So, you wanna know how to spot a sleeper, eh?
It ain’t that hard. How long did it take you to find the sleeper in the picture above? Maybe half a second?
Oh, that’s not what we’re referring to now, is it? However, like the example above, it’s not that hard. Yes, if we went through my arsenal of statistical analysis, you’d probably fall asleep too. But there is one simple trick I use that you can too: Grab the guys from teams expected to make the little noise this season.
One great way is to look at the Vegas books. Fortunately for you, I have just returned from Vegas and seven teams are listed as 100-1 shots or higher. They include CLE, SF, LAR, CHI, JAX, NYJ, and BUF. Let’s break this down by position and see if we can maybe find a sleeper or two from those teams.
9 Great Ways To Spot A Fantasy Football Sleeper
Fantasy Football Sleeper: Quarterback
Tyrod Taylor is not a sleeper. Everyone knows he can run and a running QB can be Fantasy gold. Cleveland, San Francisco, and the Jets are landmines at quarterback. Of the remaining three teams, there is one that stands out above the others.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
For example, did you know that Bortles was 10th in completions? And it wasn’t just dink and dunk completions either. Did you know he had more passing yards per game than Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, or Marcus Mariota? Or, what if we consider the all important stat of touchdowns? He had more touchdowns–both passing and rushing than Russel Wilson.
Furthermore, it probably doesn’t surprise you that Jacksonville was in the Top 12 for most dropped passes last year as well. Don’t expect the Bortles of 2015 to happen this year. But somewhere closer to 2015 than 2016 is absolutely reasonable.
If you were burned by Bortles last year, I can understand you might want a second option. As I detailed in my breakout QB piece, Jared Goff is not a bad choice.
Fantasy Football Sleeper: Running Back
Bilal Powell and Matt Forte are not below anyone’s radar. Looking at the other team, LeSean McCoy is a Top 5 RB, Jordan Howard is often going in the first round, and Carlos Hyde might be a bust but others say he is a stud. Todd Gurley is coming off a down year, but he often goes in the second round. The second round is not exactly sleeper territory. Isaiah Crowell is getting a lot of attention. Leonard Fournette is also an early second rounder. So who’s left?
Well, there are two backs that are going after one of their backfield mates that I would consider: Duke Johnson and Jonathan Williams. Let’s start with the latter.
Jonathan Williams, Buffalo Bills
- Fact: LeSean McCoy played 16 games last year, which was the first time he had done so in four years
- Fact: LeSean McCoy has never had more than 314 carries
- Opinion: Something tells me that Jonathan Williams is going to get a bunch of carries this year
Williams is already looking strong this preseason. There is no need to expound on Williams; next sleeper option.
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns
I think Duke Johnson is actually going to get fewer carries than Williams, but it won’t matter. Johnson is such a receiving threat, he could get less than 100 carries and still be worthy of a Flex play in a PPR league.
He has topped over 500 yards in each of his first two seasons. His receptions and yards per game went up from his first year to his second. 70 receptions and over 1,000 combined yards are certainly attainable. Given his current ADP, that is absolutely sleeper material.
Fantasy Football Sleeper: Wide Receiver
We will steal from Al Gore and point out an inconvenient truth: Despite an absolute shituation at QB, a wide receiver can still have a Fantasy worthy year. Look at Adam Thielen from last year, for example.
And let’s not pull any punches–the Jets are going to be bad this year. They might even be historically bad. I bypassed them in the two earlier sections, but there are definitely some intriguing options at wide receiver for Gang Green. For one, as we said, the Jets are going to be bad which means they are going to be playing from behind a lot. That means a lot of throwing (and hopefully catching) the ball. Gone is Brandon Marshall and his 128 targets. Had I written this piece a few months ago, I’d say Eric Decker would be the beneficiary, but he is gone too. Which means there are over 100 targets to go around.
And had I written this piece even a few weeks ago, that might be it. But wait, we are not done yet. Quincy Enunwa suffered a season ending injury in late July. That leaves at least his 100-plus targets too. I’d like to introduce you to Robby Anderson….
Robby Anderson, New York Jets
Robby Anderson quietly had 42 receptions for 587 receiving yards last year as the Jets’ WR4. As the WR1, he should easily improve on those numbers.
Anderson has blazing speed (he ran a 4.36 40 at his pro day). However, what I think I like most about the highlights above is that Anderson seems to make tough catch after tough catch. As we know, the quarterback situation will be shaky but you get the feeling that Anderson can grab anything in his vicinity. Given that the Jets will be facing a lot of eight and nine men in the box, don’t be surprised if Anderson only has to beat man-to-man coverage. Anderson could be the most talked about Jet since Commander Sullivan landed in the Hudson.
But there is a still a team or two we haven’t talked about that also has a river running through downtown … da Bears!
Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears
What’s a guy have to do to get a little respect? Despite four 100-yard games as part of a nearly 900-yard season and 66 balls hauled in, Cameron Meredith is still only being drafted after the century pick mark. I know it might be a rough season in the Windy City, but it would be a mistake to blow by Meredith.
How to Spot a Sleeper: Tight End
I’ll get straight to it because I covered both of these previously. I’m sure the rest of the SCFE experts are so sick of hearing me “plant my flag” on this guy–Chicago Bears TE Adam Shaheen (who I also featured in my TE sleepers) and New York Jets TE Jordan Leggett. But there is one more to keep on your radar, who appears in my depth chart piece: George Kittle
Kittle probably won’t start in Week 1, but he might be another sleeper right in front of us.
How to Spot a Sleeper: Kicker
I said this in my Kicker Rankings, but Greg Zuerlein is a Top 12 kicker often not even ranked in the Top 25! Consider this: Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein was one of only five kickers who hit 100% of his extra points. This past year his longest FG was “only” 54 yards compared to the 61 he had the previous year. Also, Zuerlein hit 86% of his FG attempts and was 100% from less than 40 yards. Should he be the first kicker grabbed? No. But you want a sleeper? He’s a Top 10 kicker.
|2017 Fantasy Football Draft Kit|
|Positional Rankings | Sleepers | Busts | Player Analysis | Strategy | Preseason Analysis | Mock Drafts | Tools|
Now that you knock how to spot a sleeper, you can check out some of the players using the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard. This is a terrific tool that will help you dominate your league, along with So-Called Fantasy Experts, of course.
Latest posts by Mark Strausberg (see all)
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