The word "sleeper" has several definitions. But in the world of fantasy football, it refers to a player who comes out of nowhere and exceeds statistical expectations.

The 2007 NFL season was a virtual cornucopia of sleepers, as Derek Anderson, David Garrard, Earnest Graham, Ryan Grant, Kenny Watson and Wes Welker were just a few of the players that made significant contributions for their respective teams when far less was expected of them in fantasy land. Some sleepers are impossible to predict (Grant saw a chance only after several backfield injuries occured in Green Bay), while other prognosticators take the easier path and label a player like Earnest Graham a sleeper for 2008.

Unless you lived under a rock last season, Graham is not a sleeper.

In our never ending quest to assist fantasy owners in their quest for a league championship, here's a look at 10 legitimate sleeper candidates heading into this season.

Team Player Analysis

New York Giants

Ahmad Bradshaw
Running back
Sleepers can sometimes emerge from behind injured starters, so it's hard not to like Bradshaw this season. He won't top the Giants' depth chart, but he will be second behind the injury-prone Brandon Jacobs. If Jacobs can't avoid injuries again this season, Bradshaw could become a fantasy starter. He's a solid handcuff for Jacobs and is well worth a look in the middle to late rounds of all drafts.


Team Player Analysis

Seattle Seahawks

Nate Burleson
Wide receiver
Burleson had some real sleeper value with Minnesota earlier in his career, but he failed to meet expectations and fell off the fantasy radar. With Deion Branch (knee) likely to miss part of the season and Bobby Engram (shoulder) also out of action, however, Burleson's draft stock has been renewed. Based on what should be a prominent role in Seattle, Burleson could push 60-70 catches in 2008. He'll come off the board in the middle rounds in most drafts.


Team Player Analysis

New York Jets

Jerricho Cotchery
Wide receiver
Cotchery is a combination sleeper and breakout candidate. He tied a career best in receptions (82) and recorded a career-high 1,130 yards last season, but Cotchery has only scored eight times at the NFL level. But with Brett Favre now under center, Cotchery could reach that mark in 2008 alone. He has all the tools to emerge as a red-zone target for Favre, so owners should see him as a high-end No. 3 fantasy wideout. He'll come off the board in the middle rounds.


Team Player Analysis

Oakland Raiders

Ronald Curry
Wide receiver
Curry, a former collegiate quarterback, could well become the No. 1 wide receiver in Oakland this season. The loss of Drew Carter for the season and questions about Javon Walker's knee and desire to play football could turn Curry into a valuable asset for owners. In fact, the North Carolina product has a chance to produce career numbers across the board in 2008. He should be seen as a potential No. 3 fantasy wideout and will come off the board in the middle to late rounds.


Team Player Analysis

Chicago Bears

Matt Forte
Running back
Forte landed in a tremendous situation in Chicago, where the release of Cedric Benson left the top spot on the depth chart open for a new starter. The rookie made good on his chance to shine and is now the top runner for coach Lovie Smith. While he could lose some carries to a few veterans, Forte has the tools to be a three-down back at the NFL level. He could become a viable No. 2 fantasy runner and is well worth a middle-round selection.


Team Player Analysis

Miami Dolphins

Ted Ginn Jr.
Wide receiver
Ginn, a first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, will have a chance to shine this season. He's the unquestioned No. 1 wideout in Miami, and his immense speed will help stretch the field. With an experienced quarterback in Chad Pennington now at the helm of the offense, Ginn will see more than his share of opportunities to score fantasy points. He should be seen as a viable No. 4 or 5 fantasy wideout and an attractive middle- to late-round pick in drafts.


Team Player Analysis

Chicago Bears

Greg Olsen
Tight end
With Bernard Berrian (Vikings) and Muhsin Muhammad (Panthers) out of the mix, Olsen will see a much larger role in Chicago. Much like fellow Miami products Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, Olsen has the skills and abilities to be a No. 1 fantasy tight end. He could turn into one of the better draft bargains of the season, so take a chance on him in the middle to late rounds as a potential fantasy starter.


Team Player Analysis

Denver Broncos

Tony Scheffler
Tight end
With Javon Walker (Raiders) out of the mix and a glut of unspectacular wide receivers in a competition to start opposite Brandon Marshall, Scheffler has a chance to see a far greater role in Denver's pass attack this season. He's a solid red-zone threat and has developed a nice rapport with Jay Cutler, so look for Scheffler to emerge into a viable No. 1 fantasy tight end in 2008.


Team Player Analysis

Detroit Lions

Kevin Smith
Running back
Smith was a productive runner at Central Florida and has a ton of sleeper value in an unimpressive Detroit backfield. Tatum Bell, who was inactive for most of last season, and the oft-injured Brian Calhoun are the lone backs in the mix for carries, so Smith has a chance to start right out of the gate for Rod Marinelli. He should be targeted as a No. 3 fantasy back in most fantasy drafts.


Team Player Analysis

New Orleans Saints

Pierre Thomas
Running back
The Saints have two running backs (Reggie Bush, Deuce McAllister) who are coming off knee injuries, and the latter has had two ACL reconstructions in the last three years. Enter Thomas, who showed flashes of potential in limited work last season. While he has little chance to be a featured back, Thomas could see a greater role in the team's offense than most people expect in 2008. He will be worth a late-round flier in those fantasy leagues with 12-plus teams.


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