By Des Boodam
I don’t believe in sleepers anymore, and haven’t for about a decade. Sleepers used to be players you thought would be great that no one else was thinking about. You could draft these players late in drafts after all the better players were gone, and then a few weeks into the season, they would perform like a 2nd or 3rd round pick or better.
Everyone recognizes your pick as lucky, even though your pick was planned and clearly thought out. This never happens any more. There is too much exposure now to teams and players with social media, and so now everyone sees every fringe player as a potential “SLEEPER”. Because everyone knows about a sleeper, they cease to become a sleeper and are now simply a value pick.
The challenge is getting them as late as possible so as to extract as much value as possible. The main question fantasy owners’s need to ask themselves is “how do the other managers in your league value the same players you value”? This will determine whether or not you can get your player when you want them. Running Backs are a little different.
I think there are only six to eight elite backs that will provide week in and week out tier one production consistently. After that – personnel or other situation really have to change for an RB to have significant value. Here are three I’m going to roster and hope for a feature back opportunity.
LAMAR MILLER – Houston Texans
I think this Houston offense is going to be much better than people think. We are not giving enough credit to Wil Fuller who is a dominant force in single coverage. If Deshaun Watson comes back at 100% and opposing defenses have to contain both DeAndre Hopkins and Fuller, Lamar Miller should have a ton of time to find the right holes to blow up in the backfield. Watson is a handful as well, and the Houston O-line is grossly underrated. If the Texans play with the lead, which with their defense could happen more times than last season, than Miller should get a bunch of run in the 4th quarter. He will be dirt cheap this season, and returns could be huge. Tell me you are not a bit interested in the prospect of a feature back past the 10th round, playing on a team with a great offense and an even better defense.
Christian McCaffery – Carolina Panthers
I don’t think McCaffery goes late, but I do think he could blow up and be an absolute beast, especially in a PPR league. There were glimpses last season of the greatness we saw in college, and now McCaffery gets an new offensive co-ordinator and a healthy Cam Newton. Greg Olson is back and better, and Devin Funchess has another year under his belt. This offense is going to be good, and McCaffery is going to be a tough player to contain.
Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions
It’s always better to “Kerryon” – and I’m fine checking the bags on all other rookie RBs in this class. Two years ago it was Ezekiel Elliot, and last year it was Kareem Hunt… and this season I think Johnson is the RB that takes this rookie class by storm. There may be others that are great as well, but it’s Kerryon that will be the cheapest of the bunch, so from a value standpoint, Kerryon is the guy.
All three should be cheap and could shock the fantasy world. Don’t be on the outside looking in.