Last week we covered the sleepers and busts at the RB position, and now we turn our focus to the WR position. Tomorrow the bust portion of this article will be posting, so for today, this will be all about the undervalued WR’s that can be found in different rounds of the draft. Every year there are a few breakout guys at the position, and if you can spot who they are during the draft, you are going to have a major advantage over your leaguemates. A couple examples of this are Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery, Keenan Allen, and Julian Edelman. All of these players finished in the top twenty at the position, so there will be a few sleeper options for you to potentially find. This article is designed to find those potential sleepers for you. Without further ado, here is the list of Fantasy Football sleepers at the Wide Receiver position.
A freak athlete with a 4.36 40 time, and a 39 and a half inch vertical leap, he is a QB’s dream to throw the ball to. Last season he managed only 18 catches, as he was buried down on the depth chart behind Kendall Wright and Nate Washington. Yes both of those guys are still around in Tennessee, but Hunter needed time to learn the offense, as well as the pro game. Hunter has been on the field as the number three option so far during the preseason, but If Hunter can pull of a game like he did last week with 4 catches, 111 yards, and 2 TD’s, he will earn himself a spot next to Wright in two WR sets. The biggest addition for Hunter this offseason was the switch to the Ken Whisenhunt offensive scheme. Whisenhunt is the mind behind the Chargers offense last year that allowed Keenan Allen to succeed, and was the head coach of Arizona during the Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald dynamic duo era. This is an extreme boom or bust pick on the sleepers as he could continue to be buried on the depth chart behind Washington, and only have a few great games masqueraded by a lot of duds. The reason to draft him at a higher spot than his current ADP of 49th at the position, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, is because he could really explode and could be this year’s Josh Gordon.
If you thought recommending someone who had 18 catches all of last year was crazy, I am about to suggest that a guy who had 6 catches is a sleeper this season. Last year Wheaton was considered an afterthought in the Steelers offense as Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery were ahead of him in the pecking order. Both of those guys have now moved on to different teams, which leaves the door open for Markus Wheaton to take the number two receiver spot in the offense. Sanders and Cotchery combined for 188 targets, and 16 TD’s last year, those targets are now up for grabs between Wheaton and the rest of the receiving core. Brown has reached his peak in targets, so he will not see any more than last season, but Wheaton can realistically get near 125 of those targets and convert that into roughly 75 catches. The other big plus to Wheaton is the new no huddle offense that the Steelers are wanting to run. When an offense like this is implemented, having experience with the teams QB, goes a long way into getting more targets than the newly acquired players. This means that Wheaton should not be affected at all by Lance Moore or Darrius Heyward-Bey. Currently being drafted as the 57th receiver according to Fantasy Football Calculator, he should be drafted as your 3rd or 4th receiver with the potential of him turning into your FLEX or number two receiver option.
It is very obvious that the Giants offense is currently going through some growing pains. The new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo hails from Green Bay and wants to bring a similar system to New York, but Eli Manning is no Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, they intend to mostly create quick and high percentage targets to get the ball out to the playmakers and let them do all the work with yards after the catch. The rookie Odell Beckham hasn't been able to practice while dealing with a hamstring strain all throughout camp. Reuben Randle has always had a difficult time understanding the offenses every year and has not been able to get on the same page with Eli. Furthermore, nobody has any clue if there is a tight end on this roster worthy to start. That leaves Victor Cruz as the only real reliable pass catcher and he will excel in getting open quick and producing many explosive plays with yards after the catch.
If there is one player that is going to see an Alshon Jeffery-type rise in fantasy this year, I am placing my bets on Floyd. I'm buying in on the Arizona offense this year. The defense will not be as strong with the loss of Darryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, and Darnell Dockett. This will force the Cardinals to throw a lot more this year. With a much improved offensive line, Carson Palmer has the tools to put up really good passing numbers. One of those many tools is Floyd, my favorite receiver from the 2012 draft class. He has all the skills needed to be a top receiver in the league. It would not surprise me if he surpasses Larry Fitzgerald as the go-to receiver as soon as this year, due to the defensive coverages that will still have a primary focus on stopping Fitzgerald.
Did you know that Kenny Britt was only 25 years old? I was shocked when I saw that because he has already played in 5 NFL seasons, and is entering his 6th. Britt hasn’t played well since his short three game season in 2011, when he had an ACL injury. 2012 can then be seen as him still not fully recovered from his knee injury, but explaining 2013 is a little tougher to do. He suffered the loss of Jeff Fisher as his head coach, and had to try and fight with Nate Washington, and Justin Hunter for time as the second and third WR’s on the depth chart. Now Kenny Britt steps in as the number one receiver on the Rams roster, who happens to have Jeff Fisher as their head coach. He will always be an injury risk, but if he can show that his knee troubles are behind him watch out as he has already shown to be very successful before in the NFL.
A very popular pick among fantasy writers last season as he was destined to take over the Wes Welker role in the New England Patriots offense. His last season is one that I am sure he is wanting to forget and put behind him, as this season he shows the same upside as last year. The only difference will be the pick you can get him with, as last year he was being drafted as a low-end WR2 in drafts. This year he is currently going as the 45th WR off the board in drafts, which is low for someone who could catch over 100 passes this season. Last year he played in 12 games and battled injuries starting with having to sit out weeks 2-4 last year. In his first week as a Patriot, he had 10 receptions, so what happens if he stayed healthy all year. Now in those 12 games he did play, he finished with 54 catches, so the last 11 games he only had 43 catches. Julian Edelman emerged as a top guy for Brady, but his checkered injury history is almost as bad as Amendola’s. All of the Patriots main targets have big injury concerns, so why not take the chance on Danny Amendola to see if he can become that PPR monster with 100 catches.
Who else is going to catch passes for the Browns besides Jordan Cameron? Sure Josh Gordon may have his suspension shortened, but I see him being suspended for at least 8 games this season. That means there are plenty of targets to go around in the Brian Hoyer led Browns offense. Andrew Hawkins has the most precious route running skills, and the best hands out of the WR’s on the Cleveland roster. He has been shifty when getting the ball in space, so his receptions numbers could be higher than expected. Hawkins had 51 catches in 14 games in 2012 as a part of the Bengals. Now that someone like A.J. Green is not in his way, he will be able to rack up more short to intermediate targets that he can convert into receptions. This sleeper pick holds more value in a PPR league, but could be a consistent option to plug in as an injury replacement, or even a FLEX play after seeing him succeed in the early weeks of the season.
Here are a few other players who are being undervalued in drafts so far, so they present a chance to be a sleeper this season.
That does it for the sleepers at the WR position, and tomorrow we will cover the potential busts at the position. Also later this week the consensus WR rankings will be running with some commentary as we have done with the QB and RB position.