Every year there are at least a dozen sleeper candidates at each position, some for standard leagues and some for PPR, so it can be hard to pinpoint which ones to target when preparing your draft strategy. Luckily I’m here to help!
To define a late round WR for this piece I am going to be looking at any receiver currently outside of the top 100 of the FantasyPros ADP rankings. For the record, it’s just coincidence that the four receivers I discuss are bunched so close together. This seems to be the sweet spot for value right now.
While a lot of rookie WRs are receiving a ton of hype (and we even included one in this sleepers piece), we’re higher on 2nd year receivers overall, as you’ll see below. Hopefully you enjoy this player analysis, as these potential risers can help your teams in 2014. Good luck RotoBallers!
Later Round Wide Receiver Draft Values & Sleepers
DeAndre Hopkins – WR, Houston Texans (Current ADP: WR43, 127th Overall)
Over the past five years, only nine rookie wide receivers have recorded at least 800 receiving yards. DeAndre Hopkins barely made the list, but he did it nonetheless. I’ll exclude Keenan Allen who was also a rookie last year.
Of the remaining seven, only two saw a decrease in production the following year. Those were Mike Williams and Justin Blackmon. Considering his 100+ yards per game last year, Blackmon almost certainly would have exceeded his numbers if not for off-field issues.
The five players that did improve in year two: A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Josh Gordon, Torrey Smith and T.Y. Hilton. I love those odds. Hopkins doesn’t have to become Green (and he almost certainly won’t) but at his current ADP he represents a great draft day sleeper value despite the situation at quarterback. Keep in mind that Andre Johnson will still attract the most defensive attention.
Kelvin Benjamin – WR, Carolina Panthers (Current ADP: WR44, 128th Overall)
Benjamin was taken in the first round of the draft to provide much needed help in the Panthers’ passing game. So far this preseason he has lived up to the high expectations and looks like a star in the making. As a result his ADP his been on sharp incline and rightly so.
Benjamin is a fantastic red zone target as he is BIG. At 6’5″ 240 lbs, he is similar in size to Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall, but even slightly bigger. With the lack of star power in the Panthers passing game, Benjamin should immediately step in as the #1 target. He is the easy favorite to lead rookies in receiving touchdowns. Even if his ADP continues to rise, I think he is worth considering as a draft sleeper. At his current ADP of 128, he’s a great bargain.
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Cecil Shorts – WR, Jacksonville Jaguars (Current ADP: WR45, 132nd Overall)
I like Cecil Shorts as a late round pick more in PPR leagues. He is a bit riskier without offering as much upside as the rest of the players in this article, but he also has the highest floor and has given us two solid years in a row now.
There are definitely reasons Shorts’ ADP has fallen. He has been dealing with injuries throughout last year and into this preseason. Also the Jags have two (or even three if you want to include Allen Hurns) rookies that will be in the mix at wide receiver this year. And they will almost definitely have a new quarterback starting at some point this NFL season.
Yet the fact remains that Shorts is Chad Henne‘s security blanket, averaging over 9.5 targets last year (excluding 3 snaps in the Denver game) and over 7 targets per game in 2012 when he didn’t even start until midway through. Those numbers are up there with the best receivers in the game. If Shorts is healthy, he will get 10+ targets a game and that makes him a great sleeper option as a late round draft pick, despite the concerns I discussed.
Justin Hunter – WR, Tennessee Titans (Current ADP: WR47, 135th Overall)
With a year of pro experience under his belt, I think I like Justin Hunter even more than Benjamin. He is also a taller receiver at 6’4″, but relies more on his speed than brute size to beat defenders.
Hunter flashed an ability to score touchdowns last year in limited work, as his four touchdowns in 18 receptions was a great ratio. Although it seems fluky, he has racked up two more touchdowns in just 8 preseason receptions.
With fellow starting receiver Kendall Wright coming in at a small 5’10”, and the Titans’ receiving tight end an exceptionally small 6’0″, Justin Hunter should be the premier red zone target in this offense. If I can, I am owning Hunter in every league this year, and consider him a great sleeper pick to target in all fantasy football drafts.
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