The most conversation from this series of articles has certainly been on the list of sleepers and super sleepers for 2010 and beyond.
As defined, sleepers are candidates who have a chance to contribute as early as this season if all the cards fell their way. Super sleepers are mostly developmental prospects with very little chance to make an impact as soon as this year.
Any site out there can list Jay Cutler, Dez Bryant, or Carson Palmer as a sleeper. We’re serious about mining deep into the rosters in search of future gems. We believe these are where you find the real sleepers for fantasy football.
As a dynasty league team owner, it’s important to keep tabs on not just the stars, but also these sleepers. After all, it would have been nice to have Arian Foster, Jermichael Finley and a host of others secured before other owners knew about them last year. They were all on watch lists like this last year.
Without further hesitation, here’s the complete list of 72 sleepers based off our 32 dynasty team capsules, just in case you missed them.
Jason Snelling, RB
It’s not out of the question that Snelling gets another opportunity to start some games this year. If not for some serious struggles on the goal line, Snelling’s 4.3 yards per carry and 4 TD’s would have been even better. He did have 5 double-digit fantasy performances, though. It was also obvious the team had faith in him to carry the ball in some serious games. If I’m a Michael Turner owner, I’m a Snelling owner, too.
Dmitri Nance, RB
Now this is REALLY going out there, but Nance is a guy to keep an eye on in camp. He may not make the team, but he showed some flashes of talent at Arizona State.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Cadillac Williams, RB
It’s pretty unusual to list a former fantasy football hero as a sleeper, but the boot fits here. Cadillac enjoyed a fine 2009 with 823 yards on 211 carries. That’s nowhere near No. 1 RB numbers, but he’s being drafted way too late in startup dynasty leagues. In the recent dynasty experts league, he was taken at #204 overall. I see him as a valuable No. 3 RB for the next couple of seasons, worthy of a pick at least four rounds sooner. He’s a player you can get on the cheap now who could help this season. Cap’n Morris has gone on record saying the offense will run through Caddy.
Josh Johnson, QB
Something bad would have to happen to Freeman for Johnson to have value, but this San Diego product has talent and showed some of it in spot duty last year. Rumor had it more than a few teams attempted to acquire him during the draft and were turned down. Add to that the jettisons of Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich, and you could have a Matt Schaub-like backup QB situation in the future.
Armanti Edwards, WR
Fans of DynasyLeagueFootball.com know how much we like the former Appalachian State Quarterback’s chances at the next level. He has an “it” factor that has shown up big time at Spring practices and what should be an incredibly difficult transition to Wide Receiver is coming much more naturally than expected.
Kenneth Moore, WR/KR
He’s more of a special teams weapon, but word has it that he lined up with the first-team offense ahead of many others at a recent practice. Is this a sign that he’s progressing towards a bigger role? It’s doubtful, but worth keeping an eye on.
Hunter Cantwell, QB
Many local beat writers believe Cantwell would be the choice if Moore fails to impress early. Can he really hold off Clausen?
Tyrell Sutton, RB
Three super sleepers off the same team, you ask? Well, it could easily be four if we counted Mike Goodson. Sutton has been very impressive in preseason action and played well in spot duty last year. He’s a long shot for production as long as Williams and Stewart are around, but either he or Goodson could be the next handcuff in a run-oriented offense.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Jimmy Graham, TE
It looks like the Saints are prepared to replace one Hurricane TE with another. Graham is a bit raw for sure, but he landed in a great spot. With Shockey’s injury history, Graham could be useful sooner rather than later.
Lance Moore, WR
Novice dynasty league owners may have forgotten about Moore, but we certainly haven’t. He was actually Drew Brees’ favorite target a couple of years ago. Last season was lost due to injury. Don’t be surprised if he re-emerges to challenge the other WRs for serious playing time.
Lynell Hamilton, RB
If Thomas struggles at all with an increased workload, it’s likely going to be Hamilton, not Reggie Bush, who is the beneficiary. Keep an eye on the L-train, for sure. If there is an injury to Thomas, he could be the steal of the year. If I’m a Thomas owner, I’m a Hamilton owner.
Martellus Bennett, TE
It seems he’s been on this list so long that he needs a CPAP machine. There’s no denying his personality or his ability, that’s for sure. A Witten injury would vault him to No. 1 TE status in a heartbeat. Remember, the Bengals reportedly made a significant offer for him and were turned down. The Cowboys like his prospects and so should dynasty owners.
He’d be very high on the overall sleeper list if not for all the WRs ahead of him on this team. In fact, the team is very high on Sam Hurd as well. It’s just going to take a significant injury or the movement of Crayton and Williams for them to get their chance.
Lonyae Miller, RB
Many people don’t know much about Miller since he played behind Ryan Mathews at Fresno State. The Cowboys weren’t on that list since they signed him quickly as an undrafted free agent. He has an uphill climb to make this team, but this kid is a bruiser. He’s already impressing the coaching staff.
Ryan Torain, RB
Nobody really fits the bill for a conventional sleeper on this team at this point, but Torain is most definitely a deep sleeper in dynasty circles. Many owners were salivating when Torain finally got his first start in Denver two years ago, but were left crushed when he tore up his knee that same night. Injuries are a huge concern for Torain and have been since he was at Arizona State, but the coaching staff is very familiar with him and we know how quickly a depth chart can change on a team led by Shanahan. He’ll likely be left off the final roster, but he’s worth monitoring.
Charles Scott, RB
A lot of people are forgetting about this bruising running back, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see him push Bell for short yardage duties this year. He could make Bell completely expendable next year.
Mike Kafka, QB
Everybody seemed to forget Kafka existed after he was taken by the Eagles in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He was one of Ron Jaworski’s pre-draft darlings and he ironically went to Jaworski’s ex-team in Philly. He possesses a skill set that translates well to the West Coast system and he’s a good stash as a developmental quarterback in a dynasty league.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Gartrell Johnson, RB
A powerful runner from Colorado State, Johnson was gobbled up by the Giants after being released from the Chargers. He’s shown an ability to be a good receiver out of the backfield and has the ability to break tackles. With Jacobs struggling and Bradshaw’s injury history, Johnson is a guy to keep your eye on.
Andre Brown, RB
At this point, I prefer Brown to Danny Ware, but either of them could fit in this category. If Brown is healthy, he has a lot of natural ability.
Ramses Barden, WR
He was about as raw as raw could be coming out of Cal Poly last year. He’s a monster target at 6’6” and 227 pounds, though. Can he be developed enough to make an impact as early as this season?
GREEN BAY PACKERS
James Starks, RB
At 6’2” and 218 pounds, Starks is well-built for a RB. If Ryan Grant gets injured or underperforms, Starks has starting RB ability. You may not know much of him since he went to school at Buffalo, but that may change one day.
Matt Flynn, QB
Flynn is certainly no challenge to Aaron Rodgers’ job as the starter in Green Bay. However, he’s been impressive enough for the Packers to let go Brian Brohm and feel comfortable with him as their backup. If Flynn shows up big in the preseason, he could find himself being a trade target for other teams in the future.
Tony Scheffler, TE
He could take advantage of Pettigrew’s injury and flourish early for this offense. If he plays well, he could make it very difficult for the Lions to take him off the field. Disregarding his talent in dynasty circles could be a mistake.
Aaron Brown, RB
It’s not inconceivable to think both Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best could deal with injuries this year. If that’s the case, Brown has shown a lot of versatility and explosiveness. He averaged nearly five yards per carry and was a preseason wonder last year. If he can avoid mental mistakes, he has a chance to make it as a third down back.
Kahlil Bell, RB
He’s squarely on the roster bubble this summer, but he showed some talent by averaging 5.5 yards per carry and rushing for 220 yards last year in spot duty behind Forte. His best run was 72 yards, which was the longest offensive gain by any Bear last season. Keep your eye on Bell, as he could make a push to get some touches.
Dan LeFevour, QB
If LeFevour touches the field this year, something has gone horribly wrong in Chicago. He does have NFL talent, though.
His decision to not do everything at the NFL combine is going to haunt him for a long, long time as it sent his stock plummeting. However, the Bears were happy to snatch him up late in the draft as a developmental prospect.
He’ll have to eventually beat out Caleb Hanie to be the backup, but that seems possible given his skill set.
Albert Young, RB
The drafting of Gerhart to play behind Peterson clouds his future a bit, but he’s a guy to keep tabs on. If he’s somehow let go, he could really emerge on another team. Favre himself has been gushing about how talented he is.
Jaymar Johnson, WR
He’s shown flashes on the practice field the past year or so. He has a lot of players to pass on the depth chart, but he has some talent for sure.
Deon Butler WR
Butler gave the Hawks reason for optimism last year when caught 15 balls for 175 yards. While those may not be eye-popping numbers, those who follow the Seahawks know how explosive he looked and how much he’s seemingly developed in the offseason.
Louis Rankin, RB
This local University of Washington product had a semi-productive stint in Oakland before landing in Seattle. The running back position is a major question mark right now and he’ll have an opportunity to make his coaches give him some thought with a productive preseason.
Mike Williams, WR
Yep, we’re going to be the first ones to put it out there. Mike Williams actually has a chance to make this team. You probably remember him mostly as a bust from Detroit, or maybe your neighbor at a local buffet, but he’s in shape right now. Combine the fact that Pete Carroll was his coach at USC and the fact he’s been impressive so far and you have a player to at least monitor for now.
Andre Roberts, WR
This rookie wide receiver is worth a roster spot in deep leagues. His stock fell a little when he went to Arizona and their roster full of talented wideouts, but this Mel Kiper, Jr. favorite from The Citadel has talent. I mean, really, has Captain Hairdo ever steered us wrong?
Derek Anderson, QB
If Leinart fails early, Anderson should take over. We’ve seen enough from Anderson to know he’s maddeningly inconsistent, but anyone throwing to Fitzgerald would have value.
John Skelton, QB
I love the Skelton pick in Arizona. He should make the team as the third quarterback and has virtually no chance of seeing the field soon, but he has great measurables. At 6’5” and 258 pounds, this small school product from Fordham has the frame and skill set to take a chance on. He was incredibly productive at the collegiate level, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards last season.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
Jason Hill, WR
Hill has been very inconsistent so far in his professional career. His nine catches, 90 yards and two scores from last year are certainly nothing to write home about. He has been a standout at camp, though. His price tag is also significantly less than Brandon Jones. Combine those factors and you should have the 49ers No. 3 wide receiver.
David Carr, QB
There must be something about former No. 1 draft picks being the 49ers backup quarterback, as David Carr takes the seat left by Alex Smith last year. Carr’s talent has never been in question. Can he finally get his confidence back after the beating he took in Houston? Time will tell, but the leash on Alex Smith won’t be incredibly long and Mike Singletary has already shown he’ll play the best player, regardless of it being the most popular of decisions. Carr is the clear backup and there’s nothing close to a quarterback controversy here, but he’s worth monitoring.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
Kenneth Darby, RB
Steven Jackson really has no clear backup at this point. It could be either Chris Ogbonnaya or Kenneth Darby. Regardless, he’d be in a time-share at worst in the event of a Steven Jackson injury.
Darby is one of those guys you’d like to pick up off waivers in a fantasy league, then trade away later for a late-round rookie pick the second he has value. The way Jackson runs, there’s always the chance of injury. Regardless, he’s probably the most talented running back on the roster outside of Jackson.
Fendi Onobun, TE
This DLF forum favorite is a converted basketball player and major project at tight end. At 6’6” and 249 pounds, he has the size and athleticism you need in a tight end. Combine that with a great opportunity on a depleted team talent-wise and you have the consummate super sleeper.
Michael Hoomanawanui, TE
He may not make the team, but any player with this many syllables should be considered dangerous. At the very least, he and Chris Ogbonnaya make for some serious scores in Scrabble.
Brian Brohm, QB
Confidence, not ability, is the question for Brohm. Let’s not forget he was once considered a top-10 NFL Draft prospect.
After struggling mightily in Green Bay and being beaten out by a less talented Matt Flynn, Brohm found himself signed by Buffalo last season.
He wasn’t impressive in game action with just 146 yards and two interceptions, but he has shown improvement in practices recently.
Combine his talent with the paper-thin depth chart and you figure he should eventually get one more chance.
Marcus Easley, WR
Easley probably won’t make much of an impact as a rookie, but he has talent nonetheless. The Bills need explosive players, and Easley averaged 18.6 yards per catch last season at UConn. He’s worth a late fourth-round pick in rookie drafts.
Levi Brown, QB
You have to figure the Bills will look to the draft next year for their quarterback of the future, but this former Troy star could make some noise if the other quarterbacks struggle. If history has shown us anything, that seems inevitable.
Lex Hilliard, RB
While he still needs to hold off Kory Sheets and beat out Patrick Cobbs, there’s no doubt that Hilliard does have some ability. With the durability and future of the Miami running back position in question, there’s a chance he sees some time and takes advantage of an opportunity.
Kory Sheets, RB
This former 49er is in a battle to make the roster again this season, but he’s always seemed to be one lucky break away from making an impact. He’s a very deep sleeper, but someone to keep tabs on into the preseason.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Taylor Price, WR
Price isn’t huge at just 6’1”, but he has 4.4 speed and is more polished than most rookie wideouts. With the unknown future of the wide receiver depth chart in New England, Price is a sneaky pick in rookie drafts.
NEW YORK JETS
Joe McKnight, RB
He’s displaying a renewed work ethic after showing up for mini-camp out of shape and overweight. With Leon Washington out of the picture, McKnight has a chance to be an effective third-down back and utility player as soon as this season. His talent has never matched his production as he struggled living up to the comparisons to Reggie Bush at USC. The Jets have to hope the light comes on for him soon. McKnight makes for a good pick in the Third Round of rookie drafts.
David Clowney, WR
This speedster is an annual sleeper in dynasty circles as he typically dominates the preseason headlines for the Jets. With the long-term depth chart at wide receiver unsettled, he merits stashing on a deep dynasty league roster.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
Shawnbrey McNeal, RB
Not many know about McNeal, but he should be a player to monitor. The former SMU Mustang had an incredibly productive year and likely should have stayed at school for his senior season. June Jones’ loss is the San Diego’s gain, though. If Mathews were to get hurt, McNeal has some ability.
Jonathan Crompton, QB
He may not make the team and probably shouldn’t push Billy Volek for the backup job soon, but he does have talent. Crompton was expected to go a little higher in the draft and has a lot of work to do this summer. Keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues, though. We all saw what happened with Charlie Whitehurst.
Eric Decker, WR
Decker’s been rising in some dynasty drafts recently, and for good reason. This former Minnesota Golden Gopher is being seen as the possible No. 2 next to Demaryius Thomas on the Broncos’ future depth chart.
Don’t let his draft stock fool you, he was taken at No. 87 because of a lisfranc fracture, not his ability. If that injury hadn’t occurred, he could have made a push to be a First Round selection in the NFL Draft. Dynasty owners need to be patient with him, but that patience could be rewarded in a big way come 2011 and beyond.
Marquez Branson, TE
This Central Arkansas product is one of our favorite super sleepers for 2010. The coaching staff is said to love his progression and improvement after being a practice squad player last season. They’ve even gone so far as to say they envision him as the pass-catching equivalent to Tony Scheffler.
While that seems to be a little over the top, let’s just remember they must have seen something in him to feel comfortable sending Scheffler to the Lions. After all, Daniel Graham isn’t exactly a fantasy dynamo, and Richard Quinn is more of a blocker than a pass catcher.
Jacoby Ford, WR
Ford was the fastest player at the combine with a 4.28 forty, so of course he ended up with the Raiders. He’s said to have run as fast as 4.126 in the past, so his speed is certifiable.
Oakland traded up into the fourth round to get him and have to hope he can show as much as last year’s fourth round wide receiver, Louis Murphy. Ford has skills to become an effective slot receiver and is worth a late round flier in rookie drafts, especially those rewarding return yardage.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Jerheme Urban, WR
He’s in line for the biggest opportunity of his career now that he’s out of Arizona. The Chiefs are desperate for help at wide receiver and Urban has shown flashes of potential in both Arizona and Seattle.
Keep an eye on the battle for the No. 3 wide receiver spot between Urban and McCluster this offseason. He’ll have to find a new nickname, though. The “Urban Cowboy” just doesn’t mesh on a team named the Chiefs.
Kesthan Moore, RB
Dynasty league owners live for finding the undrafted running back gem and nabbing him off the waiver wire before their competitors.
Moore could fit the bill as an undrafted ex-Gator who the Chiefs are said to be pleasantly surprised with.
While certainly no threat to Charles or Jones, he has a shot to be the No. 3 running back and make the team. He’s a player to monitor this preseason. Just remember, you heard it here first.
Lavelle Hawkins, WR
Hawkins has struggled through his first two seasons after being drafted out of Cal. His 178 yards combined the past two years reflect that. However, the coaching staff has been raving about him as of late. If the mental part of the game has finally clicked, Hawkins has the talent to play in the NFL and be a future dynasty league contributor.
LeGarrette Blount, RB
Blount’s story has been well chronicled. After punching an opponent from Boise State after a game last season, he was suspended for virtually all of last season at the University of Oregon.
His troubled past led him to go from a possible second round pick to going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft.
While the risk with Blount is obvious, there’s little doubt he has talent. He’s a big back with a great combination of strength and balance. If he can pull his life together, he has promise. He’s worth a fourth round pick in rookie only drafts this season and has a shot at making this team with LenDale White’s departure.
Jarett Dillard, WR
Dillard was one of DLF’s favorite sleepers last year after an incredible career at Rice. An ankle injury and a struggle to learn the playbook derailed any chance of an impact last season. This year could be a different story as Dillard has been singled out recently as the most impressive receiver in OTAs. Keep an eye on him this Summer. He’s a player who has ability most don’t know about.
Luke McCown, QB
David Garrard is simply not an elite quarterback. If the Jags start out slow and the seat gets warm under Jack Del Rio, McCown could be the beneficiary. He seems to struggle to adapt to new offenses quickly, but he’s shown a tendency to make a difference when he’s played in games. Keep tabs on the performance of Garrard early and be ready to pounce.
Deji Karim, RB
The “poor man’s Brian Westbrook” from Southern Illinois was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by Jacksonville. His future value is completely unknown. He could be anywhere from a special teams returner and third down back, to a huge home run compliment to Maurice Jones-Drew. Reports on Karim have been positive so far, so be proactive if he’s still on your wire. If not, he makes for a good fourth round pick in rookie drafts.
James Casey, TE
He only had six catches last year, but stats don’t always tell the story. The coaches have been raving about his ability and Owen Daniels’ long-term value to this franchise is in question. Could this be the next No. 1 tight end in Houston? If he is, he has major value in an explosive offense. Keep your eye on the progress of both Owen Daniels and Casey throughout the Summer.
Dorin Dickerson, WR
Dickerson is a freak athlete who will convert from the H-back and hybrid tight end position he played at the University of Pittsburgh to wide receiver in the NFL. Expect him to be on the practice squad this season, but keep tabs on his progress. His workout at the combine was one of the most impressive of any athlete, regardless of position. Your patience in dynasty leagues could be rewarded with Dickerson.
Mike Hart, RB
This former Michigan Wolverine has intestinal fortitude to match his surname. That’s right, Hart has heart. Unfortunately, he’s an undersized workhorse who will likely never carve out a starting role on a team.
Hart has drawn recent praise from the coaches for his goal-line and short yardage ability. It’s feasible he could take that role on in the event of an Addai injury.
Keep your eye on Hart’s progression this summer. He could even latch on to another team if he shows some promise but is released by the Colts.
Dudley Guice, WR
Guice is one of DLF’s long-standing favorite super sleepers. This former Northwestern State Demon stands 6’3” and runs a sub 4.4 40. You probably remember him from watching the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers during your recent trip to Canada.
If you don’t know him, look him up. He has some skills for sure and has a shot to impress at camp.
Tom Brandstater, QB
Brandstater is likely more prepared than Painter to take on a productive role if Manning was to miss time. If anything, he could be a player to monitor during the key playoff weeks in fantasy football. After all, Manning rarely plays more than a series or two at the end of seasons. Watch the preseason battle between Brandstater and Painter to see who emerges.
Seneca Wallace, QB
Wallace is an underrated performer at quarterback and has long been a Mike Holmgren favorite. Don’t be surprised to see him take over at quarterback and perform well if Delhomme struggles early. From what we’ve seen from Jake lately, an early struggle would be no surprise.
Carlton Mitchell, WR
This South Florida product has a great blend of size and speed. Standing at 6’3” and running in the 4.4s, Mitchell has the athleticism to stick in the NFL. He’s very raw and needs to improve in all areas, but he’s worthy of a late round pick in rookie drafts as a receiver with upside.
Donte Stallworth, WR
Stallworth is likely going to be used as a situational deep threat for the Ravens this season. After sitting out last season, he’s showing a real desire to work hard and turn his life around. Whether you like him or not, he’s not going away any time soon in Baltimore. He could work his way into a more prominent role later in the season and beyond.
Troy Smith, QB
The addition of Bulger should have sunk his value, but it actually didn’t. This could just be the perfect time for the Ravens to finally give Smith the trade he’s wanted for so long. His value will be dependent on the team who could possibly acquire him, but it’s a situation worth monitoring.
Jalen Parmele, RB
If Parmele can stick as a kick returner this year, it’s very possible he could replace McGahee as Ray Rice’s handcuff as early as next season. He has a lot of ground to make up, but he also has some ability.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR
The injury to Sweed and the trade of Holmes opens the door for Sanders to get some reps at wide receiver.
He’s only 5’11” and 180 pounds, but this kid can fly and excelled in the June Jones run and shoot offense at SMU. Keep an eye on Sanders as a player who eventually may become more than just a situational deep threat.
If he can develop, he has a chance to be the most famous Emmanuel since the star of Webster, Emmanuel Lewis.
Dennis Dixon, QB
It looks like Byron Leftwich is going to be the starter to begin the season, keeping the proverbial seat warm for Big Ben. However, it would be a mistake to completely discount Dennis Dixon.
He has great athletic ability, showed a lot of poise in the game he played in last year, and has great support in the locker room and with the coaching staff.
If Roethlisberger can’t pull things together, Dixon could very well have a chance at being the quarterback of the future for this team. He’s worth a roster spot in deep dynasty leagues.
Jordan Shipley, WR
Colt McCoy’s favorite target is already making an impression in Bengals camp as a reliable receiver with better than average route running ability. You won’t pick him out of a crowd because of his ordinary stature, but he’s already working with the first team as a slot receiver in practices.
He could be a nice late round pick in rookie only drafts, especially those that reward point for receptions.
Dezmon Briscoe, WR
He’ll likely be headed to the practice squad this season. Keep an eye on him, though. His speed is an issue, but he was incredibly productive at Kansas where he scored 31 touchdowns the past three years.