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Sneakiest Plays of the Week

With the bye weeks in the rear view mirror, most teams are playing at full strength now. On the other hand, just because no one’s on a bye, doesn’t mean owners still don’t have holes in their lineups.  I wouldn’t necessarily classify the following list of players as sleepers.  These are longshot players for owners, who are dissatisfied with their Number 3 receiver for Week 11 and would rather take a gamble than settle for another lukewarm performance.  You have to have guts and intestinal fortitude to start these guys.

Seyi Ajirotutu

Still the best name in fantasy football this year. We all know at this point about Seyi’s amazing one week performance a couple weeks ago where he had 111 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. The official analysis of that game is that it was a one week fluke because Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd weren’t playing and Rivers had no one else to throw it to.

I’m buying that theory except the part about it being a one week fluke. I’m going for the 2 week fluke theory. The reason I think Seyi has the chance for back to back fluke games is because the situation that allowed him to excel last time is very similar to this week’s Monday night matchup with Denver. Gates proved a couple weeks ago that even he can miss a game. Gates has already said that he’s got a 50/50 chance to start. We’ve heard this kind of talk from Gates before and always brushed it off, but it’s different now.  Gates finally missed a game last Sunday and injuries are a lot more serious this time. If Gates ends up not playing, Seyi’s value goes up tremendously.

Then we have Malcom Floyd finally returning to action after being injured for a month. Floyd has been practicing all week and all signs point to him playing on Monday night. He will be matched up against Champ Bailey though and it’s realistic to think that after the long layoff there might be some rust in Floyd’s game.

Remember, Seyi only had 4 catches in his breakout game. We’re not talking about a PPR monster here. Rivers is having an MVP season and he’s going to have another great game against the Broncos, just like he always has. To think that Seyi won’t be a part of that, given the injury status of Gates and Floyd’s matchup, rings a bit false to me. I think Seyi is still a solid gamble as a Number 3 receiver for this week.

VJax comes back next week and so will Gates probably. That’s next week, though. We’re only talking about this week where Seyi has a chance to ride this Fluke Train for one more game.

Anthony Armstrong

The Washington Deadskins are coming off a historic butt-whooping that people will be talking about for years. You have to think that the Skins will be playing with a lot of pride on Sunday against Tennessee. They’ll be trying to prove to the world that they aren’t the worst team in the universe after giving up 35 points…in the 1st quarter last week. I don’t expect Santana Moss to be catching most of McNabb’s passes though. Moss is being covered by Titans shutdown corner Cortland Finnegan.

Finnegan and the Titans’ secondary have improved in the 2nd half of the season and recently they’ve shut down top receivers like Brandon Marshall (3/34) and Jeremy Maclin (5/42, when Desean was injured).

And then you have Anthony Armstrong, who in the last 2 weeks somehow has over 175 receiving yards. He’s not as good in PPR leagues because he only has 6 catches to go with that 175 yards. But 175 receiving yards is still pretty impressive and he seems to be emerging as McNabb’s number one deep threat. The Titans’ defense is currently ranked 25th in passing yards so they can be thrown on. Armstrong has a good chance of being the main beneficiary of McNabb’s passes, when he’s not getting sacked or throwing a Pick 6.

Kevin Walter

Kevin Walter is actually in a very similar situation to Armstrong. Walter’s Texans play the Jets this weekend and you can bet that the Jets are going to focus on reigning in Andre Johnson by covering him with Revis.  Revis proved his mettle a couple weeks ago by shutting down Calvin Johnson. The Jets have one of the best run defenses in the league so it’s unlikely they’ll be able to lean on Arian Foster to lead them to victory.

I’m betting Walter might end up being the lead guy in Houston this weekend. Walter’s coming off a 6 catch, 97 receiving yards, 1 touchdown performance against the Jaguars and has some momentum. With the historically bad level the Texans’ defense is playing right now, it’s likely that the Texans will be playing from behind and forced to throw. Johnson will be stuck on Revis Island, which will probably leave Walter in man to man coverage. Walter has a real shot of turning in a good performance and, for one week only, outperforming Super Stud Andre Johnson.

Louis Murphy

I have to confess, I’m an inappropriately big Louis Murphy fan. I talked about him in the preseason and it looked like Murphy was living up to his promise in Weeks 2-3 when he had 11 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. First he was brought down by the early putrid play of Jason Campbell. Then, Zach Miller and Darren McFadden started to steal the show in Oakland and then Murphy got injured and he hasn’t played since Week 7.

Murphy’s finally healthy and back in the starting lineup this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The last time the Raiders played 2 weeks ago, they defeated the Chiefs in a critical division matchup. This crucial victory was largely in part due to an amazing game by Raiders’ rookie Jacoby Ford, catching 6 balls for 148 yards. Even more encouraging for the Raiders, Zach Miller returns to the lineup this week and the Raiders will be as healthy as they’ve been all season.

So where does this leave Murphy? Considering that Ford has been nearly invisible all season long besides the Chiefs blow up, it’s reasonable to assume that Ford won’t have a repeat performance. The Steelers’ secondary will be focused on shutting down Ford and they’re also well aware of Zach Miller. This leaves Murphy, who will probably be facing single coverage all game long.

The Raiders are a running team but going up against the Steelers still stout run defense, they won’t be able to rely on McFadden to lead them to the Promised Land this week. The one weakness of the Steelers is there somewhat shaky secondary. Murphy will be able to take advantage of that and he could be in line for a solid performance.

After all, this isn’t the first time Murphy’s faced the Steelers. Last year, in Pittsburgh, Murphy had the best game of his entire career with 4 receptions for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown. Murphy has it within him to play a good game against the Steelers this Sunday. It will take a huge leap of faith for owners to start Murphy but for those that do, he might just help a couple teams to victory this weekend. Murphy is as sneaky of a play as you’re going to get this weekend.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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