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2021 Fantasy Football Sleepers: 4 late-round wide receivers to target

Skyler discusses some of his favorite late-round wideouts to target in fantasy football.

Super Bowl LV Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

When conducting a fantasy football draft, names like Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and Davante Adams are the first to come off of the board at the wide receiver position. In the later rounds of drafts, you typically are seeking pass-catchers that carry high upside in an offense that could feed a bevy of targets to multiple wideouts. Being able to find wide receivers — or any position for that matter — that can exceed their value by outproducing their ADP, could put you in a position to have loads of success. For the most part, 12-team leagues are the norm in fantasy football now. So while I highlight a handful of late-round wide receivers that I’m getting tons of shares of in drafts, I’ll be taking a look at guys that are being taken (on average) in Round 9 or later in 12-team leagues.

ADPs are courtesy of 4for4’s ADP consensus rankings.

Antonio Brown (ADP 105, WR43)

Once upon a time, Antonio Brown was considered arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. From the span of 2013-2018 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown was the WR6 or better in fantasy football. However, Brown’s relationship with the Steelers dissipated, leading to a trade to the Las Vegas Raiders, where he would never play a single down. Following a short stint with the New England Patriots in 2019, Brown found himself involved in legal issues that led to an eight-game suspension in the 2020 season. The All-Pro wideout would join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season, reuniting with his friend, Tom Brady. In the eight games that Brown played with Tampa Bay last season, he logged 483 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns en route to finishing as WR21 from Weeks 9-17. Even with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin still leading the way on the Buccaneers, Brady is going to target Brown often in an offense that had the sixth-most passing attempts a season ago. As of this moment, Brown is being selected as WR43 on average, making him a supreme value in later rounds. Despite Brown turning 33 years old this month, the Buccaneers have proven they can support three wide receivers in fantasy football with Brady operating the passing attack.

Michael Gallup (ADP 112, WR46)

We were in store for a special season from the offense of the Dallas Cowboys prior to the unfortunate season-ending ankle injury to Dak Prescott. If you were to take Prescott’s numbers from his first four games last season, he was on pace to throw for 5,493 yards, 34 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Also, from Weeks 1-4 (before Prescott got hurt), Amari Cooper was WR3, CeeDee Lamb was WR14, and Michael Gallup was WR30. Seeing that Prescott is set to return this season and the Cowboys don’t appear to have a much-improved defense in place, there’s no reason why they can’t have three fantasy-relevant wideouts. Just two seasons ago, Gallup finished as WR22. While it’s tough to expect a WR22 or better season from Gallup in 2021, there’s a highly probable chance he smashes his value of WR46 in drafts right now. The former third-round pick out of Colorado State was fantastic in coming down with 50/50 balls last season, notching a 66.7% contested catch rate in 2020, which was 10th best among wide receivers. Prescott seems to trust Gallup when he throws downfield, making him a late-round player that could be a valuable piece in fantasy football, especially if Cooper or Lamb are sidelined for any period of time.

Rashod Bateman (ADP 157, WR58)

It’s going to be highly improbable for this year’s class of rookie wide receivers to top what last year’s group of rookie wideouts did. Justin Jefferson led the way for rookie wideouts in 2020, breaking the all-time rookie record in receiving yards (1,400). While Ja’Marr Chase has become the most popular first-year wide receiver to target in drafts, Rashod Bateman could be in store for a large role right off the bat for the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore has notoriously needed more pass-catching weapons in the offense to give Lamar Jackson more to work with through the air and they used first-round draft capital to select Bateman. Marquise Brown could see lighter coverage with Bateman in the fold, but Bateman could be moved around as the X receiver or as a slot receiver, where he can dominate in advantageous matchups. At the NFL level, Bateman seems to be a player that would thrive if he’s utilized in a similar manner as guys like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and Michael Thomas. Yes, I know that Greg Roman is still calling the shots for Baltimore’s offense. But with the Ravens addressing the wide receiver position this offseason by drafting Bateman and signing Sammy Watkins, they evidently want to give Jackson more opportunities to throw. If you’re someone that prefers to stack players in best-ball formats — or just in general — Bateman is an extremely cheap way to get a Baltimore stack with Jackson.

Russell Gage (ADP 178, WR62)

The Julio Jones era has come to a close for the Atlanta Falcons, leaving quite a few targets to be absorbed by the remaining members of the offense. Last season, when Jones was sidelined for seven games, Calvin Ridley emerged as the No. 1 option for Matt Ryan. Ridley is a popular wide receiver in fantasy football right now, and rightfully so. However, aside from Ridley, Russell Gage was another wideout that took advantage of more usage in 2020 amid injury issues for Jones. While Gage got off to a slow start, from Weeks 14-17 he was WR12 sans Jones in Atlanta’s aerial attack. And as PFF’s Andrew Erickson points out, Ryan targeted Gage quite a bit on third downs in 2020, showing his trust in the former sixth-round pick out of LSU.

During the 2021 NFL Draft, the Falcons added a highly-touted tight end prospect in Kyle Pitts. Pitts figures to carve out an immediate role in Atlanta following the trade of Jones to the Tennessee Titans. That being said, Pitts’ value has skyrocketed as a rookie, with him currently being taken as TE4 in the majority of drafts. Instead of spending high draft capital on a pass-catcher on the Falcons, you can get Gage for a major discount right now.