Fantasy football season is here! In the midst of mock drafts, rankings, projections, and more, one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing fantasy football is identifying a handful of players that you feel will outperform their preseason expectations. The summer is sleeper season, and we here at The Draft Network will go through each and every position ahead of your fantasy drafts to help you identify key players to put a star next to that your leaguemates may be overlooking.
We’re in a golden era for WR production. While that means you can find talent later in fantasy football drafts, it also necessitates getting production out of your two or three WR spots to have any chance to succeed. Filling your bench with upside WR options is crucial nowadays, so let’s look at a handful of WRs going outside of the top 50 at the position that could far exceed their draft-day value.
Full Half-PPR Fantasy Rankings can be found here.
Fantasy Football WR Sleepers
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Allen Lazard (WR – NYJ)
My Rank: WR29
While Garrett Wilson is the apple of the eye for many Jets fans and fantasy managers (for good reason), I can’t help but shake the feeling that the Jets’ big free-agent signing at WR is going overlooked. Allen Lazard is not only coming off the best season of his career, but he also gets to continue to play with the quarterback that helped him achieve that. Lazard had his first 100-target season in 2022 and is poised to reach that total again in 2023.
Wilson is an absolute stud, but what if Aaron Rodgers feels more comfortable throwing to the pass-catcher he’s most familiar with early on? Trust has always mattered to Rodgers (see Christian Watson’s slow start last year). While the Rodgers-Wilson connection should be fruitful, it will take time for the duo’s timing to match what Rodgers and Lazard have already built. There will be plenty of targets to go around in New York and I have a hard time believing the gap in production between Wilson and Lazard will be anywhere near the ADP difference (WR10 vs WR51). In fact, there’s a non-zero chance Lazard outproduces Wilson this season. Lazard is a tremendous value in fantasy drafts.
Projection (11.46 FPPG): 103.86 targets | 67.62 rec | 897.30 rec yards | 8.05 TDs
Van Jefferson (WR – LAR)
My Rank: WR43
Cooper Kupp is going to soak up a disproportionate amount of the target share in Los Angeles, but there are still enough remaining targets to make another pass-catcher fantasy-relevant in 2023. My money is on fourth-year WR Van Jefferson, who flashed in 2021 in his last full season with Matthew Stafford as his QB. Jefferson’s 2022 season was marred by a pair of knee surgeries that delayed his start to the season coupled with substandard QB play after Stafford missed eight of the Rams’ last nine games.
Heading into 2023, Jefferson is healthy and faces little competition for the WR2 spot in Los Angeles. Outside of TE Tyler Higbee, there is not much competition for secondary targets behind Kupp. While Stafford’s health is still up in the air, reports are positive as of this writing. That’s great news for Jefferson, who had a solid season the last time they were both healthy. The former Florida Gator caught 50 of his 89 targets for 802 yards and six touchdowns in 2021 and could replicate that level of success with even more targets this season.
Projection (10.77 FPPG): 110.94 targets | 62.91 rec | 940.96 rec yards | 6.00 TDs
Curtis Samuel (WR – WAS)
My Rank: WR47
You may be surprised to learn that Curtis Samuel had the 43rd-most targets among all WRs in the NFL last season, ranking in the same range as players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Gabe Davis, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Allen Lazard. I won’t sit here and tell you that’s enough work for Samuel to be a WR2 on a weekly basis or anything, but he’s absolutely getting enough work to be fantasy-relevant. He did have 10 games with 9.2 fantasy points or more last season, after all.
I’m bullish on the potential for Washington’s offense with new offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy calling plays, and even more excited to see how creative he can get with a player like Samuel. In addition to the 90-ish targets I expect Samuel to command as a receiver, adding a couple hundred yards and a touchdown or two on the ground will help boost his overall fantasy production. Draft Samuel as your WR5 and prosper during bye weeks.
Projection (9.27 FPPG): 92.73 targets | 60.27 rec | 849.11 total yards | 5.00 total TDs
Robert Woods (WR – HOU)
My Rank: WR52
Robert Woods may be on the wrong side of 30, but I don’t think he’s washed up yet. Yes, his one-year run with the Tennessee Titans in 2022 was less than stellar, but that offense as a whole was completely out of whack most of the season. While the Houston Texans aren’t poised to challenge the 2007 Patriots this season, there is plenty of passing volume to go around—and Woods doesn’t face stiff competition for targets.
Houston is getting better but will still be trailing more often than not in games this season. That’s why I project the Texans to be among the 10 most pass-happy teams in the NFL this year, even with a rookie QB. While Nico Collins and John Metchie III will command a role, we still haven’t seen the latter on an NFL field yet. Woods is the most proven pass-catcher in the offense outside of TE Dalton Schultz. He should serve as both an on-field and off-field safety blanket for C.J. Stroud. Don’t be shocked if he gets 100 targets in 2023.
Projection (7.89 FPPG): 104.25 targets | 67.71 rec | 768.00 rec yards | 3.91 TDs
Greg Dortch (WR – ARI)
My Rank: WR80
Let’s discuss a deep sleeper, shall we? Do you know who led all NFL WRs in yards of separation in 2022? Greg Dortch. Oh, and this too:
Greg Dortch played more than half the offensive snaps in eight games last season.
His stats from those contests: 48 catches, 449 yards, 2 TD.
— Kyle Odegard (@Kyle_Odegard) May 31, 2023
With DeAndre Hopkins gone and the injury history that surrounds Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore, I would not be surprised if Dortch finds himself in the starting lineup several times for the Arizona Cardinals this season. Even with Kyler Murray on the sideline for half the season or more, Dortch could get plenty of targets for a team who may be throwing a bunch as they attempt to be somewhat competitive in 2023.
Projection (6.13 FPPG): 80.11 targets | 65.00 rec | 576.31 rec yards | 2.35 TDs
- Sep 30, 2023
- Sep 25, 2023