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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 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.
Here are the players who received the most votes:
And here are all of the payers mentioned and the reasons why.
Players Receiving 5 Votes
Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas
Phil Alexander: There is room for a wide receiver to emerge as the second target behind Darren Waller in the Raiders' offense. If the team's beat writers can be believed, Edwards is poised to make the leap. The second-year receiver came out of South Carolina with an impressive athletic profile and was highly productive in the SEC early. While reports he has resembled Terrell Owens and Randy Moss in camp are hyperbolic, they serve as a reminder Edwards likely would have been considered a first-round pick in 2020 had it not been for injuries.
Andrew Davenport: The camp praise for Edwards has been hyperbolic at times, but when it is consistent and effusive, it is time to pay attention. Edwards' rookie season was derailed by injury, but he possesses the traits of a wide receiver that should be given another chance to produce at this level. His College Dominator rating (the market share of his team's offense) was a ridiculous 48.4% (94th percentile), and his breakout age of 17.8 was as good as it gets (100th percentile). Edwards has been praised this summer for his development and hard work by teammates, coaches, and most importantly, his quarterback Derek Carr. Take a shot on Edwards near the end of drafts.
Jordan McNamara: This summer, Bryan Edwards has been the subject of positive camp reports after a disappointing rookie season. Edwards had a strong production profile entering the NFL and profiles more of a WR1 than teammate Henry Ruggs III. Edwards has a good opportunity without a clear WR1 on the depth chart and a good quarterback in Derek Carr. Edwards has the room in the offense for a breakout as a secondary option to Darren Waller.
Chad Parsons: Edwards has an open depth for the WR1 in Las Vegas. Edwards has an alpha profile, and his rookie season was largely derailed by injury. John Brown and Henry Ruggs III are other candidates for the WR1 role, and if Edwards is clearly behind them early in the season, simply moving on from an ancillary wide receiver can be the result after a low-level fantasy draft investment on Edwards.
Matt Waldman: Edwards is having another fantastic camp, and as long as an injury doesn't derail his 2021 season, he's currently atop the depth chart. The only high-volume receiving option on the team other than Edwards is Darren Waller. Edwards is a strong receiver with downfield speed who has moments of All-Pro-caliber tracking and catching contested targets. He's also a tough option in the open field. He may not be as good as Terrell Owens and Davante Adams--two players his teammates and head coach have compared him to--but he's vastly underrated in fantasy leagues and a great late pick with upside.
Rondale Moore, Arizona
Ben Cummins: Moore unquestionably checked the early breakout age box after catching 114 passes for 1,258 yards and 12 TDs and adding 213 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground as a true freshman at Purdue. And now he has been drafted in the second round as the Larry Fitzgerald replacement in a Kliff Kingsbury offense that perfectly suits his skill set. Look for Moore to post strong numbers through the air and on the ground in one of the most exciting offenses in football.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Seeing Moore terrorize the Big Ten in 2018 as an 18-year-old freshman was like seeing the Beatles in Shea Stadium in 1965. You knew you were witnessing the start of something big. Of course, "big" refers to Moore's potential impact and not his stature. His measurements (5-foot-7, 181 pounds) will repel many fantasy managers, and you owe it to yourself to capitalize on their biases. Trying to cover Moore is like trying to cover mercury. He had 114 catches, 1,471 yards from scrimmage, and 14 touchdowns in 13 games in that electric freshman season but played only seven games the last two years -- another factor holding down Moore's cost. The Cardinals invested a second-round pick in Moore, and he's a perfect fit for Kliff Kingsbury's horizontal passing attack, able to take short throws and turn upfield in the blink of an eye.
Jeff Haseley: It's preseason, but the Cardinals have already designed both rushing and passing plays specifically for Rondale Moore's unique skill set to take advantage of his speed and quickness. He lined up mostly in the slot in his preseason debut and could wind up being the top slot receiver with plenty of snaps and opportunities for targets.
Matt Waldman: I love this landing spot for Moore. I'm projecting a lot of 10 personnel--four-receiver sets--with Moore and either A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, or Andy Isabella working a lot of the time on the inside. This should draw many sweet matchups for Moore and result in big plays downfield or after the catch. I think Moore will be the second-most productive receiver on his team.
Jason Wood: The Cardinals are tricky to decipher given the plethora of options, including A.J. Green's arrival to go along with incumbents DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. But the front office prioritized Moore, and coach Kingsbury immediately talked up Moore's skill set as the missing link in the offense. Moroe profiles as the perfect slot receiver, and given the Cardinals' lack of receiving tight ends, he could be in line for monstrous snap counts and target share if he shows well in training camp.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Marquez Callaway, New Orleans
Jeff Haseley: Marquez Callaway is the player who best fills Michael Thomas' role in the offense. Go back to Week 7 last season, where Callaway had 8 catches on 10 targets for 75 yards in a role that resembled what we've seen from Thomas - mostly high-percentage short to intermediate routes, which is what we should see a ton of in 2021, especially if Taysom Hill is under center. Callaway would've padded his stats even more had it not been for a sprained ankle that he suffered in the third quarter. The ankle injury held him in check until Week 16 and 17, where he had three catches each and was more of a prominent role once Thomas was sat down in Week 15. So far in camp and preseason, Callaway has been the one turning heads and getting noticed. He is on the verge of being the go-to downfield target in Sean Payton's offense, and he should be productive regardless of who is under center for New Orleans.
Andy Hicks: Michael Thomas is injured. Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook are gone. Someone has to catch the ball in New Orleans besides Alvin Kamara. TreQuan Smith is inconsistent when fit. Marquez Callaway seems to be the last man standing and proving to be reliable in training camp. He got his feet wet in 2020 with 200 receiving yards, and his current draft price is almost a can’t lose proposition. If you can grab both Smith and Callaway, the benefits could be enormous.
Chad Parsons: With late draft picks - especially at wide receiver - I want a quick result of being right, aka worthy of a roster spot early in the season, or wrong and dumping them back to the waiver wire. For Callaway, the WR1 role for the Saints is wide-open, and TreQuan Smith has done little more than occasionally flash in his tenure. A hearty target load in Week 1 and Callaway is well worth holding.
Jason Wood: Michael Thomas got surgery months later than he should have, and now a big chunk of his season is in jeopardy. TreQuan Smith has missed a big chunk of camp, again. Marquez Callaway has grabbed the baton and not only run with it, he's set a new world record. Callaway may have ended up with No. 1 starter snaps by default, but his handling of the situation has opened the coaches' eyes. Late-round picks should be lottery tickets, and Callaway could emerge as an every-week fantasy starter.
Elijah Moore, NY Jets
Ben Cummins: Moore was an incredibly productive collegiate player. Per Establish The Run’s Jack Miller, Moore left school with a 29% career yards market share and led FBS in yards and receptions per game in 2020. Former collegiate teammate DK Metcalf is betting his game checks on Moore winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, the Jets’ defense projects to be so bad it will force this team into plenty of shootouts, and Moore projects to be a starter from day one after being selected in the second round.
Andrew Davenport: It's hard to argue with Matt Waldman's assessment that Moore looks like a faster Jarvis Landry. However, what remains to be seen is how the Jets are going to divvy up snaps between Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Corey Davis, and Moore. The problem is, they paid Davis to be a starter, and that's likely to happen. Moore has been pigeon-holed a bit as a slot guy, and that may not be the case, but who will he play over to get the volume he needs for fantasy success? The questions are legitimate, but so is Moore's development so far for his new team. The drumbeat has been consistent for the rookie, and he should compete right out of the gate. It's just a question of whether or not he can help fantasy teams. Taking a shot late in drafts is a nice upside play, and if it's clear early in the year he is sitting behind the veterans, he's an easy cut.
Pat Fitzmaurice: As my FBG brethren Sigmund Bloom and Cecil Lammey have long professed, when there's a steady drumbeat of positive buzz about a player, pay attention. The drumbeat around Moore has sounded like a Keith Moon solo. It's clear that the rookie from Ole Miss will become an essential part of the Jets' offense.
Matt Waldman: There are a lot of heady comparisons for Moore. I prefer a conservative view of Moore relative to what I've seen, and that's a faster Jarvis Landry. Moore's ceiling will be tied to inconsistent quarterback play from fellow rookie Zach Wilson but still expect a steady enough dose of targets to deliver as at least a strong flex option in shallower leagues. And as a hedge, I'll cheat here and also recommend Denzel Mims late. He has come on strong in the past 8-10 days after losing 20 pounds due to food poisoning, which led to incorrect speculation about his potential.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Nelson Agholor, New England
Andy Hicks: The wide receiver room in New England may be one of the worst in the NFL. That said, someone has to catch the ball. The Patriots didn’t sign Nelson Agholor to a big contract without good reason. Last year, he demonstrated with the Raiders that he is both a decent NFL receiver and a reliable fantasy option. He has finished as a bottom-end fantasy WR2 twice in his career and provides good upside in 2021 at a throwaway price.
Pat Fitzmaurice: Forget about the years of underachievement for this former first-round draft pick. Forget about the history of untimely drops. Forget about the "unlike Agholor" meme. (Actually, that meme is still hilarious, so carry on.) The point is, Agholor was terrific for Oakland down the stretch last year, catching 30 passes for 541 yards and three touchdowns over the Raiders' last seven games. He's now the only legitimate vertical pass-catching threat on the New England roster. Agholor is well worth a late-round pick.
Chad Parsons: Agholor has turned from a reclamation project into a legitimate WR1 option for the Patriots this season. They splashed the pot with two notable free-agent signings at tight end, but Agholor has minimal competition (Kendrick Bourne, N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers) for the top receiver spot. Agholor is a sneaky threat for a top-36 season for a fraction of the cost.
Terrace Marshall Jr, Carolina
Victoria Geary: Marshall has the ability to line up anywhere on the field, and he may carve out a role this season sooner than we think. Wide receiver Robby Anderson is reportedly dealing with a hamstring injury, and D.J. Moore recently injured his back in practice. Moore's injury may be more day-to-day, but we know that hamstring injuries have the potential to linger throughout the season. Marshall had a 33.4% College Dominator Rating at LSU, with an 18% target share and an impressive breakout age of 19.2. All signs point to Marshall being an impact player this season and is an absolute steal at his current ADP.
Jeff Haseley: Terrace Marshall Jr was a capable and prolific receiver at LSU during and after Joe Burrow's tenure. He was known for scoring touchdowns from all over the field, yet he was overshadowed by Justin Jefferson and then Ja'Marr Chase. He wasn't a feature of the offense until last season when LSU tried three different quarterbacks to run the system. Marshall excelled and finished with 23 touchdowns in 19 games in his three-year career at LSU, including 10 in 2020 without all-world quarterback Joe Burrow, playing in only seven games before opting out for the rest of the season. Carolina has been utilizing him all over the field so far in training camp, including a slot role that would elevate his fantasy appeal, especially in PPR leagues.
Ryan Hester: If Marshall continues lining up all over the field and making splash plays, he'll have plenty of people aware that his name isn't actually "Terrance." In all seriousness, though, Marshall is an athletic specimen who will bully his way into Carolina's rotation. If you're one to follow college pedigree of certain position groups from certain schools, note that LSU receivers have had a nice run lately. Just last year, Justin Jefferson was a deep sleeper.
Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia
Phil Alexander: Reagor seems to be a forgotten man just one year after being selected 21st overall in the NFL Draft. Poor quarterback play and injuries derailed his rookie season, but Reagor is presumably still as exciting with the ball in his hands as he was coming out of TCU. Projecting the target hierarchy in Philadelphia remains a fluid exercise, so taking a chance on cheaper pieces like Reagor and Quez Watkins is preferable to paying top dollar for presumed No. 1 wide receiver Devonta Smith.
Andrew Davenport: Just one year removed from being taken in the first round of the NFL draft, Reagor is being relegated to the scrap heap for rookie phenom Devonta Smith. So while the jury is still out on whether Reagor can produce at this level, it's important to remember he was hurt for a portion of the year and the Eagles offensive line was a complete mess for most of the season. This combined to bring about quarterback turmoil and inconsistent opportunities for any pass catcher, Reagor included. His rookie year can realistically be called a wash, and most of it wasn't his fault. Give Reagor another shot this year.
Jordan McNamara: Jalen Reagor had a disappointing rookie season in a Philadelphia offense that was a disappointment as a whole. The staff and quarterback Jalen Hurts should exploit Reagor's skillset better than he was used in 2020.
Sammy Watkins, Baltimore
Ryan Hester: Because of Lamar Jackson's ability to run and inability to support multiple fantasy football commodities at wide receiver, investing in Baltimore's passing game has been a fool's errand. But Watkins is worth the risk at his low price. First-rounder Rashod Bateman is out multiple weeks after surgery to repair a groin injury (our Dr. Jene Bramel says he's likely to start the season on Injured Reserve). For a rookie, that's devastating to his ability to hit the ground running. Marquise Brown showed last year that he's more of a one-trick pony, and Miles Boykin hasn't contributed much since being drafted a few years ago. Watkins is the only game in town at wide receiver and has been dynamic in camp practices. Take a chance.
Justin Howe: Receiver bodies are dropping fast and hard in Baltimore; even the coaches openly use terms like "injured reserve" and "more significant than initially believed." Marquise Brown has missed most of camp, and rookie Rashod Bateman is inching toward injured reserve to open the year. Meanwhile, Watkins is shining in early camp: "He's one of the best receivers in the NFL, period," coordinator Greg Roman put out. Watkins already boasted upside well beyond his ADP before the injuries. The Baltimore pass game isn't a voluminous one, but it's certainly efficient, and modest target numbers can still produce yardage and double-digit touchdowns. If his cohorts miss season time, Watkins will offer weekly flex value from the final few rounds of unforgiving drafts.
Jason Wood: Remember when Sammy Watkins was an every-week fantasy starter? It's been a while, but Greg Roman -- Baltimore's offensive coordinator -- was the play-caller for Watkins when he was an emerging star. Baltimore prioritized Watkins in the offseason, and Roman swears the team will throw more in 2021 after opposing defenses figured out the run-heavy offense last year. With Rashod Bateman hurt and Miles Boykin struggling, Watkins arrow points up and to the right.
Tyrell Williams, Detroit
Andy Hicks: Tyrell Williams has teased fantasy stardom since his breakout season with the Chargers in 2016. Injuries and poor form have resulted in disappointment over the years, but the Raiders and now Detroit has paid him like a potential star. He will get targets, is the obvious lead receiver for the Lions, and is available at a steal in late rounds.
Jordan McNamara: Tyrell Williams is shaping up as the WR1 in Detroit and is the cheapest WR1 in the league. The offense should funnel through Tight End T.J. Hockenson and Running Back D'Andre Swift, but Williams adds a perimeter intermediate element in the offense. Detroit is projected to be one of the worst teams in the league, so Williams should be a cheap source of volume.
Chad Parsons: Like the Raiders, the Lions' wide receiver depth chart is also up in the air for the hierarchy of targets. The answer might be this is a wide receiver black hole, and the passing game runs through T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift. However, Williams has a top-15 season to his name (2016) and has three straight years of 600+ yards and at least four touchdowns since then. Breshad Perriman is a dart throw at best, and Quintez Cephus and Amon-Ra St.Brown are both Day 3 younger options. Williams is the best bet if there is a fantasy-relevant WR1 in Detroit.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Parris Campbell, Indianapolis
Phil Alexander: Freak injuries have limited Campbell to a total of nine games through his first two NFL seasons, but the 59th pick in the 2019 draft will provide Carson Wentz with a tactical advantage when healthy. Campbell will likely return to the slot, where he commanded nine targets in his only appearance last season. But his 4.3-speed and ability to separate at every level is tailor-made for Wentz’s arm strength. It wouldn’t be shocking to see Frank Reich use Campbell in a role that allows him to attack defenses vertically.
Andy Hicks: Parris Campbell was highly regarded after being drafted in 2019. Injuries have derailed his first two years in the NFL, but the coaching staff hasn’t forgotten what he offers. With T.Y. Hilton on the slide and Michael Pittman Jr not a sure thing, Campbell is primed for a breakout year if he can stay fit. Taking both Pittman and Campbell could pay huge dividends if you have the roster space.
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo
Victoria Geary: Davis had an impressive rookie season, tallying 599 yards on just 35 receptions. He quietly scored seven touchdowns on the season, just one less than teammate Stefon Diggs. Davis logged four games as the WR22 or better and played 94% of snaps from Weeks 12 through 16 as he built rapport with quarterback Josh Allen. His 11 end zone targets were the most on the team by far. Davis will see plenty of playing time and opportunity, as the Bills used the second-most four-wide receiver sets in the NFL last season. Look for him to improve on his outstanding rookie season.
Ryan Hester: The team’s acquisition of Emmanuel Sanders may have put a damper on Davis’ raw outlook, but it lowered his price enough to make him a value. Buffalo has been buzzing about Davis since his rookie preseason last year, and they incorporated him more as last season progressed. Sanders should impact Cole Beasley’s outlook more than Davis’. Sanders profiles more as a slot receiver, with the bigger, faster Davis being more of a perimeter threat. If Davis can hold off Sanders and play in the majority of two-receiver sets opposite Stefon Diggs, his production will far exceed this price. If he can’t beat out Sanders, he becomes droppable early in the season. The upside is well worth the low risk at this price.
A.J. Green, Arizona
Jordan McNamara: A.J. Green's career as a contributing player is either over or he is a deep sleeper as the WR2 in Arizona. Green was terribly inefficient on a per-target basis last year, which is usually a sign of a regression candidate if the player maintains a similar volume. Green has drawn positive camp reports in his first season in Arizona. And fortunately, I think we will get an early reveal, which should add roster flexibility if he does not work out.
Ryan Weisse: Last year's performance, specifically his catch rate of 45%, has not done Green any favors with fantasy managers. But expecting 2020 AJ Green from Cincinnati is a mistake. Now, he gets to play WR2 across from one of the best wide receivers in the game with an extremely accurate quarterback. The situation is not the same. Green will see softer coverage and better passes. He has Top 36 written all over him at a crazy affordable draft cost.
Jakobi Meyers, New England
Ben Cummins: Despite going undrafted in 2019, Meyers has forced the Patriots to lock him in as a starting WR this season because all he does is produce. Meyers totaled 1,774 receiving yards in his final two seasons at North Carolina State and just posted 729 receiving yards last year in just his second NFL season. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels should find plenty of success on play-action and the midrange passing attack with a strong offensive line and running game. That’s Jakobi Meyers’ music.
Andrew Davenport: It is pretty hard to score when your starting quarterback has COVID and throws eight touchdown passes. That's why Meyers couldn't hit paydirt despite 59 catches and over 700 receiving yards. What's impressive, though, is that he didn't play until Week 7, and from that point on, he was the PPR WR22. Unfortunately, this offseason, the Patriots brought in four receiving options, so any glow Meyers had for fantasy owners seemed to fade quickly. But he's virtually free in drafts, and his competition at wide receiver is Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. He should still make it on the field ahead of those two, and he makes a lot of sense for the end of a fantasy draft to see if he can continue to grow and command targets.
Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills
Ben Cummins: Sanders is 34 years old, and that certainly is a pretty big concern. However, that’s really the only knock I have on him. Sanders’ game should age more gracefully than other WRs as he wins with elite and precise route running. After posting 726 receiving yards in 2020 with a broken down Drew Brees, Sanders now joins one of the league's superstars, Josh Allen, and a Bills team that threw for the third-most passing yards (4,620) in the NFL last season. Reports are Sanders is the locked-in WR2, and I’m buying them. He has at least one more solid season in him, and the favorable environment he finds himself in will foster just that.
Matt Waldman: Sanders got hurt last year and then had to work with a quarterback at the end of his career who suffered many injuries that cost him arm strength. Sanders still has vertical skills, and his absence from the 49ers' lineup hurt San Francisco's offense from a situational football perspective. In this case, the data most use on Sanders to write him off lacks the vital context of watching Sanders play the past two years. Expect Sanders to provide a net upgrade to John Brown for Josh Allen and Buffalo, where he'll get to use his full complement of routes with a quarterback who will have no problem putting RPMs on each target.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit
Victoria Geary: Tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D'Andre Swift will remain the focus of Detroit's offense, but which wide receiver will step up? With the exit of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr, St. Brown will have ample opportunity to lead the Lions' putrid receiving corps in targets this season. Brown has the versatility to line up in several wide receiver spots, allowing him to see the field early and often. Assuming the Lions will be playing from behind each week, St. Brown is primed for a busy season.
Ryan Weisse: St. Brown comes to a Detroit team with a mediocre, oft-injured corps to play the slot with a quarterback who loves throwing wide receivers to his slot. This is a recipe for 100+ targets on a team that should be throwing plenty. His ascension will come down to touchdowns, but if Jared Goff leans on him the way he did Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles, St. Brown will be the steal of fantasy drafts.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Randall Cobb, Green Bay
Phil Alexander: Cobb is treated by fantasy gamers as if he's ready to wash out of the league, but he'll only be 30 years old when the season starts and is coming off productive, albeit injury-plagued, stints with the Cowboys and Texans. The Packers reuniting with Cobb seemed to be a condition of Aaron Rodgers' playing with the team this year, which indicates he'll return as an every-down starter in one of the league's most prolific passing offenses. While his ceiling is no longer as high as it used to be during his prime, Cobb only needs to remain healthy to finish the season as a mid-range WR3 for fantasy purposes.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cleveland
Jeff Haseley: At 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds, Peoples-Jones has the size and catch radius to make some noise in the Browns receiving corps. He will battle with Rashard Higgins for opportunities, but he has shown that he is ready to take the next step catching three passes in the first preseason game. Odell Beckham Jr is an injury risk, and Jarvis Landry's best seasons may be behind him. If Peoples-Jones can become more of a possession receiver, he could do some damage this season as a potential flex option.
Sterling Shepard, NY Giants
Ryan Weisse: Two things are working against Sterling Shepard: Kenny Golladay and Daniel Jones. Shepard will finish 2nd on the team in targets and has shown flashes as a top-36 wide receiver with Jones in the past. Don't let your hate of Jones and fear of Golladay force you to miss out on value. Shepard has averaged 7-8 targets per game during his time inNew York, and if that continues, which it should, you are leaving 110 targets at minimum sitting there late in your draft. Chase volume and, more often than not, it will pay off.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay
Justin Howe: Camp buzz is camp buzz, but Valdes-Scantling clearly has a leg up on much of his competition. Allen Lazard may be the nominal No. 2 receiver, but he doesn't gobble up much volume (3.8 targets a game over the past 2 years). Newly-signed Randall Cobb is a slot-only specialist, while exciting rookie Amari Rodgers fits best as a versatile do-it-all guy. Besides, with his downfield dynamism, Valdes-Scantling doesn't need to be any kind of a target hog to produce fantasy WR3 upside. He notched an otherworldly 11.0 yards per target last year, scoring on 6 of his 33 receptions.
Quez Watkins, Philadelphia
Jason Wood: The Eagles' offense could be one of the bottom 10 in the league, so you're better off avoiding the early-round pieces of the puzzle and taking a flier on late-round options. If Nick Sirianni's debut season pans out, Quez Watkins may be the reason. He's easily been the best receiver in camp and has earned his way into first-team reps. While everyone else is hoping Jalen Reagor suddenly looks like a different receiver than he's been, all Watkins has to do is be the guy we're already seeing.