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7 Deep Wide Receiver Sleepers (2023 Fantasy Football)

7 Deep Wide Receiver Sleepers (2023 Fantasy Football)

Discover a diverse range of fantasy football sleepers, from under-the-radar gems with substantial upside to late-round steals who can outperform their average draft positions. This comprehensive list of players, spanning from Round 8 to the double-digit rounds, aims to provide potential league-winning options while offering tremendous value. I selected the start of Round 8 as my cut-off for sleepers because I’ve often found that’s the range in the draft when we start to see breakout RBs emerge.

The main goal is that one or several of them beat their average draft positions (ADP) by a significant margin, akin to performances from Rhamondre Stevenson, Tyler Allgeier, Dameon Pierce, Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, D’Onta Foreman, Brandon Aiyuk, Christian Kirk, Garrett Wilson, Justin Fields, Daniel Jones and Tyler Conklin last season.

Be prepared to find hidden talents across all teams, including those in unexpected situations like the Arizona Cardinals. My only requirement is that these players possess ADPs outside the top-84 players (in some capacity because this can vary by draft platform). It’s too soon for me to be attacked by “he’s not a sleeper in MY league” social media trolls.

For the avid fantasy football enthusiasts, we’ve even included some deep sleepers who are perfect for 18-round-plus best ball leagues and deep 40-man dynasty rosters. Get ready to make strategic moves and uncover the next breakout stars! Here are my top fantasy football sleepers for all NFL teams. Below we’ll offer a free look at a few of these names.

Fantasy Football Draft Kit

Fantasy Football Draft Sleepers

Michael Wilson (ARI)

At 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, 3rd-rounder Michael Wilson easily stands out amongst the “Micky Mouse Club House” array of Arizona WRs. Since the team has moved from DeAndre Hopkins, Wilson is slated for starting duties on the outside, while his smaller teammates duke it out for slot usage. If healthy, I expect Wilson to be a diamond in the rough for the Cardinals. The redshirt senior came back for a fifth collegiate season due to the COVID-19 pandemic to boost his draft stock after more missed games due to lower-body/foot injuries. He posted a 20% dominator rating in just six games with only a 10% target share. But if you pro-rate his dominator rating removing his games missed, his dominator rating jumps to 34%. He made the most of every target, finishing top-8 in broken missed tackles and yards created after the catch among his classmates per Sports Info Solutions. His 2022 season was easily his most productive since his sophomore year when he first broke out. In 2019 at 19 years old, he caught 56 balls for 672 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

Deonte Harty (BUF)

A sneaky addition by the Bills this offseason was adding former Saints Pro Bowler Deonte Harty. He was hurt all last season after an impressive 2021 campaign. Worcester, Massachusetts’ finest saw an extremely high target rate per route run in 2021 at 27% and finished sixth in yards per route run (2.69). That was enough to earn him a 2-year deal worth $9.5 million ($4.75 million guaranteed) with 5.5 million coming in 2023. It’s more than double the contract the team gave Isaiah McKenzie (2 years, $4.4 million) last season. McKenzie was recently cut from the Bills. The signing also makes Harty the second-highest-paid WR on Buffalo, with Gabe Davis still on his rookie deal. I’m confident that Harty can deliver fantasy goodness if a starting opportunity opens in the Bills’ offense. The best part is he’s free sitting across dynasty waiver wires. Buffalo is currently trotting out former 5th-rounder Khalil Shakir as their WR3, after drafting only rookie WR Justin Shorter in Round 5 during this year’s draft.

D.J. Chark Jr. (CAR)

D.J. Chark Jr. did exactly what he was required to do in the 2022 Lions’ offense: operate as the team’s primary deep/perimeter wide receiver threat while rookie Jameson Williams slowly rehabbed from a torn ACL. Chark led the team in air yards share (30%) when healthy and in total deep targets (15). And when he came back to a full-time role from his early-season injury, Chark ended on an extremely high note. From Weeks 13-17, the former Jaguar averaged 10.5 fantasy points and 61 receiving yards per game. He went over 90 receiving yards in half of his last six games played. At just 26 years old, Chark has the exact archetype to be Bryce Young‘s favorite vertical threat. He is also a dark horse to be the Panthers’ No. 1 WR, with the entire pass-catching corps revamped from a season ago.

Cedric Tillman (CLE)

Cedric Tillman operated as Tennessee’s No. 1 WR as a junior in 2021, posting a 32 percent dominator rating. The 21-year-old took over the WR1 chair formerly owned by future Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer and narrowly outproduced another future NFL player, Velus Jones Jr. Tillman totaled 1,081 receiving yards, caught 12 TDs and generated the nation’s highest passer rating when targeted (155.8) but elected to forego the NFL and return to school in 2022. He was limited to six games after suffering an ankle injury and was out-shined greatly by his teammate and 2023 draft prospect Jalin Hyatt who took home the Fred Biletnikoff Award. However, in the five games that Tillman played healthy, he outproduced Hyatt with more targets (56, 30% target share vs. 40, 21% target share), catches (35 vs. 30), and yards (401 vs. 367). Tillman also yielded a higher aDOT (14.3 vs. 11.2). Tillman’s lack of early-career production and age entering the league (23) definitely raise eyebrows about what kind of ceiling he can offer. But his size at 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds helps him literally stand out as a prototypical “X” receiver in a class that is severely lacking big-bodied receivers. Jonathan Mingo and Bryce Ford-Wheaton were the only other rookie WRs at the Combine to measure at least 6-foot-3 while also running a sub 4.54 40-yard dash. That profile is worth gravitating toward at the cost of a third-round rookie pick. After all, Tillman was selected in the 3rd round of the 2023 NFL Draft (74th overall) by the Cleveland Browns. He can emerge as a big-bodied perimeter target for Deshaun Watson for the foreseeable future with Donovan Peoples-Jones hitting the open market in 2024.

Marvin Mims (DEN)

Marvin Mims was an elite producer at the collegiate level, hanging a 23 percent dominator rating in three years as an Oklahoma Sooner. He burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old freshman with a 24 percent dominator rating, triggering an early-age breakout. Mims led the team with 37 catches for 610 receiving yards and nine receiving touchdowns. He also finished fifth in the nation in yards per route run (4.07) and seventh in PFF receiving grade (89.1). The 5-foot-11 and 183-pound wide receiver would cap off his college career strong with over 1,000 receiving yards as a junior, averaging 20 yards per reception for the second straight season. Mims was a fiend with the ball in his hands, finishing seventh in his class in yards after the catch per reception (8.1) despite a high average depth of target (17.0).

It’s rare to find a wide receiver like Mims who can make plays after the catch and win downfield. Mims finished third in the FBS in receiving yards and fifth in targets on 20-plus air-yard throws in 2022. He also offers ability as a punt returner. The one concern about his production profile is that the majority of it came against zone coverage looks. He only caught nine passes in man coverage. But in today’s NFL, the WRs that can find the soft spots in zone coverage tend to turn into PPR monsters.

Based on his profile alone, Mims was emerging as one of “my guys” in this overall lackluster wide receiver class. But his 2023 NFL Scouting Combine showing cemented his status for me inside my upper echelon of rookie WRs. The Oklahoma Sooner ran a 4.38 40-yard dash (90th percentile), jumped a 39.5-inch vertical (89th percentile), leaped 129 inches in the broad jump (89th percentile), and posted a 6.9 3-cone drill (72nd percentile). His impressive testing, early-age production, deep-threat prowess, and ability to win after the catch are all reasons to be “in” on Mims for rookie drafts. The dude still isn’t even 21 years old yet.

Mims would go on to be drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round (63rd overall) in the 2023 NFL Draft, solidifying his status for me as the clear-cut No. 5 WR in the draft class behind the four 1st-rounders.

As I wrote in my 2023 NFL Draft Grades article, I initially wasn’t thrilled about the Denver landing spot for Mims. With incumbent WRs like Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton already on the roster, this hardly seems like a smash spot for Mims. But under the new Sean Payton regime, there is no telling what’s in the Broncos’ long-term plans. So WR could become more of a pressing need and Mims could find the field sooner rather than later as a second-round pick that is also Payton’s first-draft pick at the helm of the Denver Broncos. The second-round draft capital also suggests decent fantasy value in Year 1 based on the trends I’ve studied in valuing rookies in fantasy football.

At worst, Mims can fill the much-needed deep-threat role vacated by the often-injured K.J. Hamler. Watch him emerge as Russell Wilson‘s new favorite moonball target.

Kalif Raymond (DET)

Oh, baby. Another WR sleeper with punt returner ability from Worcester, Massachusetts. Raymond, 29 in August, has been in the NFL since the 2016 season after going undrafted out of Holy Cross. Starting out strictly on special teams, Raymond finally started earning reps at WR upon joining the Detroit Lions in 2021. Over the last two seasons, Raymond has finished as a top-60 fantasy WR. He ended the 2022 season ranking 23rd in yards per route run and 11th in catch rate. He’s an underrated piece of this ascending Lions offense, and he will no doubt have a pristine opportunity to earn targets early on with Jameson Williams sidelined for the first six weeks of the season. Raymond is elusive, which is shown through his work as a special team return man. His 13.2 yards per punt return ranked third in the NFL last season.

Richie James Jr. (KC)

The former Giants’ slot WR was thrown back into the starting role in Week 12 after rookie Wan’Dale Robinson went down with a torn ACL. From Weeks 12-17, James led New York with a 22.4% target share averaging 11.3 fantasy points, 5.6 receptions and 55 receiving yards per game (WR16 overall). James tied a bow on the year with the league’s highest catch rate (82.9%). Coming off a career year, James was a sneaky addition to the Chiefs as they try to improve their passing game over the middle of the field.

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