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Best ball sleepers: Late-round wide receivers to target in drafts

We look at sleeper wide receivers who you should target late in your 2022 best ball drafts.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Are you sick and tired of watching your fantasy football players accrue big point totals on your bench?

I don’t mean to intro this like an infomercial, but this misfortune happens to all of us. However, in a best ball league, it doesn’t have to. Unlike in your normal season-long league, there is no bench in a best ball league. There is also no in-season movement, so the players you draft are the players you have. But the good news is that if one of your players goes off, he will automatically slide into your starting lineup. So, the key in best ball leagues is to lean toward players with high ceilings, players who are capable of giving you week-winning scores. Here are five such players at wide receiver that you can find in the later rounds of your best ball drafts.

Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Olave’s quarterback is a worthwhile late-round pick in best ball drafts himself. And it should be no surprise that the rookie wideout makes this list. He is a natural deep threat with his sub-4.40-second speed. But he pairs that speed with quality route-running. He doesn’t have the size to work over the middle, so expect the Saints to use him in open spaces and often as a player who can take the top off a defense. The all-time leader in receiving touchdowns at Ohio State should make a sizeable impact immediately as the likely starter across from Michael Thomas in New Orleans.

Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams have basically replaced the injured Odell Beckham Jr. with Allen Robinson as their WR2. The former Bear is coming off a purely dreadful season in which he caught just 38 passes for 410 yards in 12 games. He should rebound in L.A., but he will work mostly underneath while Jefferson, with his 16.0-yards-per-catch average last year, remains much more exciting as a big-play guy. The Rams’ offense should continue to be very productive with Mathew Stafford under center, and we should expect Jefferson, who’s only 25, to take a step forward from the 50-802-6 line he posted during the 2021 regular season. It’s not hard to envision him putting up better numbers than the soon-to-be-29-year-old Robinson.

Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs

Is this the year Hardman breaks through? His speed tantalizes you, and he will snap off a few big plays now and then that make you believe he’s ready for stardom. It hasn’t come yet, but if the Chiefs offense is going to remain a wagon this season, Hardman will have to be a consistent producer. Tyreek Hill has obviously left a huge void for a playmaker in KC. The Chiefs have added JuJu Smith-Schuster, but his skill set is completely different from Hardman, who’s much more like fellow new teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but less error-prone. Then there is rookie Skyy Moore who has plenty of appeal and might deserve his own spot on this list, but he’s going 30-plus picks ahead of Hardman in early drafts right now. Mecole has made steady but unspectacular gains in catches and yards over the past two seasons and makes for the perfect late-round gamble in a best-ball league: A high-ceiling deep threat supposedly taking on a larger role in a what should still be a very productive offense.

Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers

As you may have noticed, the Packers also have a huge question mark hovering over their WR1 spot. Allen Lazard? That’s kind of boring. Sammy Watkins? How is he only 29 years old? Watson is an intriguing pick late in best ball drafts because of his size-speed combo, his natural red-zone skills at 6-foot-4, and, of course, the presence of Aaron Rodgers. Watson is a raw prospect, but if he impresses in camp and during preseason, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Rodgers takes a liking to Watson’s special physical traits and just starts peppering him with targets. Of any name on this list, I think Watson has the greatest chance of being a dud, but he has talent, opportunity, and a superstar quarterback. He’s worth your investment in the double-digit rounds.

Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

And we’ll close with yet another rookie who also has a good chance of starting in two-wide sets early this season. Carson Wentz and/or Taylor Heinicke will make all Commanders wideouts tough to trust on a consistent basis because their arm often moves before their brain, but again, you can stomach some zeroes from Dotson in best ball as long as he turns in some full box scores as well. And with his superb quickness and speed mixed with his proven big-play prowess — nearly half of his 21 touchdowns in college came from at least 40 yards away — Dotson has the look of a compelling late-round lottery ticket in best ball.