One of the keys to winning a fantasy football league is the ability to draft Sleepers. “Sleepers” are NFL players who are drafted in much lower rounds than their ending statistics warrant. In shopping terms, this is like getting a case of Dark Lord beer for Miller prices. Talk about a buzz! In the fantasy football world, this is the path to the league championship. A perfect example of this from 2009 was Miles Austin. He came out of nowhere to haul in 81 passes for 1320 yards and 11 TDs. No one expected that. When you can grab a player at the end of your draft that becomes your number 1 producer at a certain position, you, my friends, have a true Sleeper. Below are the top fantasy football sleepers by position for the 2010 season.
2010 Fantasy Football Sleepers
QB: Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia) – The Eagles think highly enough of Kevin Kolb that they let Donovan McNabb go. Kolb did put up solid numbers in the few games he played last year. He is stepping into a great situation as a QB. He has a wealth of talented receivers in DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Brent Celek at tight end. Also, he plays for a coach that loves to throw the ball. He will be around the 12th QB off the board, which won’t happen until around the 10th round.
RB: Justin Forsett (Seattle) – Forsett put up decent numbers in a part-time role last year. On the surface, 2010 looks like more of the same as the Seahawks still have Julius Jones and then acquired Leon Washington and Lendale White. White looked like a potential Sleeper until he ended up getting kicked off the team. With Pete Carroll running the team now, I expect to see a different offensive philosophy and Forsett is the best running back on the team. Very few teams run a one-back offense, so getting a primary ball carrier out of a multi-back offense in the 9th or 10th round is a steal. Forsett runs circles around Jones and Washington is coming off of a knee injury. With 619 yards and 4 TDs running the ball and 41 catches for 350 yards and a TD in 2009, he is ready to assume a much larger role in 2010.
WR: Devin Aromashodu (Chicago) – With Mike Martz running the team, the Bears will throw even more than they did in 2009. Aside from having the most enjoyable name to announce, Aromashodu has the highest upside of any team’s number 3 receiver. He played 4 games at the end of 2009 and caught 22 passes for 282 yards and 4 TDs. Martz is looking at Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Aromashodu as the re-incarnation of his “Great Show on Turf” receivers with Aromashodu playing the role of Torry Holt. If you can get a 2001 version of Torry Holt in the 11th or 12th round of your draft, you can put some champagne on ice.
TE: Heath Miller (Pittsburgh) – Tight End is a position that is very deep and turns out Sleepers year-in and year-out. Not every Sleeper has to be a young kid. It can be a solid veteran that is overlooked in a deep position. That defines Miller. He is solid year-in and year-out but gets no press. With 789 yards and 6 TDs last year, you would think he would be a top-10 tight end, but nooooooo. With 8 tight ends putting up over 800 yards and 9 tight ends catching 6 or more TDs, he gets lost in the shuffle. He should see more action this year with Big Ben out for the first part of the season and the receiver corps down a notch due to the departure of Santonio Holmes and injury to Limas Sweed. You should be able to get Miller in rounds 13-14, which is incredible considering he will put up excellent numbers this year.
D: Chicago Bears – After a disappointing 2009 in which this defense gave up 375 points, we expect a big bounce-back this year. The Bears had issues with injuries and being on the field much too long due to many extra possessions given to the opposing offense due to Jay Cutler’s mistakes. Cutler will have a better year, the Bears will put up more points and the defense will have better production. As long as Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman stay healthy, the addition of Julius Pepper will help everyone on defense. He is a monster to block, which will help the weak-side rush and give the linebackers and defensive backs less time to have to have to cover their men. If you get credit for special teams returns, having Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Danieal Manning returning kicks is a nice bonus.
K: Shayne Graham (Baltimore) – Considering kickers should not be taken before the last two rounds, I have a hard time filling in a kicker as a Sleeper. However, I will recommend Graham. He is in the lower tier of kickers being selected, plays for a team that can move the ball but kicks a lot of field goals and has been very accurate over his career (85%, including 50% from 50+). His Bye week is week 8 so that gives you a reason to only draft him and then to find his replacement after the mid-point in your fantasy season.