2010 IDP Deep Sleepers

I always hesitate to use the word sleeper because readers often associate that word with "no-name players." I prefer the word "undervalued." As a drafter, this is what I am always looking for: value. If I can get a 3rd round value in the 6th round, it gives me a significant relative advantage over my opponent. The following players are recognizable to most and really aren't considered "sleepers." However, this doesn't mean they can't provide just as much relative value as a no-name player that emerges during the season.

In this article, I recommend players at each of the 3 defensive positions (DL, LB, DB) who I believe will be significantly undervalued heading into the 2010 fantasy season and who I would consider to be "deep sleepers." This list will be continually updated throughout the off-season.


Connor Barwin 1. LDE Connor Barwin (HOU) - The Texans took Barwin with the 47th overall pick in last year's NFL draft. He only had 3.5 sacks in 2009 but rarely do you see rookie defensive lineman put up good numbers in their first year and he did show flashes of brilliance in a couple games last season. Barwin has a lot going for him: he's fast (a former TE in college), he's intelligent, and he has a mean streak. He's probably still a year away however as he needs to play better against the run and until he manages to so, he will remain a situational pass rusher. Barwin will probably put up 5 or 6 sacks this season, but don't expect many tackles. He's a good guy to stash in dynasty leagues.

Kyle Moore 2. LDE Kyle Moore (TB) - Tampa Bay's defensive line should be much improved this season with the additions of Gerald McCoy and Brian Price on the interior of the line. "Stylez" G. White is going to command the majority of the attention from defenses as far as defensive ends are concerned. Moore has dropped over 20 pounds in preparation for his edge rushing role in Raheem Morris' Tampa-2 defensive scheme and will most likely enter the season as the starting left defensive end ahead of Tim Crowder. This is a player that will probably go undrafted in virtually every league and is someone that has the potential to put up 7 or so sacks.

Kyle Moore 3. RDE Jerry Hughes (IND) - Hughes is a nice fit for the Colts Cover-2 scheme as it relies heavily on pass-rushing ends with speed. I think Jerry will see more playing time than people expect. Freeney is injured quite often and Mathis isn't exactly young. I wouldn't expect a ton of tackles, but Hughes isn't a bad target in big play leagues.


Dannell Ellerbe 1. RILB Dannell Ellerbe (BALT) - Many Ravens homers believe that the team may have found a gem in this undrafted rookie linebacker. Ellerbe bypassed a banged-up Tavares Gooden to nail down the starting "Jack" linebacker job late in the season, excelling in the playoffs by putting up 10 solo tackles against the Colts in the divisional round. He enters the season as the favorite to start next to Ray Lewis inside and may be the next in line to take over after Lewis retires.

Bobby Carpenter 2. WLB Bobby Carpenter (STL) - Being a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan, I am all to familiar with Bobby Carpenter and his underachievements. My bias aside, Carpenter finds himself in a fantasy friendly environment in St. Louis since the Rams defense figures to be on the field perhaps more than any other defense in the league. The switch to a 4-3 should be beneficial to Carpenter as he suits his strengths more appropriately than a 3-4. Remember, Carpenter was a 1st round selection a few years back and is a decently talented linebacker in the right system. My only concern is that the WLB position in STL hasn't been overly productive in fantasy terms the last few seasons and Carpenter will have to compete will James Lauriniatis for tackles. I wouldn't put it past Bobby to put up 80+ total sacks and a couple of sacks this season.

Quincy Black 3. SLB Quincy Black (TB) - Black put up solid numbers for his 1st season as a start especially when you consider that he was playing on the strong side of the defense. The Bucs coaching staff really likes this kid and they are going to find ways to incorporate him into the defense. Obviously, he has limited upside because their is a lot of competition for tackles in Tampa Bay and he's typically going to see less opportunities than his fellow linebackers. However, Black could be a nice LB4 for your team.


Darrell Stuckey
1. SS Darrell Stuckey (SD) - The release of incumbent starting strong safety Kevin Ellison improves Stuckey's value in redraft leagues quite dramatically. He will now fight with Stephen Gregory for the starting job. I look for Stuckey to win the starting job and to produce much better than expected numbers in San Diego. He finds himself in a place where tackle opportunities are above average; combine that with his talent and you have potential for DB2-type numbers. Stuckey is a sleeper fo sho.

Michael Lewis 2. SS Michael Lewis (SF) - You may be thinking to yourself that I'm on crack, but hear me out. Everybody is foaming at the mouth over Taylor Mays and his fantasy potential. However, Mays fell to the 2nd round for a reason. He's a good player with great measurables, however he's still quite raw and it's going to take him a few games to become aclimated to the NFL environment and speed. In the mean time, Michael Lewis is going to put up close to his usual numbers while playing. Lewis has had 70+ solo tackles for three straight seasons and had 104 and 96 total tackles seasons during that span. Most people are going to disregard Lewis in favor of Mays and I have a feeling Lewis is going to go undrafted in the majority of IDP leagues. I have no problem drafting him and riding him out until Mays eventually takes over. He's going to produce high DB3 numbers.

Melvin Bullitt 3. SS Melvin Bullitt (IND) - At first glance Bullitt's career numbers are not overly impressive. Keep in mind however that he plays a reserve role for the Colts. Why would I recommend a bench player as a sleeper? I tell you why: Bob Sanders. Bullitt backs up Sanders, which in essence means he will end up playing a large percentage of the season since Sanders' gets injured so often. Last year, Bullitt had a six game stretch where he average nearly 7 solo tackles per game. He won't get you any big plays, but in a tackle-heavy scoring system Bullitt is definitely a guy to keep your eye on. As soon as you see that Bob Sanders is out, I would snag Bullitt up.

James Sanders 4. SS James Sanders (NE) - The strong safety position in New England has been a very productive fantasy position going all the way back to the days of Rodney Harrison. Marginal safety Brandon McGowan averaged 6 solo tackles over a 7 game span during the first part of the 2009 season before tapering off. James Sanders isn't a huge upgrade over McGowan, however, he should see a decent amount of tackle opportunities which is all you can ask for from a guy who is likely to go undrafted in 99% of IDP leagues. Until Patrick Chung manages to take over the reigns at this position, stay on the lookout for Sanders.

Last Updated: July 20, 2010

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