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2020 Early Sleepers and Draft Targets - Wide Receiver


The 2019 fantasy football season is over, but it's never too early to get a jump start on next year, right? While the offseason in the fantasy community usually gets dynasty-heavy pretty quickly, we don't want to completely forget the redraft players out there who are already plotting a way to win in 2020.

Wide receiver was an interesting position in 2019, with surprising names like Devante Parker finishing as a WR1 and D.J. Chark finishing as a WR2. So, what's in store for the upcoming season?

Below, you'll find five potential wide receiver sleepers for 2020. All of these players ranked outside of the top-50 in PPR scoring this year and can be values on draft day. Note: I debated including JuJu Smith-Schuster on here, but even though he struggled all year, I think his fantasy value will still wind up fairly high heading into next year.

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Anthony Miller - Chicago Bears

I know, I know, I know: trusting the Chicago Bears offense is not a thing you want to do. Mitch Trubisky is bad. The running game is inefficient. The receivers ended up being inconsistent because of the other factors.

I get it. And I get that Miller -- who had just three targets over the last two games and combined for two catches and seven yards in those contests -- ended 2019 on a sour note after many people picked him up for the fantasy playoffs.

But down the stretch, Miller saw increased involvement, including three games with double-digit targets over a five-game span late in the year. At some point, you have to look at how many opportunities a guy is getting and what he did with those opportunities and think yeah, the team's going to get him involved more consistently next season.

Miller's six-catch, nine-target games feel like they'll be the norm next year, not his completely invisible games. And maybe I'm putting too much faith in an offense that doesn't deserve that faith, but Miller really showed some things at times this season, and I believe in the Bears offense improving and giving him more sustained chances for success.

 

Brandin Cooks - Los Angeles Rams

Brandin Cooks as a sleeper? Well, the disastrous end to his 2019 season has his stock lower than ever, and he has a chance to be a valuable pick at an ADP that'll be lower than ever.

After returning in Week 12 from a concussion, Cooks ended his year with a rough six-game stretch. He was targeted 27 times in that span, with 15 catches for 181 yards and a touchdown. He never had more than four catches in a game, or more than 46 yards, and he didn't even record a catch in Week 14 against the Seahawks.

Pre-injury, Cooks wasn't setting the world on fire, but he's still playing for a team that uses three-receiver sets a good chunk of the time and throws a lot. Jared Goff led the NFL in attempts this year, but his touchdown rate dropped from 5.7 percent down to 3.5 percent. That's a big drop over what we did in 2017 and 2018, and Goff should find the end zone at a higher rate in 2020. That helps Cooks, who had five touchdowns and 1,204 yards in his first year as a Ram.

There are, of course, some potential issues here. On the Rams side, it would cost too much to cut Cooks after this year, but with his concussion issues, it wouldn't be shocking to see Cooks retire. Of course, we'll know whether or not that's going to happen by the time 2020 fantasy drafts roll around, so there's no reason to be too worried about that possibility right now.

 

Kenny Stills - Houston Texans

Will Fuller's never been healthy for the Texans and enters the final year of his contract in 2020. I'm not convinced that Fuller's going to be on the field for the Texans, as the team can get out of his fifth-year option for free should they cut him when he's healthy, though I believe fifth-year options include injury guarantees, so things are complicated.

While Stills actually had his best games with Fuller out and also can be cut without penalty, he makes three million less than Fuller does and is more dependable from a health perspective. Stills could easily enter 2020 as the number-two receiver in Houston, and while he's not quite the deep speed threat that Fuller is, he can still stretch the field and make plays for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Stills has the potential to be an up-and-down fantasy WR3 for the Texans if he ends up starting across from DeAndre Hopkins. Think of him as a lower-ceiling Will Fuller who actually stays on the field if that ends up being his role. If the Texans can also figure something out about the slot to help take pressure off their outside receivers, that would be even better for Stills and his chances of finding success next season.

 

Preston Williams - Miami Dolphins

Okay, so DeVante Parker swooped in and claimed the top job in Miami, but let's not forget about Preston Williams, who was making a name for himself before a knee injury cost him the second half of his rookie season.

But in the eight games he did play, Williams had 32 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns, and it's worth noting that 23 of his 60 targets came during the Josh Rosen section of the Dolphins year. A full year with Ryan Fitzpatrick and a healthy Preston Williams likely would have seen the rookie close in on the 1,000-yard marker.

I don't know what the Dolphins intend to do at quarterback next year, but it's likely Fitzpatrick keeps the seat warm for someone like Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins maintain the offensive pace we saw from them near the end of the year. That would put Williams in a good spot to be something like the 2015 version of Allen Hurns (who I bring up since he, too, is a member of the Dolphins), when Hurns was the number-two guy on a bad team that threw a lot and had over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The Dolphins are going to have an improved offensive attack next year. Expect Williams to be a key piece of it.

 

Kelvin Harmon - Washington Redskins

Terry McLaurin gets all the shine in Washington, but I'm interested in Kelvin Harmon as a second-year breakout candidate.

Harmon's season got off to a slow start, but from Week 13 through 16 he played in over 80 percent of snaps in each game. In that four-game stretch, Harmon had 11 catches on 18 targets, finishing with 161 yards. Not great, obviously, and he had just three 50-yard games over the course of the season, but his usage at the end of the year spiking as Dwayne Haskins was becoming more comfortable as an NFL passer is a good sign.

Now, Harmon's 2020 value depends on a couple of things: first, Washington has to go into 2020 with Harmon expected to play a key role. I think the wide receiver position shouldn't be one of their biggest concerns right now, but it's possible that they decide to address the position this offseason, which would hurt Harmon. The second thing is that Harmon needs Haskins to take a major step forward next year to ensure there are enough targets and yards available for him to claim in this offense.

Of all the guys I've written about here, Harmon feels like the longest shot to have value next year, but that also means he's not going to really be on anyone else's radar, which means you should be able to grab him at the end of a 14-team redraft next Fall.

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