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As we slowly get closer to the 2018 NFL Draft, we are beginning to get an idea of where players are landing. There are plenty of question marks out there still between free agency and the 2018 NFL Draft, but there are definitely some places where the starting lineups are beginning to take shape.

The position with perhaps the most attention given to it in both the actual games and the fantasy gridiron is wide receiver. Some consider them divas, others superstars, but the quality of the players at this position is undeniable. With the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. returning from injury and the re-emergence of Deandre Hopkins alongside young quarterback Deshaun Watson, the names at the top of your draft boards will likely contain many familiar faces.

However, with the upcoming NFL Draft just around the corner, it remains to be seen how the wide receiver depth charts will shape up for the majority of the teams prior to the upcoming season. With plenty of potential for breakout performances from the wideouts in the league, let's take a look at some of the early sleepers going into the 2018 fantasy football season.

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Early Wide Receiver Sleepers for 2018

Julian Edelman (WR, NE)

Despite missing the entirety of the 2017 season with a torn ACL, Edelman still has one year left on the extension he signed prior to the start of the 2017 season. We have seen the connection that Edelman has with All-World quarterback Tom Brady, as Edelman's 2016 stat-line demonstrates: 98 grabs for over 1,100 yards. The slot receiver is one of Brady's favorite weapons on a high-scoring and high-yardage offense that will be hungry to reclaim their place at the top of the league after a heartbreaking loss to the Eagles in this year's Super Bowl. Although Edelman has often struggled to play through a full season, when healthy, his production gas been extremely efficient. Therefore, he should be worth the risk due to his potential to massively outperform early projections for him entering his age-32 season.

Currently, Edelman is going in the later rounds of redraft mocks, suggesting that people are forgetting his ability as a result of a recency bias surrounding his injury from last year. This should only make it easier for Edelman to return value on his investment, as the risk is now baked well into his cost of drafting. Expect Edelman's name to jump up more as the offseason progresses; however, he could still remain in sleeper consideration if people continue to forget how productive he can be.

 

Curtis Samuel (WR, CAR)

There were high expectations for the Panthers second round pick coming out of the 2017 NFL Draft. However, despite playing in nine games before his season-ending injury, Samuel was only able to snag fifteen catches and four rushing attempts for a combined total of less than 200 yards. Furthermore, Samuel failed to find the end-zone in his first professional season and ultimately succumbed to an injury that kept him out for the second half of his rookie year. Despite his limited production, there is a void in the Panthers offense at his position, with Devin Funchess the only top-level option for the team. This means that Samuel should have every opportunity to claim a starting role with the Panthers in the upcoming offseason.

Furthermore, Samuel has proven to be versatile, contributing as a returner and in the rushing game in his limited opportunities. If the opportunities are given to him in the upcoming season, there is no reason why Samuel cannot overachieve and produce solid numbers across the board, making him a nice value considering how low he is being drafted in most formats at this point in the offseason.

 

Mohamed Sanu Sr. (WR, ATL)

Playing opposite one of the best wide receivers the NFL has ever season is sure to create some opportunities for a fellow wide out given the lack of attention that this player will often see as a result of consistent double-teams of the primary receiver. This has been the case for Mohamed Sanu Sr. over the last two seasons in Atlanta, as he has played opposite fellow wide receiver Julio Jones for most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Despite an overall regression from the Falcons in the 2017 season, Sanu's receptions, yardage, and touchdowns increased to almost 70 grabs, just over 700 yards, and five touchdowns.

This makes Sanu a very intriguing and slept on option given that all the attention is on fellow receiver Jones, both on the field and within fantasy circles. With the Falcons hoping to return to their 2016 form, look for Sanu to continue to improve his game in the upcoming season. With a draft cost well within the deep rounds of most formats, Sanu makes for an intriguing sleeper option who likely has a capped ceiling but could produce at a very solid level, justifying a late round investment in the wide receiver from Atlanta.

 

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