Everyone knows to draft Tom Brady, Calvin Johnson or Arian Foster. But what do you do when all of the obvious choices are gone? If you’ve already filled your “secondary” positions (such as tight end, second and third wide receivers, and a second running back), you might want to start looking at “sleepers.”
Sleepers are players that you think could explode for a huge 2012 season. There are three types of sleepers to look for: proven star players who are coming off a bad year, or players who haven’t had a huge fantasy season yet, but look like they’ll hit it big this year. And of course the third type of sleeper are rookies: especially rookies that will start for their teams. Personally, I like trying to find established talent that had an “off” year- because in this case you’ll have years and years of proven fantasy production to base your decision on.
That said, here are five sleepers to fill out your fantasy roster:
1. Peyton Hillis – RB, Kansas City Chiefs
I love Hillis as a comeback kid. He’s still young, and he didn’t suffer any injuries that should affect his considerable abilities running the ball. The only barrier to entry for Hillis is Jamaal Charles being the starter, but I do not doubt the Chiefs will look to Hillis to share the load. He may also get a lot of touches in the red zone, as he’s the more physically imposing back.
2. Nate Burleson – WR, Detroit Lions
Calvin Johnson is a fantasy stud and most Detroit Lions fans expect big things from second year receiver Titus Young. But Burleson has been turning heads in training camp, and he’s always been a solid performer. Consider that the Lions offense is incredibly pass happy, and looks to stay that way in 2012, Burleson seems like a great late round grab for your receiver corps.
3. Doug Martin – RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rookies are another great source for sleeper players, since obviously these guys have no NFL history to speak of. Martin is going to be the feature back in Tampa so he’s a good choice if you are looking for a second or third running back for your team. Also a great pick for a “keeper” league.
4. David Wilson – RB, New York Giants
Once again, here’s a little known back that has been thrust into a prime-time opportunity. The reason is simple: the defending Super Bowl champ Giants lost a running back and needed a replacement. At 5’10” and about 200 pounds, look for this small fry to catch passes out of the backfield and put up nice all-purpose yardage.
5. Kevin Smith – RB, Detroit Lions
So Jahvid Best is probably toast, and Mikel Leshoure has a drug suspension for the first few games. That leaves Smith as the Lions feature back for the early part of the season. I’ve always liked Smith: he’s a versatile, smart back who cuts back well and catches the ball. He had a 140 yard game with the Lions last year, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him post a 900-1100 yard season for the silver and blue in 2012.