Fantasy Football 2013: Thursday Night Sleeper Options

By Adam Pfeifer
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports


I honestly don’t know what to think about these Thursday night games.

I mean, look at the first game of the season last week, where plenty of points were scored and Peyton Manning evidently typed in his Madden cheat codes and tossed seven touchdowns. However, for the majority of last season, the Thursday night games were pretty bad for fantasy purposes, but you obviously have to start your studs regardless, which means you aren’t starting any Jets.

Ever. Even if there’s a fire.

But what if you are in a deeper league where you are looking for a few hidden gems? Perhaps you don’t have a choice but to start a member of the Jets. And if you are forced to do so, this week might just be the one to do it. Here are some sleeper options for Thursday’s matchup between the New England Patriots and New York Jets.

Kellen Winslow

Would you look at that? Winslow decided to ditch his walker and crossword puzzles and actually played well for the Jets. Okay, all kidding aside, Winslow did look surprisingly strong on Sunday afternoon, catching seven balls for 79 yards and a score. The veteran and rookie quarterback Geno Smith developed quite a bit of chemistry during their first regular season game together, and with Mark Sanchez’s season officially done, Smith will be under center for the foreseeable future. After looking strong in the preseason, as well as the opener,  Winslow could be a sneaky good tight end option against the Patriots on Thursday night. Only six tight ends scored more fantasy points than Winslow, and in a matchup against the Patriots, the Jets should have to throw an awful lot, which could benefit Winslow, who seems to already be Smith’s favorite weapon (lead team in targets with 8 in Week 1). According to Denny Carter of XN Sports, Winslow ran 31 passing routes, 17 of which came out of the slot. The Jets may have to throw to keep up with Tom Brady, and Winslow could end up being a productive fantasy tight end once again.

Kenbrell Thompkins

Thompkins anticipated debut wasn’t as glorious as many were hoping, but there were definitely some signs of encouragement. First, he saw a very healthy 14 targets, though only four of them were catchable. He also appeared to have some jitters, as he slipped and fell a few times on Sunday. I think he’ll be much better in Week 2, especially with Danny Amendola doubtful to suit up. I always chase volume for my under the radar options, and if you are getting a high volume of looks from a guy like Tom Brady, you have a tremendous chance at producing strong numbers. With Stevan Ridley diagnosed with a case of fumble-itis, I think the Patriots will still show an aggressive, pass-heavy offensive approach, so Thompkins should continue to get plenty of looks. I like Thompkins to bounce back on Thursday night.

Leon Washington

Going really deep here, but considering Shane Vereen is sidelined for the next several weeks with a broken wrist, Washington may have an opportunity to fill in as that role a bit. No, he won’t be nearly as productive, but the team did sign him on Saturday, so they should have plans for him. Washington will probably serve as the team’s pass catching back, considering Ridley has a staggering nine career receptions, while Washington caught a solid 40 balls back in the 2008 season with the Jets. He’s caught 146 in his career. If you are in the deepest of PPR formats, Washington could be a guy that could get you five or six catches. But again, you better be in a very deep league to even think about starting the veteran.

Stephen Hill

Hill has the combination of size (6’4″, 215 lbs) and speed (4.30) that many wideouts would dream of. Of course, the quarterback situation in New York has limited him, as well as some health issues. However. Hill is healthy now, and despite a quite stat line in Week 1 (6 catches, 39 yards), Hill was targeted a strong nine times. He has a terrific chance to emerge as the best Jets receiver on Thursday night, as Jeremy Kerley sidelined for this contest. I think the Jets will have to throw often to keep up with the likes of Brady and company, and as long as there is volume, Hill has the talent and athleticism to capitalize. The Patriots secondary is pretty suspect, and very capable of surrendering the big plays.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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