Everyone loves fantasy football sleepers, but they change depending on league size and availability. We're here each and every week to give you a look at good plays for all types of leagues.
Mike Sims-Walker has quickly become a fantasy god, going from "Who's that?" to having his own three-letter acronym (a la teammate MJD) in the mere span of three weeks. Against Tennessee, I was convinced he'd have another great game, which he did, catching seven balls for 91 yards and two TDs. Averaging a touchdown and over six catches and 90 yards a game, he's clearly the number one option in Jacksonville. Since it would be silly to feature him every week, I'll just say again that he must be owned in your league and started every week.
Beanie Wells, RB, ARI vs. HOU
There are several reasons Wells might be available in your league. His two fumbles in Week 2 led to just two carries (for -1 yard) in Week 3. He totaled 16 touches in his first three weeks. Heading into a Week 4 bye, he was a logical drop for frustrated owners that needed his roster spot. If you have access to the guy, I'd pick him up before he explodes. This week he faces the Texans at home, and while they did a great job of stopping the Oakland running game, that was because there was absolutely no threat of an air attack. Against these Cardinals, they'll have to play the pass first, which should open up room for Tim Hightower and the rookie to do their thing. I think Wells scores his first touchdown this week.
Nate Burleson, WR, SEA vs. JAC
Burleson's production has been up and down over the first quarter of the season, but it bears noticing that he's done better in both his home games than in his away games. While that's not enough to feel comfortable starting the guy, the top-30 WR also gets the benefit of playing the Jaguars, who tend to give up a lot of fantasy points through the air. I think this leads to a game much like Burleson's Week 1 performance, where he caught seven balls for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Rams. Take his two bad road performances against the Colts and 49ers, two teams with excellent pass defenses, with a grain of salt. The third-most targeted player in the league, he's definitely worth a start as your WR3 this week.
Pierre Garcon, WR, IND at TEN
He's finding his way on to more and more rosters, but I'm sure owners are feeling a little trepidation at the thought of starting Monsieur Garcon each week. Ce n'est pas possible! Peyton Manning, the best quarterback in football, spreads the ball around and gets all his targets involved in the game, and while Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark have done the brunt of the damage, Garcon has shown a nose for the end zone, scoring twice despite just 10 catches this season. If there's one team that loves to give up TDs through the air, it's the Titans, who have surrendered 10 this season to rank just ahead of the Lions (OK, make that two teams) in the "easiest team to pass on" debate. Garcon makes a worthy WR3 as well in Week 5.
A Good Night's Sleep
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, PIT at DET
Miss out on that brilliant 165-yard, two-TD effort against the Chargers Sunday night? Don't worry, you weren't the only one. Despite having a cake matchup, a breakout for Mendehall was hard to see coming, considering the second-year back has flopped at every opportunity in his short career. Those of us that have had continued faith have now been rewarded, and the schedule doesn't get much harder in Week 5, as the Steelers travel to Detroit to
Shaun Hill, QB, SF vs ATL
Is there a bigger Shaun Hill fan than me? How about coach Mike Singletary, whose faith in the quarterback was rewarded with a 3-1 start against pretty good competition (well, 2-1 against good competition and 1-0 against the Rams). Since we can assuredly bet against the team scoring three TDs on interceptions and fumble recoveries this week, we know it's going to take more from Hill to win this matchup. The underrated QB is 10-4, and while going to 11-4 against a rested Falcons team will be difficult, Hill should be able to find new favorite target Vernon Davis enough times to post a nice fantasy line. We'll call it 220 yards, 2 TDs and an interception, and I have a gut feeling he sneaks one into the end zone as well.
Michael Bush, RB, OAK at NYG
Follow the pattern of Bush's carries per game (12 in Week 1, then 9, 6, and 3 in Week 4) and his fantasy output (11.9 in Week 1, then 5.2, 4, and -0.6), and it's clear to anyone that Bush will get zero carries in this Giants game and score about -4 points. OK, if I thought that, I wouldn't place him in this space. While the deck is stacked against him, and I wouldn't be starting him unless my other options are grim, there is at least a little bit to like about Bush's prospects in Week 5. The Giants are the best team in the league at defending the pass, and that shouldn't change after this week, but they have just a middling rush defense, and in fact they are tied for the worst yards-per-carry average (5.5) in the league.
Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE at BUF
Quite the opposite of Bush, Harrison's productivity line moves upward in virtually a straight line, going from zero touches in Week 1 to 34 in Week 4. We loved Harrison heading into Week 4, as a lack of competition for playing time foreshadowed a big day. If Jamal Lewis doesn't play again (and why would the coaching staff want him to?), it should be more of the same for our new favorite running back. He faces the Bills, who are averaging over 150 rushing yards allowed per game. They've also given up seven rushing TDs in their four games this season. Give Harrison another 25 touches, another 120 yards, and his first two TDs of the season in Week 5. Lights out, indeed.
Derek Anderson, QB, CLE at BUF
Since double-dipping worked so well last week (I took members of both the passing and rushing game of the 49ers), let's do it again this week. Anderson showed great rapport with rookie Mohamed Massaquoi (another great sleeper and the likely waiver-wire king this week at the WR position), passing for 269 yards and a TD and adding another TD on the ground in his first start of the season. Some people will rightfully be scared away by Anderson's three-interception performance in relief two weeks ago, but he looked like a better player after a week of preparation as the starter. I wouldn't go crazy in starting Anderson, but with the Bills banged up on defense, Anderson should have a solid QB2-like performance.
Bobby Wade, WR, KC vs. DAL
This one ain't pretty, but Bobby Wade has been getting it done since signing with the Chiefs. In his first game with the Chiefs, Wade caught six balls on nine targets, totaling 72 yards of offense against Oakland (a team with a great No. 1 CB). He didn't receive that many targets in his next two weeks, but he was able to catch two balls in each and reach the end zone in both games. Now he faces Dallas, and the Cowboys have given up over 250 yards per game through the air, as well as six TDs. If Terence Newman does a good job of blanketing Dwayne Bowe, Wade should find a way to get involved in the offense yet again. This one is for my deep-league owners, who should feel good about gambling on Wade at a flex spot.
Seahawks Defense, D/ST, SEA vs JAC
Through three weeks, the Seahawks defense was looking excellent, totaling 40 points against the Rams and Bears at home, and the 49ers in San Francisco. Then the team ran into the buzzsaw that is the Indianapolis Colts and failed to record a sack after notching nine in their first three games. The Jaguars come off a stomping of the Titans, and while they were ahead for most of the game, Tennessee managed to score two sacks anyway. With this game being in Seattle, Jacksonville has to make what's almost the longest road trip possible in the NFL. The 1-3 Seahawks, playing what amounts to a must-win game, should be amped up for this one, and I like their chances of a big defensive performance.