In the earlier days of fantasy football. one of the most popular phrases which you don’t hear as much today was the term “sleeper.”
Back then you could find guys who were pretty high draft picks like Chris Chambers of Miami who was considered a “sleeper” because, even though he was a second-round pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, he came from a college that didn’t throw the ball much.
With the advent of Twitter and the 365-day NFL cycle including the rise of best ball, you don’t hear as much about sleepers because everyone is awake on pretty much anyone who might contribute to an NFL team.
Best Ball Fantasy Football: Everything You Need to Know
That being said and for this article, we will consider the term as meaning players who can be drafted in the final two rounds of best ball drafts, meaning the field could be sleeping on the “opportunity” these players have to help win best ball tournaments.
The slow season after the NFL Draft is a great opportunity to build exposure to these types of sleepers.
Once camp starts and players with talent flash the opportunity, many of these cheap windows will expire.
Use these players in longer-running contests like Best Ball Mania 4 on Underdog Fantasy as you want the advantage you gain now to pay off if ADP on these players rises during camp and the preseason.
In shorter running contests you won’t gain the advantage we want by targeting sleepers as much.
Keep in mind players drafted late are there for a reason. There are either serious questions about their talent or their role.
Some of these players will not help your teams but what we are trying to do is gain real leverage late in drafts on a few teams to hopefully take us to the big money in these top-heavy payout tournaments.
Quarterback Sleepers: Sam Howell, Desmond Ridder
Howell and Ridder both have serious questions about their ability, and Howell has a very solid backup in Jacoby Brissett behind him. That is why they go late in drafts.
What we want to do in this instance is ask some questions:
- What if the player surprises and shows enough ability?
- If so do they have the weapons to maximize if they surprise?
- Do they have the running upside we also crave to give them a solid floor?
Both Howell and Ridder meet these criteria, and because there are questions about QB play, you also get a discount on the weapons with no receiver on either team going in the first four rounds.
Running Back Sleepers: Pierre Strong, Ty Chandler, Malik Davis
I will throw out three names I have come around on, two of whom were players whose college tape I liked. At the top of that list is Strong.
When given the opportunity last year, Strong outplayed Kevin Harris, New England’s other rookie.
While James Robinson is now there, I believe Strong brings better pass game chops and could offer a solid floor with upside should Rhamondre Stevenson get hurt.
With the imminent release of Dalvin Cook, I like Chandler as a deep sleeper.
He followed up good college tape with a very solid preseason, and Alexander Mattison hasn’t proven he can be a lead back, giving Chandler significant upside should he be able to outplay Mattison.
My third player is Davis of the Cowboys.
We know the Cowboys want to limit Tony Pollard’s touches, and Davis is the next man up to have a nice role.
Of the three I worry the most about this situation as it wouldn’t surprise me if a vet like Leonard Fournette is added
Wide Receiver Sleepers: Chase Claypool, Tank Dell, John Metchie, Khalil Shakir, Cedric Tillman
Claypool was being drafted in the sixth round after a stellar rookie season. We know he has the talent but he hasn’t shown it lately.
The assumption we are betting against here is that because Claypool didn’t show out after the trade last year he won’t this year. But if Justin Fields improves, he throws a nice deep ball and I very much like Claypool in the last round of drafts
Other names to consider at WR are Dell and Metchie of the Texans, Shakir of the Bills, and Tillman of the Browns.
All of them are talented players who currently seem blocked of opportunity other than Metchie, who is the likely slot and was a high draft pick last year.
Tight End Sleepers: Isaiah Likely, Jelani Woods
My two favorite late tight ends are Likely of the Ravens and Woods of the Colts.
Both players did everything you would want to see of small school TEs as a rookie and both showed high-end talent.
There are other safer options late, but these are the two players I think could CRUSH ADP if things fall right for them.
Finding sleepers is hard in today’s world, but the benefit of doing the research and putting markers on the edges you find is it can pay off in a big way.
This is part of a best ball strategy series from expert best ball player Tod Burros.