First-round fantasy football picks don’t win titles. Late-round sleepers are what win titles. Anyone knows to draft Jordy Nelson over J.J. Nelson, but knowing whether to target each Nelson at their specific draft slotting is key. Jordy will help you not lose, but J.J. could help you win.
We have six late round sleepers and bargains who will ensure your victory this season. Win Fantasy Football in 2017 by outsmarting your league and picking these players.
Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate Fantasy Football in today’s NFL Sports Debate.
What is a sleeper?
Technically, anyone can be a sleeper if you think their production will surpass their average draft position. The former Nelson could be a sleeper if you think as such and he ends up being the best player in fantasy this year. After all, he’s being selected in the second round in most drafts. But that’s not what most people mean when they say sleeper. Let’s make some qualifications.
A sleeper is someone being drafted outside the top 100 players. It is not a defense and never a kicker. That player should be expected to outperform their draft slot by multiple rounds. We aren’t helping anyone by saying the 105th ranked player should be going around pick 95. My sleepers start exactly at pick No. 100 (according to Fantasy Pros consensus ADP).
Jeremy Maclin, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens
Todd Salem: Maclin used to be a highly sought after fantasy player. After disappointment and injury, those days are over. He is on his third team in four years. But now no one is giving him the time of day in drafts. With the dearth of receiving options in Baltimore, Maclin could flourish. We already know what he can do at full strength, and if Joe Flacco returns to huck the ball down the field to him, he could put up monster numbers. Maclin is going in the 10th or 11th round, but he could finish as a top 20 player at his position. He has that pedigree.
Tyrell Williams, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
Todd Salem: Wide receiver is incredibly deep these days. Williams is going off the board as the 45th receiver, which is just insane. He is probably the number-one option on a potent offensive team with a Pro Bowl quarterback. I know Keenan Allen is ahead of Williams on the depth chart, but can we see Allen play one game (let alone a full season) before we can count on him? Meanwhile, all Williams did last year was haul in 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in just 12 starts.
Jack Doyle, tight end, Indianapolis Colts
More from NFL Spin Zone
- NFL 2017: Best picks against the spread, Week 11 h ago
- NFL 2017: Win-Loss predictions for all 32 teams2h ago
- Fantasy Football: Week 1 players to avoid in FanDuel and DraftKings3h ago
- Atlanta Falcons: Injury report for Week 1 vs Bears4h ago
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 3 Bold predictions vs Texans4h ago
Todd Salem: If you don’t grab one of the top few tight ends, wait on the position. And then keep waiting, and wait some more. There is little that will separate the fifth or sixth TE in the early to middle rounds and Doyle, the 13th TE, in the 14th round. In fact, Doyle may be better. In his first chance at major playing time last season, Doyle put up quality TE numbers. He finished 13th in fantasy points despite ranking 19th in targets. I’m interested to see what he can do with a year of that experience under his belt.
Don’t steal my sleepers. Who do you have your eye on in the later rounds of fantasy drafts? Anyone outside the top 100 strike your fancy?
Matthew Stafford, quarterback, Detroit Lions
Dan Salem: For those who agree that waiting on quarterbacks is a smart draft strategy, Stafford is a steal in the later rounds. He hasn’t missed a game since 2010 and has consistently put up big-time numbers. Since the Lions are not a great team, expect them to pass a lot in order to win. Stafford just became the richest player in NFL history and he’s earned it. Ranked as the 14th quarterback and 113 overall on average, he will perform like all but the top three players at his position. That’s a great sleeper pick for sure.
Philip Rivers, quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers
Dan Salem: I like Rivers for all of the same reasons that Stafford is a great sleeper pick. He is ranked just behind Stafford and plays for a dynamic offense in a division up for grabs. Enough about the quarterbacks, because they are greatly undervalued, especially in leagues that allow a quarterback as your flex player.
Sterling Shepard, wide receiver, New York Giants
Dan Salem: Shepard is going to be a boom or bust player this year, but if he booms then talk about a major sleeper pick. I don’t believe that Brandon Marshall is the force he once was, but he will certainly steal defensive attention away from Shepard. With Odell Beckham Jr. often getting two defenders, this leaves Shepard in favorable one on one matchups or loose zone coverage a lot.
He’s currently ranked 148th overall on average, but Shepard could easily explode into the upper tier of wide receivers. With Beckham battling an ankle injury, Eli Manning needs Shepard to continue improving upon his solid rookie year. He has sleeper written all over him.