The term “sleeper” or “deep sleeper” gets tossed around a lot in Fantasy Football, but how do you actually identify wide receiver sleepers?
One of the reasons receivers can fall under the radar is because most people just aren’t able to watch every NFL game. You probably didn’t spend much time watching the Minnesota Vikings play last year, and outside of Adrian Peterson, there weren’t too many household names on their roster. If you can’t watch a certain team or player every Sunday, then the wide receivers can fall off your radar if you don’t have a first-hand experience in watching them play.
Another way you can identity wide receiver sleepers is by focusing on who Fantasy players have a grudge against. Normally people are leery of a receiver if he had a down year, but they almost completely avoid a player who has burned them for two seasons. You can find undervalued receivers who may be in better situations by zigging while everyone else is zagging.
The basic formula for Fantasy success is talent meeting opportunity, so keep an eye on receivers who could see an increased role due to injuries or underperformance.
Wide Receiver Sleepers
Mike Wallace & Charles Johnson: Minnesota Vikings
— Tyler (@tyler_moss49) August 5, 2015
I know it’s just the preseason, but Teddy Bridgewater looked very poised in the Hall of Fame Game. Bridgewater really started to gain momentum in his final four games of the season with an average competition percentage of 71.77 and two performances of 300 or more passing yards. If Bridgewater can take a big step forward in 2015 Fantasy Football leagues, then it should stand to reason that his receivers should also see improved Fantasy stats.
Wallace didn’t produce numbers like he did with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins, but he still had very solid numbers and finished as a Top 20 receiver in standard-scoring leagues last season. Ryan Tannehill’s arm strength has always been called into question and Wallace admits he wasn’t the biggest fan of the system, so he could easily find new life with Bridgewater and the Vikings. The 29-year old receiver has averaged 70 receptions, 896 receiving yards and 7.5 touchdown receptions. With an ADP in Round 7, Wallace can easily exceed his ADP value and offer his owners Top-20 results or better.
Johnson has had an interesting journey in the NFL, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t really heard of him or had no idea who he was before last year. Johnson was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he was signed to the practice squad for the Cleveland Browns later in the year. He finally found his way to the Vikings in September of last season, and he started to develop a rapport with Bridgewater in Week 11. His physical stats and athleticism are very impressive. He ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, he just added weight to reach 225 pounds, he’s 6-foot-2 and his spent time working on his footwork with a trainer who has Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins as his clients. He’s also available in Round 7 in most leagues. Since each player is available so late, you can’t go wrong with adding either of them to your roster.
Kendall Wright: Tennessee Titans
WHISENHUNT: @1kendallwright had a great spring. He’s an “explosive player” who could have a big year.
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) August 1, 2015
Wright was a sneaky PPR play in 2013 with 94 receptions and 1,079 receiving yards, but his touchdown totals (two) hindered his overall value. He did improve on the touchdown total with six in 2014, but he took a step back with 57 receptions and 715 receiving yards.
In Kendall’s defense, he did have a quarterback committee of Jake Locker, Charlie Whitehorse and Zach Mettenberger. The run game was almost non-existent as well, so this was just a team in disarray. He has a much better outlook in 2015 with Marcus Mariota at the helm. Mariota isn’t known for the deep ball, so Wright will benefit as a perfect target for short and intermediate passes.
With an ADP past Round 8, he won’t hurt you if he turns into a bust. But, I expect him to well exceed his ADP price.
Stevie Johnson: San Diego Chargers
Why Stevie Johnson might be the NFL’s most improbable WR success story in decades http://t.co/9SEZ7E0cZr
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) August 5, 2015
Johnson has only recorded a total of 1,032 receiving yards the past two seasons after finishing with three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Buffalo Bills between 2010-2012.
Just like Wright, he wasn’t in the best environment to succeed last season.The San Francisco 49ers tried to surround Colin Kaepernick with new weapons (Brandon Lloyd, Johnson) but it didn’t take. Johnson has a better home with the San Diego Chargers, and Philip Rivers has mentioned how excited he is to work with the 29-year old receiver.
Eddie Royal racked up 15 touchdowns in the past two seasons in San Diego, but Johnson will be utilized more than just in slot work. The Chargers plan to line him up all over the field, and there will be additional opportunities for receivers during Antonio Gates’ four-game suspension. 2009 was the last year San Diego finished with two players who totaled more than 1,000 receiving yards, but Johnson is a steal because of his upside in Round 12.
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Photo Credit: Brian Hill
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