Week Two of the 2014 NFL season featured overcorrection to Week One results, as well as some trends getting started. There seems to be a minor epidemic of teams coming back from 17+ point deficits – something that bears watching and something that will also give you heart palpitations, as no moderate lead is safe. We have also had our share of awful officiating (did the replacement refs come back?) but over the course of the season it should get better. If you can’t count on the large leads or the referees, which defenses and IDPs can you count on?
D/ST Sleeper – New England Patriots (vs. Minnesota). Most years, there’s usually a Pats fan who drafts them early – but that trend has been exponentially waning the last few seasons. Despite that, the Pats have enough playmakers to annihilate the Vikes in Foxboro – Minnesota is now lacking star RB Adrian Peterson (suspended) and also lacking at QB with Matt Cassel (terrible). Cordarrelle Patterson may rip off a big play or two, but not enough to overcome the Pats single-handedly. The Patriot D should be an excellent play this week.
DL Sleeper – Willie Young, Chicago Bears. He has three sacks in two games, and this week Da Bears travel to the Meadowlands to face the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Jets still have questions at receiver (question one: can anyone there catch the ball?) and spotty protection across the line. Free-agent pickups Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston get all the attention, but Young has outplayed both of them coming off the bench.
DL Sleeper – Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks. The Legion of Boom secondary gets all the credit, but Chancellor, Sherman & Co. couldn’t do what they do without the presence of Bennett and his line mates. The Seattle defensive line breaks through blocks to pressure QBs, who in turn are forced to make terrible throws – which lead to all the big hits and interceptions in the backfield. This year Bennett has three sacks already, and they’ll be hosting the Broncos this week – with the game in Seattle, Peyton Manning may have an even harder time than he did last January.
Linebacker Sleeper – Rolando McClain, Dallas Cowboys. The first-round Raiders bust didn’t even play football last year, but the desperate Cowboys picked him up and he’s finally, at age 26, starting to flash the potential he showed in college. He’s listed as questionable with a groin injury, but as of this writing should still play at the St. Louis Rams on Sunday – a great matchup against a weak offense. As long as he’s right, he’s automatically the ’Boys’ best linebacker (great roster construction there, Jerral).
Linebacker Sleeper – Preston Brown, Buffalo Bills. The rookie third-round pick has helped fill the spot vacated by the injured Kiko Alonso and the Bills defense, surprisingly, has not missed a beat. Keith Rivers’ injury helped open Brown’s door, but Brown’s play, showing great range and a nose for stopping the run, may keep that door open. A good target in dynasty leagues too, if he’s still out there.
Defensive Back Sleeper – Tony Jefferson, Arizona Cardinals. An undrafted rookie free agent who stuck around as a backup last season, Jefferson has kept ahead of 2014 first-round pick Deone Buchanan at strong safety. Buchanan definitely has the better upside, but if you’re scouring the waiver wire, Jefferson will be the one you find available. Eight tackles in each of the first two games is nothing to sneeze at. Tyrann Mathieu has had injury problems and limited snap counts at free safety, so there could be enough plays for all of them.
Defensive Back Sleeper – Charles Woodson, Oakland Raiders. You father’s favorite Michigan Wolverine is still going strong just weeks shy of his 38th birthday. Despite his advanced age, Woodson has enough gas in the tank, combined with veteran savvy (clichéd but accurate) to come up with around 80 tackles this season, along with a smattering of sacks and picks. The Raiders have no one better to trot out there, so playing time shouldn’t be a problem – though to be fair, three-fourths of the league doesn’t have anyone better, either. He may still be available because the rest of your IDP league assumed he retired and the website just hasn’t updated it yet.