Dynasty Wide Receiver Sleepers (2019 Fantasy Football)

May 22, 2019

Hakeem Butler appears to be one of the safer long-term bets at WR in dynasty formats

Fantasy wide receivers this year are incredibly bottom-heavy. After the first crop of five guys or so, there is no second-tier group in my mind, and everyone in the middle is all just grouped together. Any of these guys could break out and be a top-12 fantasy receiver. Add in a loaded rookie class (D.K. Metcalf, Marquise Brown, A.J. Brown) and you’ve got quite the crop of pass catchers to choose from in drafts this year.

For dynasty leagues, there’s a slew of young guys you can choose from to build your team for years to come. To help sort through this pile of names, I’ve picked four sleepers in dynasty leagues who could be breakout receivers. Stay tuned for next week when I break down the quarterbacks.

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James Washington (PIT)
Now that Antonio Brown is out of town, JuJu Smith-Schuster immediately becomes the No. 1 receiver in Pittsburgh. That’s great news for his fantasy value.

But what about his former role? It’s assumed that Washington, a second-year receiver out of Oklahoma State, will absorb many of those targets. He’s currently ranked as the 46th fantasy receiver on FantasyPros, and he was only owned in 31 percent of ESPN leagues at the end of last year, meaning he should be available in many dynasty drafts.

Washington had a very quiet year last season, but he should see a massive jump in targets. Four out of the past five years, the No. 2 receiver on the Steelers has seen at least 86 targets and all have had at least 500 receiving yards on the year. This is not to say Washington will match Smith-Schuster’s totals from last year, but he should be getting more looks this year with Brown out of the picture and is in line to be the second option in Pittsburgh for years to come.

Mecole Hardman (KC)
Hardman suddenly went from a borderline second-round pick in the draft to having a shot at the Chiefs’ No. 1 wide receiver spot seemingly overnight. We can assume that Tyreek Hill’s time in Kansas City is over, leaving Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson as the two carryovers from last year when the Chiefs lit up defenses across the league.

I could see Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid taking advantage of Hardman’s speed immediately. He has great vision in the open field and is exceptional as a ball carrier, potentially opening him up to trick end-arounds and other creative plays that the Chiefs are known for. He has best-in-class speed and can take the top off the defense, which is something that Kansas City will be badly missing without Hill. Hardman presents the potential upside of having an immediate impact this year, while having a clear path to a starting role as the year goes on and into seasons beyond.

Hakeem Butler (ARI)
I like some other rookie receivers better for this year alone (N’Keal Harry, Marquise Brown), but Butler is an excellent long-term bet. He is currently ranked as the 91st receiver in fantasy, per our consensus rankings, behind both Browns and Metcalf, who is anything but a sleeper at this point.

Larry Fitzgerald’s days are numbered and this is likely his last season, meaning Butler is in line for a starting job almost immediately or in 2020. Christian Kirk already has the slot locked down, but Fitzgerald will need someone opposite him to take the top off the defense and run deeper routes – routes that will undoubtedly get a lot of attention in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

He will also be the Cardinals’ top red zone option, as he possesses elite scoring abilities and can essentially play power forward in the end zone, picking balls out of the air over defenders. Even if he doesn’t have that productive of a rookie campaign, given that Kyler Murray will be transitioning into the NFL and Kingsbury will be in his first year, stash him knowing he’ll pan out long-term.

Robert Foster (BUF)
After dealing with some injuries early on in his rookie year last season, Foster came on strong in the second half as the Bills’ offense started to somewhat find an identity. Over the last seven games, he broke 100 yards three times, scored three touchdowns, and averaged five targets per game. Zay Jones came into his own during this stretch as well, scoring six touchdowns. This is good news for Foster and the Bills’ offense as a whole – a rising tide lifts all boats. 

It also helps that Buffalo essentially redid their entire offensive line this offseason, which was by far their biggest weakness last year and a big reason why quarterback Josh Allen missed so many games. They drafted Cody Ford in the second round to play guard, and also signed free agent center Mitch Morse and guard Quinton Spain. While neither of them is necessarily elite at their position, even average performances at center and both guards spots will be an improvement over what the Bills had last year. Foster’s ownership spiked toward the end of the year, closing out 2018 owned in 43 percent of ESPN leagues, but he’s worth grabbing in dynasty leagues wherever he’s not rostered.

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Jon Munshaw is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jon, check out his archive.

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