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2024 Dynasty Football: Rookie Wide Receiver Sleepers

Every dynasty GM wants Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers, but both command astronomical prices at the top of the first round of rookie drafts or cost multiple future first-round picks to acquire. Even names like Rome Odunze, Xavier Worthy, Ladd McConkey, and Keon Coleman won’t be cheap to acquire via trade.

The 2024 wide receiver class is pretty top-heavy with Harrison and Nabers in their own elite tier. However, there are still some rookie sleepers with incredibly high fantasy ceilings. Instead of paying an arm and a leg for the big names, here are a few rookie sleepers to target at wide receiver who could return far more production than expected, even in Year 1.

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2024 Rookie Sleepers: Wide Receiver

Ricky Pearsall – San Francisco 49ers

Ricky Pearsall has some red flags in his profile with a delayed breakout age and low dominator rating in college, but he got bumped up a few spots in my post-NFL Draft dynasty rankings due to an excellent landing spot. Though he doesn’t possess game-breaking speed, Pearsall is a versatile receiver who can align inside or out and runs a diverse route tree, which could quickly make him a reliable target for Brock Purdy. He’s a perfect fit as a moveable piece in Kyle Shanahan’s offense with former Arizona State teammate Brandon Aiyuk and could be San Francisco’s primary slot receiver even as a rookie.

At a glance, Pearsall will struggle to see targets, but that could change quickly. Although the 49ers are reportedly working on a contract extension with Aiyuk, he’s currently slated to play on his fifth-year option in 2024 with his status beyond that up in the air. And while Deebo Samuel is technically signed through 2025, San Francisco has an out after this coming season. It seems likely that one of Aiyuk or Samuel will be gone in 2025, opening up opportunities for Pearsall in the long run. Plus, Samuel has missed a number of games in his career due to various injuries, so Pearsall has some immediate upside as well even as a rookie. At the cost of a late first-round rookie pick or even a second-round pick in some leagues, Pearsall has WR2 potential and is one of the highest-upside rookie sleepers at wide receiver this year.

Jermaine Burton – Cincinnati Bengals

Prior to the NFL Draft, projections had Jermaine Burton being selected from as early as the second round all the way down to being a Day 3 pick. Ultimately, his draft position ended up somewhere in between in Round 3 to the Bengals. On paper, Burton is a strong prospect with good route-running and the speed to be a dangerous deep threat. However, off-field concerns including an incident with a fan back in 2022 caused him to drop in the draft. Still, Burton has showcased the ability to create explosive plays downfield, so paired with Joe Burrow‘s big arm, he could have some big games in his future.

As with Pearsall above, Burton has a lot of target competition in the immediate future, but Tee Higgins will be playing on the franchise tag this season and will likely be elsewhere in 2025. On top of that, it’s possible that Burton could see plentiful snaps even as a rookie in three wide receiver sets or if one or both of Ja’Marr Chase and Higgins were to miss time in 2024. After all, the two have missed a combined 12 games over the last two seasons, so it’s not preposterous to think that Burton could play a full complement of snaps in a few games even in Year 1.

Malachi Corley – New York Jets

Although Malachi Corley is more of a complementary player at the NFL level, he showed at Western Kentucky that he can be a versatile piece. Corley is an explosive receiver who can create yards after the catch and can play both outside as well as in the slot. And while he didn’t test well at the NFL Combine, Corley has enough speed to break some big plays. It was at least enough for the Jets to have spent a third-round draft pick on him, which suggests that the team has an impactful role in mind for the rookie.

Corley immediately projects as the Jets’ slot receiver in three-wide receiver sets with Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams outside. Though target volume may be hard to come by initially, Corley could develop into a reliable check-down option if he can build rapport with Aaron Rodgers much like how Randall Cobb was in Green Bay. There’s no league-winning fantasy ceiling for Corley, but he can be a usable PPR flex option with some additional upside if Wilson or Williams were to miss time. Either way, for the price of a third-round rookie pick or less, Corley is among the cheapest rookie sleepers at wide receiver this year.

Luke McCaffrey – Washington Commanders

Luke McCaffrey was the go-to guy for Rice last year with an 81st percentile dominator rating. While he has a late breakout age due to his position switch from quarterback to wide receiver in 2022, McCaffrey showed that he’s already a good route-runner with enough speed to be a vertical threat as well. Despite his delayed development at the position, Washington felt comfortable enough to use a third-round draft pick on him. That level of draft capital demonstrates their confidence in his ability to contribute immediately.

Although Terry McLaurin should once again lead the Commanders in targets in 2024, McCaffrey should immediately see snaps and targets in a big slot role. There’s some concern that Jayden Daniels may not target McCaffrey a ton over the middle of the field given a lack of targets to that area at LSU. However, as Brett Kollmann points out, it doesn’t mean that Daniels can’t or won’t throw in the intermediate area at the NFL level. Ultimately, expectations should be kept in check for McCaffrey, particularly in fantasy. However, his third-round draft capital and untapped potential make him a cheap upside target in the third round of rookie drafts, as McCaffrey could produce as a WR3 or flex in PPR formats even in Year 1.

For more fantasy football and NFL content, follow me on Twitter @FFA_Meng.

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