns over to Jake Locker, it could mean big things for the unheralded Nate Washington. These two showed some serious chemistry on the field together last season. In the three games that Locker saw extensive action, Nate Washington averaged 7 grabs for 102 yards and caught all four of Locker’s touchdowns. Washington very quietly finished 2011 with 74 receptions for 1023 yards and seven touchdowns, which ranked him top 25 or better in each of those categories-yet he’s only being selected as the 46th wide receiver in 2012 fantasy drafts. Should Kenny Britt miss time while recovering from his knee surgeries or for suspensions, Washington will become Tennessee’s unquestioned number one wide-out.