Finding sleepers in fantasy football is not as hard as one might think, though there are certain factors that absolutely must be taken into consideration in order to find the right one.
Anyone can pick a sleeper, but it takes real skill to nail the pick. To do it you must take three things into account. First, the matchup. Fantasy football is all about opposing matchups. It's what makes one player look more appealing than others.
Second, you need to look at recent results. Full-season results are going to tell you more, but football is as much about recent trends as anything else.
Here is a snapshot look at our weekly rankings, with a special blurb about the biggest sleeper at each position.
Note: We are just looking at offensive positions in these rankings.
|1. Tom Brady, New England|
|2. Matt Ryan, Atlanta|
|3. Peyton Manning, Denver|
|4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh|
|5. Eli Manning, New York Giants|
Sleeper: Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
Under the right circumstances Smith has been a valuable fantasy quarterback this season. He has had a few dud games, sure, but he has also had some brilliant performances that make him a viable fantasy option.
Smith is coming off one of his best games as a pro two weeks ago against Arizona, when he completed 18 of his 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns.
This week Smith goes up against a St. Louis defense that has given up 75 points and seven touchdown passes the last two games. Granted, those games were against Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but the Rams defense has been trending downward.
While the completion percentage is going to drop, Smith could easily have two touchdown passes and 240-250 yards with no turnovers.
|1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota|
|2. Ray Rice, Baltimore|
|3. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay|
|4. Frank Gore, San Francisco|
|5. Matt Forte, Chicago|
Sleeper: Andre Brown, New York Giants
Brown's value right is strictly tied to the fact that the Giants continue to use him in goal-line situations. He has just 58 rushing yards in the last three games, but also three touchdowns during that span.
While Brown can't be a No. 1 running back, he does hold some value as a No. 2 or a flex player because of how the team uses him. Ahmad Bradshaw's foot is still not completely healed, as he remains limited in practice, so Brown is going to be getting valuable carries that make him a valuable fantasy asset.
|1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit|
|2. Roddy White, Atlanta|
|3. Wes Welker, New England|
|4. Victor Cruz, New York Giants|
|5. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh|
Sleeper: Domenik Hixon, New York Giants
Hixon is hardly the kind of wide receiver that you can depend on each week. However, with Hakeem Nicks still battling a knee injury, suddenly the Giants' No. 3 wide receiver looks a lot more attractive.
We are giving a lot of love to the Giants in the sleeper department this week, but they are taking on a Cincinnati team that has been dreadful, especially on defense, in its last four games.
Pay attention to Nicks' status throughout the weekend. If it looks like he will be out, or is limited, Hixon could put up another game like he had against the Eagles in Week 4 with six catches for 114 yards.
|1. Jason Witten, Dallas|
|2. Rob Gronkowski, New England|
|3. Vernon Davis, San Francisco|
|4. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans|
|5. Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati|
Sleeper: Aaron Hernandez, New England Patriots
It is hard to believe that Hernandez, who was one of the first tight ends drafted in fantasy, would be this far down on a sleeper list. Injuries will do that to a player, but according to the Boston Herald, Hernandez has been at practice this week.
Assuming Hernandez is able to go all-out, he could be one of the most valuable fantasy assets this weekend. He is picking the right week to get healthy, as the Bills are 24th in pass yards allowed and 31st in points allowed.
Oh, by the way, the last time the Patriots played the Bills in Week 4, they put up 52 points. Hernandez was absent that day, but appears ready to go this time around.