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Fantasy Football Sleepers: Wide Receivers (2021)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Aug 21, 2021

Everyone and their grandmother have the likes of Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, and Stefon Diggs among the top-10 fantasy receivers this season, but which mid-to-late-round pass catchers are flying under the radar? I’ll attempt to answer that question today with five of my favorite WR sleepers for the 2021 season. These aren’t just guys outside the top-36 – oh no! Each of these receivers is ranked WR52 or lower in our latest FantasyPros ECR. If you’re looking for sleepers, you’ve come to the right place!

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Jaylen Waddle WR52
The first receiver taken in this year’s draft has impressed in camp, and while he has some competition for targets with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker, Waddle is the cheapest option of the three in drafts and has the Alabama connection with Tua Tagovailoa. Fuller is already dealing with an undisclosed injury and Waddle could emerge as the team’s top pass-catcher thanks to his overwhelming talent.

Waddle averaged 18.9 yards per reception on 106 catches in his three years with Alabama, and while it was teammate DeVonta Smith who won the Heisman, Waddle was viewed as the most gifted of the pair.

Russell Gage WR55
Now that Julio Jones is gone, Gage should slot into a starting role alongside Calvin Ridley – an opportunity that could be highly advantageous. Gage broke out in Year 3, posting career highs across the board with a 72/786/4 receiving line in 2020.

Most of that production came across his eight starts. In those games, Gage went 43/484/3. That 16-game pace (86/968/6) would have been good for WR25 in half PPR scoring last season. He’s a screaming value right now who should far exceed his current ranking.

Jakobi Meyers WR72
Meyers certainly has competition in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne who both signed lucrative deals, but the former has been a standout in Patriots’ training camp. Meyers failed to catch a receiving touchdown in 2020, which is likely driving his value down even more. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, though.

Last season, Meyers led New England with 729 receiving yards, including a few highlight moments. He went off for 12/169 in Week 9, 7/111 in Week 15, and the former quarterback even tossed touchdown passes in Weeks 10 and 17. The upside is there for the preseason standout.

Sammy Watkins WR81
Rashod Bateman will undergo surgery and miss an unspecified amount of time. That leaves Watkins and the banged-up Marquise Brown (who is also at risk of missing time due to a hamstring injury) as Lamar Jackson‘s top options in the receiving game. Brown has made some big plays in his two years of NFL action, but he hasn’t lived up to the “Hollywood” moniker.

Despite a lackluster career up to this point, Watkins does have a 1,000-yard season under his belt, a Super Bowl ring, and plenty of talent. Watkins left Ravens’ practice earlier in the week, but the issue isn’t serious according to head coach John Harbaugh. As long as he can stay healthy, he’s got as good a shot as any to be the Ravens’ WR1. That could carry sneaky value this late in drafts.

Marquez Callaway WR97
Michael Thomas will open the season on the PUP list and has publicly feuded with Saints’ management. Tre’Quan Smith has been dealing with a leg injury, and Deonte Harris is facing legal troubles due to a suspected DUI in July.

Someone has got to catch passes in this offense, and while Alvin Kamara seems the likely candidate to lead the team in targets, Callaway could be the second option and the top wideout.

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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