Top 4 Long-Shot Fantasy Sleepers to Watch, Week 7

Want a few guys to keep an eye on this weekend to pick up down the road? numberFire has 4 guys we're watching in week 7.

Never forget about the little guys. In fantasy football, there are always players that come out of nowhere to put up huge points. Your main job as a fantasy owner is to identify those players before they break out, and here at numberFire, we make it easier.

I'm going to give you four guys to keep an eye on this weekend. These aren't guys that I'm saying to pick up right away unless you're in the deepest of leagues. In fact, I'll say the opposite: you'll probably get made fun of if you drop a solid player to pick them up. But these are guys with potential who you may just see taking a bigger role in the next couple of weeks. There is only one common denominator among these players: they are all owned in less than 1% of ESPN leagues.

Top 4 Long-Shot Fantasy Sleepers to Watch, Week 7

RB Phillip Tanner - Dallas Cowboys
Week 6 Fantasy Points: 3
Week 7 Projected Points: 2.34 (#47 RB)
Leagues Owned: 0.7%

Felix Jones looks to be the clear lead back in the Cowboys' backfield once again. And by "Clear Lead Back", I mean that the Cowboys are probably going to rush him somewhere between 15 and 20 times a game. You see, the Cowboys have never treated Jones like DeMarco Murray or Marion Barber or even Julius Jones; Prince Felix's main function is as a complementary back. Thus Jerry Jones decreeth.

And to complement him, Sir Jerry Jones would like to bring forth Phillip Tanner out of Middle Tennessee State. In his second year in the Cowboys system, Tanner has received enough trust from the coaching staff that he had nine carries in the second half alone last week in a tight Baltimore ballgame. This week, it may even be more; reports are coming out of Dallas that the timeshare may even be closer to 50/50 than 75/25 in Jones's favor. Especially against the Carolinas' Bank of America-inspired rush defense (127.4 ypg means they're in need of a bailout), Tanner could have a Brandon Bolden-type breakout this week while complementing Felix.

RB Baron Batch - Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 6 Fantasy Points: 8
Week 7 Projected Points: 2.48 (#45 RB)
Leagues Owned: 0.7%

I'm convinced that carnival games are rigged so that you absolutely can't win. You know that one kid who's walking around the entire park with a giant teddy bear, who you might see once every three times you go? Every time, it crosses my mind that the kid's a plant. It would be so easy to convince people, "Hey, you can do this too if this little kid can!" People are evil like that. But two can play at that game, because I've come up with a brilliant new game that the even carnival owners can't win: guess who will lead the Steelers in rushing this week?

It could be Isaac Redman. It could be Rashard Mendenhall. It could be the Ghost of Jerome Bettis. YOU NEVER KNOW. Mendenhall appears set to be the starter, but he hasn't had 20 carries in a game since Week 6 last season. Redman has done some of the heavy lifting, but he's still listed as questionable for this week. And Jonathan Dwyer is over on the sidelines picking daisies recently, as his healthy scratch for last week's game would suggest. The tough part: all of those guys are owned in at least 16% of ESPN leagues.

The biggest return on investment, however, comes with Batch. He wasn't overly effective in Week 6: he averaged -0.17 Net Expected Points (NEP) per rush. But he could get action, and right now, it seems like a chance is all you need in the crowded Pittsburgh backfield.

WR Chris Givens - St. Louis Rams
Week 6 Fantasy Points: 8
Week 7 Projected Points: 6.15 (#40 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.6%

For the first time all year, I'm having a repeat player on the "Long Shots" list. But that's because he performed, and he's still not getting the love. Let the group hug for Chris Givens begin.

By some unholy act of coincidence, Sam Bradford actually decided to do what #1 overall quarterbacks are supposed to do and threw the ball often. I know, I was as shocked as you. And from that game, I learned three key things:

  • Sam Bradford can actually be effective at not throwing picks.
  • The third down efficiency though... needs a little work to say the least.
  • Chris Givens is clearly one of the top two targets on this team.

Givens had seven balls thrown his way in Week 6. And although he was only able to catch three of them, the results were still encouraging: those three catches went for 85 yards, including one 65 yard catch. This would normally be the spot where I say not to expect that every week, but with Givens, perhaps you can. He has had at least one 50-yard catch in each of the past three games. And if you get on the bandwagon of Victor Cruz-very-lite right now, you can say "I told you so!" when some of those targets actually begin to become catches.

WR Earl Bennett - Chicago Bears
Week 6 Fantasy Points: N/A (Bye)
Week 7 Projected Points: 2.14 (#75 WR)
Leagues Owned: 0.7%

Over the course of the season, I have seen more Bears fans rip on Jay Cutler than I have ever seen any fan base trash a 4-1 quarterback (not named Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia) in my life. Sure, Cutler makes some bad throws, but look at the options he has to work with. Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte are great, and Michael Bush has provided excellent third-down back skills, but the rest of that receiving corps has been u-g-l-y.

And this week, it didn't get much better. Coming off of the bye, the Bears reported Monday that rookie Alshon Jeffery will be out the next four to six weeks due to a hand injury. Will somebody in the Bears' receiving corps step up to take pressure off of Marshall?

If there's a name who can do it, it's a blast from the past. A blast from the past with really cool cleats. Even though Bennett has been injured since Week 3, he still holds to third-most targets on the Bears team (14) behind Jeffery and Marshall, so his status as "next in line" is clear. Bennett expects to be back for the game; I don't believe nagging injuries will be an issue. And he's been here before: Bennett had over 70 targets in both 2009 and 2010 for the Bears. The Lions secondary should provide an ample showcase for Bennett to display his well-rested skills.