What is a sleeper in fantasy football?

The term “sleeper” has been around since the beginning of fantasy football. Every year, you can find countless articles and Twitter threads about everyone’s favorite sleeper picks. For those new to fantasy football, this may seem very foreign. What are dormant picks and why are they important in the fantasy football draft?

What is a sleeper in fantasy football and why should you care?

The term “sleeper” comes from the phrase “don’t sleep” when referring to a person who should not be underestimated. In its simplest form, a dormant pick is a player selected in the final rounds of a fantasy football draft that the fantasy community doesn’t properly appreciate.

We will be dropping the majority of players we sign in the second half of the Fantasy Football Draft within weeks. Unless it’s your first year in fantasy football, you can take a look at drafts from last season. How many players who took round 8 or later remained on the rosters throughout the season? Not much, right?

When researching players who have been dropped, you may also notice that some players have had great years. These are the sleeper picks we’re looking for.

No one has ever won their league by getting face value from every player. If every player you draft returns the value of the round you drafted them in, congratulations, you’ve locked in fourth place.

The real success lies in finding players who will exceed their average draft position (ADP). Sometimes all it takes is one guy picked in the 10th round to flip the value of the fourth round so you have a dominant team. These are the players you need to look out for.

How to find sleepers

It is important to know where you get your information. If you read an article talking about a fifth-round pick as a sleeper, you might want to question the validity of that claim. Of course, players can be underrated at any turn. However, for a player to truly be a sleeper, they need to be someone who later goes into drafts, usually after everyone has made enough picks to complete their starting lineup.

At Pro Football Network, we publish dormant articles every year featuring players behind in drafts who are underrated. Eventually, you’ll learn enough to be able to identify players on your own.

At the time (which for me is the mid-2000s) true sleepers existed. There were players I could draft that my league teammates didn’t know or knew very little about.

In modern fantasy football, it has become much more difficult to recruit sleepers. Fantasy football has exploded over the past decade. With this explosion came hundreds of fantasy football websites and thousands of articles published every day. The abundance of information out there basically guarantees that someone writes something about everyone.

While that makes it hard for sleepers to stay under the radar, there’s a silver lining there. When you actually find a player or two that no one really talks about, the benefit is compounded because all the other false sleepers will have seen their ADP increase… but not your guy.

Each season, several players fall behind in drafts that far exceed expectations. The sleepers are outside. You just need to know where to look to find them.

Jason Katz is a fantasy analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and discover more of his work here.

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