While traditional fantasy football leagues usually have 10 or 12 owners, some of the more hardcore players enjoy competing in leagues with 14 or even 16 teams. While those types of leagues place an even greater emphasis on nailing your early selections, finding valuable players late in the draft is equally important.
The pickings get slim very quickly in deep leagues, and owners find themselves selecting players that they never even thought about heading into the draft. That is why studying even the deepest sleepers available will give you a leg up on the competition. It's possible that only one of them will ultimately work out, but that could mean the difference between the playoffs and the consolation ladder.
Here are three sleepers to consider late in your super-deep fantasy football drafts as owners scramble to find anything of value.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater was a popular name on these types of lists last season as he came from out of nowhere as an undrafted rookie to make the Raiders roster. He was extremely impressive during training camp and in the preseason, so several experts picked him as a potential breakout candidate.
While Streater didn't put up huge numbers by any means, but he was a solid contributor for the Raiders, and he may have been good enough to remain on rosters in deeper fantasy leagues.
Streater did about as well as an undrafted receiver possibly can during his first season, as he caught 39 balls for 584 yards and three touchdowns. He was especially impressive late in the year as he racked up 62 yards or more in four of the team's final five games. Streater is still technically behind Denarius Moore on Oakland's depth chart, but Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson has gushed about Streater's progress, according to Raiders.com.
I think when you’re talking about self-starters and self-motivated people, Rod Streater is that guy in that room to me. He’s the leader in that room just based upon his work ethic, his preparation and the way he approaches the game. I’m happy with Rod Streater.
Streater will have to go through a bit of a transition as quarterback Carson Palmer is now with the Arizona Cardinals, but Matt Flynn has showed plenty of ability in the past. The second-year receiver is a guy who is going undrafted in most standard leagues, but he has the potential to go over 800 yards at the very least this season.
Outside of Jimmy Graham, the tight end position is a total enigma in fantasy football this year. Any number of players could potentially step up and become starter-worthy, so it's a bit of a crapshoot.
If you're unable to nab Graham or a guy like Tony Gonzalez or Jason Witten semi-early in your draft, you're best off waiting until later. It wouldn't necessarily be advisable to wait until the final round, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a couple tight ends so you can play the matchup game from week to week.
One guy to consider, in particular, is Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller. While Miller hasn't been overly productive during his two seasons in the Emerald City, his skill level is undeniable. Miller was one of the best tight ends in the league over the course of four seasons with the Raiders, as he had 685 yards or better in three of those seasons and made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Miller has been a bit banged up as of late with a foot injury, but he is back to full health, according to John Boyle of the Everett Herald.
Zach Miller says his foot feels 100 % and it isn't an injury that should be an issue going forward: "It's a one-time thing once it heals"— John Boyle (@johnpboyle) August 20, 2013
Miller doesn't even have 685 receiving yards combined in two seasons as a Seahawk, but things could be moving in a positive direction. Quarterback Russell Wilson seemed to view Miller as a security blanket late last season, as evidenced by the fact that Miller had two touchdowns in the season's final four games. Also, Miller caught 12 passes for 190 yards and a score in two playoff games.
Which deep sleeper will have the best 2013 season?
It's entirely possible that New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley had the quietest 827-yard receiving season of all time last year, as Kerley got very little love from football pundits and fantasy owners alike.
The Jets' offense was an absolute mess last season, so people had a problem finding something positive, but Kerley was clearly the standout player. Even so, Kerley is going undrafted in most fantasy leagues this season despite being New York's de facto No. 1 receiver.
Much of that probably has to do with the fact that his quarterback is either going to be Mark Sanchez, who has proved to be awful, or Geno Smith, who is unproved altogether. Kerley had to deal with Sanchez last season, though, and he still managed to put up respectable numbers.
There is an expectation that Santonio Holmes will usurp Kerley if and when he returns, but Josh Moore of 4for4 Fantasy Football points out that Holmes hasn't duplicated Kerley's numbers from last year since 2009.
Something to think about… Santonio Holmes hasn't hit Jeremy Kerley 2012 #s in rec (55) or yds (827) since 2009 w/PIT. Don't draft names.— Josh Moore (@4for4_Josh) August 22, 2013
Kerley probably isn't going to win you your league this season, but he is a serviceable player who can be a decent bye week fill-in at the very least. If you're in a point-per-reception league, then Kerley is especially valuable, as he reeled in 56 passes last season, and could improve upon that as he continues to work out of the slot. Add in the fact that Kerley is a capable punt returner, and he'll have plenty of opportunities to score as well, so he is certainly worth a late-round flier.
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