Sleepers-Wake up and Draft Them!
Every year, you see lists of sleepers and lists of those who are considered overvalued. I usually don’t pay much attention to true sleepers because they are beaten to death and eventually move from being sleepers to being overrated. Instead, I will classify a sleeper based on average draft position (ADP). For example, MJD in round one is not a good pick (or so it seems right now), but if you somehow draft him in round 5, I would consider that a sleeper pick. Sleeper picks are what separates the contenders from pretenders and can be a big reason why you win a league. I would bet that if you looked at many of the winning rosters from last season, most of them had at least one lower round pick explode. A perfect example of this is Michael Vick from 2010. I picked him in my league extremely late with no expectations. He ended up going nuts for most of the year, including that famous game against the Redskins where he accounted for 6 TDs. He basically made my team unstoppable when healthy. Ironically enough, Vick is one of my more popular sleepers this year as well. He is being drafted quite late and is one of the few backups selected who could end up producing a top-5 season if everything goes according to plan. This obviously is contingent on him staying healthy for a full season, and at this point, that almost seems impossible. However, even if he plays 12 games, he may still outscore many QBs drafted ahead of him. Here are a few other “sleepers” I am keeping tabs on and targeting if the value is right. I will also write about those who are being overvalued tomorrow.
Frank Gore-I know, I know, he is 30 years old and will see a reduced workload. However, I think he is being severely undervalued and will be good for 10+ TDs when healthy. He plays behind perhaps the league’s best O-Line and now has solid backups so that he isn’t a 300 carry workhorse anymore. The Niners try to keep him fresh as possible and he is usually their goal line back, which is always a bonus. I’ve done mocks where I’ve gotten him after round six, which is just crazy. I would take him in rounds 3-4 and be perfectly happy with him as my RB2.
Justin Blackmon-He is facing a four game suspension due to his troublesome personal life, but he did produce last year after a rocky start. I’ve seen him not even drafted in 12 team mocks. If you can afford to stash him until his suspension is over, you could reap the benefits later in the season. The talent is there, he just needs to stop being a knucklehead. It would also be nice if he hired a full-time driver so that he stops getting DUIs.
Jermichael Finley-I’ve been the victim of believing in Finley’s hype over the past few years, but this is the year I think he finally taps into his potential and delivers a solid fantasy season. He has plummeted in the TE rankings this year and is available at a big discount. If you are one of those who likes to wait on tight ends, he could pay off if you are able to land him later in the draft while everyone else loads up on players such as Kyle Rudolph and Greg Olsen.
DeAndre Hopkins-I just have a hunch that Hopkins is going to be an absolute stud. Up until his recent concussion, he has looked very good for a rookie. He is going to be a big factor in the passing game and there is even a chance he outshines Andre Johnson at some point this season. He is someone I am targeting with a late round pick because if it works out, he could be a true difference-maker and if not, wasting a late round pick isn’t the end of the world.
Mike Wallace-Initially, I was going to steer clear of him this year. However, I’ve seen him take a massive dive in ADP in mocks, so it’s at the point where the reward outweighs the risk. I just drafted him in round 7 of my keeper league, and last year he was a 4th round pick. He is now a backup for me, but can easily produce starter numbers. He is the true #1 WR in Miami, and they paid him a ton of money, so it’s not like they are going to ignore him in the passing game. There are questions about the Miami offense and whether or not he has good chemistry with Tannehill, but if you can get him in the middle rounds, I think it is excellent value. Picking him in rounds 3-4 would be foolish, but I think he qualifies as a sleeper with his current ADP.
Tom Brady-On the surface, seeing his name may make you laugh and think how he could possibly be a sleeper? While I don’t think he challenges Rodgers or Brees for the top spot in the QB rankings, I do think he is being undervalued and over analyzed. I’ve gotten him in mocks as the 8th QB off the board in round 7. He may not throw for 45+ TDs, but I think he is an absolute lock for at least 30+ TDs in the air and a handful on the ground via his patented goal line sneaks. The offense has looked quite good in the preseason, even with the lack of big-name options. Also, don’t discount how the Pats love to run up the score on people. When most times will run the clock out, the Pats love to throw to add insult to injury, so that will add a few TDs to his final tally. If I can land Brady somehow in rounds 6-7, I will take him without thinking twice.