A deep sleeper should be a player people haven’t heard about, but that ship has sailed for fantasy football. If a player is on the roster, he probably has a fantasy article written about him. But, we do need to be on top of those possible breakout candidates that can be had late in drafts. If you don’t have deep benches, these players go on your personal watchlist, but if you do have room, some of these guys are worth grabbing in hopes that they pan out this year.
What a “deep sleeper” is, isn’t clear to anyone, but for my purposes it will be any receiver who is going off the board in drafts as the 60th wide receiver or later. Not exactly as deep as some might want, but I also want this to be useful to the majority of leagues. Some of these guys may have enough hype to get selected earlier than ADP, but for the most part they’ll be available when you are searching for a flier.
Tyrell Williams, Raiders
Williams doesn’t seem like he would be a receiver you could grab late, but his ADP is currently as the 79th wide receiver and 247th player off the board in PPR leagues. There’s no doubt that the Raiders added plenty of weapons in the draft, including Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards, but neither of those receivers are set to take Williams’ job. He struggled last season due to plantar fasciitis but says he is 100 percent and ready to go. He had a good rapport with Carr last season, catching five touchdowns in his first five games despite missing two games in that stretch due to his foot injury. That injury slowed him down and sabotaged the rest of his season though. A healthy Williams is still a threat in this offense.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers
Samuel is a post-hype sleeper after a miserable 2019. The good news is that his season was miserable due to poor quarterback play and usage. This year he’ll get Sean Payton prodigy and LSU offensive mastermind Joe Brady getting him the ball all over the field instead of just deep passes from Kyle Allen that were never on target.
Allen Lazard, Packers
Lazard appears to be penciled in for the No. 2 receiver’s job, but we’ve seen other Packers receivers get hyped in the past only to be duds in that spot. Of course, this could be different. Lazard has won the respect of Aaron Rodgers as the two posted the team’s highest adjusted yards per attempt (10.39) when targeting Lazard. How much volume he’ll see behind Davante Adams isn’t known, but the better he plays, the more his target share will expand.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
Kendrick Bourne, 49ers
The 49ers have more wide receivers than they know what to do with, but they also don’t have any that are established and assured to start. Deebo Samuel was set to take on a big role again this season, but an injury will keep him out for the start. That gives a lot of players a chance to get on the field. So far Aiyuk and Bourne have shown well in camp and Aiyuk looks like he could take Emmanuel Sanders’ job from last year while Bourne is in the lead for the slot receiver job. Samuel was a rookie last season and was useful in fantasy, and Aiyuk could follow in his footsteps as yet another receiver with strong YAC skills. He’s the top 49er s receiver on my radar, but Bourne is growing on me if he can win a spot.
Michael Pittman, Colts
Pittman is well suited to be a possession receiver in his rookie year, as his hands, size and route running are all polished and ready to go. He can be more than just a possession receiver of course, but his ability to be a safe target for Philip Rivers should keep him on the field despite his rookie status.
Bryan Edwards, Raiders
Edwards is much like Pittman in his ability to be a safe target, but has more competition for a starting job. His upside is higher than Tyrell Williams, who I listed earlier, but his rookie status will likely hold him back to start. But the talent is real and any injuries could vault him into a prominent role.
Chris Conley, Jaguars
Conley continues to show that he can be a playmaker and as the Jaguars No. 3 receiver last season, he had the best year of his career. He set career highs with 42 receptions for 775 yards and five touchdowns. The Jaguars and Gardner Minshew are going to throw the ball a lot this season and Conley has the upside to put up some big games.
Josh Reynolds, Rams
There is room for three fantasy receivers on the Rams and now that Brandin Cooks is gone, Reynolds is first in line for that third receiver job. With the kind of opportunity Sean McVay’s offense can bring, Reynolds has real upside if Robert Woods or Cooper Kupp miss time.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles
The Eagles have likely found their No. 1 receiver in Jalen Reagor, but that doesn’t mean he will take over a huge target share from Week 1 onward. Jackson is still a deep threat and a game changer who the Eagles missed last season. I expect him to do some damage before he probably ends up tweaking something, but until then, he’s almost free in drafts.