By Week Six, a fantasy football owner should have a better idea of where he or she stands. At 5-0 or 4-1, one can be confident that a strong draft and key early pickups are leading you right to the playoffs; at 0-5 and 1-4, you’re happy that hockey season is here and basketball is around the corner (your lot isn’t hopeless though; many years ago I won a league where I started 1-6).
Most fantasy GMs, however, will be right in the middle at 3-2 or 2-3 – not doing well enough to be super-confident, but not doing poorly enough to blow everything up. That means that the waiver wire watch and bye week replacements will be absolutely crucial in getting through the real meat of the season. To that end, here are a few ideas if you’re strapped for a defense/special teams or individual defensive player.
D/ST Sleeper: Tennessee Titans – They haven’t been too good, blowing a huge lead and losing to Cleveland at home last week, but they’re in Jacksonville this week – always a good matchup – and if you’re really strapped, the Jaguars defense could also pick up some points against the less-than-inspiring Tennessee offense. Jake Locker’s mobility will lead to big rushing yards, but also to sacks as he scrambles; and neither team has a running game of note.
DL Sleeper: Cedric Thornton, Philadelphia Eagles – I was right about the Philly D-line last week, just wrong about which player would go off. Thornton recovered two fumbles and scored a TD last week – don’t expect that again – but the week before he had six tackles, and this Sunday night the Eagles host the often turnover-prone New York Giants. Definitely worth a roll of the dice.
LB Sleeper: Prince Shembo, Atlanta Falcons – The fourth-round rookie has seen his snap count increase each game, leading to seven tackles last week; a matchup against a pretty active Bears offense should give him more opportunities to make plays. Good guy to stash in a large IDP Dynasty league. Shembo is currently listed as questionable, though, so be sure he practices this week before you think of starting him right away.
DB Sleeper: Dawan Landry, New York Jets – His brother gets all the respect, but Dawan has actually been the more reliable fantasy option, even before LaRon got suspended. Dawan could make a lot of tackles downfield this Sunday against a Broncos team that will be throwing the ball all afternoon.