How to Identify Sleepers in Fantasy Football

When it comes to succeeding and dominating your league in fantasy football, one of the most important factors is identifying sleepers. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about what it means to identify sleepers and how it’s an art in fantasy football. 

What is a Sleeper?

In fantasy football, you follow the NFL season and have fun and get a sense of competition while doing it. When you’re drafting players for a fantasy team, you might opt to select sleeper picks. 

A sleeper pick in fantasy is a player that’s expected to be drafted in the later rounds but based on predictions that they will perform better than expected. 

When you choose a sleeper, you’re doing so with the idea that the picks will generate more points than other players selected near the same time in the draft. 

If you’re participating in a league, you might want to identify sleeper picks so that you can get the most talented players for the best results through the progression of the draft. 

You play a sleeper like you do any other player on your roster. If you want to identify the player as a sleeper, you choose to start them before the game so they can earn points. If a sleeper isn’t started before the game, their accumulated points are counted toward the team score for the week. 

By contrast, there are also busts in fantasy football. A bust is the opposite of a sleeper. 

These players are predicted to do well, but they don’t live up to expectations. There can be a lot of reasons for a player to end up as a bust, including not having much success in the past, inconsistency in performance, injury concerns, or concerns over limited playing time. 

If a player isn’t experienced or is a rookie, then they can also be a bust

Another term to compare to a sleeper player is a breakout. A sleeper is not the same as an undervalued and breakout player. A breakout player has been in the league for several years, and they’re somewhat well-known, but then they start to go beyond expectations. 

Sleepers are new to the league and unfamiliar fantasy owners. 

An undervalued player is someone with underestimated talent. An undervalued player can be a breakout or sleeper. 

Along with reference to players in the draft before the start of the season, the sleeper can also refer to players who are free agents during the actual season. 

What Is the Importance of Sleepers?

Draft day sleepers are among the most important players for the season. It’s someone who’s not on anyone’s radar, and they’re expected to be irrelevant. Young players who haven’t gotten a proper opportunity and players with a minimal track record in the NFL are categorized this way. 

For your league draft, a sleeper will usually be taken in the later rounds. 

Just because a player is being overlooked doesn’t make them an automatic sleeper pick. 

True sleepers require analysis and research to identify. Sleepers can make a successful season, but they can also ruin your season.

You can’t depend on a sleeper pick to carry the load for your team. 

How to Identify a Sleeper

To spot sleepers in your fantasy football draft, you need to know the average draft position of players. Sleepers can have a lower average draft position for any number of reasons. For example, maybe they’re playing for a new team, or they have an injury from a past season. There might also be competition among teammates for opportunities and playing time. 

Also, when identifying sleepers, you need to consider open slots and touches, the upside of a player, and the opportunity to start. 

If a team loses one of their starting players, they’re going to need to fill a position on the roster. You might try to predict the player that could fill the role and eventually have a successful season. 

When teams lose one of their star players, there are opportunities for other players to handle the ball more, meaning more fantasy points. 

Predictions of a sleeper also rely on the identification of a starting opportunity. If a player has no chance of taking on a starting role, they’re not very likely to earn fantasy points. 

You need to spot players that start or have a good chance of starting. 

When players go lower in the fantasy draft, it can mean their upside goes up. If players have the potential to perform throughout the season, their upside goes up the longer they’re undrafted. 

To figure out the upside, consider why the player is undervalued and their value compared to players in similar positions in the draft. You also want to compare a player’s performance potential and potential to score points compared to the remaining players in the draft. 

Some particular factors to look at when analyzing possible sleepers also include:

  • You want to think about who will get the opportunity to get their hands on the ball. The number of touches is higher for running backs. Targets are how many times a player was passed the ball, while whether or not he catches, it is a reception. Touches and targets need to be assessment criteria. When touches and targets are vacated, it creates opportunities for another player. 
  • As we’ve briefly mentioned, you won’t get the ball if you’re on the bench. You need to try and find players with the easiest possible path to starting. 
  • ADP is a term to be familiar with. ADP stands for Average Draft Position. ADP determines how players are chosen across millions of drafts. This is to help with your draft prepping list, and it ranks how players are valued in the league according to other players who drafted them in the past. 

If you’re lucky enough to choose a sleeper that goes on to be successful, you can win your fantasy football league, which is always the ultimate goal. 

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