Ah yes—every savvy fantasy owner's dreamy 12th round pick with sixth round value that takes him to first round glory.
ESPN, Fox Sports, etc.—they all love to wear out the term "sleeper," don't they?
That's because they know that special noun will demand your attention and, later, your wallet as you delve into their text, not willing to pass up the next Marques Colston or Steve Slaton.
In fact, they'll slap just about anyone under the "sleeper" label—like they ordered too many sticky notes and are having a going-out-of-business sale.
Slaton no longer fits that bill—sorry, "generic website" looking for more traffic.
Everyone knows running backs, and when a guy is usually ranked inside the top 12, the label doesn't hold—the sticky note falls off.
Tony Gonzalez? Unless there's another Tony Gonzalez I'm not aware of (a quick ESPN search reveals that one does play for the Los Angeles Angels, so maybe it's that one they're referring to), a future Hall of Famer who put up 10 touchdowns last year doesn't fit the bill either.
Matt Hasselbeck? If he's on there, every player that sustained a lengthy injury in 2008 deserves to be on there too.
Matt Cassel? Sure, he may have been the biggest sleeper of 2008—but throwing for 3,600 yards, 21 touchdowns, and being probably the most-talked about (non-Brett Favre, of course) story in the NFL no longer abides by the "sleeper" rules.
Matt Leinart? Everyone and their brother knows Kurt Warner is one good hit from bagging your chips and salsa before next week's game. Not to mention Matt has been in the spotlight since his days at USC. Not a sleeper.
Yes, all of the above players may fit the bill of "Overachievers for Their Average Draft Positions."
You can get a lot of production from where they are usually taken in drafts—some others include Anthony Gonzalez, Trent Edwards, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Carson Palmer, Felix Jones, Donald Brown, and Brandon Pettigrew.
That list is crucial to all owners—but they're not sleepers.
Any player known in most households forfeits his sleeper status for "hey, he'd be a great pick for that round."
Also, any first round draft pick of 2009 is off that list too. Anyone selected first is most likely going to see substantial playing time in their rookie season, and everyone knows that.
The term "sleeper" coincides with only one word: opportunity.
A third string running back taken in the fifth round of the draft (the real one) who might be given a chance to start? That's a sleeper.
A lesser known wide receiver that plays on the same team as an injury prone starter with a strong-armed QB? Sleeper.
So, now that the rules are set in stone—the top 20 real sleepers of 2009.