2018 Fantasy Football: WR Sleepers
As I wrote with QB sleepers, a sleeper doesn’t mean most hyped and talked about players throughout the offseason. The first couple WR sleepers on this list are not your prototypical sleepers either, but they provide value at the position. As we get closer to the season, some of the players below will likely see their ADP move around, which could mean a loss in value. Below, you’ll see some late-round WR sleepers that have the upside to make a Fantasy Football impact in redraft leagues for the 2018 season. The best thing is, some of these guys won’t cost you a thing on a draft day.
WR Sleepers for 2018 Fantasy Football
Mid-Round WR Sleepers:
Pierre Garcon, San Francisco 49ers
Many may not think Garcon is considered a sleeper, but he’s getting drafted as a WR3 and he has the upside to be a two. If you look back at Pierre Garcon’s NFL career, his 2013 season stands out. Garcon caught 113 balls for 1,346 yards. Both marks were career-highs as were the 184 targets he saw that season. Kyle Shanahan was his offensive coordinator in Washington that year, and gave Garcon a similar usage last season with the 49ers.
Garcon had 40 catches for 500 yards over eight games in his first season with the 49ers. He was on pace for the second-highest catch total (80), target total (134), and third highest yardage total (1,000) of his career if not for a neck injury. Only 13 wide receivers had more than 1,000 yards last season and only 10 caught 80-plus balls. The 134 targets would have been the 13th most at the WR position.
So why is Garcon’s ADP on Fantasy Football Calculator WR32, 7.01? Especially given the fact he caught balls from Brian Hoyer and C.J. Beathard last season. Jimmy Garoppolo is a significant upgrade over both of those QB’s. Beathard had a 54.9 completion percentage last season, while Garoppolo’s sat at 67.4%. It was a small sample size mind you, but Garcon will be much happier catching balls from Jimmy.
Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins
Jamison Crowder was one of the more disappointing wide receivers during the first half of the season in 2017. So much so that he was available on some waiver wires throughout the year. Crowder only totaled 149 yards on 19 catches over his first six games. That’s 24.8 yards per game. The 25-year-old even had one game with 1 catch for -7 yards. Part of his slow start had to do with a nagging hamstring injury.
Crowder finished strong averaging 71.1 yards per game over his final nine contests, including a four-week span where he racked up 412 yards on 27 catches. As he heads into his fourth season, he has a chance to be the No. 1 wideout this season for Alex Smith. The new QB will learn quickly that Crowder will be one of his most reliable options week in and week out.
I want to believe in Josh Doctson just like everybody else, but he’s yet to have a 100-yard receiving game, and has zero games where he’s topped four catches. Paul Richardson doesn’t pose much of a threat and Jordan Reed has had plenty of injury issues of late. Like Garcon, Crowder is getting drafted as a WR3 and has the upside to be a WR2.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers
The most targets Randall Cobb ever had in a season was in 2015 when he racked up 129. It was just Cobb and Davante Adams as the 1 and 2 for Aaron Rodgers that season as Jordy Nelson missed the entire year due to an injury. It’ll be Adams and Cobb again this season as Green Bay released Nelson during the offseason.
Green Bay drafted a couple wide receivers, but there isn’t anybody who can step up and be the No. 2 for Rodgers. At least not at the wide receiver position. Geronimo Allison has some deep league appeal in drafts, but he doesn’t have WR2 upside like Cobb. Keep Allison in mind, though, because Rodgers can make just about anybody good and Allison will cost much less. Also, keep in mind the Packers signed Jimmy Graham who was a red-zone beast last season and will certainly be a target for Rodgers.
With that said, Cobb is appealing because he’s done it before. He has a 91-catch, 1,287-yard and 12-touchdown season under his belt. Look for Cobb to get back to flirting with 100 targets, 900 yards and 75 plus catches.
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Deep League WR Sleepers:
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Chris Godwin finished his rookie campaign strong which included 10 catches on 18 targets with 209 yards and a touchdown over his last two games. Godwin took full advantage of an injured DeSean Jackson in those two games and is a prime candidate to breakout this season.
Godwin caught 16 of the 26 balls thrown his way for 295 yards over his final four games of the season. He also took advantage of an opportunity against the Jets with Mike Evans sidelined where he caught five of 10 targets for 68 yards.
It’s a small sample size (34 catches), but Godwin ended up with a 15.4 yards per catch average and is one of the better WR sleepers out there. Keep an eye on his progress throughout camp and preseason as he may move into the slot which should only improve his fantasy outlook. Think of him near the end of your draft as his current ADP on FantasyPros is 225.
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) July 10, 2018
James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers
James Washington had the most deep receiving yards of any NCAA wideout last season, on his way to 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns. Washington won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver and was a unanimous first-team All-American. Washington is a better dynasty selection, but he has value in redraft leagues as well.
I know what you’re thinking…there are way too many mouths to feed in Pittsburgh. While that’s true, all of the top coverage will be on Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster which is a plus for the speedy wideout.
Washington averaged 20.9 yards per catch over his 74 grabs with Oklahoma State last season, but he also played a little slot for OSU. I expect him to play opposite of Brown on one of the better offenses in the league. Washington is WR74 and pick 227 overall in standard leagues, according to Fantasypros. He won’t cost you a thing.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams will cost you a bit more compared to some of the wideouts in this group, but he has a real chance to step up with the season-ending injury Hunter Henry suffered. My fear is, he’ll continue to be talked about and his ADP will rise even more, but I think it’s warranted.
The No. 7 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft missed the first five games of the season last year due to a back injury. He finished his rookie season with 95 yards on 11 catches and failed to find the end zone. Williams was unable to build a rapport with Philip Rivers and it showed in the last few weeks of the season. Participating in training camp and playing throughout preseason should help Williams this season, and all reports indicate he’s healthy.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver out of Clemson will be a red-zone target for Rivers as he not only lost Henry, but Antonio Gates. He has big and strong hands with the ability to win 50-50 balls. Start thinking of Williams near round 11 and if you’re playing in a dynasty league, he makes for a great buy-low. Williams is one of those post-hype types that frequently turn into the best WR sleepers.
Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Grant is coming off a breakout season in 2017 that saw him finish with a career-high 45 catches, 573 yards, and four touchdowns. Grant also had a career-high 12.7 yards per catch average. He originally signed a four-year deal with the Baltimore Ravens, but failed a physical, later taking a one year contract with Indianapolis.
The 27-year-old leaves Washington where he was the fourth and fifth option at times. He’s the clearcut No. 2 wideout with the Colts and couldn’t have landed in a better spot in terms of opportunity. Grant won’t cost a thing on draft day and could make for a decent bye week filler. Andrew Luck is his quarterback, the Colts may be playing from behind often, and their run game is weak.
Find a couple of WR Sleepers to your liking? You can find more sleepers along with rankings, draft strategy, and tons of other fantasy goodness in Fantrax’s 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!