When it comes to fantasy football, the term sleeper has become so cliché and overused that it sort of defeats the purpose to call any player a true sleeper anymore.
Once upon a time a sleeper in fantasy football was an unknown quantity that had the potential to become a household name. In other words, a player who was likely to go undrafted in most leagues, but who could carry a team to the fantasy promised land off waivers for a watchful owner who stayed on top of the news.
Several weeks into the season, people were scooping Rice off waivers faster than Kirstie Alley scarfing down a Krispy Kreme. The key is recognizing situations that could produce a true sleeper, which I’ll try to do on a regular basis with this new “Sleeper Spotlight” feature.
Let everyone else gloat over their “sleepers” who will cost them a mid-round draft pick. If anything, these players are “value picks,” to this humble fantasy writer. Sleepers are a little more rare, a little more select and a lot more fun to steal from your league mates for pennies on the dollar.
How do you spot a solid sleeper option? Go through player news with a fine tooth comb, watch for players who get mostly unexpected opportunities and who will likely take advantage of said opportunities with a zest and zeal that keeps them in that role long-term.
This is the first of a new series of features I’ll be working on, highlighting situations that could produce some great value players you should keep a close eye on.
Minnesota Vikings Receivers
The Minnesota Vikings have suffered through a colorful offseason. Unfortunately, that color is more black-and-blue than purple.
Sure, Brett Favre is back under center. But Sidney Rice is out for at least the first half of the season, perhaps the whole thing. Percy Harvin’s headache drama isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. From a logical standpoint, that means Bernard Berrian is likely to see a significant uptick in stats and attention.
However, this seems oddly familiar. I remember drafting Berrian last year as the one Vikings receiver who was going to light the world on fire. At the time, it seemed totally logical. He was the best receiver on the squad at that point looking at previous track record. He had the size and speed to succeed.
But in the end, we all know how it went. Rice became the elite receiving option while Berrian became an afterthought. How much of an afterthought? He finished fourth on the squad in receptions…behind Rice, Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. He had only seven receptions more than the next player on the list…Adrian Peterson, the team’s running back.
The real question is why? Did Favre see something he majorly liked about Sidney Rice, or something he majorly disliked about Berrian? Why did he fall so far in the grand scheme of the offensive plans? How much of this is a chemistry issue between Favre and Berrian?
So, playing devil’s advocate to the logical suggestion that Berrian is the next in line for fantasy prominence from the Minny receiving corps, who could move into that role?
First, don’t discount Javon Walker. Sure, he’s older with his own share of baggage, but Favre has chemistry with him. Don’t discount the importance of a personal connection. Walker is very similar in size/frame to Sidney Rice, although he’s not as quick at his age.
However, Favre trusts Walker, which could go a far way towards defining a special on-field relationship this season between the two. Remember, as well, that the Vikings have a professional medical staff on its payroll, and they likely checked Walker out from head to toe. Not saying he’ll definitely be a factor, but someone to watch closely.
Greg Camarillo, recently acquired from Miami, is another potential sleeper here. Last year, Camarillo managed just seven receptions short of Berrian, and Camarillo was playing on a run-first team with a young, unproven quarterback. He’s young and fast.
In the end logic tells us that Bernard Berrian will be the most apt to receive a value boost this offseason, and I’m not saying that won’t happen. However, don’t overlook the potential of other candidates filling the role, and be quick to react if you want to trump league mates when making a waiver wire move.
Kind of like the guy in your league last year when he sniped Sidney Rice out from under you.
For more sleepers, strategy, and fantasy football advice, go here.
Have a suggestion for a sleeper spotlight discussion? E-mail me here.
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