Grabbing a sleeper pick during your draft and watching it pay off for you every game during the season is an amazing feeling. In fact, there may be nothing more satisfying in fantasy sports than hitting the jackpot on a sleeper pick.
To aid you in your quest for the elusive fantasy basketball sleeper, we've put together a list of potential breakout or bounce-back characters to help you win this season.
This list is in alphabetical order and the degree to which these players qualify as sleepers obviously depends on your specific league. We've included each player's projected stats for the upcoming season so that you can properly evaluate them.
Houston Rockets (C)
Capela didn't take as big of a step forward as most expected in his third season with the Rockets, which was only further dampened by a 15-game absence in the midde of the year because of a fractured left fibula. Still, when he was available, Capela took over as the full-time starter and posted career highs in points (12.6), rebounds (8.1), assists (1.0) and blocks (1.2). He still didn't get a ton of run overall at just 23.9 minutes per game, as the Rockets often gave extended run to veteran Nene Hilario and Montrezl Harrell at times depending on the matchup. While Harrell is gone, Hilario is back once again and could continue to eat up some of Capela's minutes off the bench. That being said, Capela is locked in as the team's starting center and should benefit once again from the playmaking ability of James Harden. The Rockets also traded for another elite passer in Chris Paul this offseason, which should add even more open looks for Capela, especially as a key pick-and-roll option. Now that he's a full offseason away from his fractured fibula and Harrell is no longer on the team, Capela could be in line for a larger workload. With more open looks and the potential for added playing time, Capela could once again see his numbers slowly rise across the board.
Atlanta Hawks (F)
Collins recently finished up his sophomore season at Wake Forest, where he had a breakout campaign and averaged 19.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks across 26.6 minutes per game. That boosted his stock enough to declare early for the 2017 NBA Draft and he was eventually selected by the Hawks with the 19th overall pick. In college, he proved to be extremely athletic for his size at 6-foot-10 and was one of the better rebounders in the nation. He certainly needs to add strength to his frame in order to matchup with some of the bigger power forwards and centers in the league, but Collins still has impressive potential if he's able to put everything together. He needs some work on the offensive side of the ball as well despite being a capable mid-range shooter at Wake Forest. Most of his work comes around the rim and he hasn't displayed any sort of three-point shot at all, so Collins will eventually need to extend to the perimeter in order to fit into today's NBA landscape. Still, Collins is going into one of the best situations of this year's rookie class. The Hawks no longer have Paul Millsap or Dwight Howard, and they didn't do much in free agency to replace the two. Ersan Ilyasova is currently the favorite to open the season as the team's starting power forward and Collins should slot in as the backup if he's able to jump Luke Babbitt on the depth chart right away like expected. With the Hawks highly unlikely to make the playoffs, Collins will certainly be a candidate to get extended run and that could even develop into a starting role later in the season if he develops quicker than expected. Either way, Collins should have a relatively easy path to playing time, making him one of the more intriguing rookie options.
Atlanta Hawks (C)
Dedmon's 2016-17 campaign found him in his biggest role to date. After spending the previous two seasons in Orlando, he made the jump to the contending Spurs and surprisingly stepped into a sizable role right away. Gaining coach Gregg Popovich's trust, Dedmon started 37 of the 76 games he played in, allowing him to average 17.5 minutes per contest. That was a career high and was complemented with 5.1 points and 6.5 rebounds, while shooting 62.2 percent from the floor. Dedmon's steady improvement allowed him to cash in with a two-year, $14 million contract with the Hawks this offseason. He's the favorite to immediately jump in as Atlanta's starting center, though he'll have to fend of any sort of push from Miles Plumlee. Still, a spot in the top unit with the Hawks should mean a decent bump in minutes, which translates to better numbers overall. Dedmon still isn't the biggest threat offensively and most of his gains should be made in the rebound and block categories. That doesn't mean Dedmon's points aren't going to change, as they'll certainly go up, but those in Fantasy shouldn't be relying on him for his scoring. Either way, Dedmon's value is on the rise as long as he doesn't flop in training camp and loses minutes to a guy like Plumlee or Mike Muscala. It's also worth it to consider the fact that Dedmon shot just 69.9 percent from the free-throw line, which hurts his value in rotisserie leagues.