Here are my Top 15 Fantasy Football Sleepers for the 2009 fantasy football season. Sleeper rankings are based on a normal mixed NFC/AFC one-year redraft fantasy football league. Positions include QB-RB-WR-TE and scoring categories include: passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, touchdowns, interceptions thrown and fumbles lost. Each players age for the 2009 season and their yahoo position eligibility (QB-RB-WR-TE), is listed after their name.
2009 Fantasy Football – Top 15 Sleepers
1. Ray Rice – Baltimore (22) – RB
With Willis McGahee seemingly always injured, the 2009 season may ring in the Ray Rice era in Baltimore. Offering a solid combination of rushing and receiving abilities, Rice will have an opportunity to claim the starting running back job during training camp. A season of 800 rushing yards, 400 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns is very possible for Rice during a potential breakout 2009 campaign.
2008 Stats: 454 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 273 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
2009 Projections: 700-1,100 rushing yards, 5-8 rushing touchdowns, 300-500 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
2. Domenik Hixon – New York Giants (25) – WR
With Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer gone, Hixon should step right into a starting wide receivers roll for the 2009 season. With a solid running game that defenses will be paying extra attention to, and a pro-bowl quarterback throwing him the ball, Hixon should post a career year in 2009. Entering the season, Hixon is worthy of being drafted as a top 40 overall fantasy football wide receiver. If he does breakout as expected, Hixon has the potential to end the 2009 season as a top 25 overall fantasy football wide receiver.
2008 Stats: 43 receptions, 596 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 70 receptions, 800-1,000 receiving yards, 5-8 touchdowns
3. Felix Jones – Dallas (22) – RB
Entering the 2009 season fully healthy, the lightening quick Jones could be the Cowboys version of Chris Johnson for the Titans. With Marion Barber getting most if not all of the goal line carries, Jones will likely not score many touchdowns during the 2009 season. However after averaging 8.9 yards per carry over 30 rushing attempts last season, Jones will enter the 2009 season as a constant homerun threat much like Chris Johnson. A 1,000 yard rushing season could be in store, so for fantasy football leagues who score yardage heavily, Jones is an ideal mid-round pick.
2008 Stats: 266 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
2009 Projections: 800-1,000 rushing yards, 4-6 rushing touchdowns, 200-400 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns
4. Sidney Rice – Minnesota (23) – WR
As the popular theme goes, Rice will be entering the typical 3rd year breakout season for wide receivers. Armed with a new quarterback in Sage Rosenfels, or possibly even Brett Favre, Rice could easily emerge into the top 30 overall fantasy football wide receivers for the 2009 season. Be prepared to gamble on Rice late in your fantasy football draft this year.
2008 Stats: 15 receptions, 141 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 65 receptions, 700-900 receiving yards, 4-8 touchdowns
5. Joe Flacco – Baltimore (24) – QB
After exceeding expectations in his rookie season last year, Flacco enters the 2009 season with rising expectations. And while the Ravens receiving corps isn’t exactly great, players like Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Todd Heap and the newly signed LJ Smith, should provide some reliable veteran options for Flacco in the passing game. Expecting another leap in production from Flacco this season is very likely, as he could approach 20 passing touchdowns and 200 rushing yards. In terms of a stream starting backup quarterback option, Flacco is an ideal candidate.
2008 Stats: 2,971 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes, 12 interceptions, 180 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
2009 Projections: 3,100 passing yards, 15-20 touchdown passes, 10-15 interceptions, 200 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
6. Rashard Mendenhall – Pittsburgh (22) – RB
After an early season injury limited Mendenhall to just 19 rushing attempts in 4 games, he will be looking to bounce back and take over the power running game that the Steelers employ. With plenty of goal line carries likely, Mendenhall could be a force to rack up 8 plus rushing touchdowns during the 2009 season. Just don’t expect more than 800 rushing yards.
2008 Stats: 58 rushing yards, 0 rushing touchdowns, 17 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
2009 Projections: 600-800 rushing yards, 8-12 rushing touchdowns, 100 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
7. Nate Burleson – Seattle (28) – WR
After tearing his ACL in the first game of the season last year, Burleson will be looking to bounce back fully healthy for the 2009 season. Teaming up with TJ Houshmandzadeh should open up a lot of coverage’s for Burleson. And as long as Matt Hasselbeck remains healthy, Burleson should have a solid bounce back year in 2009.
2008 Stats: 5 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
2009 Projections: 60 receptions, 600-900 receiving yards, 4-8 touchdowns
8. Byron Leftwich – Tampa Bay (29) – QB
Once a top young up and coming quarterback, Leftwich at age 29 for the 2009 season, will look to reestablish himself as a starting NFL quarterback with the Buccaneers this season. After showcasing his talent last year in Pittsburgh, there should be little doubt that Leftwich is ready for another opportunity to be a starter. With just Luke McCown and rookie Josh Freeman challenging him for the job, I see no reason why Leftwich shouldn’t emerge as the Buccaneers starting QB for the 2009 season. With Antonio Bryant and Kellen Winslow in the passing game, to go along with a solid mix at running back including Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham, Leftwich could easily enjoy some success this season. 15 passing touchdowns is a very realistic possibility.
2008 Stats: 303 passing yards, 2 touchdown passes, 0 interceptions, 7 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
2009 Projections: 2,800 passing yards, 14-16 touchdown passes, 5-10 interceptions, 100 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns
9. Patrick Crayton – Dallas (30) – WR
With Terrell Owens finally out of town, Crayton should take full advantage of being an every game starter alongside Roy Williams. After posting three consecutive seasons of 516, 697, and 550 receiving yards, Crayton should be a reliable and proven late round WR pick for fantasy football teams in 2009. A career year is very possible.
2008 Stats: 39 receptions, 550 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 60 receptions, 600-900 receiving yards, 4-8 touchdowns
10. Ahmad Bradshaw – New York Giants (23) – RB
Bradshaw a former 7th round draft pick in the 2007 NFL draft, could be a steal for fantasy football teams in 2009. With Derrick Ward out of town, Bradshaw will assume the #2 backup running back job behind Brandon Jacobs this season. Boasting a 6.1 yards per rushing attempt average over 90 carries during his two year career, Bradshaw could be an exceptional late round backup running back pick for fantasy football teams. Not to mention the Giants feature an outstanding offensive line, and Brandon Jacobs always seems to be injured for at least a couple games throughout the season.
2008 Stats: 355 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 42 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
2009 Projections: 500-800 rushing yards, 3-6 rushing touchdowns, 150-250 receiving yards, 2-4 receiving touchdowns
11. Matt Hasselbeck – Seattle (34) – QB
He’s not a sleeper in terms of posting a breakout or career year, but in terms of overall fantasy football draft position, Hasselbeck could easily be one of the best last round sleeper picks at QB during the 2009 season. After fighting through injuries last season and managing to play in just 7 games, Hasselbeck had been coming off of a career year in 2007 that included 3,966 passing yards and 28 passing touchdowns. A return to 20 plus touchdown passes during the 2009 season is extremely likely. So don’t pass on Hasselbeck late in your draft, as he could prove to be a top 10 overall fantasy football quarterback by the end of the 2009 season.
2008 Stats: 1,216 passing yards, 5 touchdown passes, 10 interceptions, 69 rushing yards
2009 Projections: 2,800-3,500 passing yards, 18-26 touchdown passes, 10-15 interceptions, 80 rushing yards
12. Alex Smith – New England (27) – TE
At age 27 for the 2009 season, a move to New England and a quarterback named Tom Brady, could lead Smith to a career year in 2009. If you are choosing between Alex Smith and Ben Watson for your fantasy football team, I would go with Smith, as he has a higher ceiling in terms of receiving yards and touchdowns.
2008 Stats: 21 receptions, 250 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 40-50 receptions, 400-600 receiving yards, 4-6 touchdowns
13. TJ Duckett – Seattle (28) – RB
With a healthy Matt Hasselbeck back under center for the 2009 season, and a bolstered receiving corps with the addition of TJ Houshmandzadeh and the returns of Nate Burleson and Deion Branch, Seattle’s offense should position itself nicely for a good amount of goal line touchdown opportunities during the 2009 season. Playing six games against poor defenses including St. Louis, San Francisco and Arizona, as well as a home matchup against Detroit during the 2009 season, Duckett could easily tally 10 plus touchdowns this year. His yardage will remain extremely low, as anything above 400 rushing yards seems highly unlikely.
2008 Stats: 174 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 0 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
2009 Projections: 250 rushing yards, 8-12 rushing touchdowns, 25-50 receiving yards, 0 receiving touchdowns
14. Earl Bennett – Chicago (22) – WR
With a year of NFL experience under his belt, Bennett could breakout in year two with the Bears. Teaming up with his former college quarterback, Bennett and Jay Cutler could form a potent tandem in Chicago during the 2009 season. Be prepared to take a flyer on Bennett late in your draft, or earlier if it is a keeper league.
2008 Stats: 0 receptions, 0 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 45 receptions, 400-700 receiving yards, 2-6 touchdowns
15. Anthony Fasano – Miami (25) – TE
Fasano a former 2nd round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2006 draft, finally lived up to his high draft status last season in his first year with the Miami Dolphins. After posting a career high 454 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns last year, Fasano has enough potential to actually increase his stats during the 2009 season. Entering the 2009 season, Fasano is an easy top 20 overall ranked fantasy football tight end. However given his age and role in the Dolphins offense, he could easily be a late round steal for fantasy football teams, as Fasano could end the 2009 season as a top 10 overall fantasy football tight end.
2008 Stats: 34 receptions, 454 receiving yards, 7 touchdowns
2009 Projections: 40-50 receptions, 400-600 receiving yards, 4-8 touchdowns