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The 2018 Turf Sleeper Cell: The Boogey Men Are Back

Five For Chili’s by Belinda Hankins Miller is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The 2018 Turf Sleeper Cell: The Boogey Men Are Back

Estimated Reading Time: 9 Minutes

When I first started this site, the emphasis was Daily Fantasy Sports. I have had a lot of success playing Draftkings and FanDuel and was looking for a way to express my knowledge of the game. The first post entitled “How It Works” went something like this:

“Let’s start by getting something out of the way. I’m not an expert. I’m not Peter Gammons, Bill James, Theo Epstein or Buster Olney. If anything, I’m closer to Aaron Boone; just a guy who knows a few things about baseball, has a platform to share them, but in the end, isn’t known for incredible analysis. I’m just a guy. I’m simple, and in the world of Daily Fantasy Baseball, simplicity is key. So how’s this gonna work?

Every day, I am going to let you in on 3 guys I am UP on for the day, and 3 guys I am DOWN on. The blog is called Three Up, Three Down for a reason. In between, I’ll talk strategy, I’ll talk who to take, picking against a pitcher, picking against a team, a ballpark, even picking against the other DFS players. I’m here to help you crack the code of the day’s lineups using stats, rumor, legend and most important, my gut feelings on how well David Ortiz is going to hit Nick Tropeano in the second game of a three game stint in Anaheim. “

There’s a secret key to playing Daily Fantasy Sports hidden in that passage. It’s the most important piece of advice I can give you to be successful playing DFS sports. You have to pick against other players.

That’s what wins. You could have a full lineup of the top performer players, but if 90 other people have that lineup, your winnings will be significantly smaller. That’s where Sleepers come in.

A Sleeper is a player who you believe is going to break out and have a very, very productive week, but not many people know about. For example, Dak Prescott was a sleeper last year. Everyone thought Tony Romo was the guy who would take Dallas the distance, but after another back injury, Dak was named the starter ahead of the 2016 season. And he went off.

Dak went primarily undrafted in most 2016 drafts, as he was an untested rookie, but now he’s a stud with an arsenal of weapons and a strong running game behind him. He was a sleeper and is now a bonafide play each week.

Another example of a sleeper is Kareem Hunt, a guy most of you probably didn’t know existed until he murdered the New England Patriots Defense Week 1 of the 2017 season. SLEEPER.

So what we’ve decided to do here at the Turf. It’s our own kind of Fantasy Football, all based around Sleepers.

-Justin Colombo, Head Writer at The Turf


Each week our writers will make one sleeper pick each, in the hopes of that guy pulling through and exploding for a big week. We’ll note reasons why we like that player over another so on and what not. Each writer will accrue points every week from their pick, but there’s a catch.

Since it’s about sleepers, we’re going to take the DraftKings ownership percentage and subtract that amount of points. For example, if you select Drew Brees as your pick and he scored 50 points, but his ownership is at 50%, you’ll only score 25. If your Running Back, Wide Reciever, Tight End, or Defense’s ownership is under 5%, your points will multiply, 5% is multiplied by 1.5, 4% by 2, 3% by 3, 2% by 4, 1% by 5, and less than 1% by 6. For Quarterbacks, the multipliers are halved, 4% by 1.25, 3% by 1.5, 2% by 2, 1% by 2.5, and less than 1% by 3.

At the end of the season, the top 2 writers with the most points will split a $100 prize pool $75/$25.

Do you follow that? Picking a sleeper is the most important thing you can do for a DFS lineup, and low ownership allows you to score those points and no one else!

So without any further adieu..


Charlie Forray

James White – RB – New England Patriots 

James White has proven he is insanely dependable for The Patriots. He also has the benefit of picking up touches week one with Rex Burkhead a tad banged up. Most importantly, this is my long shot call for the year. James White will finish in the top ten of overall running backs in fantasy. He gets in the end zone A LOT. Also, I’ve Never seen someone follow their blockers as well as James White. Also, I’m a Pats fan. So I’m biased. 🤷‍♂️

Matt DaSilva

Patrick Mahomes – QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Full disclosure: I haven’t really read the rules of this game and don’t really follow football very closely. I was heartily made fun of when I picked Patrick Mahomes in the 6th Round of my Fantasy football draft last week. (Shoutout to my high school fantasy league – 12 years strong, or something like that.) 

I’m not 100% sure who is playing this week and where they’re playing or what, but I’m sticking with Mahomes. 
Get sleepy.

Chris Plonka

James White – RB, New England Patriots

Normally, I stay away from New England running backs, due to the run by committee style the team uses, but given Julian Edelman’s suspension and Sony Michel still making his way back from injury, Brady needs reliable targets and as a pass catcher James White is about as reliable as they come for this team. I expect him to have a strong game. Of course, predicting Bill Belichick is a fool’s errand.

Sam Silva 

Andy Dalton – QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati has vastly improved their offensive line, giving Dalton at least a preseason  perceived pocket and time to throw.

    In an interview Dalton said “I felt really comfortable with the way that I played,” Dalton said. “There’s a couple things I wish I could have done a little bit better. Just with the way this offense has moved and the way we are doing things, I feel really good about where we are.”

That seems enough for me to get behind. Plus, the Colts allowed the 6th most fantasy points to QBs in 2017.

Joe Dalfonso

Javorius Allen – RB, Baltimore Ravens

I’m basically banking on Peterman throwing more to the Ravens than his own team, leading to Baltimore taking a big early lead. Allen is both a threat rushing and receiving and may get a lot of garbage time if Baltimore runs away with the game. The Bills has one of the worst rushing defenses last year, giving up over 125 yards per game. This pick also allows me the opportunity to ask the question…is Joe Flacco elite?

Ben Salus

Dede Westbrook – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Owned in 8% of ESPN Fantasy Leagues, Dede Westbrook should have a solid game against the Giants. He’ll be the second or third receiving option (Marquise Lee is out with a torn ACL) and won’t be guarded by the inimitable Janoris Jenkins, rather the mistake prone Eli Apple.

Hoping to see 6 receptions for 70+ yards and a touchdown!

Matt Branigan

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Jaguars.

I may be going deep with this pick, and picking a tight end is risky. But Seferian-Jenkins will be going up against a Giants defense that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season at 16.8 points per game (per Bleacher Report). Giants, for whatever reason, have struggled to cover tight ends. Bortles doesn’t really have a big gun arm, and he lost a lot of weapons from last season (Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Mercedes Lewis) as well as Marquis Lee for this season when Lee went down with a knee injury in preseason.

Keelan Cole is capable of stretching the field, but I expect Seferian-Jenkins to be a big red zone target for Jacksonville this week. ESPN has Seferian-Jenkins TE17 for Week 1.

Mark DiGiammarino 

Cameron Meredith – WR, New Orleans Saints

The former Bears WR finally gets to play with a Pro Bowl caliber QB in Drew Brees. Coming off a lost season due to an ACL tear, Meredith is flying below the DFS and fantasy radar, but is worth a start. The Bucs defense allowed 260.6 yards per game in the air last season, so the speedy Meredith will get targets despite Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn being in front of him on New Orleans’ depth chart.

Andrew O’Neill

Bruce Ellington – WR, Houston Texans

Belichick’s defenses have always been built around matchups, with the first and foremost priority being to neutralize opponents’ biggest threat(s).

Watson will do damage with his legs, but through the air he may find the most openings underneath, to guys like Ellington.

The Patriots struggled in coverage early in the season in 2017, and as always in these dominant Brady years, they will live the life of holding leads, which means giving up lots of yards and medium amounts of points.

Matteo Mills

Jordan Wilkins – RB, Indianapolis Colts

Why? Because the Colts are my team for better or for worse, and I like to take a shot at maximum disappointment! He also had a monster preseason, averaging 2.7 yds per carry, so there’s not much negative here.  But in all seriousness, the pre-season is just the pre-season.  He runs much better than those stats, and he will get a shot to start this week with Marlon Mack likely sitting out.  If the Colts can get ahead early and get him a couple goalline opportunities, he has a shot at a solid week.

Ryan Kelly

Cordarrelle Patterson – WR, New England Patriots

Disclaimer: I’m not very good at this. But my gut is telling me that Patterson will be a small but noticeable factor in this week’s matchup against the Texans. Perhaps the beneficiary of a couple big screen plays. I’m thinking like 3 catches for 50 yards, maybe 1 carry for another 10. Who knows. But because I picked him, expect him to fumble the opening kickoff and spend most of the game on the bench.

Meg Schneider

Tyrod Taylor – QB, Buffalo Bills

Hard Knocks is inspirational and I am HERE for the Browns this season.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm 

Emmanuel Sanders – WR, Denver Broncos

On paper, it looks like the Broncos WR’s should have a tough time against that vaunted Seattle secondary. Only, that Seattle defense is in no way what it used to be. I think one of the two Bronco’s main targets is going to go off with Case Keenum under center now (who by the way, was a potential MVP candidate for a while last season), and I’m going with Sanders in this game as Thomas will likely warrant the most attention from the defense Seattle actually has left.

Kevin Michael Morin

Mike Gillislee – RB, New Orleans Saints

Obviously Alvin Kamara is the Saints number 1. With Mark Ingram’s suspension, Gillislee has replaced Boston Scott as the Saints number 2, at least for the beginning of the season. His contributions were up and down in New England last season, but he has the opportunity to get more touches and break out in the beginning of this season before giving way for Ingram’s return.

Justin Colombo – The Reigning Champion

John Ross – WR, Cincinnati Bengals

All you need to know about John Ross is this blurb from his third preseason game this season:

“Ross smoked Vontae Davis for a 57-yard touchdown on the Bengals’ first pass of the game. The pass was well underthrown by Andy Dalton, and Ross had to stop and wait for it. However, he was able to beat a couple of tackle attempts to dance into the end zone. Ross has obvious big-play ability that made him a 2017 first-rounder.”

You probably forgot about John Ross and I’m banking on the fact that other players are not going to touch anyone as deep as Ross in the WR pool. If he’s going to help Dalton move the ball downfield and he isn’t A.J. Green, I’m here for it. 



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