Aug 16, 2011
Everybody knows who the top 10 or even 15 players are at each fantasy relevant position and that why it’s a no-brainer to target guys who consistently produce monster fantasy football numbers such as Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, and Antonio Gates. Often times what separates a good fantasy team from a great one is the owner who finds value in the second half of his or her fantasy draft. These later-round difference makers are referred to as fantasy football sleepers or undervalued players.
Sleepers are typically lesser known players or those with one or two NFL seasons under their belts, while undervalued players tend to be overlooked veterans, or guys who let down fantasy owners for one reason or another the previous season. Sometimes a player’s situation gives owners pause and his draft position takes a hit. Whether a player is a true sleeper or simply undervalued, he must meet the following criteria: (1) he’s likely to outperform his preseason ranking and projections; (2) he’ll deliver a much higher return on your investment (i.e., draft pick or auction price); and (3) he isn’t a rookie.
Now that you know how we determine who made the cut, check out our 2011 Fantasy Football Sleeper Wide Receivers.
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Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
2010 Stats: 45 receptions, 582 receiving yards, 2 total touchdowns
Jordy Nelson’s popularity as a rising fantasy star took off last season thanks to his sizzling three-game playoff performance in which he amassed 21 catches, 286 yards and two scores. That breakout was punctuated by a Super Bowl performance in which he was targeted a ridiculous 15 times, corralling nine balls for 140 yards and a touchdown.
This offseason, Nelson joined New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham as two of fantasy football’s worst kept sleeper secrets. That is until the Packers re-resigned fellow wide receiver James Jones, who was expected to leave the team through free agency. The move opened up a chunk of seats on the Nelson bandwagon and has somewhat lessened his sleeper appeal heading into 2011. However a closer look reveals that it shouldn’t have a significant impact on Nelson’s opportunities. Why? Jones has plateaued in Green Bay’s offense. He should be viewed as insurance for the aging Donald Driver, who fell off a cliff last season. Randall Cobb is a rookie slot receiver who poses no threat to Nelson’s playing time.
The 26-year-old Nelson possesses the kind of size (6’3”, 217 pounds) and athleticism that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will look to exploit in single coverage as defenses focus on Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings in the high-octane Packers’ passing game. Consider the number of mouths to feed in Green Bay a blessing in disguise—Nelson has become a true sleeper again. Fantasy owners won’t need to draft him until the late rounds to get him on their rosters. He could ultimately deliver WR2 production at a WR4/WR5 price.
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