Still More Sleeper Slop
Everyone is looking for sleepers. Hey, who’s your sleeper? Got a sleeper for me? Who’s going to be the sleeper player on the sleeper team in the sleeper college town?
I first tried to fight it, however attempts to place a moratorium on the word’s use were laughed at by my colleagues. So rather than carve out my forehead with barbed wire each and every time I read or heard the word, I decided to embrace it. After all, we’re still talking college football. And if embracing means I will write article #324 that deals primarily with sleepers, then so be it. It’s what you heathens want.
We’ve attempted to define a sleeper, and no matter the million different ways to word it, a sleeper is simply a dude that most aren’t expecting to make a major impact. In the fantasy realm it’s the guy who has the potential to far exceed statistical expectations.
Following is my all-sleeper team (sans kicker and defense) for the 2008 campaign. A lineup comprised solely of the players listed below will surely finish at the bottom of all league standings; after all, each and every player could be picking splinters out of his behind. That being said, some may become the toast of owners nationwide. You’ve likely grown tired of reading about some of these cats. You may laugh at the others. However keep in mind that he who laughs last laughs loudest, so you’ll likely really be laughing hard in December.
QB: Case Keenum, sophomore, Houston
Back in March I informed my cohorts that Keenum would be this season’s breakout star. Thanks to my CC (Crabtree capital) the boys jumped on board, and I proceeded to spend the spring extolling the virtues of this sophomore. By throwing out the name Dana Holgerson I really sounded like I knew what I was talking about.
Then one particular colleague started having nightmares about Blake Joseph and his scheming to overtake Mr. Keenum and emerge as starting quarterback for the Cougars. Concerned over potential reader backlash he began to write subtle pieces and blurbs that backed off our boy. Attempting to temper expectations while avoiding this wrath of this Irishman, he tried to straddle the fence. There’s no place for fence straddling in the cutthroat world of college fantasy football.
Keenum has a huge camp, emerges as new coach Kevin Sumlin’s #1 guy and he proceeds to become a top-ten national quarterback. (Editor's Note: Article written before Keenum was announced as the starter yesterday.)
Unable to meet my lofty expectations Keenum struggles in camp and Joseph takes control. Case spends the season holding a clipboard.
RB: Michael Shaw, freshman, Michigan
There’s a new sheriff in Ann Arbor, and the most ardent Wolverine supporters can’t decide on whether they’re looking at four or five straight national titles. Those aware of the incredible new techniques being utilized by new screaming meathead Mike Barwis are banking on a run that will make John Wooden cower in shame. Either way, someone is going to have to run the ball and win all those Heismans, and I like this incoming frosh to emerge.
Sure there’s a wee bit of running back talent currently residing in AA. In addition to returnees Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor, Shaw will compete with hurdler Sam McGuffie as each looks to emerge as the proverbial man.
Carlos Brown is the likely starter as he’s shown the ability to run really, really fast. However Minor has been unimpressive, and McGuffie seems destined to hear speeches on how cool it is lining up in the slot.
Shaw will have an opening, and this burner who impressed many in the Big 33 game will take advantage of the opportunity.
Given the chance to provide Brown a breather, Shaw emerges as a breakaway back and ends his freshman campaign with about 600-6.
Shaw is not ready to see regular carries and he is eventually sent to work with the defensive backs.
RB: Aundre Dean, freshman, UCLA
UCLA backs have burned us before, and now we’re coming back for more. The Bruins return senior Khalil Bell and he’s expected to be the workhorse. But he’s coming off of knee surgery. Raymond Carter was the clear favorite to back up Bell. He blew out his knee last season and had to use a redshirt. Following a bunch of position changes Christian Ramirez was expected to compete for carries. Academic struggles will keep him off the field in 2008.
With this many question marks in Chow’s backfield, it’s important to take a look at incoming freshmen in Westwood, and Aundre Dean is far and away the most intriguing. He’s built to withstand a pounding and he’s in possession of enough breakaway speed to burn cheating safeties.
Dean is given a chance to see early carries. With a new coaching staff with little vested in the veterans, he doesn’t leave the field. Firmly entrenched as starter he runs wild against the Pac-10 slate.
Those higher on the chart stay healthy (which we certainly hope) and Dean is forced to wait a year before exploding onto the national scene.
WR: Taurian Washington, sophomore, Ohio State
A quick peek at the pre-season Buckeye depth chart sees Washington as backup to Brian Robiskie. Barring injury, I don’t expect this to change. But based on the “they can’t possibly stop everyone” theory, I see a talent like Washington making a whole bunch of big plays as the Buckeyes roll through their campaign.
Washington was very impressive in the spring game, and he’s in possession of the speed and smarts to become a serious producer in 2008, with true breakout seasons down the road.
Washington is able to consistently get behind defenses and ends his campaign with about seven scores, and he becomes one of the Big Ten’s top wide receivers entering 2009.
Rosbiskie, Hartline, Small and Wells get so much of theirs that’s there’s nothing but scraps left for Washington. A 200-2 season leaves the faithful cursing my name.
WR: Aldrick Robinson, sophomore, SMU
Robinson joins Emmanuel Sanders to form what could be one of the most productive receiving duos in the country. The Waxahachie, TX native only caught 10 passes as a freshman, however this writer feels that he’s got the potential to emerge as a great deep ball threat.
Robinson will have to fend off Zach Zimmerman and a few youngsters in his quest to serve as Sanders’ sidekick. In fact both Robinson and Zimmerman impressed coaches in the spring. While there’s always concern over too much passing game balance in a run and shoot system, Aldrick Robinson seems to have the requisite tools to make an impact in 08.
TE: Mike Ragone, sophomore, Notre Dame
Ragone took advantage of Will Yeatman’s poor choices (drunk driving arrest led to suspension from practice) and he made the most of it. Ragone has put on some lbs. of muscle, and there’s a chance he could be the guy to replace the talented John Carlson.
Even the most dedicated Irish hater must assume that this year’s offense will show considerable improvement over the 2007 version. The TE has always played a key role in any Charlie Weis offense, and Ragone has the size to really make an impact down the seam.
Ragone takes the bull by the horns and becomes the next productive Notre Dame TE. He emerges as an excellent compliment to the ready-to-breakout Duvall Kamara.
Yeatman is re-instated, and the Irish run more than expected. This keeps the speedy Ragone off the field, and Yeatman nabs a chunk of goal line TD’s.
There you have it: one writer’s attempt at seeing who will bust out this season. Each brings a good deal of potential, and each should receive an opportunity to produce on the stat sheet. Whether or not any or all of these chaps becomes a true fantasy star in 2008 is dependent on a great number of variables, but each should be a name to keep in mind as the draft winds down and you’re looking to catch lighting in a bottle.
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