Fantasy Football 2013: Last-Minute Sleepers That'll Win You a Championship

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2013

Aug 8, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) throws the ball during warm-ups for the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 fantasy football draft season is almost over, but many owners are looking to snag last-minute sleepers that have the talent and upside to help teams win the championship.

While most fantasy owners focus the majority of their attention on their early draft picks, it's equally important to find talent later in the draft for better value.

All of the following players will be valuable sleepers whom fantasy owners can steal much later in the draft.


Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams

The biggest sleeper of 2013 will be St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. With an average draft position of 150th (12th round), Bradford will be a QB2 that has the potential to start for your team by midseason.

If you have a top-tier starting quarterback like Aaron Rogers or Drew Brees, taking Bradford in the 12th round as an insurance plan and possible trade bait down the line will make you look like a genius.

For the first time in his career, Bradford finds himself with the same offensive system he had the year before. On top of that, the game plans are built around his strengths and mask his weaknesses, which will streamline his jump into the upper echelon. 

Bradford managed 3,702 passing yards and 21 touchdowns last season and will increase those numbers as the offensive line improves and his new cast of offensive teammates builds chemistry on the field.

Do not sleep on Bradford.

Predicted Stat Line: 4,000 yards, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions


Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns

Missing the first two games of the season with a suspension has Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon falling down draft boards (ADP of 86th overall in the eighth round), but don’t write the talented player off just yet.

Fantasy owners want sure bets, and when the competition sees a suspended player on a notoriously bad Browns team, they will avoid him like the plague. As Gordon begins to slide, select him between the ninth and 11th rounds.

Gordon had 50 catches in his rookie season for 805 yards and five touchdowns, but fantasy owners should expect a jump in those numbers when he gets back on the field.

With a great rapport with QB Brandon Weeden, Gordon will be the Browns No. 1 wide receiver and the most consistent deep threat in Norv Turner's pass-happy offense. This is an educated risk that could win you a championship.

Predicted Stat Line: 56 catches for 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns.


Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

There is no way New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski should be viewed as a sleeper, but with an ADP of 47th (slotted as a fourth-round selection), there are still several leagues that will see Gronkowski drop on the draft board.

I have participated in money leagues and standard free leagues that have featured Gronkowski going anywhere from the fourth round to the 10th round. If you can snag the injured star (back) in the eighth round or later, this is the biggest steal of the draft.

Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league and will amass huge numbers when on the field with a legend like Tom Brady. Last year, Gronkowski had 55 catches for 790 yards and 11 touchdowns—in only 11 games.

Injury or not, those numbers warrant a risk in the middle-to-late rounds.

Predicted Stat Line: 65 catches for 800 yards and 13 touchdowns.


All stats via ESPN and all average draft positions via Fantasy Football Calculator.