A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. This article specifically targets deep sleeper value (players that can be found very lain a fantasy draft). In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look deeper than the Top 150 and identify players that should significantly outperform their late draft position. These players should be your targets after the 12th round of your draft.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Jamison Crowder, NY Jets
Will Grant: The Jets are a team that many fantasy owners are avoiding, but 'someone's going to catch the ball' and with Chris Herndon suspended to start the season, Crowder is going to see a lot of time in the slot. He's going to see plenty of action and will contribute to your fantasy team. Right now, he's going undrafted in many leagues, making him a solid value pick in the later rounds.
Andy Hicks: What happens in the Jets passing game will be one of the more interesting aspects of the early part of the 2019 season. Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell have arrived, along with Adam Gase. Crowder was productive and reliable for Washington, while Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are not exactly surefire elite production at the position. Crowder should outproduce his draft slot, the only question is by how much? Can he be a reliable third fantasy receiver or will he struggle for targets? Given his professionalism, previous output and Gase’s strengths he should be worthy of a roster spot in most fantasy leagues.
Jeff Pasquino: Jamison Crowder carved out a solid role for Washington for the past three seasons, racking up strong stat lines in 2016 (67-847-7) and 2017 (66-789-3) as the slot receiver for D.C. Last year Crowder missed significant time (only nine games), but he has found a new home with the Jets. Crowder looks poised to reprise a similar role for QB Sam Darnold, giving the young quarterback a solid option over the middle. Targets may be at a premium as the season wears on, but Crowder offers good value and upside for a player who is likely to be on the field and helping to move the chains for a team that is going to need second-half passing production most of the time this year. Crowder is a great value as a fantasy WR5/WR6 with such a high likelihood of playing time and targets for the Jets.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
A.J. Brown, Tennessee
Andy Hicks: Overlooked by many, A.J. Brown has elite skills that project well to the NFL. With Corey Davis and Adam Humphries around he may not produce immediately, but when he does his upside is as a high target volume that will bail out his quarterbacks. His skill set coming out of college is exactly what NFL teams look for. He catches well, runs crisp routes and given the concerns about his quarterbacks adjusts well to where the ball is going. His imposing strength makes it difficult to tackle him easily and he has the speed to beat anyone. He is flying way under the radar, despite solid development in training camp.
Matt Waldman: Brown is my early candidate for top rookie producer of this receiver class. Although considered a bad landing spot by many, Brown will earn a hybrid role as a flanker and big slot option that will mimic the comfort level Marcus Mariota had with Rishard Matthews during a productive two-year stint. Brown is a superior talent and early reports suggested that the rookie looks like the best receiver, if not one of the best players, on the field. Brown’s leg injury early in camp has submerged him to the end of the depth chart but that will change once he’s healthy, making him a tremendous bargain at little cost as the summer progresses without him on the field.
KeeSean Johnson, Arizona
Jeff Pasquino: Kliff Kingsbury is going to run his Air Raid offense in Arizona, and that means plenty of 3- and 4-WR formations on the field. Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk are locks for the top two receivers on the depth chart, and the assumption was that Andy Isabella would be the third choice – but fellow rookie KeeSean Johnson has made a very strong push to be that WR3 for the Cardinals. The rookie was the all-time leader in receptions and yards at Fresno State, and he looks to be adjusting to the high-octane offense quite nicely so far. Johnson is just the right type of player to draft late in fantasy drafts with his high upside, even as a rookie.
Jason Wood: If you’re a believer in Kliff Kingsbury’s ability to shock the NFL with a pure Air Raid offense, and many of you are, KeeSean Johnson is a must target at the end of drafts. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder out of Fresno State barely registered a blip on the fantasy radar when the Cardinals selected him with a sixth-round pick. The Cardinals had already added Andy Isabella in the third round and Hakeem Butler in the fourth round and had veteran Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk atop the depth chart. But a funny thing happened on the way to the season, KeeSean Johnson began lighting up practices in OTAs and training camp, and most beat writers say Johnson has been, by far, the best of the rookie bunch. If that’s true, and he maintains his momentum, Johnson could be a starter on a team many think will throw the ball 600+ times.
Zay Jones, Buffalo
Drew Davenport: The preseason John Brown buzz has pushed other Buffalo pass catchers to the periphery of fantasy minds. But Jones has worked with the first team alongside Brown and Cole Beasley thus far and Robert Foster has been running with the second team. While the Bills passing attack isn't something you want to invest heavily in, Jones could easily see a repeat of his 102 targets from 2018 and even a slight uptick in volume or efficiency would put Jones well ahead of his current ADP.
Andy Hicks: Taken among the kickers right now is a third-year receiver for Buffalo in Zay Jones. He was highly drafted and Jones was always going to be a raw product coming out of college. That showed up during his rookie season and for the early part of year two. Then a light came on and with Josh Allen under center, Jones recorded multiple double touchdown games in the final six weeks of the season. He also saw at least 9 targets in four of his last five games and with his and Josh Allens further growth over the offseason is an almost certain bet to outproduce his draft slot.
Terry McLaurin, Washington
Devin Knotts: McLaurin will be a stash and hold type player, but could be a guy who later in the season when bye weeks are hitting could pay significant dividends. McLaurin is a player whom Jay Gruden called "Amazing" and "I didn't know he was this good". Adding to the fact that he has a college connection with first-round pick Dwayne Haskins and the two are roommates could lead to big potential as the rookie quarterback will look for comfort in his receiver. McLaurin has the potential to be one of the top rookie wide receivers this season with the opportunity created by the lack of existing talent in Washington.
Jeff Haseley: Rookie Terry McLaurin may be 23 going on 24, but his level of maturity combined with ability and confidence speaks volumes. Not only does he have a rapport with fellow Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but he has the talent to go with it. Washington is dying for a receiver to step it up and be the primary receiving option. McLaurin has that ability.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta
Will Grant: Sanu is going to benefit from defenses rotating toward Julio Jones. Calvin Ridley is getting all the love as the #2 guy in Atlanta, but Sanu is still going to see plenty of action this season. He's another guy who is not getting drafted in many leagues, and he represents another guy you can pick up as your last draft pick who will contribute immediately to your team.
Jeff Pasquino: The perception of Atlanta’s offense is one of a balanced formation and attack, with typically two wide receivers, one tight end and at least one running back on the field at all times. The Falcons have three top options – Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu, with Sanu getting the most snaps of the group last season.. All of this points to how Atlanta keeps all three receivers involved in the offense, as shown by Atlanta’s Top 3 ranking of team targets to their WR3 (Sanu, 15.2%) along with 22 of the 35 passing touchdowns from Matt Ryan all landing in the capable hands of these three top options. Sanu is much more than an afterthought and injury replacement for Jones or Ridley, plus Sanu is sometimes used as the gimmick quarterback in some formations. Sanu represents tremendous value and upside in the late rounds of fantasy drafts this year.
Tre'Quan Smith, New Orleans
Phil Alexander: The highs of his rookie season (a 13-10-157-1 receiving line in Week 11) contrasted sharply with the lows (failing to appear in the box score the very next week), but Smith is more than just a Best Ball target this year. He recently admitted learning the Saints complex offense was a struggle last year. But with a year of NFL experience under his belt, Smith is primed to overtake Ted Ginn Jr for the No. 2 receiver role in New Orleans. “I’m way more comfortable than last year. I know the whole playbook. I know how to read the defense. I play faster knowing every position versus last year,” Smith told reporters last month. If the game has truly slowed down for a player with Smith's elite combination of size, speed, and burst, top-30 wide receiver numbers are possible within the context of the Saints offense.
Ryan Hester: Smith made headlines quickly as a rookie last season but then trailed back into obscurity late in the season. As the former third-round pick from the University of Central Florida enters his second season, he does so with only Ted Ginn Jr between him and an every-down role. Likely, Smith and Ginn will split that role with both of them on the field semi-frequently in three-receiver sets. Anyone catching passes from Drew Brees is worth a look – especially someone with Smith’s raw talent and opportunity to be on the field frequently.
Albert Wilson, Miami
Drew Davenport: The fact is that fantasy owners are not likely to know very much about what the Dolphins' offense will look like in 2019. But one thing that is known is that the new staff in Miami has described Wilson and the things he did last year as "dynamic". Be prepared to jump all over Wilson late in drafts if he looks healthy heading into the year. He's the perfect candidate for a late-round selection that you can cut if the Dolphins don't look like they can get Wilson the ball. But if he flashes the upside he did last year before going down then he's a steal at his price.
Jason Wood: Tre'Quan Smith is a victim of unreachable expectations. As the projected No. 2 receiver in a Drew Brees’ led offense, Smith was the apple of drafters’ eye last season. It didn’t work out as Smith caught just 28 passes for 427 yards. Only his game against Philadelphia (10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown) hinted at the promise many saw coming out of the University of Central Florida. But an up-and-down rookie season is no cause for condemnation, and his current ADP discounts any growth. The Saints didn’t prioritize receiver in the offseason, leaving Smith in the same position – competing with veteran Ted Ginn Jr for the No. 2 role opposite Michael Thomas. If Smith wins the job in the preseason, he remains as good a bet to vault into the Top 30 at the position as anyone else in his ADP range.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Miles Boykin, Baltimore
Jason Wood: Baltimore isn’t going to be a high-volume passing offense, but they’re also not going to win a lot of games if Lamar Jackson isn’t able to sling the ball around occasionally, particularly off play action. Boykin got less attention than fellow rookie Marquise Brown, but it’s Boykin who’s healthy and has the more NFL-ready skill set. Boykin stepped into training camp and asserted himself as the best receiver on the field, and it’s no fluke. If any Ravens receiver gains fantasy relevance, it’s likely to be the polished former Notre Dame Golden Domer.
John Brown, Buffalo
Dan Hindery: When drafting a wide receiver, you are putting trust both in the player himself and his quarterback to get him the ball. Aside from problems staying healthy, it isn’t hard to buy into Brown. He has elite speed, is an above-average route runner, and has typically produced whenever given the opportunity. The bigger question is whether we can trust Josh Allen to get him the ball. If Brown was a different type of player, the answer would be no. However, Allen’s strength as a passer is his monster arm and willingness to take deep shots. Brown is a perfect fit as Allen’s top target and by all indications, Brown has looked the part of a number one in camp. He is a great mid-to-late-round target.
Randall Cobb, Dallas
Matt Waldman: Cobb likely replaces Cole Beasley's production but if called upon to have a bigger role, he can fulfill it. Dallas has a loaded offense and Cobb is an underrated player heading into this year because it's dangerous to take reporters seriously that estimate a player's loss of athletic ability. Cobb has looked like more like the player who starred for the Packers during the first week of OTAs. He and Prescott have also communicated well with progressions, route footwork, and ball placement. This might be an upgrade to Beasley when many considered it the opposite.
Chris Conley, Jacksonville
Matt Waldman: Conley and Foles have past history together in Kansas City and it's playing out well during practices. Conley has a strong aerial game as a rebounder that Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes II didn't access. Foles likes to throw the 50/50 targets more often and should rely more on Conley's skill in this area. He has potential as a red-zone threat that once was at Georgia but not used in Kansas City.
Adam Humphries, Tennessee
Andy Hicks: Adam Humphries turned an average NFL career on its head over the last half of 2018 in Tampa Bay and into a huge free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans. He was one of the most improved slot receivers in the NFL and moves to a team that desperately requires a player with his ability to get the offense moving. His reward is to be ignored by the fantasy community and he goes undrafted in a lot of leagues. There are a lot worse players you could take late in your draft and in PPR leagues he becomes even more valuable.
Byron Pringle, Kansas City
Matt Waldman: Pringle earned a contributing starter grade in the 2018 Rookie Scouting Portfolio. A good route runner with speed and strong skill as a ball carrier, Pringle's only glaring weakness was his attack of the football. He wasn't consistent with using his hands in the correct fashion for the corresponding target. Pringle arrived in 2019 spring camp with additional muscle and explosion as well as improved techniques to attack the football. He has looked good enough in camp that the Chiefs special teams coach, offensive coordinator, and head coach have all praised him as an option that will challenge for playing time this year. You won’t draft him but he offers waiver-wire value if injuries strike in Kansas City.
Trey Quinn, Washington
Jason Wood: Josh Doctson isn’t guaranteed a roster spot, according to a few prominent beat writers. Paul Richardson Jr was an abject failure last year after signing a big free-agent contract. Jordan Reed knows the insides of a training room better than he knows the field. And Jamison Crowder is now a New York Jet. All that adds up to Trey Quinn being, by default, a high-volume target for whoever’s throwing the ball in Washington. Head coach Jay Gruden already declared Quinn the starting slot receiver, and that might mean 120+ targets considering the lack of alternatives in the passing tree.
Josh Reynolds, LA Rams
Jeff Pasquino: No team in the NFL uses 11-personnel (3 wide receivers, one tight end, and one running back) more than the Los Angeles Rams. In 2018, three wideouts were on the field for the Rams over 90% of the offensive plays – more than 10% more than any other team. The result of this personnel grouping and a high-octane offense made Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp fantasy starters every week for the first half of 2018. When Kupp went down, Reynolds stepped right in as the fourth wideout, playing over 60 snaps in five of the last six regular-season games and seeing five or more targets in five of those same six contests. Quite simply, no other NFL player is the understudy for three Top 50 players on the ADP list. Reynolds will be a hot waiver wire player if anything happens to a starting Rams’ wide receiver, so he makes for a low risk, high-upside late-round pick.
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco
Dan Hindery: Samuel is reportedly the heavy favorite to open the season as the starting X-receiver in San Francisco — not in the slot as many have speculated. The X-receiver position is the spot Pierre Garcon excelled in whenever he was able to stay healthy and where Dante Pettis emerged as a playmaker late las season. It makes sense that fellow 23-year old Pettis (who should be the starting X-receiver) is going off the board ahead of Samuel due to his extra year of experience. However, the 100-pick gap in ADP between the two is tough to understand given their relatively equal talent levels and the fact their competition for targets is just getting started.
Kenny Stills, Miami
Daniel Simpkins: Someone has to catch passes for Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or Josh Rosen this season, right? DeVante Parker is once again showing off in practice situations, but hopefully, fantasy general managers have learned by now that he can’t translate that to game situations. Stills, on the other hand, has at least shown the propensity to be a reliable option and one that excels when given the chance to go deep. We know from last season that Fitzpatrick still throws an accurate deep ball, so that part of Stills’ game can be unlocked again.