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Sleeper receivers: Check out Steve Johnson

10/25/2010

Although Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt had the signature fantasy performance for his position in Week 7 (with the Monday night game remaining), there were a number of other outings that certainly deserve our attention. With six teams on bye in Week 8 and not much on the free-agent wire at quarterback and running back, it appears the wide receiver spot will be a popular destination for desperate owners, and we'll see waiver pickups starting at many a flex spot.

We all know who Roddy White, Lee Evans and Hines Ward are, but here are a few of the lesser-known yet widely available wide receivers who produced on Sunday:

Steve Johnson, Bills: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has three consecutive games with 20 or more fantasy points, and, until Sunday, Lee Evans wasn't the one putting up the big receiving numbers. Johnson is available in 85.5 percent of leagues despite having scored five touchdowns in four games. He had little trouble exploiting the Ravens secondary in racking up 158 receiving yards, topping 66 yards for the first time. I believe the Bills defense is so awful that Fitzpatrick & Co. will need to throw at this rate each week. Evans is owned in 65 percent of leagues, but his younger colleague is a better option.

Jordan Shipley, Bengals: The third-round pick wasn't expected to make a major contribution this season, in part because this isn't a top-flight passing game, as well as because of the presence of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. But in a game in which Carson Palmer eclipsed 400 passing yards for the third time in his career, it was Shipley who led the team in receiving yards (131). Let's not go overboard, however; Shipley caught six passes on as many targets, and Ochocinco (16) and Owens (13) received far more attention. I wouldn't call Shipley, owned in 2.5 percent of ESPN leagues, a good pickup just yet, not unless T.O. or Ochocinco gets hurt.

David Gettis, Panthers: He hadn't topped three fantasy points in a game this season, so his 24-point outburst certainly comes as a surprise. I'm not recommending Matt Moore as a fantasy option -- hey, he's no Fitzpatrick! -- but having Steve Smith back in the lineup should help whichever receiver the quarterback looks to. Gettis takes the lead for playing time over Brandon LaFell and recent acquisition Devin Thomas, and he could become valuable in deeper leagues. I'm buying low on Smith -- and keeping an eye on Gettis.

James Jones, Packers: With Donald Driver dealing with a thigh injury and having been targeted just once Sunday night, Jones caught four passes for 107 yards, his first double-digit fantasy effort of the season. The Packers have problems. The problematic running game definitely has affected quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but this remains an elite passing unit. No Packers wide receivers seem attractive in Week 8 against the New York Jets, but it's looking as if Driver is more flex option than sure fantasy starter moving forward and Jones is a deep-league target.

Davone Bess, Dolphins: It's not all about Brandon Marshall, apparently. Bess scored in Sunday's loss to the Steelers for the third consecutive game, and it's noteworthy that he has six or more receptions in four contests. Marshall does not. Bess is not nearly as valuable, but those in point-per-reception formats should own him already. In ESPN standard leagues, Bess is at 19.5 percent owned, which also feels a bit low. It's pretty clear the Dolphins are not nearly the run-heavy team they were a season ago, as if any Ronnie Brown owner hadn't figured that out already.