These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about than we had room for in the dynasty capsules for each team. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.
We’ll just never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Demaryius Thomas, Ryan Mathews or even someone like Stevan Ridley. You’re all too good for that.
While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, we figure there’s value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and even re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league. You may even consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.
LaQuan Williams, WR BAL
Age: 23 (6/27/88)
Baltimore’s LaQuan Williams, a virtual unknown from the University of Maryland and an NFL undrafted rookie free agent in 2011, continues to turn heads in camp. But what can you really expect from an oft-injured collegiate receiver who never recorded more than 15 receptions in a season? In fact, his total production at Maryland amounted to only 33 receptions, 436 yards and three touchdowns – underwhelming to say the least. Yet, not only did Williams beat the odds by drawing an invite from the Ravens last year, he also managed to make the active roster. In his 2011 rookie campaign, Williams hauled in four receptions for 46 yards.
At 6′ and 200 pounds with a pedestrian 4.55 forty, Williams is anything but elite on any level. But what he lacks in measurables, he makes up for in work ethic and some level of natural ability. With both Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith locked into starting roles and relatively new acquisition Jacoby Jones likely to serve as the WR3, Williams finds himself battling for a WR4 role along with Tandon Doss and 2012 rookie Tommy Streeter. Trending camp performance to date, both Doss and Streeter have been unimpressive and inconsistent while Williams continues to stand out. In fact, he’s been a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco early in camp.
With the Ravens likely to keep six receivers on the roster, two of LaQuan Williams, Tandon Doss, David Reed and Deonte Thompson will likely stick. If the Ravens elect to only take five receivers into the season, only one from that group will be kept. This assumes that rookie selection Tommy Streeter is a given to last at least one season. With the Ravens looking to further establish a consistent passing attack, especially in the red zone, Streeter adds a size element that has been missing on the roster. In short, Streeter will find his way onto the roster with all but a disastrous camp and preseason. The most recent news out of Baltimore has also highlighted Deonte Thompson as coming on strong. In short, Williams must continue with his strong camp performances as the competition is fierce.
Working in Williams’ favor is the fact that veteran receiver Anquan Boldin is aging quickly and the Ravens will be looking to ensure there exists enough youth at the position.. Working against him is the fact that from this point forward until the start of the season, bigger named receivers will be finding their way to the trading block and youthful production outweighs youthful potential at every turn. An addition of Green Bay’s James Jones or Arizona’s Early Doucet, for example, is enough to drastically impact the prospects of Williams.
A sleeper receiver at the bottom of a roster is never an easy forecast to make. It takes a special recipe of talent, work ethic, situation and the receiver’s good fortune to eventually get an opportunity that can be leveraged into further snaps. It’s likely that a receiver such as LaQuan Williams isn’t on the radar of any other coach in your league, but that is what this exercise is all about. We feel that Williams has enough of these four ingredients to warrant further attention as camps progress and the preseason games begin. He does not need to be rostered now, but keep his name on your prospect list as you do your homework.