19 Wide Receiver Sleepers & Values (Plus 10 Late-Round Fliers)
Updated 8/30, new text is indicated in red.
I’d argue that the receiver position is more affected by scoring system (PPR vs. standard) and roster settings (2 WR vs. 3-plus WR) than any other position. Take a look at the top 20 players in Relative Value (RV) in two different formats. First, click here to see a top 200 list for a 12-team standard scoring league with a 1/2/2/1 roster. Click here for a 12-team PPR league with a 1/2/3/1 roster.
There are five receivers in the top 20 in the two-WR standard league and there are 10 that made the top 20 in the three-WR PPR league. Moreover, there are five receivers in the “first round” (top 12) in the PPR league, including four of the top six players.
My point? Be sure that you enter your league’s settings in our customizable tools to ensure that have an understanding of how scoring affects positional value in your particular league. It may affect the way you want to approach your draft.
Note: It’s important to remember that our Top 200 rankings are derived via a formula and do not necessarily represent the optimal way to approach any given draft. We’re confident that owners who draft straight from the custom Top 200 rankings will field a competitive team, but there are other factors (positional dependability, ADP, etc.) that can help owners to gain an extra edge and win their league. Be sure to read our ongoing and upcoming draft strategy articles; they should help you formulate a strategy for your specific draft(s).
Let’s move on to the discussion about the specific value/sleeper receivers. Below are three sections: Values (6th-10th round), Sleepers (11th-15th round) and Deep Sleepers (16th round or later). For the purposes of this article, I’ll use 4for4’s multi-site ADP (12-team). Readers who have been active in MFL10 drafts will notice some eyebrow-raising ADP below. MFL10 ADP tends to be much sharper and ahead of the curve than the major site ADP, so it’s a good indication of where that major site ADP is headed.
Donte Moncrief, Colts
Moncrief finished his second season with 64 catches for 733 yards and six touchdowns, but his numbers were a bit depressed due to the midseason loss of Andrew Luck. In seven games with Luck, Moncrief averaged 4.6 catches 50 yards and 0.71 TD (on 7.7 targets per game), which extrapolates to a 73-802-11 season. Fantasy-wise, that’s about what Michael Crabtree scored as the #19 receiver in standard formats. With Andre Johnson out of the way, Moncrief’s playing time and targets should increase a bit. He’s a serious threat to break out in his third season.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos
Sanders finished the season as the #19 receiver in PPR (#18 in standard) and enjoyed the 14th-most targets at his position. He didn’t have good quarterback play last year, but this season could be even worse given the Broncos’ situation at the position, which is why he’s the 28th receiver off the board. He’s a good player and is in a contract year, so expect Sanders to do everything in his power to stay productive.
Michael Crabtree, Raiders
Crabtree appeared as a sleeper in this article last year. Finding new life in Oakland, he turned 146 targets (11th most in the league) into a #16 finish in PPR formats and a #19 finish in standard leagues. Fantasy owners have responded by making him the 36th receiver off the board, so he appears to be a great value in the 7th round even if he sees a dip in targets.
John Brown, Cardinals
In his second season, Brown finished in the top 25 in both formats, though HC Bruce Arians said that the receiver was pressing at the end of the season (which led to a few drops) and he should have finished with 1400 yards instead of 1003. His upside is somewhat capped due to the presence of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd in the offense, but if one or the other goes down with an injury, watch out.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles
Matthews may play outside in two-WR sets, but it looks like he's mainly going to play in the slot. He finished #25 and #16 in PPR formats in his first two seasons, and may be hard-pressed to match those numbers since Doug Pederson's offense is likely to operate at a much slower pace than Chip Kelly's. Pederson will have to feature Matthews like he did Jeremy Maclin last year for Matthews to avoid a significant dip in targets. But in the 6th round, he’s a solid pick due to his WR1 role. A training camp knee injury has taken some of the wind out of his sails.
Allen Hurns, Jaguars
Hurns was a 4for4 favorite last season and he delivered top 20 numbers. The Jaguars invested heavily in its defense and the team is unlikely to have a 35-to-5 pass-to-rush touchdown ratio again, which is why Hurns is being drafted as a fantasy WR3. Blake Bortles has another year under his belt, so increased efficiency could offset a more favorable game script. There’s also no guarantee that the Jaguars’ defense turns it around after years of ineptitude.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins
For the final six games of his rookie season, Parker played at a 59-1187-8 pace, which are solid WR2 numbers. He’ll likely play the “X” receiver in Adam Gase’s offense, a position which has yielded 6.0-90-0.44 from Alshon Jeffery and 6.9-101-0.69 from Demaryius Thomas over the past two seasons. The former 1st round pick has a big green arrow next to his name heading into the 2016 season, though there are questions about his ability to beat press coverage. He's also been dealing with a hamstring injury early in camp. Update: He continues to play behind Kenny Stills in two-WR sets, but Parker should have an opportunity to play a lot since the Dolphins use a three-WR set in their base offense.
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