As much fun as it is to draft the highest drafted rookies like Bijan Robins, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, nothing quite compares to the joy of nailing an 18th round fantasy football rookie sleeper that no one else is even considering drafting.
If you’ve been playing fantasy football for a long time, you know that the concept of a sleeper is a popular one. And it’s mostly been ruined by the thousands of articles, podcasts, and tweets about this year’s “sleepers” without ever really defining what a sleeper even is.
Especially for the modern age of fantasy football with these massive Best Ball tournaments on sites like Underdog, DraftKings and Drafters, the idea of a “sleeper” is actually quite important, but it’s important to define what it is in the first place.
What is a Fantasy Football sleeper?
We are largely focused on Best Ball here, and the concept of a sleeper is something that can be hugely beneficial in the Best Ball landscape. But we aren’t just talking about some 11th round pick that we think is undervalued. That’s not a “sleeper”.
For our purposes, we can define a sleeper as a player that is not drafted in every draft or maybe even rarely gets selected at all. Maybe some might call it a “Late Round Sleeper”.
But in these tournaments with 18 to 20 rounds in each draft, we can benefit from someone the rest of the drafters are “sleeping on”. In 2021, we saw this come through in a huge way with the likes of Elijah Mitchell in 2021 or Tyquan Thornton in 2022 helping Pat Kerrane win $2 Million in Best Ball Mania 3. Despite either paths to real opportunity, talent, draft capital or a great situation, the market decided that these players were not worth drafting, but they ended up as some of the best possible selections in the last round of drafts, if you were wise enough to do so.
In a traditional season long managed league, you can pick these players up off the waiver wire, but you cannot do so in Best Ball. Once you draft your team, that’s it. No roster moves, trades or lineup setting. Because of these aspects of the format, we know we are going to miss very frequently on these late round picks, but that’s also precisely what makes the upside of hitting on them so insanely valuable.
When 95% of our opponents are getting nothing out of these selections, and we find a top 15 running back, it’s about as big of a leg up as you get can get on your opponents. And we need all of these we can get in Best Ball Tournaments with top heavy payouts.
In fact, we have built the very first Best Ball Ownership Projections, which projected the percentage of the team every player is drafted in a Best Ball tournament based on our proprietary model.
How do we identify potential rookie sleepers?
There’s no clear cut or straight forward way of finding these sleepers. If there were, these players wouldn’t be slept on at all. But there are a couple different variables I think we can look at to try to find these diamonds in the rough at the end of drafts that our opponents aren’t considering:
- Ambiguous Situations
- Offensive Situation
If we can find all 3 of those different variables coming together on an individual rookie and they’re not consistently being drafted, that player might deserve strong consideration as our sleeper.
Now that we’ve come up with a real definition for a sleeper and identified some characteristics to look for, let’s take a look at some options for 2023 drafts.
*DETAILED PLAYER ANALYSIS ON EVERY ROOKIE SLEEPER COMING SOON*
As much fun as it is to draft the highest drafted rookies like Bijan Robins, Jahmyr Gibbs and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, nothing quite compares to the joy of nailing an 18th round fantasy football rookie sleeper that no one else is even considering drafting. If you’ve been playing fantasy football for a long time, you know […]
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