It's that time of year again. Are you ready for some (fantasy) football?! I don't know about you, but I get hyped for football season year after year not only because the NFL's on-field product is so freakishly amazing, but also due to the rise in popularity of fantasy football.
Every year is a new chance to put your name on that traveling trophy and earn bragging rights over your friends, family and co-workers. One of the major keys to having a successful season is picking some fantasy football sleepers, whether it be in the draft or off the waiver wire. (Try Draft on iOS or Android)
A sleeper is a player whose performance will exceed his projected points and/or draft position set at the beginning of the season.
For example, last year Jay Ajayi was one of the biggest sleepers in the league. After rushing for just 187 yards and 1 touchdown in 2015, he exploded for 1,272 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2016, which was far more than anyone could have ever expected from him, even after the early retirement of his backfield teammate, Arian Foster.
A sleeper on your team can take you to the next level. The later you can snag one of these sneaky superstars, the better. If they go undrafted, that is ideal. But if you have to grab them in a late round of the draft, that's perfectly fine as well. Below are my top 3 sleepers at each major position. Keep an eye out for these guys; they could lead you to the fantasy football history books.
Carson Wentz – Philly's franchise QB had a great preseason and offseason, plus now has some new weapons to work with on offense. Look out for Wentz to make some noise this season.
Jameis Winston – If you're coming to the end of your draft and still haven't pulled the trigger on a QB, Famous Jameis is your man. If he can keep his turnovers to a minimum, he may end up in the top 10 fantasy points this season with the Bucs' dynamic offense.
Tyrod Taylor – Tyrod Taylor is shaping up to be one of the best dual-threat options at QB. If you can snag him in the 10th round or later, consider that the steal of the draft. He will put up consistently solid numbers for you every week.
Kareem Hunt – With Spencer Ware banged up right now, the Chiefs will turn to the explosive Kareem Hunt as their primary ballcarrier. Kansas City has proven year after year that they can support any running back they put on the field. Why would things be any different with an elusive back like Hunt?
Paul Perkins – The Giants' backfield has been a mess for years. Finally it looks like they may have found a guy who can give them what they need both as a ballcarrier and pass catcher. Paul Perkins may not be an RB1 now, but by mid-season, you're going to regret not snagging this guy. Look for him to be what NYG has been looking for since their Super Bowl days.
Joe Mixon – Bengals rookie Joe Mixon will be Cincinnati's go-to guy this year but he's not yet on the draft level with LeVeon Bell, David Johnson or even the suspended Ezekiel Elliott. Most projections show him going in rounds 4 or 5, so if he's still around by then, jump on that. He has the firepower to make a run for Rookie of the Year, and the line to support that.
Jamison Crowder – With the addition of Terrelle Pryor and the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Washington will need someone to step up big for the offense. Crowder was already on the verge of becoming a superstar last season, so look for him to have a true breakout year this season.
Tyreek Hill – Another Chiefs player on the list of sleepers, Tyreek Hill showed just how much of a game changer he can be last season. Now he will have a more regular role in the offense, and of course, continue to be a major threat as a return man. This guy will have some explosion games throughout the season to win you those games you probably shouldn't have won.
Danny Amendola – You could honestly enter any New England wideout other than Brandin Cooks and consider it a sleeper. I chose Amendola because his game closely mimics the style of Julian Edelman, who will sit out the year with a torn ACL. I think Chris Hogan is another viable option here, but Amendola has a bit more experience in the Patriots system.
Jack Doyle – Jack Doyle showed what he was capable of last season as he earned the starting role in Indianapolis, but now he's going to be even more valuable as a safety outlet for whichever struggling QB they decide to start. And even when Andrew Luck returns, Doyle was his favorite red zone target last season, so you can expect that connection to continue.
Hunter Henry – Henry got some decent looks last season as Chargers' legend Antonio Gates battled injury. Now it's Henry's time to shine and build off last year's rookie showcase. Philip Rivers has always loved hitting his tight ends—expect Henry to get plenty of balls his way all year.
Austin Hooper – Another under-the-radar name you need to know is Austin Hooper. Last year, the rookie TE came on late for the Falcons and played a big role in their run to the Super Bowl. With so many weapons on their dynamic offense, defenses will slip up and forget about Hooper in the red zone. Look for him to double his numbers from last year.