I’ve gone through all of the main positions to gauge some of the top fantasy football sleepers this year. There are a few different ways to to that, but one of my favorites is sifting through fantasy football average draft position data.
That certainly doesn’t tell us everything. It can’t tell you for sure which fantasy football rookies will break out or which players on new teams will live up to the hype. What it does say, however, is how everyone else is perceiving these players and when they plan on drafting them.
Of course, your league type and size (not to mention where you pick) makes a difference, but the overall idea is to assess value and project as best you can.
I’ve gone over the top fantasy football quarterback steals and also poured through the fantasy football ADP for running back and tight ends as well.
It’s time to look at the wide receivers. Here’s my favorites based on upside and fantasy ADP data over at FFC:
Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders (Round 4)
Cooper is a difficult guy to assess, as he left a lot of fantasy points on the board due to drops a year ago. Despite that, he’s the top guy in a good system and he’s shown his elite upside in the past (12th in 2o16).
I think there is an argument for Cooper to have his best season yet in Oakland, but even if he doesn’t, he’s being drafted two full rounds later compared to his ADP from 2017. I know there is risk here, but the Raiders have already suggested their passing game will flow through their most talented weapon.
If Cooper can limit the drops and be a little more inconsistent, he could have a huge year and pay off as a fourth round steal.
Chris Hogan – New England Patriots (Round 6)
Julian Edelman’s pending four-game suspension opens the door for Chris Hogan to be a stud to start the 2018 fantasy football season, but the exit of Brandin Cooks just might guarantee Hogan’s fantasy relevance for the entire year.
Cooks finished 7th among fantasy receivers a year ago and due to his ability to stretch the field and get open in the middle of the field, Hogan is a very real threat to replace him. Tom Brady doesn’t have many other options that stand out, while Hogan proved his worth last year when he piled on a 34-439-5 stat line in just nine healthy appearances.
If you extrapolate that production, it’s not crazy to think a healthy Hogan with a bigger role matches a ballooned 60 catches, 780 yards and 8.8 touchdowns. This is obviously simple math and it’s no lock, but factor in the loss of Danny Amendola and Hogan’s role might be more secure than ever.
In round six you can assume some risk and any Patriots receiver has to be regarded as worth a roll of the dice after watching Tom Brady pace the NFL in passing yardage in 2017.
Corey Davis – Tennessee Titans (Round 7)
I’m a fan of Corey Davis this year. It was a slow going for the rookie, but he always had the size and ball skills to be a beast. After failing to score a single touchdown during his first regular season run, Davis blew up in the playoffs and finally displayed the jaw-dropping upside that made him a first round pick.
There are no guarantees here. Davis may not continue his progression and if Marcus Mariota’s shaky 2017 isn’t a mirage, every Titans receiving option could be in trouble. That being said, Davis has monster upside in an offense where Rishard Matthews managed to crack the top-15 in 2016.
I think Mariota bounces back this year, while Davis could be in for a massive leap. Even if it all meets somewhere in the middle, you’re taking a 7th round flier on a special talent with a huge role. There are worse risks to be taken.
Julian Edelman – New England Patriots (Round 7)
While I love Chris Hogan and you obviously need to lower Edelman in your fantasy player rankings due to his ban, he’s still going to be around for up to 12 games this year. He’s still potentially an asset in PPR leagues and he should still be there to help you during the fantasy playoffs.
This is not a guy with zero value. His draft stock takes a big hit, but an extra four weeks of working on his body (he tore his ACL last year) should have him at 100%.
He’s not quite as enticing as these other guys due to the injury and ban, but if I can get him in round seven or later as a potential WR2 down the road, I deem that a bargain.
Emmanuel Sanders – Denver Broncos (Round 8)
Sanders struggled due to injuries and bad quarterback play last year, but the speedy receiver had produced three straight 1,000+ yard campaigns before that. He’s aging, but he still looked good last year when he was healthy.
Case Keenum gives the Broncos an upgrade under center, potentially boosting the value of Denver’s passing game weapons. Keenum did just get done getting both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen inside the top-17 wide receiver rankings last year, so the upside is there for the taking.
DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins (Round 8)
I’m a Parker believer, as he’s physically capable of being a dominant force in the NFL. Things haven’t worked out quite yet, but I’m not sure we can judge him on a 2017 season that saw him deal with a preseason injury and Jay Cutler as his quarterback.
Miami as a whole has been downgraded heading into the 2018 fantasy football season, but Parker has major upside as the Dolphins’ top receiving option. Not only is Parker dripping with talent, but Jarvis Landry’s move to the Browns leaves 100+ receptions up for grabs.
As long as he can stay healthy, I think there’s a good chance Parker ends up being a huge late-draft steal.
Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams (Round 9)
Kupp is a very interesting value pick this year, as many managers are seemingly gun shy due to the presence of Brandin Cooks. Maybe that curbs Kupp a bit, but he was able to put up a solid 62-869-5 line as a rookie (good for 27th overall) and his chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff is obvious.
With another year in the system and so many weapons around him to take the defense’s attention away, Kupp could easily feast. The risk is minimal if he doesn’t turn into a stud, while he’s a WR3 or WR4 at the worst in such an explosive offense.
Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons (Round 10)
I always like taking late-round fliers on stud rookies, as you just never know who will bust out right away in year one. There is risk even with Ridley, but he projects as a phenom in the NFL and he’ll learn from the best in Julio Jones.
He’s probably going to start the year behind Mohamed Sanu, but Ridley rounds out a stacked Falcons offense that could easily help him put up big numbers as a rookie. Factor in the crazy role should Jones or Sanu get hurt, and Ridley is a worthwhile dart near the end of your draft.
D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers (Round 11)
The case is only stronger for Moore, who slides into a starting role as a rookie in 2018. The Panthers have completely redone their receiving corps, as they traded away Kelvin Benjamin last year and signed Torrey Smith in free agency.
Moore may have to carve out his role to leapfrog Devin Funchess, but the talent is there and he should have a chance to come up big in year one. There is certainly a precedence for it, as the aforementioned Bejamin finished as fantasy football’s 14th best receiver in this offense as a rookie in 2014.
That doesn’t mean Moore is a lock to blow up immediately, but he’s already the most talented receiver at Cam Newton’s disposal. An 11th round pick is a small risk to potentially access that upside.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants (Round 11)
I’m also loving the value I get with Shepard. People seem to forget that he was pretty good as a rookie (65-683-8 stat line) in 2016. I know, because my wife had him in our fantasy football league.
He wasn’t bad in 2017, either, showing up big in spots with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on the shelf. Shepard himself was limited to just 11 starts in year two, yet he still put up 731 receiving yards.
The corpse of Marshall is gone and reports suggest Shepard’s role could be bigger than ever in 2018. He’s obviously no lock to go nuts this year, but you’re paying for a high-end WR3 pretty late in the draft and should Beckham get hurt again his value would be through the roof.
I don’t want to keep listing guys in the same round, but keep an eye on Chargers second-year wide receiver Mike Williams. He has some talented bodies to leap frog, but the injury to Hunter Henry may open the door for a bigger role this year.
Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions (Round 12)
One other guy I am digging is Gollady, who blew up in week one of last year and really didn’t resurface again until week 17. That doesn’t mean he isn’t immensely talented or primed for a big breakout, however.
Golden Tate and Marvin Jones seem to be firmly ahead of the second-year receiver, but Golladay has drawn rave reviews all summer and could be primed for a more locked in role as the team’s third receiver. In the event of a big injury up top, he could turn into fantasy gold.
Remember, there are always more fantasy football steals to be sought after, but these are just a few of my personal favorites. Keep mocking your draft so you can assess player value and be prepared to snag guys at the right time or just before someone else does.
Whatever you do this year, good luck!