With it being Fantasy Football draft season the internet is buzzing with draft class sleepers. From guys that should see immediate impact to guys that are long term holds the list gets dissected over and over again by countless bloggers and fans.
Here in the sports card world we are looking at a different criteria for what qualifies as a sleeper pick. Here are a few things that you need to look at when you consider what players to stock up on before they get hot.
1. Depth Chart: Who drafted your player, and what spot did they take him at? Who is above him on the depth chart? How injury prone are the players blocking him from getting a start?
2. Preseason: I know, you hear it said all the time that the preseason does not matter. And the people saying that are generally right. However in the case of a sleeper pick it’s normally a player fighting for playing time and performance while the starters are in is key. If you see a guy getting first half carries, looks, touches or whatever you want to call them while the first team players are on the field then the odds that he is going to have actual NFL impact is pretty good.
3. Explosiveness: You can be right on a player all you want, but if that player is a blocking tight end or a run stopping defensive lineman then it won’t do you much good in terms of sports cards. Look for players with topped out physical attributes and big play ability above all.
4. Playbook: Does the traditional offense scheme of the team your player is on? Pass happy playbook with an elite quarterback throwing to your guy? Grinding running game with a good offensive line and your guy taking the hand off? A talented rookie can look like an elite player in the right situation.
5. The Current Card Market: Lastly you have to consider what the current market is on your guy. Did he go to the NFL rookie premier photo shoot? Does he have a boat load of autographed cards? Are his cards already super expensive? Sometimes finding the right guy involves finding the sleeper who only has a couple of pack pulled certified autographs out.
Want a guy who meets all the criteria listed above? My guy is Florida Gator and current Pittsburgh Steeler Chris Rainey. Yeah, he got his bell rung pretty good vs the Colts and that is something you should definitely keep an eye on. He is an undersized back with a history of injury at Florida. You cannot ignore the explosiveness of this guy, as he will probably light up the steeler fan base with some plays that they aren’t used to seeing out of the backfield given their history of grinding backs. Rainey could be the next Fast Willie Parker.