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Slot Receiver Sleepers to Target in Fantasy Drafts


Depending on the offense, wide receivers who line up in the slot can play an invaluable role in moving the chains. While some of the big-name wide receivers like Tyreek Hill and JuJu Smith-Schuster are projected to run a large number of their routes from the interior, some of the lesser-known slot receivers can provide unexpected value for fantasy owners in the later rounds of drafts.

These possession type receivers can be absolutely invaluable to fantasy owners. They are never likely to be the top names at the position come to the end of the season, but they do tend to have a safety that many outside receivers struggle to match. Balancing your team with the high ceiling outside receivers and some of these potentially higher floor slot receivers can be a great way to consistently put up strong performances, which for fantasy football is the name of the game. Here are five guys coming out of the slot who could surprise in 2019!

NOTE: Each players' average draft position (ADP) comes from Fantasy Football Calculator and is for 10-team, half-point point per reception (PPR) leagues.

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Dede Westbrook (WR, JAX)

ADP: 10.07

After the departures of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns from Jacksonville over the last couple of years, there is no clear top dog yet to emerge in the Jaguars receiving core. Of the current group, Westbrook easily has the most upside for fantasy owners to latch on to. After averaging 9.4 fantasy points per game as a rookie, Westbrook finished the 2018 season leading the team with 66 catches for 717 yards and five touchdowns. He also managed to up his Catch% from around 50% to a more impressive 65% in 2018, which should give the Jaguars the confidence to look for him even more.

The offseason hiring of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, combined with the addition of Nick Foles, will undoubtedly improve the Jaguars passing game. DeFilippo already has a strong rapport with quarterback Foles, as the two have thrived with innovative downfield play designs and successfully conquered the New England Patriots with an offensive explosion in the Super Bowl. Ultimately, Westbrook should have the opportunity push for his first 1,000 receiving yard season with better quarterback play, and hopefully more aggressive play-calling from DeFillippo.

 

Anthony Miller (WR, CHI)

ADP: 12.10

It is rare that you can get a late-round wide receiver with the talent to jump to the top of his team's depth chart. The player who currently sits atop the Chicago Bears pecking order, Allen Robinson, is three years removed from his "breakout season" without having surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in that span, thanks in large part to injuries and ineffective quarterback play at times.  In a similar vein, Taylor Gabriel had a mixed season in his first year with Chicago but is not the threat to score touchdowns that the team might hope for, having scored just three touchdowns in his last two seasons.

Miller is a diverse wide receiver that is capable of working all three levels of the passing game. Although he dealt with an injury for a chunk of the season and saw just 15 targets through the first six weeks of the season, his volume saw an uptick over the next four games to the tune of 26 targets. With an insane seven touchdowns as the third-string wideout during his rookie season and a reasonably solid 61% catch rate as a rookie, Miller figures to have a bigger role entering 2019. The only issue is his current niggling ankle injury. However, this may only serve to push his value lower, and present a greater opportunity for his prospective fantasy owners.

 

Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ)

ADP: Undrafted

Coming over from Washington after an injury-marred 2018 campaign, Crowder can be described as a route technician out of the slot and has the ability to be an asset to fantasy owners in Jet green. Having played in 47 out of his first 48 games in the NFL, the Jets will be hopefully of having him on the field consistently in 2019. His catch% took a hit last year, but the combination of mixed quarterback play in Washington alongside his injuries mean that conclusions about his ability to bring in passes should not be made off that season alone.

The slot receiver has always played a role in head coach Adam Gase's offenses and Crowder has caught at least 59 passes in each season he has played at least 15 games. Further, quarterback Sam Darnold has a propensity to target slot receivers. Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse filled that role at different points last season, with Enunwa receiving 37 targets over the first four weeks and Kearse subsequently getting 48 targets over the following six weeks. Crowder offers the opportunity for the Jets to get a receiver who has proven to be reliable and averaged four touchdowns and close to 750 yards in his first three seasons with the Redskins.

 

Adam Humphries (WR, TEN)

ADP: Undrafted

Although Corey Davis showed last season that he has the ability to emerge as a No. 1 wide receiver, Tennessee's run-first approach and focus on the short passing game have not matched with his play on the boundary. The Western Michigan product has only four touchdowns and two 100-yard receiving games in his 27 career regular-season games. Enter Humphries, who comes over from Tampa Bay to provide reliable hands coming out of the slot for Marcus Mariota. The Titans have lacked the shiftiness and quickness underneath that Humphries provided for the last three years. Fantasy owners should pay close attention to how many looks he gets in the preseason to determine whether he or rookie A.J. Brown emerge. If Humphries does see enough targets his catch rate over 72% the last two seasons should ensure that he turned those targets into fantasy points out of the slot.

 

Randall Cobb (WR, DAL)

ADP: Undrafted

The Cowboys sought out a 29-year-old Cobb to open up the short/intermediate passing game for quarterback Dak Prescott. The offense has slowly become more pass-oriented since 2016 and could lead to a solid season for the former Packer at little to no cost for fantasy owners.

Cobb has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in a game only three times over his last four seasons, but he is undoubtedly a more experienced slot receiver than the guy he is replacing in Dallas: Cole Beasley. He has also outpaced Beasley on a per-game basis in yards, touchdowns, and fantasy points when you compare their careers. However, what Beasley has demonstrated is the Cowboys willingness to use the slot receiver. Last season he was targetted four times or more in 12 of the 16 games, ending the year with 65 receptions for 672 yards. Cobb brings reasonably safe hands to this offense, having had a catch rate over 70% in five of his seven seasons. He should provide a safe pair hands out of the slot to accompany the combination of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup on the outside.

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