I'll come clean.
Originally, I intended to write a general SLEEPERS article.
Then every name I wrote down was a sophomore.
I will likely write a more general sleeper article in the next couple/few weeks for season prep, but there's always lots of value in guys who make big statistical leaps from season to season.
In my view, sophomores are ideally situated to make that statistical leap.
1. Andrew Wiggins, SF, MIN
Now Wiggins is hardly a sleeper, but he could approach 2nd/3rd round value this year. I like him more than most pundits, and I see a major jump this season. While everybody knows who Andrew Wiggins is, he's not a household name yet. That could happen this year. Yes, seriously.
As proof that I put my money where my mouth is, I took Wiggins in the first round of a mock draft I did with the Fantasy Fix. Now that was a dynasty league mock, but I rationalize the pick extensively in the article.
2. Nerlens Noel, PF/C, PHI
In that mock, I also take Nerlens Noel higher than most.
Flat out, I love the guy.
8.1 boards, 1.8 steals, 1.9 blocks AS A ROOKIE?
The kid is 21 years old. He's not Anthony Davis, but his defensive counting stats are as good as it gets. N2 is going to win somebody a Fantasy Basketball championship this year in H2H. You heard it here first.
3. Elfrid Payton, PG, ORL
While Yahoo currently has Elfrid as their #48 ranked player (I think that's too high), there's no denying that Payton's counting stat potential is Rondoesque. The worst part of Payton's game for fantasy purposes is his terrible jump shot. He gets you virtually no 3PMs - and he's always a threat to shoot sub-40% from the field. Noel and Payton in a punt strategy could be gods, but you have to use them strategically...
4. Jabari Parker, SF, MIL
There's a bit of a risk in 1-year leagues - as reports on Jabari's health have been mixed - but let's not forget that Parker was the clear ROY before his season-ending injury last season. He could be an undervalued stud - or still a year away from regaining his form. If you can get him late, he's worth the stash. I'm high on his game, but his talent level isn't the issue at all: his health is.
Do you feel lucky?
5. Julius Randle, PF, LAL
He's not a sure thing - especially after missing ALL OF LAST YEAR (save for 13 minutes of 1 game) - but the reports out of camp are great about his health, and he was highly regarded going into last season. There is opportunity in La La Land, and a guy named Blake Griffin did pretty well after missing his entire rookie season to injury. (Please do not misinterpret this post as Julius Randle = Blake Griffin, but there is a precedent. That's all I'm saying. Nerlens Noel also missed his entire rookie season, and was freaking awesome last season.)
If I was a betting man, I'd bet on Julius Randle. Just don't reach for him. But if he's available late, don't hesitate to stash him.
6. Aaron Gordon, PF/C, ORL
This one is based more on hunch than statistical analysis, but I like his game. He's an athletic freak, and when he was healthy & getting minutes, he put up numbers. He also crushed Summer League a few months ago.
There is opportunity on Orlando, and athletic freaks tend to get long leashes in the NBA. Another late pick I'd happily stash...
7. Marcus Smart, PG, BOS
I should probably go with the safer choice in Minnesota's Zach LaVine, but I've got an underdog spirit.
Marcus was another player who absolutely dominated Summer League, and is in a great situation to break out in a major way. Point guard is the hardest position to learn in the NBA, so you gotta have some patience with these 1-guards...
I really liked him coming out of college, and while he does have some serious FG% issues (he makes Elfrid Payton look like Reggie Miller), the kid can actually shoot the 3 at a decent %. There is upside here. He's only an option in very deep leagues - or as a final round flier - but commit his name to memory. He can play.
So that's 7 sophomores who could/should make the leap this year from underwhelming to statistically significant. (Wiggins and Noel could become superstars this season.)
I guess you could call them sleepers. But I write about basketball for my job. So they're household names to me.
But I'm a loser.
No, seriously. If you spent time with me, you'd know.
Stop judging me.