Sleeper: Contrary to popular published articles on sleepers, a sleeper is a player picked much lower than his estimated value, often falling through the cracks into the latter half of drafts everywhere. This is not to be confused with confident sports writers attempts to sound good by putting players that are expected to be good in their very own sleeper category. They are called sleepers for a reason. Expectations are low, ages are young, or their best years are supposedly either ahead of, or behind them. These are sleepers who could do some dirty damage on Fantasy rosters everywhere.
Dwayne Bowe: I think Bowe has Anquan Boldin type potential. He’s big and strong, so it’ll be easier for him to become a force in the NFL. His teams potential to suck is getting higher and higher the longer Larry Johnson’s contract situation stays a situation. If the Chiefs don’t have LJ to rely on, expect Huard and or Croyle to throw the ball a lot more, and Bowe will be the #1 option the more the Chiefs lose. I think he has #1 receiver potential in the next few years, and could be a nice spot starter. That being said, he’s on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues right now, and won’t get drafted in a lot of formats. Late in the season will be his time. Projections: 60 receptions, 800yards, 6TDs.
Jamal Lewis: While Lewis has never been a touchdown scorer (only season in double digits was his 2,066 yard 2003 performance that netted him 14 scores) and not much of a pass catcher (more than 32 catches only once) I still think Lewis will be a force this year. People are already writing off Lewis as if he’s a 30 something back with nothing left. Well, Lewis (only 27) had bone spurs in his ankle removed this off season, and Cleveland’s offensive line is actually much improved with Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas added and LeCharles Bentley set to return. Lewis is being picked in the low end #3 RB position, but he’ll be a top 20 guy at season’s end. Projections: 1,280 yards, 9TDs.
Brandon Jackson: I actually like Vernand Morency, but I have a feeling Brandon Jackson’s speed and cutting ability is too perfect for Green Bay’s offense not to become the #1 guy in the first couple weeks. Jackson’s speed and shiftiness will give him plenty of touches. You can still get him late in drafts, so take a chance on a guy who could get starter numbers and minutes. That’s a rarity late in drafts. Projections: 1,080 yards, 7 TDs, 250 receiving yards.
Jason Campbell: People say Jason Campbell just doesn’t have the weapons to be a quality fantasy quarterback, but I just don’t belive that at all. Santana Moss is a quarterback’s best friend, a guy who turns 5 yard stops into 45 yard touchdowns, and has been known to take over games from time to time. Ladel Betts and Clinton Portis are both extremely talented running backs who will demand defenses’ attention all season long. Brandon Lloyd and Antwaan Randle El both have the quickness to produce at #2 and 3, but I’m not really excited about them. Chris Cooley is a playmaker at TE, expect him to be good. Besically, Campbell showed last year that he is an accurate passer with leadership skills. He’s a solid #2 and could slip into the Top 12 quarterback list. His upside is good. Projections: 3,200 yards, 20 TDs, 10 interceptions, 200 rushing yards.
Brandon Marshall: Marshall had all but 3 of his 20 receptions in the last 6 games of 2007. Most of his touches came after Jay Cutler entered the starting spot. Marshall has all the physical tools to become a great option next to Javon Walker in a Broncos offense that looks to be much improved this season. Rod Smith is still lingering, but injury problems will almost surely give Marshall the spot. Marshall often gets undrafted, and rarely goes before the 14th round. Take a chance on him, then, you won’t find a guy with a bigger upside that late on draft day. Projections: 68 receptions, 940 yards, 4TDs.
D.J. Hackett: Many people out there are expecting D.J. to be the #2 receiver, taking Deion Branch’s job, as Branch takes the #1 spot left by Darrell Jackson’s trade to San Francisco. I think D-Hack becomes the #1. The Hawks brass has to have realized by now that Hackett has all the tools to become the #1 guy. His route running is improved and his hands are flawless. This guy will be good. He’s on a lot of sleeper lists, but I didn’t want to miss out on his skills. I think he’s going to be even better than many are projecting. Projections: 75 receptions, 1,050 yards, 7 TDs.
Jeff Garcia: Ugly Jeffy’s days of Fantasy dominance (2000 and 20001 numbers are ridiculous) are over, but I still think he becomes a solid #2 option in Tampa Bay. Realize that Jeff has never thrown less than a 60% completion rate in the West Coast Offense, and tossed atleast 18 touchdowns 4 times in his career. Tampa Bay’s offense gets no love, but Joey Galloway is still very good, Cadillac Williams is a top level talent, and their offensive line is improved this season. Garcia will find 20 touchdowns again, as Jon Gruden has his faith in the former 49er signal caller. Projections: 3,100 yards, 21 TDs, 8 interceptions, 180 rushing yards.
Marcus Pollard: Pollard doesn’t get drafted in any fantasy league outside of Seattle, and that’s because he’s damn near grandpa status. Well, he plays in a Seattle offense that made Itula Mili and offensive threat, and I imagine this sure-handed TE will get the lions share of passes. Jeremy Stevens dropped at least a pass or two per game, and I don’t expect Pollard to drop a pass. Pollard may not have the skills that Stevens had, but his sure hands will be a blessing for Matt Hasselbeck. Projections: 50 receptions, 555 yards, 5 TDs.
Daniel Graham: I don’t have many stats to back this selection up, except I’m often the last guy to pick a tight end in every draft that I participate in, and I often get Graham. He’s very talented, a great blocker to boot, which means defenses can’t load up on the pass when he’s in the game. Predictions: 63 receptions, 640 yards, 5TDs.
J.P. Losman: Losman is a borderline sleeper, and I’m only throwing him in here because he’s getting drafted behind 5 or 6 guys he’ll outscore in 2007. First of all, the Bills will need to score more points to be in games in ’07 because their defense is that much worse this year. With Lynch being a much better receiving threat that Willis McGahee, and Lee Evans being one year better, Losman, in my opinion, is a starter in fantasy football 12 team leagues. He’ll outscore Brett Favre, Matt Leinart, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, and Chad Pennington – all guys who get drafted ahead of him. Does that make him a sleeper? I guess so, but only because people are waiting until late to take him. Projections: 3,350 yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 150 rushing yards.
Ronald Curry: Curry has battled knee injuries since he became an NFL player. But when he has played, he’s been a point scorer in fantasy football. Last season, Curry’s first full season since his rookie year, he caught 62 balls for 727 yards, and played well enough for the Raiders to waive goodbye to Randy Moss. Curry wasn’t a scorer last season, but who on the Raiders was? In Lane Kiffin’s new offense, I expect Curry to greatly out-produce his numbers last year, as well as the rest of the receivers chosen (around Round 13) where Curry is being selected. Projections: 75 receptions, 980 yards, 5 TDs.
Olindo Mare: Olindo has always been a good kicker, even in the confines of windy Dolphins Stadium. This year, in the Saints prolific offense, Mare will easily become a Top 5 kicker. Already this season, I have selected Mare in the last round of two drafts. He’s not highly rated, but expect big things from him in New Orleans. Projections: 24/27 FGs, 50 XPs, 123 total points.
Carolina Panthers Defense: With two very good defensive ends in Mike Rucker and Julius Peppers, plus a rookie pass rusher in Charles Johnson and a solid group of tackles to boot (especially if Kris Jenkins stays a Panther), this Panther front could be awesome. Jon Beason comes in to make the linebackers a tougher and deeper unit, and Dan Morgan should be back to give Carolina more pop. Chris Gamble, Richard Marshall, and a healthy Ken Lucas will form one of the best cornerback trios in the league. I think Carolina, who is rarely being picked in the Top 10, will be a Top 5 defense in 2007.
Below is a list of players who are on many Sleeper lists who aren’t sleepers at all, because they’re getting drafted high enough to be just regular good players.
Santonio Holmes: Still getting picked too low, Holmes doesn’t belong on the sleeper list because he’s not a sleeper. He’s on everyone’s radar, as any 2nd year receiver who eclipsed 800 yards in his rookie season should be. Holmes is more of a sure thing than a sleeper.
Mark Clayton: MC is coming into his 3rd season, and he played like a stud in his sophomore campaign (67rec, 939yds, 5TDs), so his status as a sleeper is over. He’ll be really good this year, and is getting selected in Round 7 on average. He’s the #1 target in an offense with a very good running game. Defenses will go 1 on 1 with Clayton, who is too fast and runs perfect routes. Wide open spaces. Not a sleeper.
Braylon Edwards: Just like Mark, Edwards is coming into his 3rd season and was a borderline #2 receiver much of last season, finishing with 61 grabs, 884 yards, and 6TDs. Those aren’t bad numbers for a soph. He’ll be good, even in a bad aerial attack in Cleveland. Status: Way past sleeper.
Jerious Norwood: Norwood averaged just under 6.5 yards per carry last season, finishing with 633 yards on just 99 carries. He only scored twice, but is in line to get almost twice the touches in 2007. Those kind of numbers, and a possible starting spot with Warrick Dunn’s age becoming a question, and Norwood has eleveated himself past sleeper status. He’s still a chance to take on draft day, as is every Falcon, but I’d rather have him than any other player in the ATL.
DeAngelo Williams: This young rusher gets chosen somewhere in the first 5 rounds of most drafts. What does that mean? He’s not a sleeper. He could become a starter in fantasy leagues everywhere, which means those taking him late are ready to reap the benefits, but to say this 1st round pick of 2006 is a sleeper is like saying that Frank Gore walking into a starting spot in SF was a sleeper last year. Guys like this are everyone’s sleeper. That means he’s not a sleeper.
Jon Kitna: I’ve seen this guy get selected in the Top 6. Last year he was the 7th rated quarterback at season’s end. What do those two things equal out to be? Not a sleeper, that’s for sure. Kitna will have a nice season, but don’t believe fantasy writers who claim Kitna’s a sleeper – the next thing you know Manning will be on their sleeper list.
Jay Cutler: This guy did great in his 5 starts, throwing for 9 scores and only 5 interceptions while compiling 1001 yards. When you add the fact that the Broncos picked up a #1 running back, instead of their platoon, you can bet Cutler will fire up the fantasy engine. This is his 2nd season, but don’t believe the guys who say he’ll greatly increase his 2006 stats. No shit. He only played 5 games. Don’t believe the hype, he’s no sleeper.