The term "sleeper" has been beaten to death and then some in fantasy football. Most of the players that are labeled as "under the radar" really aren't, and more often than not half your fantasy league has a very similar list of "sleepers" that they are hoping to acquire in the later rounds of the draft.
However, that doesn't mean that there aren't some players out there that not only have some fantasy value but also aren't getting much run this summer.
These deep sleepers aren't so much under the radar as off it completely. We'll celebrate those players here, with a group of end-of-the-draft fliers that present a decent chance at paying off given that they cost next to nothing.
Average draft position information courtesy of MyFantasyLeague.com.
Granted, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel hasn't exactly lived up to the six-year, $63 million contract he signed with the team in 2009, raising questions as to whether his breakout 2008 season in New England was simply a product of the Patriots' offense.
Last year was no exception, as Cassel joined a litany of Chiefs players that missed significant time with injuries.
However, Cassel has shown the ability to put up fantasy QB1 numbers in Kansas City in the past with a 12th-place finish in 2010, and the eight-year veteran will have all of the Chiefs' offensive weapons at his disposal entering the 2012 season.
Cassel isn't being chosen among the top 30 signal-callers in fantasy drafts this summer, even though there's no one to really challenge him on the Chiefs' depth chart.
No, Brady Quinn doesn't count.
This isn't to say that Cassel is suddenly going to morph into Drew Brees, but what he can be is a solid backup for an elite quarterback or deeper-league platoon option with the potential to become a starter when the matchup is favorable.
Given that New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas was a top-25 fantasy running back a season ago, one would think that the sixth-year pro would be getting a bit more love in fantasy drafts this summer.
However, with 2010 first-round pick and former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram healthy, Thomas has been cast onto the fantasy scrap heap, falling outside the top 40 running backs selected in drafts to this point.
To this point in his admittedly brief NFL career, Ingram has done very little, while Thomas has topped 900 total yards three of the past four years, with six or more touchdowns in each of those three seasons.
It may well be premature at this point to say that Pierre Thomas' days of fantasy relevance are finished, and fantasy owners should think long and hard about snagging him late as an upside RB4.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Davone Bess had a relatively quiet 2011 season, hauling in 51 catches for 537 yards and three scores while finishing well outside the top 50 fantasy wideouts.
However, there are a number of reasons to think those numbers will improve significantly in 2012.
With Brandon Marshall now in Chicago, a void exists atop the depth chart at wide receiver for the Dolphins, which should result in a drastic increase in targets for Bess this year.
When given the opportunity in the past, Bess has shown the ability to be a productive fantasy asset, putting up WR3 numbers in both 2009 and 2010, including a top 25 finish two years ago.
Sure, the quarterbacks in Miami don't exactly inspire terror in opposing defenses, but given that Bess is presently the 66th wide receiver being chosen in fantasy drafts, he's the perfect late flier that carries next to no risk and an excellent shot at paying off for fantasy owners.
Many fantasy pundits viewed St. Louis Rams tight end Lance Kendricks as something of a sleeper entering his rookie season last year.
Unfortunately, it seemed that Kendricks spent most of the season sleeping, reeling in a measly 28 catches for 352 yards and finishing the year on most fantasy leagues' waiver wires.
Those stats are reflected in Kendricks' 17th round average draft position in 2012.
However, with an NFL season under his belt and given the very unsettled situation at wide receiver in the Gateway City, Kendricks represents a sneaky TE2 pick, especially for fantasy owners that select an elite option early and wish to wait before grabbing a backup.