I say it every year, but every year it needs to be said again: there really are no such things as wide receiver sleepers anymore or sleepers at any position for that matter. There are just guys that are under-valued and fall into the category of what we deem as “Sleepers”.
Some of these wide receiver sleepers I am going to suggest are widely known and have finished as WR2s previously. Some of these wide receiver sleepers are guys you might not have ever heard about. Either way, all seven guys are being severely under-valued in early drafts.
Finding these under-valued players is what fortifies your Fantasy Football roster. Anyone can hit on a player in Round 1. Hitting on a usable player in the double-digit rounds is how you win championships.
The problem is finding these wide receiver sleepers that are being under-valued. What is the best route in deciphering which guys will return a profit on their draft pick investment?
Finding Wide Receiver Sleepers
Last year in this exact article I touted Adam Thielen as my top pick of the wide receiver sleepers mentioned. At the time, he had an Average Draft Position (ADP) of 116th overall and the 45th wide receiver off of the board. He finished as WR8 in PPR scoring.
I also gave you Cooper Kupp who was being drafted as the 80th receiver off the board, if at all. He finished the year as WR25. Some of my other wide receiver sleepers were at least useful. Paul Richardson was usable a few weeks and Josh Doctson out-performed his ADP.
Quincy Enunwa and Kevin White were both part of my wide receivers sleepers but both went down with season-ending injuries between the publishing date and the first game. It wasn’t all good though, as John Brown was a massive disappointment.
There were other wide receivers sleepers that I missed too. Marvin Jones, Nelson Agholor and JuJu Smith-Schuster all rose from obscurity to finish in the Top 24 at the position.
What I am getting at is that wide receiver sleepers can be found every season. Some can be prophesized through statistical trends (Thielen), some are young players getting a chance (Kupp) and others are just the right fit at the right time (Agholor). You just have to sift through the information and go with your gut on which guys are being under-valued.
2018 Wide Receiver Sleepers
All ADP data is from FantasyPros.com and is up-to-date as of July 25th.
Robby Anderson, New York Jets (ADP : WR42, OVR103)
Anderson was the WR16 last season. I would bet that almost any casual Fantasy Football player would have guessed he finished lower than that.
As I noted in my 55 Observations, Anderson has a career trajectory that looks like someone ready to break out. Hell, I was ready for him to be on my WR Breakouts list until I saw his depressed ADP of a non-starter.
From his rookie season to last year, he increased his receptions by 50%, yardage by 60% and touchdowns by 250%. Keep in mind, he did all of this with the hapless Jets, who utilized FIVE different starting quarterbacks over his two years with the team so far.
NYJ expect Robby Anderson to ‘explode’ in ’18 https://t.co/Ohm9xYYyTQ
— Rotoworld Football (@Rotoworld_FB) July 19, 2018
This year, he will have the familiarity of Josh McCown back or the strong-armed Sam Darnold. Either way, I can promise you that Anderson will be the go-to receiver. If he was a high draft pick or played for a better team, he would easily be taken in the Top 20 at the position. That is where I have him ranked and where I will be drafting him on the majority of my teams.
My Optimistic Outlook : 75 receptions, 1,075 yards, 8 touchdowns
Allen Hurns, Dallas Cowboys (ADP : WR47, OVR119)
After Hurns’ first two years in the league, he looked like he was destined for stardom. After his double-digit touchdown sophomore season in which he put up a whopping 229.1 PPR Fantasy Points the wheels fell off a bit. His last two seasons combined barely cross the 200-point plateau. What happened?
First off, injuries were a big factor. He has missed 11 full games over the past two years and parts of a handful more. Blake Bortles also regressed some as the offense geared toward Leonard Fournette last season. So what gives me hope for the 27-year old?
First and most importantly, opportunity is Hurns’ friend. The vacuum left by Dez Bryant will be more massive than most people realize. Not only will those 132 targets have to go elsewhere (along with the 87 from Jason Witten) but defenses will not have to have a safety over-the-top/spy on Dez. That means more single coverage for Hurns as opponents stack the box against Zeke.
Secondly, when he has played, Hurns has still put up solid numbers. His per game output the past couple of years still extrapolates to more than 160 PPR points a year.
Why new Cowboys WR Allen Hurns should help Ezekiel Elliott in addition to Dak Prescott https://t.co/WsOFpPKAtp
— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys) July 20, 2018
Lastly, Hurns has never been the top target in the offense. Even in his breakout 2015 season, Allen Robinson was the Maverick to his Goose with 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Hurns will get every chance to be that Tom Cruise lead-option in Dallas this year. Do I believe that Dak Prescott has the downfield-ability to turn Hurns into gold? Probably not. But he can at least provide a solid WR3/FLEX option that you can draft in Round 10.
My Optimistic Outlook: 65 receptions, 1,050 yards, 8 touchdowns
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP : WR54, OVR147)
Embed from Getty Images
You would be hard pressed to find a wide receiver taken in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft that had a more disappointing rookie season than the Chargers’ Williams. The Clemson product caught just 11 passes for 95 yards and no touchdowns in 2017. So why would I have high hopes for him this year?
First of all, Williams dealt with herniated disks in his back heading into the regular season. This caused him to miss the first six games as well as all of training camp. For a young player, missing all of those important reps is absolutely devastating.
Now with a completely healthy off-season heading into camp, I think Williams will be able to show the potential that landed him as the 7th overall pick in the draft. People are all over Corey Davis like he is the new Bitcoin as the second-year breakout wide receiver. I like Williams more because of a better offense, a better quarterback, weaker division for defensive backs and overall better athleticism. You also can get him almost 90 picks later than Davis.
My Optimistic Outlook: 55 receptions, 925 yards, 5 touchdowns
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins (ADP : WR55, OVR142)
Stills has been slept on like a Tempur-Pedic ever since he was traded from New Orleans to Miami. After breaking out decently in his second season for 63 catches and 931 yards, he seemed to join a crowded receiving corps with the Dolphins.
The numbers then seemed to back that up as he had career lows in receptions, yards and touchdowns in his first season in Miami. However, he has shown significant gains in targets, receptions and yards in each subsequent season, culminating in last year’s 58-catch, 847-yard, 6-touchdown season. That’s more than 11 PPR Fantasy Points per game.
Games missed between 16/17?
— Kyle Richardson (@krich1532) July 21, 2018
What I am most intrigued about is the way he accomplished those statistics. He had transformed into a home-run, deep-ball threat with Jarvis Landry sucking up the underneath routes. Last season though, he actually had the lowest yards per catch of his career. This led to the highest catch percentage that he has had as a Dolphin.
Now, factor in that Jarvis Landry’s 161 targets need to be distributed out. The only additions the Dolphins made to their receiving group are the always-injured Danny Amendola and the always-underperforming Albert Wilson. I think Stills sees a massive uptick in targets.
My Optimistic Outlook: 76 receptions, 1,102 yards, 7 touchdowns
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (ADP : WR103, OVR334)
Embed from Getty Images
This sleeper pick is definitely a bit of a reach and a homer pick, but if it was a sure thing then he would not be one of the wide receiver sleepers. Most people have never even heard of Coutee unless they watch a lot of Texas Tech Red Raider football.
Coutee has been dominant the past two seasons. As a junior he caught 93 passes for 1,429 yards and 10 touchdowns. Keep in mind this was with the worst quarterback situation in Lubbock since last century. He single-handedly got Nic Shimonek into Chargers’ training camp. I promise you that Shimmy is not a good football player. Coutee is a dominant athlete though. He had the seventh fastest 40-yard dash time (4.43) and the fifth fastest 20-yard shuttle time (4.15) of all the receivers in the draft.
Now Coutee is in a great situation with (I believe) a great quarterback for Fantasy purposes. Last year, Bruce Ellington and Braxton Miller combined for 48 catches, 492 yards and 3 touchdowns on 86 targets out of the slot. I think Coutee gets every opportunity to take over the primary slot receiver role, and the passing amount should increase with a full season of Watson behind center.
So if Coutee fills that spot, you are talking about a Top-5 Fantasy Quarterback with the top-scoring receiver from last year (Deandre Hopkins) on one side and an absolute burner (Will Fuller) on the other side. There will be plenty of opportunity on the inside, making Keke Coutee worth a late-round flier as a deep sleeper.
My Optimistic Outlook: 50 catches, 600 yards, 3 touchdowns
Trent Taylor, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: WR112, OVER325)
Now we are getting to the SUPER deep sleeper picks. Taylor will not be drafted in almost any regular redraft league setup. He will be a guy that you keep your eye on in those types of formats, because I would bet he will be a pickup hotter than Fortnite at some point during the season.
— GiantsBlueBlooded (@RealTlkFB) July 18, 2018
Taylor’s numbers on the surface look very mediocre. In his rookie season he caught 43 passes for 430 yards and two touchdowns. There is nothing there that wows you by any means.
When you look further into the numbers, you will see that Taylor had the sixth highest catch percentage of any wide receiver in the league at 71.7%. Then you factor in that Jimmy Garoppolo only started five games. In those games, Taylor caught multiple passes every outing and averaged almost 9 PPR points per game.
That still is nothing that screams, “Put me on your roster!” However, you have to factor in that Jimmy G was traded mid-season and Taylor was a rookie. They both will have their first full off-season as 49ers going into 2018.
Furthermore, the 49ers averaged 221 yards passing a game in their first 11 games of the season. When Jimmy G took over the starting role in games 12-16, they averaged 297 yards passing a game. There will be receiving stats aplenty in the Bay this season and Taylor will get his share. For the price of basically nothing, he is worth a sleeper pick.
My Optimistic Outlook: 64 catches, 660 yards, 5 touchdowns
Adam Humphries, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP : WR136, OVR393)
Fun Fact: only 26 receivers have caught at least 55 passes in each of the last two years. Of those 26 players, 23 are currently being selected in the top 40 at the position. Marqise Lee (WR54) and Mohamed Sanu (WR68) are two of the outliers, but both are a part of teams that added a receiver in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Adam Humphries is the other.
Humphries looks to be in the same exact role as last year. He is the starting slot receiver for Tampa Bay. The receiving group seems crowded with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin all going higher in drafts. However, all three of those guys are more suited for the outside. Humphries’ target share (83 targets each of the past two seasons) in the slot is safe.
Moreover, Humphries is still just 25 years old. He has increased his receptions, yardage and Fantasy Points in each of his first three seasons. He also came on strongly last year when Jameis Winston came back from injury. Humphries caught 85% of his targets over the last five games. He ended the year with 15 catches for 196 yards and a touchdown over the final three games (13.5 PPR points per game).
— Eric Boynton (@ericjboynton) July 17, 2018
Humphries also has a high weekly floor. He has caught a pass in every game over the past two seasons. He had at least two catches in every game last season. If you are looking at Humphries then you are in a super deep league, but he provides a high floor with the opportunity for starter-level production.
My Optimistic Outlook: 65 receptions, 800 yards, 3 touchdowns
That’s it for the 2018 wide receiver sleepers! Be sure to check out our staff rankings!
Latest posts by Michael Tomlin (see all)
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