The Art of Handpicking DFS Sleepers to Find Hidden Gems

Matt Brown
By Matt BrownPublished: January 18, 2024
The Art of Handpicking DFS Sleepers to Find Hidden Gems

DFS Sleepers are the hidden gems of daily fantasy sports.

What's a DFS sleeper?

A DFS sleeper is a player who is undervalued in terms of popularity or cost but has the potential to deliver high performance. This could be anyone from a running back in the NFL to a PG in the NBA. The key is that they're set to have a massive game, but nobody else is banking on it.

The Hunt for DFS Sleepers

Sleepers are hard to find. If they weren't, they wouldn't be sleepers. However, there are a few ways you can dig them up and set your lineup apart from the competition.

Understanding the Concept of DFS Sleepers

In the DFS industry, a "sleeper" refers to an undervalued player who is not on the radar of most participants but has the potential to deliver a high level of performance.

These players are often overlooked due to various factors such as lack of popularity, recent performance dips, or being part of a lesser-known team.

Identifying such players is crucial, as they can provide a competitive edge and maximize your DFS lineup's efficiency at a lower cost.

The biggest problem with these players is that they're hard to identify. It takes a bit more research to find them and capitalize on them, but it's totally worth it.

Research is Key

The first step in locating DFS sleepers is thorough research.

Start by analyzing player statistics, recent form, and matchup history.

Tools like advanced analytics platforms can offer deeper insights into player performances.

Pay attention to variables such as player injuries, team dynamics, and even weather conditions, as these can significantly impact a player's performance.

Notice these aren't your typical stats and numbers. These are in-depth variables that require more patience, tools, and intuition than most DFS players.

Value vs. Cost Analysis

A critical aspect of identifying DFS sleepers is understanding the value-to-cost ratio.

  • What is value vs. cost analysis? At its core, this analysis involves comparing a player's cost against their potential to earn points. The goal is to identify players who are undervalued by the market. These players, often referred to as 'sleepers,' can provide a competitive edge in your DFS lineup.
  • Balancing statistics and intuition. A key part of this strategy involves a careful balance between statistical analysis and intuition. Let's break it down:
    • Statistical analysis. This includes diving into player performance metrics, recent form, matchup data, and other quantifiable factors. Statistics provide a solid, objective foundation for making informed decisions.
    • Intuition. Sometimes, numbers don't tell the whole story. This is where your intuition comes in. Maybe a player is due for a breakout game, or perhaps there's a less obvious trend that you've noticed. Intuition can sometimes lead you to make picks that statistics alone might not justify.
  • Why it matters. In DFS, every dollar counts. Efficiently allocating your budget can make the difference between winning and losing. Players who are likely to outperform their cost can free up the budget for more expensive, reliable players elsewhere in your lineup.

For the most part, if you're lucky, you'll only find 1-2 sleepers for your lineup. They're super-hard to find and don't always pay off, but when they do, it's enormous.

Leveraging Expert Opinions and Community Insights

While your research is paramount, don't underestimate the value of expert opinions and community discussions.

DFS forums, podcasts, and expert columns often provide insights that you might miss. However, remember to use these as guidance rather than gospel.

We like to follow a few key Twitter accounts that typically give us at least a starting point to do our research.

  • Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan). As a former DraftKings analyst and Fantasy Labs and RotoGrinders contributor, Adam provides valuable DFS stats, news, and opinions, especially on football.
  • Fantasy Labs (@FantasyLabs). Offering no-nonsense information, they tweet late lineup changes, new projected lineups, and player injuries across multiple sports.
  • Sean Koerner (>@The_Oddsmaker). Known for his accurate MLB and NFL player projections, Sean shares daily updates and opinions on DFS slates, mainly in American sports.

There are plenty more to follow and even more forums. Check out places like Reddit and you'll get an endless stream of advice. However, take it all with a grain of salt and do your own due diligence.

Embracing Technology

Leverage technology to your advantage when on the hunt for DFS sleepers.

Use DFS analytics tools and algorithms that can process vast amounts of data to identify potential sleeper picks. These tools often include predictive modeling and trend analysis, which can be invaluable in your search.

Some of our favorite tools include—

  • FantasyLabs Trends Tool. Offers an analysis of players' performance under specific conditions, such as how tight ends perform against lower-ranked defenses.
  • FantasyLabs Player Models. Allows the creation of customizable DFS models based on selected stats and factors, with features like a lineup optimizer and builder.
  • Stats Perform. This isn't a single tool but instead a collection of tools that leverage the Stats API platform. You can search by sport and product and find a tool that works for your style.

While these tools are essential, don't rely upon them 100%. They're just that — a tool. Sometimes, you have to simply follow your gut.

Trusting Your Instincts

You may have heard this one before, but trust your instincts.

Sometimes, based on observed nuances in their gameplay or a sudden upswing in form, your gut feeling about a player can be just as valuable as statistical data.

There are times you'll be wrong, and other times you'll be right. That's all part of finding these hidden gems to add to your lineup.

There's undoubtedly some risk involved when tracking down sleepers.

Incorporating DFS Sleepers into Your Strategy

You've done the research and have a good idea of who the sleepers are, but how do you integrate them into your lineup?

There are a few more considerations to be had.

Balancing Risk and Reward

Incorporating DFS sleepers into your lineup involves balancing risk and reward.

While it's tempting to pack your team with undervalued players, having a mix of reliable performers and potential sleepers is crucial to maintain a well-rounded and competitive lineup.

Sleepers are a risk. Sure, they can pay off big time, but that's not always the case. That's where the ol' reliable high-scoring players come in.


Be adaptable with your strategy. Monitor player news and be ready to make last-minute changes.

DFS is dynamic, and player values can fluctuate rapidly based on real-world developments.

Does your DFS platform allow late swaps? Not all do.

You may find that your undervalued player is an RB2, and the RB1 is questionable; however, right before game time, the RB1 is slated to play. That means the NFL sleeper you had in mind might just be a bust.

Continuous Learning

Every DFS season is a learning opportunity.

Analyze your hits and misses in sleeper picks and refine your strategy for future contests.

After all, this is your strategy. We're simply providing some tips.

You can modify the way you research and who you follow to find the best-hidden gems.

Find Your Sleepers and Win at DFS!

Identifying DFS sleepers is an art form that combines analytical skills, intuition, and continuous learning.

While there's no foolproof method, employing these strategies can significantly enhance your ability to spot those hidden gems in DFS.

If these were easy to find, these players wouldn't be "hidden gems." Instead, they would be valued accordingly; every other DFS player would know about them.

So it's up to you to find them and capitalize on their potential.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Head of DFS

Matt's deep-rooted enthusiasm for sports betting and daily fantasy sports infuses the EatWatchDraft team with valuable expertise in football, hockey, and baseball. His forward-thinking perspectives are grounded in a solid academic foundation, including a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and an M.S. in Project Management. This combination of sports passion and technical knowledge fuels Matt's innovative input to the platform.