Nabbing a fantasy football sleeper is probably one of the most difficult aspects of the game. A sleeper is drafted in the later rounds of a fantasy football draft and turns out to be a pretty decent option. Basically, drafting someone who could be a sleeper is taking a chance on a player late in a draft and hoping he fills a void in a fantasy football lineup.
A sleeper could be a rookie or even a veteran who has waited to see some more playing time. Many players in the NFL need time to develop before they can really have an impact. Here are five players that are possibly the biggest sleeper candidates of the 2016 NFL season.
The New York Giants’ rookie wide receiver is going to have some serious completion this season. Competing with Odell Beckham and Victor Cruz is not going to be an easy task. However, Shepard was referred to as the biggest sleeper of the 2016 NFL Draft by different analysts. In Ben McAdoo’s offense, Shepard has a clear path to the spotlight.
Defenses are going to be more concentrated on covering Beckham and Cruz rather than an unknown, let alone a rookie. Shepard is going to have multiple opportunities this season as possibly the Giants number two or three wide receiver. He is worth a flier in all draft formats and may even be the number one fantasy football sleeper in 2016.
Normally, the New England Patriots’ running backs should never be looked at in any draft format. This is strange for a team that usually ends up being a fantasy conglomerate in all the other positions. Head coach Bill Belichick is to blame for this. Belichick proved that running backs are completely disposable. Through this method, he stumbled upon Dion Lewis, who may have led many fantasy players to some gold in the tail end of the 2015 NFL season.
Lewis proved to be very valuable in PPR leagues especially because he was a huge part of the Patriots’ passing game as well. A running back who can catch the ball is always worth a look in any format. Lewis may be the first Patriots’ running back to break the mold and remain a consistent option. It’s safe to say he is a solid fantasy football sleeper this year.
Coming into the 2015 NFL season, Jace Amaro was already considered a sleeper. A devastating injury cut his season short, and Amaro couldn’t be part of one of the best offenses the New York Jets have ever had. In the midst of an ugly quarterback controversy, Amaro may come out smelling like roses in 2016. He has fantasy football sleeper written all over him.
The odds are that Geno Smith is going to be the starting quarterback for the Jets. Although his arm strength is quite admirable, Smith has horrible accuracy when it comes to passing the ball deep down the field. This is where Amaro comes into play. When most quarterbacks struggle to pass the ball deep, they usually rely on their tight ends as a security blanket. If Smith can’t move the ball deep down the field, it means he’s going to be passing shorter distances to his reliable tight end. Amaro is worth a late flier in all fantasy football formats.
Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor has loads of talent and athleticism. His first year under center as the Bills’ starting quarterback was pretty decent. Now that he has a year of experience as a full-time starter, things should begin to get interesting for the Bills’ offense.
Taylor has a plethora of weapons like Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Leonard Hankerson, LeSean McCoy, and Karlos Williams. Not to mention Taylor is a versatile weapon himself. He’s able to throw the ball and run out of the pocket with it. Taylor passed 3,035 yards while throwing 20 touchdowns and rushing for an additional four touchdowns. Taylor could have put up even better numbers if injuries didn’t deter him this past season. Taylor is the most obvious fantasy football sleeper of the entire group.
Chris Hogan is a name many fantasy football players may not even know. Hogan has been a practice squad member of multiple teams, including the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Miami Dolphins. He eventually made the Buffalo Bills roster and stayed with the team for three years. When his contract expired, it wasn’t long before the New England Patriots realized his talent and pounced on him.
Hogan made some pretty amazing catches in his career with the Bills. He caught the most yards ever in his career last season. Even though he only caught 450 yards and scored two touchdowns in 2015, his improvement was clear. Hogan definitely has the talent to be a major player in the New England Patriots’ offense. He may be the true definition of a fantasy football sleeper because he has flown under the radar of many fantasy players.
[Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]