One of the keys to winning your fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. “Sleepers” are NFL players who are drafted in much lower rounds in your fantasy football drafts than their ending statistics warrant. In shopping terms, this is like getting a bottle of Sam Adams Utopias for Budweiser prices. In the fantasy football world, this is the avenue to the league championship. We have seen championships won on the heels of Sleepers every year. They have come out of nowhere to register monster years after being double-digit or waiver wire picks. When you can grab a player at the end of your draft that becomes your number 1 producer at a certain position, you, my friends, have a true Sleeper. Below are a few projected fantasy football sleepers by position for the 2014 season.
2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Jay Cutler (Chicago) – Yes, Cutler seems to be made of cupcakes thanks to his injury history, but that is something that can be overlooked under the right circumstances. It was obvious last year that the hype about coach Marc Trestman’s offensive prowess was warranted. Cutler put up great numbers until he was hurt just past the midway point in the season and Josh McCown didn’t miss a beat (the pair combining for 4450 yards and 32 TDs). With more time under center and absorbing the playbook, you can expect even better numbers from this offense this season. You can easily get Cutler around the 10th round since most of the teams in your league will scoop up the top 7 QBs early and will opt for rolling the dice with the likes of Nick Foles and RG3 before looking at the emotionless veteran.
Also consider: Josh McCown (Tampa), Ryan Fitzpatrick (HOU)
RB: Terrance West (Cleveland) – Thanks to Johnny Football, no position outside of QB is getting any attention in Cleveland even thouh they added a lot of new faces at the skill positions. At RB, they grabbed Ben Tate to be their starter but they also moved up in the draft to grab West. Tate has had a history of injuries so there is no way he becomes a full-time workhorse, especially when he is in a Kyle Shanahan offense that will have a QB recovering from an ACL injury or a rookie learning how to play the position. Because of those factors, West will see lots of carries, RB1 carries when Tate inevitably goes down. Word from training camp is that West has shown very good hands, much better than Tate, so that will get him more reps as well. You could let someone else grab Tate in the 4th round and then pounce on his handcuff in round 8.
Also consider: Dexter McCluster (TENN), Jeremy Hill (CIN)
WR: Brandin Cooks (New Orleans) – It is an inexact science to pick Saints’ receivers since Drew Brees enjoys spreading the ball around, but there are a LOT of points to be shared. It has become painfully obvious that Marques Colston has significantly declined and Lance Moore is now on the Steelers. Coach Sean Payton loves Cooks’ versatility and will work him into the offense on the outside, in the slot, returning kicks and even in the backfield. He isn’t big, checking in at 5′ 10″ and 189lbs but he is quick. Rookie WRs are rarely consistent and often disappoint, but the upside is too great to let him slide past the 9th round.
Also consider: Emmanuel Sanders (DEN), Justin Hunter (TENN)
TE: Ladarius Green (San Diego) – the Tight End is a position that is very deep and turns out Sleepers year-in and year-out. Green saw his playing time significantly increase last season as Philip Rivers aired the ball out quite a bit and Green took Looks away from an aging Antonio Gates. Gates is still around, but Green is a beast at 6’6″, 240lbs, yet he flashed 4.5 speed. He proved that he was a big play threat in the middle of the field by logging 22.1 yards per catch. He is a lock for double-digit rounds and has the potential for getting you similar stats to TEs drafted many rounds earlier.
Also consider: Eric Ebron (DET), Zach Ertz (PHIL)
D: New England Patriots – The Patriots D rarely gets any props with Tom Terrific on the other side of the ball, but this unit is the key to success this season for New England. They lost some key players last season to injury that are back, such as DT Tommy Kelly, added some key players through the draft, such as DT Dominique Easley, and filled the remaining holes through free agency, most notably with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Add these players to Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich, Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty and this is a unit that could almost overshadow the offense.
Also consider: Denver
K: Robbie Gould (Chicago) – Considering kickers should not be taken before the last two rounds, I have a hard time filling in a kicker as one of the fantasy football Sleepers. However, Gould is consistently one of the last kickers taken and is about as automatic as you can get when it comes to kickers, even when playing half his games outdoors in the Windy City. Chicago’s offense will be damn near unstoppable this season and Gould will have more even opportunities to ply his trade.
Also consider: Matt Bryant (ATL)