What is a sleeper in fantasy football?

    What are sleeper picks in fantasy football, and why should fantasy managers care about finding them in their fantasy drafts?

    What is a sleeper in fantasy football?

    The term “sleeper” has been around since the beginning of fantasy football. Every year, you can find countless articles and Twitter threads on everyone’s favorite sleeper picks. For those new to fantasy football, this may seem very foreign. What are sleeper picks, and why do they matter in fantasy football drafts?

    What is a sleeper in fantasy football, and why should you care about them?

    The term “sleeper” pick stemmed from the phrase “don’t sleep on” when referring to a person who shouldn’t be underestimated. In its simplest form, a sleeper pick is a player selected in the later rounds of a fantasy football draft that the fantasy community is not valuing properly.

    We will drop the majority of the players we draft in the second half of fantasy football drafts within a few weeks. Unless this is your first year getting into fantasy football, you can take a look at drafts from last season. How many players taken Round 8 or later remained on rosters throughout the season? Not many, right?

    In looking for players that were dropped, you may also notice some players that went on to have tremendous years. Those are the sleeper picks we’re looking for.

    No one ever won their league getting par value from every player. If every player you draft returns the value of the round you drafted him in, congratulations, you’ve locked up fourth place.

    True success lies in finding players that will exceed their average draft position (ADP). Sometimes all it takes is one guy selected in the 10th round to return fourth-round value for you to have a dominant team. Those are the players you need to seek out.

    How to find sleepers

    It’s important to know where you’re getting your information. If you read an article talking about a fifth-round pick as a sleeper, you might want to question the validity of that claim. Of course, players can be undervalued in any round. However, for a player to truly be a sleeper, he has to be someone going later in drafts, usually after everyone has made enough picks to fill out their starting lineup.

    At Pro Football Network, we release sleeper articles every year featuring players going late in drafts that are being undervalued. Eventually, you will learn enough to be able to pinpoint players on your own.

    Sleepers in modern fantasy football

    Back in the day (which, for me, is the mid-2000s), genuine sleepers existed. There were players I could draft that my fellow league-mates legitimately did not know or knew very little about.

    In modern fantasy football, it’s become far more difficult to actually draft sleepers. Fantasy football has exploded over the past decade or so. With that explosion came hundreds of fantasy football websites and thousands of articles released every day. The abundance of information out there essentially guarantees someone is writing something about everyone.

    While this makes it difficult for sleepers to stay under the radar, there’s a silver lining in there. When you actually find a player or two no one’s really talking about, the benefit is compounded because all the other fake sleepers will have seen their ADPs rise…but not your guy.

    Every season, there are multiple players taken late in drafts that far exceed expectations. The sleepers are out there. You just need to know where to look to find them.

    Jason Katz is a fantasy football analyst for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Jason’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13.

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