The most overused word in all of fantasy sports is probably “sleeper.”  When everyone is calling Knowshon Moreno a sleeper, he can’t be a sleeper, because everyone knows about him! I’m here to tell you who the true sleepers are, the players that will really catch your league-mates off guard at the draft. A real sleeper is someone that your league-mates don’t know about, or have much lower expectations for.  And that’s who I’ve sought out here.  My favorite part of the draft is calling out someone’s name, and everyone looking at you asking “WHO!?”  Or when you call out a player who’s name isn’t even on everyone’s cheat sheet.  Then you just nonchalantly repeat yourself, and wait until December to throw it back in their faces while you’re holding up the trophy.  Without further ado…

Bernard Scott (RB, Cincinnati Bengals)
Bernard Scott already has the body and athletic ability of an NFL veteran, as he’s already 25-years-old as a rookie. If he can stay out of trouble and on the field during camp, his talent will speak for itself. Cedric Benson is going into camp as the clear favorite to be the Bengals feature back; however, if you take out the last 2 games of 2008 against the Browns and Chiefs 28th and 30th ranked run defenses, Benson had 151 carries for 465 yards and 1 touchdown. Scott shouldn’t have much of a problem finding carries in Cincinnati.

Glen Coffee (RB, San Francisco 49ers)
Yes sir boss, like the drink. Coffee likely won’t get more than 75-100 carries if all goes well for Frank Gore and the 49ers running game. Gore has racked up 969 touches since 2006. This load has really been taking a toll on his body as his games and yardage totals have been decreasing on a yearly basis, and questions have been arising about his durability. If Gore continues to wear down, or the coaching staff wants to lessen the wear, 125+ carries isn’t out of the question. Coffee was the workhorse back at Alabama as a junior last year, running for 1,085 yards and 9 TDs in 9 games against SEC defenses which compare favorably to the defenses he’ll be seeing in the NFC West.

Greg Jones (RB, Jacksonville Jaguars)
In 2005, when he was spelling Fred Taylor, Jones tallied 151 carries, 575 yards, 4 touchdowns, and hit the 100-yard mark in 2 games when Taylor was injured. Greg Jones certainly won’t be challenging Mo-Jo’s role as the every down back. But Greg’s much bigger and could take away some short yardage carries, making him a good bet for 100+ carries and 5+ touchdowns, possibly more if Mo-Jo misses any time.

Joe Flacco (QB, Baltimore Ravens)
After a slow start, Flacco played the last 11 games extremely well. While going 9-2, he threw 13 TDs and only 5 INTs and had a passer rating under 80 only 3 times. Flacco is being drafted as a low end QB2 in most leagues, if at all. If he can improve just a little on those numbers, he’ll easily outperform his draft position and will be a borderline starting QB in most leagues.

Seneca Wallace (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
Now, I’m not telling you to put all your eggs in the Seneca Wallace basket and expect him to be your starter. Matt Hasselbeck looks like he’s running on empty. In his eight starts, he had an 11:3 TD:INT ratio, and a passer rating of 87. Jim Mora could use his experience working with Michael Vick to help Wallace improve even more on those numbers. He’s worth keeping an eye on in most leagues, and could even be worth drafting as QB3 in deeper leagues.

Percy Harvin (WR, Minnesota Vikings)
Harvin will likely enter the season as the #3 WR on the Vikings unless he gets hurt or smokes too much reefer. He is easily the Vikings most explosive playmaker on the outside, and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. His junior year at Florida he not only led the team in receptions but ran the ball 70 times for 659 yards. There’s no doubt that the Vikings will want to get the ball in his hands on a regular basis. 40 receptions and 40 rushes seems very attainable to me. That would lead to about 750 total yards and 5 TDs. That would put him right around Santonio Holmes, Torry Holt, and Chad Ochocinco last season.

Kevin Walter (WR, Houston Texans)
He’s coming off a couple very respectable seasons with at least 60 receptions and 800 yards in each, and a combined 12 TDs. He very quietly finished last year a #2 WR option in most leagues. As Andre Johnson is drawing more attention, and Matt Schaub develops into a better passer, he could easily improve on the career highs he set last year in yards (899) and TD (8). I would be very comfortable drafting him as a top 15-20 WR.

Brent Celek (TE, Philadelphia Eagles)
You don’t have to look much farther than the Eagles run in the playoffs last year to see how effective Celek can be when given a chance. His 19 receptions were 2nd only to Larry Fitzgerald. In the NFC Championship game, he actually led all pass catchers with 10. And week 9 at Seattle he caught 6 passes for 131 yards. He could easily be the next in line of #1 fantasy tight ends produced by McNabb that includes Chad Lewis and L.J. Smith. He’s being drafted as a #2 TE, if at all, but could easily be among the top 8-12 by season’s end.

Garrett Hartley (K, New Orleans Saints)
I still wouldn’t draft a kicker before the 15th round or so, but a lot of people are overlooking Hartley. He was third in points per game among kickers last year, and should easily end up in the top five this year.

Hank Baskett (WR, Philadelphia Eagles)
He’s sleeping with everyone’s favorite girl next door, Kendra Wilkinson. How can he not be a top sleeper pick?!

  1. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    Hank Baskett – Ha!
    Don’t understand why Flacco gets no ‘spect. Had a terrific year for a rook; just happened to be playing the same year that Matt Ryan did his rookie imitation of Dan Marino.

    Several other potential sleeper, from my point of view:
    Dustin Keller, TE on the Jets is quite talented, and whoever wins the Jets QB job is going to looking for a release valve.

    Justin Gage – had a fantastic yards per reception average last year.

    Dominik Hixon/Steve Smith, Giants – someone has to emerge to fill the Plaxi-void. Hixon has shown some flashes of brilliance; Smith is more of your possession type receiver.

  2. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Paulie Allnuts: I agree about the Giants WRs. Just not sure who will come out on top there. I thought Hixon, but starting to look like Smith.

    I’m liking Nate Washington quite a bit too.

  3. The Peoples Champ

    The Peoples Champ says:

    @Paulie Allnuts: I definitely agree with you on Keller. He reminds me a lot of Dallas Clark. Only problem is i don’t think he qualifies as a sleeper. He’s definitely undervalued, just not quite a sleeper.

    as for the Giants WR’s, i don’t think there’s anyone that will be able to fill Plax’s shoes. i hear his feet are huge! actually, i have no idea, but i think it will be more about spreading the ball around. However, i like Steve Smith the most, followed by Hakeem Nicks. Just not very confident in Eli Manning. Hixon’s a bit overrated in my book. I just don’t think he has the skills to succeed against teams top corners.

  4. The Peoples Champ

    The Peoples Champ says:

    @Doc: Last night during the HOF game, Washington was called a “true gamebreaking threat”. My initial response was laughter. He does have pretty good athletic ability, but i don’t think he’s quite there as a WR. His head and his hands still need some work. He could be the #1 in Tennessee though, and for the right price he could be a decent pick.

  5. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    @Doc: @The Peoples Champ: I don’t know exactly how Washington fits into the Titans offense. Although Collins does have a strong arm, Tennessee doesn’t often throw deep, which is Nate’s forte.

    @The Peoples Champ: Hixon did not really take advantage of his opportunity last season after Burress’ “shot heard round the world”. You are correct – he may be overated, but we will know for sure this year. Rookie receivers rarely do much of anything, so Nicks’ value won’t show itself for several years. I think that the Giants needed to go after the Housh man, or Branyon, as it is difficult to contend without a go-to receiver. Besides filling Plax’ shoes (Ha!), the loss of Amani Toomer will be felt. He was a steadying influence, and there is no veteran replacement in sight. The Giants may be putting Eli in the same dilemna as Donavan has been in for years – an absence of quality wide-outs.

    As for other sleepers – Miles Austin from Dallas may be one. Despite his talent, Roy Williams rarely has put up big numbers (except for 2006.) If he can’t fill the vacuum, someone else, besides Witten, will have to do the job. Devery Henderson of the Saint looked good at times, but lacked consistency. Any wide out on a team with Brees has a chance for big numbers – he is the best at what he does since Dan Fouts. Le’Ron McClain looked good towareds the end of the season, and could make McGahee irrelevant. Rasheed Mendenhall was a starter for five minutes before he was hurt. If Parker goes down, he will have a marked increase in value. Ahmad Bradshaw showed remarkable talent during the Giant Super Bowl run. He took several steps back last year, due to a crowded backfield, and inability to block. Concerning the former: Ward is gone, Brandon misses about four games per year do to injury, and he is working on his blocking. Others, like Felix Jones and Jonathan Stewart, are being called sleepers; but as the Peoples Champ stated in regards to Keller, they are basically undervalued more then fitting in with the true sleeper cat.

  6. The Peoples Champ

    The Peoples Champ says:

    @Paulie Allnuts: I like Mendenhall a lot, but i’m not sure how relevant he will be in fantasy leagues this year. With Parker entering the last year in his contract, it’s basically a given he’ll be gone next year. Most would think that the reigns will be handed to Mendenhall next year. But Moore did very well filling in when he was the starter, and was great all year as the 3rd down back. And Frank The Tank Summers was just drafted and could take short yardage duties. Mendenhall isn’t just going to be handed the job, and it’s difficult to guess how many touches he’ll be getting this year.

    As for the Baltimore RB situation, I think Ray Rice is very close to taking over for McGahee, if he hasn’t already, with McClain as the short yardage back. With McGahee’s injury problems, Rice is their best option for the long run, and possibly even this season.

  7. Rockefeller says:

    Unlearn- Greg Jones
    Learn- Rashad Jennings

    Others that fit “sleeper”(who does NOT know about Kevin Walter??):
    Jordy Nelson-GB
    Martellus Bennett-Dallas
    Chansi Stuckey-Jets
    Michael Bush-Oak
    Nate Washington-yes
    Jabar Gaffney-Denver

  8. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Rockefeller: Unlearn? Learn? Huh?

  9. Rockefeller says:

    Doc- LOL…

    BY learn and unlearn, I meant, forget Jones(unlearn) and think about Jennings(learn)…

    Sorry, my playful vernacular truly knows no bounds :-)

  10. Doc

    Doc says:

    @Rockefeller: I’m a big fan of Washington. I was planning on posting about him soon.

  11. Rockefeller says:

    Doc- I think Nate could be the “sickest” WR they have this year, could be a great value…

  12. J.P. says:

    Just a fyi, not only is Gore looking the best he’s ever looked in training camp this year but San Francisco signed Moran Norris again finally for this season. Norris is just a full blocking FB (not really expected to make catches), and he’s the guy the Niners had in 2006 during Gore’s best season of his career.

    San Francisco also drafted TE Bear Pascoe on purpose, because they really needed a strong blocking tight end (which they also haven’t had for years). Pascoe is going to be helping Gore in a lot of plays in ways that Vernon Davis won’t.

    Add Glen Coffee to the mix, more of the bruiser bull-dozing RB (than the swift-of-feet RB) to help take some of the wear and tear off of Gore, and Gore and Coffee could both have a really good year.

    Basically, (yes I’m a fan) San Francisco has the best offensive line we’ve had in the last 3 or 4 years, and the best blocking FB and TE that we’ve had since 2006.

  13. Rockefeller says:

    So tell me more about this “taser” offense thay are planning on utilizing…

    Is it a hybrid of something, West Coast, etc.??

  14. The Peoples Champ

    The Peoples Champ says:

    @J.P.: Thanks for the info! I just saw Coffee a few times last year, and his running style and ability really impressed me. He got nowhere near the attention of Wells, Ringer, and Brown, but i think he’ll be just as good of a pro as anyone in this class, other than maybe Wells and Shady.

    As someone who obviously watches the team very close, what do you think about the touches and usage of Gore vs. Coffee? how many carries do you think they will both get? my analysis is mostly from numbers, speculation, and rumor. though i’d like to think it’s pretty accurate, sometimes it can be way off base, as not all teams, coaches, and players respond to situations the same. i’m curious as to what a 9ers fan sees and thinks about it?

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