Fantasy Sleepers  

 

Harrison, Williams have sleeper appeal based on matchups

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Looking for a potential sleeper to help fill out your starting lineup this week? These 10 players could be under the radar and on the verge of solid performances based on the matchups. For more lineup help, be sure to check out Start 'Em & Sit 'Em and our weekly player rankings.

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers: Smith actually had a nice stretch of games where he was an attractive fantasy starter during part of last season. One of those contests came against the Seahawks, as Smith racked up 310 passing yards and two touchdowns. If you lack an elite option or need to start two quarterbacks, Smith is a solid choice.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions: Stafford looked strong in the preseason and appears set to take his next step to fantasy stardom, especially with Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler at his disposal. If you don't have a top-flight signal-caller and need a one-week alternative, Stafford is an attractive option.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants: Bradshaw has emerged past Brandon Jacobs on the Giants' depth chart and is now clearly on the fantasy football radar heading into Week 1. He's immediately an attractive flex option against the Panthers, who allowed an average of close to 20 fantasy points per game to running backs last season.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns: Harrison was one of the hottest backs in the league at the end of 2009, and a matchup against the Buccaneers in Week 1 should mean continued success. Tampa Bay had one of the worst run defenses last season, allowing an average of over 20 fantasy points per game. That makes Harrison a nice sleeper choice.

Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals: Beanie Wells received most of the fantasy love in the preseason, but Hightower is still the top man on the depth chart and should see more than his share of opportunities against the Rams. Their defense was one of the worst in the league against the run in 2009, so consider Hightower as a possible flex starter.

Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers: With Derrick Ward out of the mix, Williams is guaranteed to see more than his share of work in the Buccaneers' backfield this season. He should find immediate success against the Browns, who will field one of the league's most vulnerable run defenses. That makes the Cadillac a sleeper well worth driving.

Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers: Floyd's value is clearly on the rise, as he's now the top wideout in the pass attack for Philip Rivers. Not only will he see an increase in targets with Vincent Jackson out of the mix, but Floyd also has a great matchup against the Chiefs in Week 1. He's a viable No. 2 fantasy wideout in all leagues.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Broncos: Gaffney has earned the top spot on the Broncos depth chart heading into the season and is now the go-to guy for Kyle Orton in the passing game. He also has a very attractive matchup ahead against the Jaguars -- their defense allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts last season.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears: It's hard to predict which Bears wideout will score the most fantasy points this week, but I'll go with Knox over Devin Hester and Devin Aromashodu. He's the best fit for the offense of coordinator Mike Martz and a great sleeper against a Lions defense that was extremely vulnerable to the pass in 2009.

Louis Murphy, WR, Raiders: With Chaz Schilens out of action, Murphy will be the top wideout in the Raiders offense attack for Jason Campbell. A burner who can make plays, he'll see more than his share of chances to produce in Week 1 against the Titans. Their defense allowed more fantasy points to wideouts than any team last season.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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