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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 late in 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.
Player Receiving 8 Votes
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay
Phil Alexander: Aaron Rodgers' endorsement of Valdes-Scantling as an every-down player means a lot after reports earlier this off-season the Packers quarterback “didn’t like” the second-year player (RIP Jeff Janis). Valdes-Scantling played more slot snaps in 2018 than any wide receiver currently on Green Bay's roster, but even if Geronimo Allison locks down the slot role, Valdes-Scantling's size, speed, and rookie-year production suggests he can thrive opposite Davante Adams on the perimeter. Rodgers' WR2 historically has an above-average shot at top-24 numbers, making Valdes-Scantling a potential steal at his current ADP.
Jeff Haseley: Marquez Valdes-Scantling has an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and only one player ahead of him for target shares. Valdes-Scantling had at least one reception in all but two games last year and was second on the team in wide receiver snaps last year (his rookie season).
Ryan Hester: It’s rare to find a starting receiver on a team quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers so late in fantasy drafts. Even if Geronimo Allison stays ahead of Valdes-Scantling on the depth chart, Green Bay will employ enough three-receiver sets that the second-year man will still be on the field plenty. Anyone playing more than half of the offensive snaps and seeing targets from Rodgers has my attention.
Andy Hicks: There were times last year where the rookie Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked out of his depth, while there were others where he looked like an elite NFL receiver. After a very productive midseason stretch, his form over the last half of the year was back to rookie fifth-round production. Which guy shows up in 2019? At his current draft slot and given that his upside, in this offense, with that quarterback, is starting fantasy receiver. This is going to be a situation that shakes out behind Davante Adams on the depth chart, with the new coaching staff, but Valdes-Scantling has to be in with a big shot.
Dan Hindery: It is always interesting when a player’s ADP is drastically different in various formats. Currently going outside of the top-150 overall in redraft leagues, Valdes-Scantling is actually going off the board in the top-100 in best-ball leagues. In this case, the top-100 ADP is more reflective of the true value and Valdes-Scantling is a steal any time after the 9th or 10th round. You can’t ignore the upside of a 6’4, 2016-pound receiver who ran a 4.37 at his pro day and who is catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. His rookie stats (38-581-2) look similar to Kenny Golladay’s in 2017 (28-477-3) and Valdes-Scantling could be poised for a similar breakout sophomore season with realistic 1,000-yard potential.
Dwain McFarland: Valdes-Scantling is easy to put on the sleeper list. He is likely either the number two or number three target for a great quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, heading into 2019. This season he will be asked to work more outside the numbers and down the field. If he and Rodgers click early this preseason, his ADP will skyrocket. Get him while the price is good.
Jeff Pasquino: Aaron Rodgers is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, and his receivers usually have good fantasy value. Davante Adams is pushing for the WR1 status this year as a result, and the starter opposite of Adams should have a lot of fantasy value, as Green Bay’s receivers had 383 targets last year (Adams had 169). That is over 200 targets to go around, and Randall Cobb (61 targets in 2018) is now in Dallas. Valdes-Scantling (72), Equanimeous St. Brown (36) and Geronimo Allison (30) split most of the rest, with upstart Jake Kumerow (11) only seeing very limited action. While many are talking about Allison as the likely WR2, “MVS” was getting snaps at the starter WR2 spot in June minicamps. Taking Valdes-Scantling as your fantasy WR5 offers a strong part of the Green Bay Packer passing game at a huge bargain.
Jason Wood: You don’t want to buy into offseason coachspeak too quickly, but whenever all the key points of influence tell the same story, it’s time to listen. Aaron Rodgers – who was justifiably hard on the Packers trio of rookie receivers last year – sung Valdes-Scantling’s praises and said he had a fantastic spring. DavanAdams called out Valdes-Scantling as the perfect fit in the Packers new offense. And the top beat writers all confirm Valdes-Scantling was getting most of the reps alongside Adams with the first-team in OTAs. If Aaron Rodgers is going to live up to his top-five ADP, it’ll take a breakout from one of the younger receivers, and Valdes-Scantling isn’t yet being drafted as the odds-on favorite for the role.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Kenny Stills, Miami
James Brimacombe: Stills didn't have that big season in 2018 but really no one in Miami contributed much. Even in a down year he still caught six touchdowns and has averaged seven touchdowns a season over the last three seasons. With Fitzpatrick looking to sling the ball around this season, Stills could be in for his best season to date.
Will Grant: Last year was tough if you were a Kenny stills fan, and having Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen at quarterback has most folks fading the entire Miami wide receiver corps. If you’re going to take a shot though, I’d pick a guy who finished in the top 30 in his two previous seasons before 2018. I like Stills to finish as the top Miami receiver over perennial disappointment DeVante Parker and transplant Albert Wilson. Wilson still isn’t well enough to practice, meaning Stills is getting prime working time with his new signal-callers. Ryan Tannehill was terrible last season, and if Rosen or Fitzpatrick is even a slight upgrade, Stills is going to be worth a late-round flyer.
Ryan Hester: Miami will be a terrible offensive team, but Stills should play every down. And as long as Ryan Fitzpatrick remains the starting quarterback, his receivers are worth consideration. Fitzpatrick has shown a “damn the torpedoes” stubbornness for most of his career and has supported receivers in fantasy football with that mentality. Stills’ deep speed and Fitzpatrick’s lack of conscience could combine for some huge plays. Add in the fact that Miami should be trailing and throwing a lot, and there’s a volume component to this selection as well.
Daniel Simpkins: Someone has to catch passes for Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or Josh Rosen this season, right? DeVanParker 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.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Jamison Crowder, NY Jets
Jeff Haseley: Jamison Crowder gives the Jets and Sam Darnold a possession receiver for short-intermediate routes that they haven't had since Eric Decker. Crowder represents excellent value at his current ADP and should be a lock to reach 50+ receptions in a healthy season.
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. Crowder looks poised to reprise a similar role for quarterback Sam Darnold, giving the young quarterback a solid option over the middle while tight end Chris Herndon serves a four-game suspension to start the season. 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.
Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh
Phil Alexander: Five years into his NFL career, we've passed the point where the allure of Moncrief's athletic talent outweighs his lack of on-field production. But he actually made the most of a bad situation last year, his first and only as a member of the Jaguars, who fielded the second-worst offense in the league in 2018. Moncrief commanded a solid 17.4% target market share in Jacksonville and led the team in air yards by a fairly wide margin. During a stretch from Weeks 4-10, he was quietly a fringe top-25 option. Somehow still only 26-years old, Moncrief gets a massive quarterback upgrade and steps into an offense where 25% of the targets have been vacated. If he can avoid the nagging injuries that derailed the early part of his career, we can very well be counting on Moncrief as a solid WR2 by the end of the season.
Drew Davenport: The trouble for Moncrief has never been talent. Everyone knows he can play when he's on the field. In Steeler country, nobody knows if James Washington is going to develop like he should in his second year, but what people are talking about is how impressive Moncrief has been so far. Trying to handicap the starting gig opposite JuJu Smith-Schuster isn't easy, but when the price is almost nothing near the back of the draft, taking a chance on a healthy Moncrief in the Pittsburgh offense is what owners should be trying to do.
Jason Wood: Antonio Brown is gone, and that leaves a cavernous opening at receiver, even with JuJu Smith-Schuster as the new No. 1. Most project James Washington as the heir apparent, but veteran DonMoncrief has just as strong a claim. Moncrief has never reached fantasy stardom. His 37th-place finish in 2015 as a member of the Colts was the pinnacle of his career, but he enters 2019 training camp healthy and on even ground with Washington. Training camp will tell this tale. If Washington shrugs off an uninspired and unconvincing rookie year, the team likely commits to the younger at-home, home-spun player. But if Washington looks slow and unfocused in camp, Moncrief can find himself the recipient of 80+ targets from one of the league’s best veteran passers.
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". Wilson is reportedly still getting to 100% from his hip injury sustained last year so that is something to monitor. 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 Josh Rosen doesn't look like he 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.
Dwain McFarland: Wilson was starting to come on in 2018 before a hip injury ended his season. Now he gets a new offensive coordinator in Chad O’Shea who is installing a similar passing attack to the one he learned with the Patriots. Wilson has a chance to win the Julian Edelman role if his hip is right. This offense won’t be very good, but the targets could come in bunches. Wilson is a player that can be moved all over the formation to create mismatches in space. He will have to prove he can win with a wider variety of routes as much of his production came off of screens last season.
Maurile Tremblay: Wilson missed the second half of last season with a hip injury, but over the first seven games, he was significantly more impressive than Kenny Stills or DeVante Parker. Wilson's greatest strength is his ability to break or avoid tackles in the open field and gain yards after the catch. He is particularly effective on screen passes. While the Dolphins may not have a top-tier offense, Wilson is probably their most-effective weapon in their passing game and could be a solid WR3-flex option in fantasy.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Andy Isabella, Arizona
Jeff Haseley: I can see Andy Isabella coming in as a reliable possession receiver as early as this year. The Cardinals Air Raid offensive style benefits Isabella's skill set well. If he can pick up the pro game quickly, he has the potential to be a key piece to the Cardinals offensive game plan.
Maurile Tremblay: I'm not as bullish on the Arizona offense this season as many are. I think it will take some time for Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and the mostly young group of receivers to adjust to life in the NFL. Andy Isabella, though, is one player who I think has immediate upside potential. His route tree should feature plenty of go routes and plenty of screens, the two patterns that require the least adjustment to the pro game. His speed will serve him well, and his ability to gain yards after the catch will make him a constant big-play threat.
TreQuan Smith, New Orleans
Ryan Hester: Smith flashed 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.
Jason Wood: TreQuan 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 not 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
John Brown, Buffalo
James Brimacombe: The Josh Allen to John Brown connection is what has me intrigued about Brown this season. Brown was on pace to have a big season last year as he was a favorite of Joe Flacco down the field. Allen should also have plenty of opportunities to lock onto Brown down the field and the two could be in line for some big numbers.
Antonio Callaway, Cleveland
Justin Howe: Many fantasy drafters shelved their Callaway love the instant Odell Beckham Jr was brought into town. It's true that Callaway's usage will fall a bit; he's no longer in the running to be the Browns' primary deep-ball guy. But there's absolutely still a role for him here, and he'll almost certainly draw 35-40 snaps each week. Splash plays will still crop up for the 4.41 speedster, making Callaway an intriguing best-ball option in the last few rounds of those drafts.
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 a 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.
Robert Foster, Buffalo
Phil Alexander: Foster had at least 90 receiving yards, a touchdown, or both in five of seven games after becoming a full-time player in Week 10 last season. The signings of Cole Beasley and John Brown have suppressed Foster's ADP but shouldn't prevent him from opening the season with a starting job. Foster is a size/speed specimen who had a nondescript college career at Alabama due to numerous injuries, a run-heavy offense, and playing alongside Amari Cooper. But his skill set dovetails nicely with Josh Allen's ability to extend plays and launch the ball downfield. If last year's production is any indication, Foster should be considered a favorite to emerge as the Bills' WR1.
Michael Gallup, Dallas
James Brimacombe: Rookie wide receivers are usually not much of a thing these days and the fact that Gallup played all 16 games and caught 33 receptions for 507 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Although the numbers are not off-the-page good, they still are solid for a rookie and give hope for a breakout in 2019. With Cooper likely to see heavy coverage it will be Gallup seeing plenty of one on one coverage.
Ted Ginn Jr, New Orleans
Justin Howe: Most fantasy folks are leaving Ginn for dead, and it's easy to see why. He's 34, the Saints are throwing less than ever, and TreQuan Smith looms on the depth chart. But Ginn's 2018 should actually make us more optimistic, not less - he kept up a clear, prominent role in the offense, one that projects solidly into 2019. Including the playoffs, Ginn played in only 6 full games, but draw at least 6 targets in each one. He was reasonably effective, too, topping 44 yards in 5 of them. Investing highly in the Saints passing game looks iffy, but Ginn should bring some degree of consistency for deep-league players.
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 skill set 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.
Zay Jones, Buffalo
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, considerably.
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.
Josh Reynolds, LA Rams
Jeff Pasquino: No team in the NFL uses 11-personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end and one running back) more than the 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. This made Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp fantasy starters each and 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 not one, not two but three top-50 players. 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.
Paul Richardson Jr, Washington
Matt Waldman: Richardson must stay healthy. If he does, he can deliver a high rate of points per touch that vaults him into fantasy starter consideration. A harder worker who loves the game, skilled players with this mentality usually outlast talents who don’t possess this mentality – see Josh Doctson. Richardson can work inside and outside, which affords Washington some versatility with usage. This is not a passing offense that has a lot of priority fantasy picks, but everyone appreciates bargain production and Richardson is a skilled candidate.
Deebo Samuel, San Francisco
Dan Hindery: Samuel is reportedly the heavy favorite to open the season as the starting Z-receiver in San Francisco — not in the slot as many have speculated. The Z-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.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta
Jeff Pasquino: While the perception is that Jones is on the field nearly all the time and Ridley is close to that number, the actual stats show otherwise. Matt Ryan sets the bar with 1,048 snaps last season, while Julio Jones only played 818 snaps, with Ridley on the field for just 645 plays. The leader of the group was actually Sanu with 829 snaps, just a hair more than Jones. All of this points to how Atlanta keeps all three receivers involved in the offense, as shown by Atlanta’s top-three 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.