My '09 Sleepers

"Who are your sleepers?" It's the question I get asked all the time working for a fantasy sports company. Of course, the context of your league might make one player a sleeper and another overpriced. But after just finishing my 10th draft, here's who I targeted late in many leagues - mostly the second half of the draft. This list is late, but hopefully helps since many are probably still on the waiver wire. Last year I hit the ball out of the park with these picks. Not that it will happen again, but last year Chris Johnson, Dangelo Williams and Steve Slaton won many leagues for me. I'll be lucky to find one such gem in this group. And check out the comments on last year's blog to see how some of these sleepers were mocked (and others were touted).

ADP values courtesy of MockDraftCentral


Not really sleepers, but I've been trying to get these three guys in a lot of leagues where they've gone lower:

-Knowshon Moreno - DEN - APD 64 - The rookie upside play in a backfield clouded by mediocre veterans. This summer's knee injury may reduce his value in some leagues, which is fine since you're taking him for him to win the job in the second half of the season.

-Chris "Beanie" Wells - AZ - ADP 68 -  Sure, Arizona ran the ball a league-low 34 percent of the time last regular season, but that could change if Wells starts having a few big games.

-Donald Brown - IND - ADP 84 -  At the end of the 2008 season the failures of the running game had people asking "was it was the offensive line or the running backs?" President Bill Pollian answered that by taking a running back with a 2009 first-round pick. He should get a third of the touches right away and Joseph Addai's frequent injuries could quickly make him a primary back in one of the leagues best offenses.

Deeper RB Sleepers

-Shonn Greene - NYJ - ADP 168 - All the preseason love for Leon Washington has seen Green's stock fall in leagues. His preseason rib injury seems minor. Is it that hard to see a scenario where Thomas Jones gets hurt/slides in production and Greene wins the job?

-LeSean McCoy - PHI - ADP 104 - Bryan Westbrook's ankle injury remains somewhat of a mystery and McCoy's pass catching ability could make him a similar player in the offense.

-Ahmad Bradshaw - NYG - ADP 114 -  With Andre Brown hurt he's a clear No. 2 on a team that rushed the ball 500+ last year.

-Rashard Mendenhall - PIT - ADP 101 -  He's had a buzz killing preseason, but he's still the upside play on a run-first offense.

-James Davis - CLE - ADP 130  - An under the radar productive college player behind a tired veteran. Unfortunately a strong preseason and negative talk from the coaches about Jamal Lewis has see his ADP soar in late-drafting leagues.

-Glen Coffee - SF - ADP 172 - A strong preseason, he's pretty much an injury play behind Frank Gore.

-Le'Ron McClain  - BAL - ADP 124 - He was 8 of 17 on goal-line carries. Right now he seems like the odd man out among the Baltimore backs, but is Willis McGahee going to stay healthy? He's a nice endgame gamble for a team that runs a ton.

-Jerome Harrison  - CLE - ADP 218 - With all the buzz for James Davis, Harrison still averaged 7.2 YPC in 34 attempts last season and 6.2 YPC in 2007. A preseason knee injury has him slipping out of most drafts, but who's to say he's not the guy getting the ball when the Browns finally give up on Lewis?

-Benard Scott - CIN - ADP 204 - The Division II player of the year is the upside play to Cedric Benson. Betting against Benson has paid off most of the time.


Not really sleepers, but I've been trying to get these three guys in a lot of leagues where they've gone lower:

-DeSean Jackson - PHI - ADP 54 - Second-year receiver in a pass-happy offense.

-Kevin Walter - HOU - ADP 77 - I'm high on the Houston offense and Walter seems to be forgotten. His 9.5 yards per looks was fifth best among all wideouts with 90 targets or more.

-Donnie Avery  - STL - ADP 83 - He's a No. 1 receiver in his second year that often goes late in drafts due to his foot injury (which doesn't look like a problem for Week 1)

Deeper WR Sleepers

-Robert Meachem - NO - ADP 209 - Third-year, receiver with great speed in a pass-happy offense. Sure, he's disappointed before but the price to get in on some of the New Orleans aerial action is low.

-Josh Cribbs - CLE - ADP 257 - He's show he's a great playmaker in the return game, but now he may become the No. 2 wide receiver. He's undrafted in most leagues.


By: Mark Stopa
On: 9/8/2009 10:04:00 PM
Nice job on last year's picks. Wow.

As for this year, I disagree about Bradshaw. If Jacobs went down, I see a timeshare with Bradshaw and Ware, and since Ware's price tag is so much cheaper than Bradshaw's, Ware's the sleeper, I think. Bradshaw just isn't an every down back.
By: jtr5708
On: 9/8/2009 10:23:00 PM
How come you didn't roll Chris Henry right on over from last year's list? I think he should supplant Coles and might have numbers on par with Ocho.
By: Chris Liss
On: 9/8/2009 10:24:00 PM
Bradshaw's the sleeper. If Jacobs went down, he'd be Chris Johnson.
By: Mark Stopa
On: 9/8/2009 10:58:00 PM
For one game, sure. But if Jacobs tore his ACL tomorrow, do you really think Bradshaw would get 250(+) carries this year? I don't. He's more like Sproles and LWashington. Guys like CJohnson are rare, and even he has a big guy like LWhite to get the goal line stuff.
By: Chris Liss
On: 9/8/2009 11:38:00 PM
No, he's more like Johnson than Sproles or Washington. He's a very tough runner, not just a speed guy.
By: djm1144
On: 9/9/2009 1:11:00 AM
Your 100% right on Bradshaw being a super sleeper. Last year, Derrick Ward had 1400 total yards and had to compete with Jacobs and Ward for touches. Bradshaw I believe is an even better back than Ward and he only has to compete with Jacobs and Ware for touches. I think hes a lock for atleast 1400 total yards with the upside for more. Great round 8 or 9 value.
By: djm1144
On: 9/9/2009 1:26:00 AM
Not to mention jacobs is an injury risk. You could make a good case that Bradshaw is the top backup around. Even over guys like McCoy, Brown and SProles.
By: Skinsnutt
On: 9/9/2009 7:49:00 AM
Don't question Liss about his Giants :)
By: ephinz
On: 9/9/2009 8:01:00 AM
Agree with Liss. If Jacobs went down, Bradshaw would be an elite PPR back.
By: slambert
On: 9/9/2009 9:52:00 AM
Bradshaw is a sleeper?
By: vtadave
On: 9/9/2009 10:42:00 AM
slam - as Peter said, it depends on your league. In my expert league, no, as everyone knows about him. In my office league full of casual football fans who only know Jacobs for the Giants, then yes, he's a sleeper.
By: kennruby
On: 9/9/2009 1:11:00 PM
I have a draft tonight in which Bradshaw is most certainly a sleeper. In fact, thanks for reminding me. I should update my draft ranking list so I don't forget him.
By: schoenke
On: 9/9/2009 1:19:00 PM
For this list, sleeper = guys I'm high on who are not automatic to be taken in the first 4 rounds. Anthony Gonzalez is another player I'm really high on, but he never seems to go lower than expected. Although I did get a reasonable price on him in an auction league.
By: jtr5708
On: 9/9/2009 3:24:00 PM
I think the loose definition of a sleeper is someone who you believe will outproduce his draft spot. That could mean a 2nd rounder produces like a first rounder. Just because people know about a certain player doesn't make then a non-sleeper. I like the idea of limiting it to players taken outside of the 4th round for the purposes of writing.

That being said I think Ahmad Bradshaw is a tremendous sleeper. I believe he can be durable and is much tougher than Derrick Ward. Potentially getting 35-40% of the carries for one of the best rushing teams in the league makes him a potential difference maker this year (in real life and fantasy).
By: jtr5708
On: 9/9/2009 3:41:00 PM
Before anyone calls me crazy for saying Bradshaw will get 35-40% of the carries just remember that Ward got 182 carries last year to Jacobs' 219. I understand that some of those were due to injury but nobody is confident that Jacobs is going to start all 16 games this year.

Also, Bradshaw is far more adept as a receiver than Jacobs so even if he does stay healthy then they can both put up great numbers. All things considered I'd rather have Bradshaw at an ADP of 118.47 than Jacobs at 21.27. That's based off of the latest ADP's at MFL.

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