A "sleeper" in an NFL fantasy draft is a player who will far surpass his average draft position (ADP) during the season. This could be someone picked from a later-round or a middle-of-the-road type value who grows to become a regular starter, consistently earning returns for your team. The trick is figuring out who these types of players are.
What makes a "sleeper pick" in an NFL Fantasy Draft so unique is that you have to be one of the few people who recognize it's someone who is being overlooked. Sometimes that exercise is easier said than done.
A perfect example is a talent like Alvin Kamara from last season. Kamara ranked behind both Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson so experts didn't have him on their radar for running backs. Yet, he went onto win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and finished with over 1,500 yards of total offense. He paid off huge for anyone who took him.
In an effort to help you find the best impact players and draft values, we've put together a list of a few picks you should keep your eyes on as your draft rolls along.
All anyone could talk about this summer was Redskins former quarterback Kirk Cousins moving to Minnesota. Lost in the noise of that deal is Alex Smith who had a career-high 26 touchdowns last season and threw for over 4,000 yards.
Fantasy players shouldn't underestimate Smith's receiving corps that includes Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Paul Richardson. Some fantasy experts are suggesting he'll have similar production to quarterbacks like Cousins, Cam Newton, and Carson Wentz. At an ADP of 128, he's worth picking up, especially if you like drafting QB's.
Many are penciling in rookie Royce Freeman for the starting role in Denver. That's likely what will happen. That doesn't mean you should ignore Devonte Booker who has proven himself to be a capable receiver, especially if you have a late round pick available. He averaged 9.2 yards per reception last season and should the Broncos lean on him a bit more than they have in the past, he could put your team over the top.
Some cheat sheets have him ranked higher than running backs like Kerryon Johnson, Ronald Jones, and Isaiah Crowell. That's just too good to ignore. Our only advice is don't bank on him or take him too early. This is a late round pick at best.
Tyler Lockett is an easy player to like at his ADP of No. 156 or lower. In Seattle, Jimmy Graham is gone and the last time he was out, Lockett regularly scored at least nine fantasy points when points-per-reception aren't factored in.
Seattle has the unenviable task of trying to replace 20 receiving touchdowns from last season and they could look to Lockett to make up for some of that loss. It's not unfathomable that Lockett could end up as the No. 1 receiver for Russell Wilson at some point this year. Someone has to score touchdowns for the Seahawks. It might as well be Lockett.
If you're comfortable drafting a player who will miss the first two games of the season thanks to a suspension, then you could pick up someone at a lower value than he deserves to be based on what he'll produce upon his return.
Jones carried the ball 81 times for 448 yards and four touchdowns for Green Bay as a rookie in 2017. He wound up with more yards per carry than either Jamaal Williams or Ty Montgomery. He also produced more first downs and broken tackles.
Williams looks like he's pegged to be the starter for the Packers, but Jones was the better runner during their respective rookie seasons. He may still win the day and he should score despite starting or not.
There's good reason to get excited about the San Francisco 49ers offense in fantasy football this season and George Kittle is one of them. For NFL tight ends, he might be one of the top sleeper picks.
Kittle caught 43 catches for 515 yards and two touchdowns last season. That put him second among rookie tight ends in yardage. He also developed some chemistry with the new quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo.
From Garopplol, Kittle caught 15 of 19 passes for 224 yards. He wound up with 2.6 yards per route run, second best to only New England Patriots Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski. That puts him in some pretty good company.