If you really want to be successful in your fantasy football leagues and contests, you have to take the right risks. Sleeper picks can be the difference between victory and failure. It’s easy to pick the star players and get guaranteed points, but the best fantasy players are able to identify the little-known players who perform well beyond expectations out on the field. These sorts of players cost very little for your team but can provide plenty of points, proving to be great value selections. Unproven players will often turn out to be disappointing choices, but every now and then you’ll find a player who manages to surprise everyone.
So today, we’ll be taking a look at some of the rookie sleepers you should include in your NFL fantasy team, with a particular focus on the players you should be able to add in the later rounds and still enjoy plenty of success with them. These players aren’t all guaranteed to be winners, but some of them should surprise the masses with decent performances and some valuable extra points for the average fantasy player. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett is essentially competing for one of the most open roles on the Seahawks squad so he should get quite a few opportunities to prove his worth this season. If you are entering leagues or contests that award plenty of points for the yardage of kickoffs and punt returns, Lockett could certainly be the man for you. In addition, he’s an impressive all-round player who should be able to offer some offensive points for your team. Since the competition for the role of wide receiver isn’t particularly fierce at the Seahawks, Lockett could certainly establish himself as the first choice for that role. In preseason training, Lockett is impressing coaches and critics alike and certainly looks set for a good season.
Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers’ first choice running back is clearly Jonathan Stewart, but this is a player with a troubled history when it comes to injuries. Stewart is great in his role but has missed over twenty games in the last five seasons. Few gamblers would bet against him encountering an injury again this season, giving young Artis-Payne the chance to prove himself on the big stage. When playing at Auburn, Artis-Payne was one of the most effective running backs in the Southeastern Conference and will hope to emulate his form in the new season. He might not have the qualities to be a stay player this season, but with Stewart’s injury tendencies, Artis-Payne should prove to be a good value pick for many fantasy teams.
Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis Colts
Most football fans will already be well aware of Phillip Dorsett. The youngster is getting a lot of attention for his training performances, but his average draft position in fantasy leagues isn’t particularly great, providing potential for a good sleeper pick. If you are looking for a player with a Martavis Bryant type skill-set, Dorsett is your dude. Naturally, people are a little wary about including Dorsett in their squads when T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson are clearly the Colts’ first choice wide receivers. However, after his performances in preseason, the Colts aren’t going to ignore Dorsett and he will certainly have time to shine this season. He was selected in the first round of the draft and is clearly valued by the team. When his time comes, he should prove his talent to the world and fantasy fans would do well to have him in their teams.
Devin Smith, New York Jets
Devin Smith could be one of the best sleeper picks of this season. As part of a national championship-winning Ohio State side last year, Smith proved his ability and will look to do the same with the Jets. He might not play a huge amount of games but he certainly has the skills to make big plays and earn your fantasy team plenty of points. If you are targeting a guy that could be a big play threat (on a team that desperately needs one), Smith managed 12 touchdowns from just 33 receptions last season. If you’re entering “best ball” leagues that involve weekly top scorers then Smith could be a great pick as he’s sure to light up the leaderboards in the weeks when he actually gets on the field.
Justin Hardy, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons have lost Harry Douglas to free agency, offering the perfect opportunity for the rookie receiver Hardy to show what he can do. Having set the record for receptions in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Hardy clearly has the potential to begin a glittering career in the NFL. He might not be the fastest or biggest runner in the game, he is a perfect fit for the wide receiver role and doesn’t have too much competition in the form of Devin Hester and Leonard Hankerson. With the Falcons attempting a lot of passes last season, Hardy should be able to earn plenty of receptions for your fantasy team.