Sleeper is arguably the most “Google” searched buzzword in Fantasy Football in the months and weeks leading up to league drafts. Why is that you may ask? Simple, anytime we can score something big at much less cost – we’re all in.
Case in point, the 2012 sleeper of the year, Washington Redskins pounder Alfred Morris. Morris finished in the top two of every rushing stat line last season with 335 attempts, 1613 yards and an insane 13 scores. Those are top tier running back stats, yet either you or someone in your league drafted Morris late, or grabbed him off wires. Super score, cheap price tag – sleeper.
Was Morris a fluke, complete luck, did someone come with insight, or maybe all of the above?
It is my contention that although luck is a factor, there are predetermined circumstances in place that if identified give you the leg up on finding your sleeper for the upcoming fantasy season.
Last season Morris screamed sleeper pick, and if you listened you capitalized all season. Instead, most focused on Mike Shanahan’s label as the running back Lucifer in Fantasy Football circles.
However, for those who focused on history and circumstance instead of stereotype, their reward was Morris’ services in 2012. The Morris factors – no clear-cut starter in Washington, an offseason tweaking of the playbook to accommodate Robert Griffin III‘s skill set, and the knowledge that historically Shanny indeed has stuck with a starter if he was dependable and productive.
A new season is once again upon us, and the treasure hunt for the next sleeper is in full throttle.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd could be a candidate. One year ago, his name was passed around with anticipation in fantasy circles following a record breaking season at Notre Dame along with the knowledge he would line up opposite superstar wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
Of course the wheels completely detached from the Cardinals bandwagon as they had a forgettable season on offense; their line was atrocious, Fitzgerald fell from the fantasy globe, there was a carousel of quarterbacks and predictably Floyd was fantasy irrelevant.
His minimal impact last season and the fresh wounds of those scorched by Cardinals offensive players one year ago has his name flying well below draft day radars. Once again, stereotype may cloud glaring circumstances.
Things are different in Arizona, and with a new head coach comes a new game plan. Plus, this isn’t just any new head coach in the “Valley of the Sun,” this is the reigning NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians. Arians’ story is well documented, and his success in Indianapolis has to have Cardinals fans excited. It should have fantasy managers excited as well.
Next, the Cardinals have addressed their offensive line and quarterback quandaries of a season ago during the offseason. Arizona signed Chicago Bears‘ Chilo Rachal, drafted Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina and Earl Watford from James Madison, and then signed veteran quarterback Carson Palmer. In addition, the running game was given a boost when Rashard Mendenhall joined the roster during free agency.
Finally, looking back at Floyd one season ago he did find success down the stretch despite the plethora of Cardinal offensive issues listed above. In his final three games of the year Floyd caught 17 balls for 250 yards and a score. Compared to some, these may appear as mediocre stats. Because he was a member of the Cardinals offense I believe they qualify as exceptional stats.
More significant, the improved numbers down the stretch showed growth in the rookie receiver.
A change of head coach, quarterback, playbook, run game and offensive line combined with proof of improvement down the stretch for Floyd seem to be key ingredients in the formula that could equate to a more than productive season for the second year receiver. He currently has an ADP of 13.9 as the 47th ranked wide receiver. Your risk is low, but your return on a minimal investment could be exponential in 2013.