8 Wide Receiver Sleepers (2020 Fantasy Football)
Two factors impact whether you are going to have a good fantasy roster or one that can compete for a title. The first factor is drafting good players, as no fantasy team wins games with unproductive players. However, everyone has the goal of picking good players, and that is not enough on its own. You also have to pick good players in the proper rounds to make sure you are receiving good value for your picks.
For instance, Odell Beckham Jr. was a good player last year, and he had 164.3 fantasy points in 16 games, or 10.3 fantasy points per game. Terry McLaurin was also a very good player, and he had 162.9 fantasy points in 14 games, or 11.6 fantasy points per game. The difference is that Beckham was the 15th ranked player in preseason ADP and McLaurin was not even ranked in the Top-150 for ADP. Beckham was probably a second-round pick, while McLaurin was a waiver-wire addition. That is why OBJ was widely viewed as a disappointment in fantasy football last year and McLaurin was viewed as a gem. They both had very similar seasons, but the cost of a second-round pick made OBJ a disappointment versus McLaurin who was a great value off the waiver wire.
Odell Beckham Jr. vs Terry McLaurin in 2019
|Player||Targets||Rec||Yds||Yds / Rec||TD||Fantasy Pts|
|Odell Beckham Jr||133||74||1,035||14.0||4||164.3|
I think there are two main target areas where fantasy owners can find value at the wide receiver position. The first area is the rookie pool. Rookies are often undervalued in fantasy football, even though many of them will be starters at some point this season and have productive first campaigns. The other area is bad passing offenses. Everyone wants the best receivers on the elite passing teams, and nobody wants to be invested in the worst passing offense in the NFL, because the floor is so low on those struggling teams. Many people overvalue the best receivers on those inconsistent offenses.
You have to keep in mind that no NFL team has failed to throw for at least 2,500 net passing yards in a season since 2011 when the Denver Broncos had 2,434 passing yards and the Jacksonville Jaguars had 2,179 yards that season. Furthermore, there have been only 27 teams since 2011 that failed to reach 3,000 yards passing. Finally, there are only 27 teams since 2011 that have failed to throw for more than 15 passing touchdowns, and only two that have failed to throw for 10 touchdowns, the 2011 St. Louis Rams and the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs.
However, in the ADP rankings for this year, we still have a few teams that nobody has faith in their wide receivers to do anything of significance. The New York Jets’ highest ranked wide receiver is Jamison Crowder at 49th among fantasy wide receivers. The New York Giants’ highest ranked wide receiver is Darius Slayton at 42nd. Keep in mind that if Crowder is going to be the 49th-ranked wide receiver and also be the Jets leading fantasy receiver, he is going to have about 120.0 fantasy points, which is the equivalent of 36 receptions for 645 yards and six touchdowns. The Jets are going to have to be among the most anemic passing offenses in recent NFL history for that to happen. While it is clear that they are not an elite passing offense, they probably are not so bad that their leading wide receiver is going to be 49th in fantasy football among wide receivers. That creates a chance for there to be fantasy value.
Now that you know what I am looking for when trying to find value in the fantasy ADP rankings, here are eight sleeper fantasy wide receivers that could help you win your leagues this year.
Christian Kirk (WR – ARI): ADP WR41
There is a reason that people are not that high on Kirk. Many people thought he was going to be a fantasy sleeper last year, and he only had 134.2 fantasy points. His three touchdowns on the season all came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 32nd-ranked fantasy wide receiver defense in the NFL. Keep in mind that Kirk is only entering his third season, and he was playing with both a rookie head coach and rookie quarterback. Those two will be more experienced this year, and Kirk does not have to face the top defensive back on the opposing team. That honor will go to WR DeAndre Hopkins, who the Cardinals acquired in a trade with Houston this offseason. Kirk has a great chance to surpass his current ranking of WR40 in an offense that should be on the uptick this year.
Darius Slayton (WR – NYG): ADP WR43
I am not sure why Slayton is not receiving more love in the offseason. Last year, he was the WR35 with 146.0 fantasy points. This was even though he had only 14 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown in the first seven games of the season. He started the season very slow and was the WR74 ranked fantasy wide receiver from Week 1 to Week 7. Compare that to Week 8 to Week 17, he was the 21st ranked fantasy wide receiver with 111.3 fantasy points. Yet when we look at his ADP, he is the WR42 among fantasy wide receivers, which is lower than his 2019 season. Slayton has a great chance to be the best fantasy wide receiver in New York this season and he is a great sleeper candidate.
Darius Slayton 2019 Fantasy Stats – Week 1-7 vs. Week 8-17
|Games||Targets||Rec||Yds||Yds / Rec||TD||Fantasy Points|
Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT): ADP WR46
Johnson had seven games where he tallied at least 60 yards receiving and/or scored one touchdown. He also had eight games where he less than 30 yards receiving and no touchdowns. That was the passing game last year without Ben Roethlisberger for 14 of the 16 games. Big Ben is back this year, and if he can stay healthy, the Steelers should be a much better passing offense. In 2018, they were second in net passing yards (5,008) and fifth in passing touchdowns (35). While they are not likely to throw the ball that much with a much-improved defense and an emphasis on keeping Big Ben healthy, they should throw the ball a lot more and a lot better than they did in 2019. That gives Johnson a chance to outperform his ADP as the 113th-ranked player overall and the WR43.
Justin Jefferson (WR – MIN): ADP WR45
The Vikings are going to have a new look passing offense in 2020. They traded Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills and used the first-round pick they received in that trade to take Jefferson. Jefferson is likely to play in the slot position, a position he played about 90 percent of the time at LSU last year. Early reports are that he is doing great in training camp after having spent eight days on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He should have no problem overtaking Olabisi Johnson as the starting slot receiver by the time the season starts. Even in the run first offense of the Vikings, I still think there is room for both Adam Thielen and Jefferson to be fantasy viable, and I would not be shocked if Jefferson saw 100 targets in his rookie year. Jefferson has an ADP of WR44. He has a very good chance to outperform that ADP if he is the starting slot wide receiver.
Jamison Crowder (WR – NYJ): ADP WR50
I originally thought that Denzel Mims was going to be the wide receiver to own on the Jets, but I think Crowder is better positioned at this point to remain the Jets’ best fantasy option in the passing game. It is hard to be a rookie this year without the normal offseason and preseason games. Some rookies are going to be able to overcome that because they do not have much competition for the starting job, and they will be able to pick up what they need in training camp. Mims was dealt a setback when he injured his hamstring running routes on August 14th. It is believed to be more than a minor injury and the Jets signed Chris Hogan as insurance. That is going to hinder Mims having a big fantasy impact early in the season and that opens the door for Crowder to see a lot of targets early in the year and maintain his featured role in the passing game.
Crowder had his moments on an inconsistent Jets offense last year, finishing with 122 targets, 78 receptions, 833 yards receiving, and six touchdowns. That was good for the 34th ranking among fantasy receivers last year. It seems hard to believe he is going to drop to the WR49 this year, especially if Sam Darnold can break out in his third season. Crowder is someone that is being undervalued in fantasy and has a chance to be a great sleeper.
Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI): ADP WR52
Reagor has a couple of things going for him that could help him see a lot of playing time early in the season. Alshon Jeffery is returning from a foot injury and there is speculation that Jeffery will start the season on the reserve / PUP list. That would mean that Jeffery will miss the first six games. DeSean Jackson turns 34 years old this year and he has not played 16 games since 2013. He has made only 13 out of a possible 32 starts the last two years and it seems unlikely he could handle the featured receiver role and stay healthy for an entire season. Reagor has an ADP WR50. If Reagor is given a chance to start early and he plays well, he will easily outperform that ranking playing with Carson Wentz.
Mecole Hardman (WR – KC): ADP WR51
Hardman did not have much of a role in the offense last year, seeing only 41 targets. He turned those 41 targets into 26 receptions, 538 yards, and six touchdowns. The challenge is going to be increasing those targets from 2019. The Chiefs still have Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins in the passing game. They also have Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back. There could be games where Hardman is the fifth targeted player in the offense and that can make it hard for him to be a consistent fantasy performer. Hardman is also going to be the primary punt and kick returner, which may suggest the Chiefs do not see him having a major role in the offense.
Working in his favor is that Watkins has not played 16 games since 2014 and Hill missed four games last year. I think Hardman has a chance to emerge as the second receiver this year passing an inconsistent Watkins on the depth chart, but Hardman is a boom-bust pick due to his uncertain role in the offense. Hardman is a very inexpensive roll of the fantasy dice with an ADP of WR51. At the right price, he could end up being a great bargain in fantasy football.
Michael Pittman (WR – IND): ADP WR59
The Colts were one of the most conservative offenses in the league last year, but I think they are looking to open it up a little more with the signing of Philip Rivers. That does not mean I expect him to pass the ball 650 times this year, they have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and two very good running backs. What it does mean is they should throw the ball more than the 513 times they threw it last year and more importantly they should average more than 6.5 yards per pass attempt. T.Y. Hilton missed six games due to injury last year and the Colts were short on wide receiver depth.
They drafted Pittman in the second round, and he is expected to start opposite of Hilton. He is a great bargain as the WR56. The only downside is that Parris Campbell is also generating some buzz and if he overtakes Pittman on the depth chart, there may not be enough targets to support three fantasy viable Colts receivers.
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.