Fantasy Football Draft 2012: How to Pick Your Sleeper

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Fantasy Football Draft 2012: How to Pick Your Sleeper
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The NFL is almost back in our daily lives, and I couldn't be happier. With a new season of professional football comes a new fantasy football season. A new chance at greatness. A new draft. A new start.

The art of picking a sleeper is something that comes with experience and a lot of luck. The teams that usually end up on top at the end of the season are the ones with a few sleepers. Guys that were not drafted high, or at all, but produced big fantasy numbers.

One thing I look for in a sleeper is a player on a high-scoring team. These teams have more points to distribute, so logically that means more scoring opportunities for lesser-known players. Take a wide receiver or tight end from the Packers, Patriots, Saints or Lions. Pass-heavy teams with elite quarterbacks. 

Some of the big names might be more talented, but if their team is bad, their scoring is severely limited. I know MJD led the league in rushing last year, but I wouldn't touch him. The Jaguars' offense is pitiful, even with the addition of Justin Blackmon. 

In a PPR league, obviously the more a team passes, the more receptions are to be had. The Saints, Patriots, Packers and Giants are teams to consider. Snag a fourth or fifth receiver from one of these teams. The upside is huge and the risk is minimal. 

I always stay away from injury-prone players. I never touch Andre Johnson, Antonio Gates, Reggie Bush or Matt Schaub. These guys will be available to you at some point, but don't be enticed. Injuries can kill your fantasy football season. Just ask anyone who has owned one of these guys. 

Teams with stellar defenses can produce big-time offensive fantasy players. Mike Wallace of the Steelers has turned into a top-10 pick. Arian Foster of the Texans is probably the top fantasy player overall in 2012. If some of the best offensive teams are picked clean, try a guy from a top defensive team. They produce more takeaways which results in more offensive opportunities.

When choosing among NFL rookies, I stick to players from top-tier programs. Guys from LSU, USC, Alabama, Texas and Ohio State are fairly safe bets. That's not a black-and-white rule but a general guideline. There are always exceptions.

Overall, I am looking at a guy before I draft him, and I am thinking, "Will this guy be able to get me at least 10 points every single week?" If you think like that, it will be tough to lose. 

Select consistent top picks, and for the rest of your roster, try to find guys who will get you points. Not the guys who are hit-or-miss, the guys who are consistent even if they are never going to drop 40 points. 

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