There are a few effective tools that you can use to help identify the true fantasy football sleepers. We tend not to follow the hype that Matthew Berry, and other folks at ESPN talk about, given the fact that everybody and their mothers watch ESPN. If you find a fantasy football sleeper article on ESPN, NFL.com or Yahoo!, chances are, so has 2/3 of your entire league.
A sleeper is defined as a player who has a decent chance of putting on solid fantasy football numbers, but isn’t on the radar of many owners.
We recommend using the following criteria while identifying who the best fantasy football sleepers are in any given draft.
1. Impact Rookies: Looking at the rookies who were drafted in the first few rounds of the draft is an effective strategy, but you can’t forget about the rookies who fell to the 4th round or later. These players are new to the NFL and their role has yet to be defined. Let’s take 2014 as an example. Many critics and analysts were talking about Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins as “Sleepers”, while their ADP showed they were being drafted as a WR 2 or WR 3. The real “sleepers” in last years draft were Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Landry and Jeremy Hill. Although some rookies (especially WR’s) are typically boom-or-bust week to week, you can find some pretty consistent players depending on the situation.
2. Analyzing Depth Chart: Knowing where each player stands on the depth chart is pivotal in finding some gems in your fantasy draft. If you like a guy who is the 5th WR on the depth chart, but you know that he’s really more like the #3 wideout, it might be worth taking a risk. Knowing where your guy is ranked and where analysts are predicting he will be are two completely different items. Don’t use the depth chart as your only guide, but also don’t forget about it.
3. Beat Writer Favorites: Perhaps nobody in the NFL knows their team better than a beat writer. There are hundreds of beat writers that you can follow on twitter to get insider information, depth chart updates, rumors, news and more. Each NFL team has a few reliable and trustworthy beat writers that you can follow.
4. Offensive Scheme: Knowing the offensive game plan and tendencies of each NFL team is vital. Did your team recently hire a new HC or OC? Will your team be running / passing the ball more than last year? With a guy like Mike Shannahan calling the plays, you can pretty much guarantee that your RB will rush for 1,200 + yards and 10+ TD’s.
5. Injuries: If you know of a player who has the potential to bust out at any given time, but is stuck behind a few solid players on the depth chart, he may be one or two injuries away from fantasy football stardom. Injuries happen all the time in the NFL, and play a pivotal role in every fantasy football season. You can’t predict injuries and you can’t have every backup on your fantasy football team, which is why you need to know how to use the waiver wire.
6. Your Gut: Regardless of what the beat writers are telling you and where people stand on the depth chart, if you like a guy and you just “have a feeling” that someone is on the verge of breaking out, take a risk. There is nothing worse than liking a player, not choosing him, and watch him put up tons of fantasy points for someone else in your league.