“Sleeper” is a complicated and often misused word spout ceaselessly in fantasy. Anyone who tells you Corey Davis qualifies is a run-of-the-mill Captain Obvious who deserves decisive ridicule. For this exercise, we’re focused on UNDERVALUED options available outside the overall top-75, according to ADP.
Matt: JOSH DOCTSON, WAS (130.5 ADP, WR51). No Washington pass-catcher has cleared 21 percent of the team’s total targets in any of the last three seasons. With their spread the love approach it’s unlikely any wide receiver gets enough volume to push for a top-15 finish. However, this offense looks stacked with intriguing talent across the board and is flanked by a middling defense that can push them into pass-heavy game scripts. Even better, most of their assets are extremely cheap in fantasy drafts. If injury chaos hits, these discounted players suddenly have access to a new ceiling. My favorite of these discounted players is former first-round pick Josh Doctson.
The third-year wideout’s fantasy price point currently rests outside the top-50 wide receivers and beyond the 11th round. Doctson was a supreme talent coming out of college, scoring an above average success rate on all routes and converting 85 percent of his contested catch attempts in Reception Perception. We could see more of that ability this coming season after he spent 2017 growing into his paws in what was essentially his rookie year. Toward the end of that campaign he was trusted with bulk volume, clearing 29 percent of the team’s air yards in all but one of his last seven games. If someone is going to vastly outkick their projections in this passing game, it’s Josh Doctson.
Note: While Doctson came down hard on his shoulder during practice this week, Jay Gruden indicated he would be fine and may only miss a few practices.
Andy: JAMISON CROWDER, WAS (82.4 ADP, WR33). Crowder was an obvious breakout candidate as we entered draft season last summer, but a September hamstring injury resulted in a slow, disappointing start. If you drafted him in 2017, there’s a decent chance he was among your first drops. Let’s look at the numbers he delivered when he was at something close to full health, however, in Weeks 7-16. During that eight-game stretch, he caught 44 passes for 615 yards and three scores. He drew seven or more targets in six of those eight weeks. Crowder might just be the most reliable option in Washington’s receiving corps; don’t be surprised if he produces a 90-1200-6 fantasy line in a healthy season.
Scott: NELSON AGHOLOR, PHI (96 ADP, WR41): The lovely thing about Agholor is that he’s a breakout pick who’s already broken out — but you don’t have to pay a buzzy upgrade tax on him. Agholor was the WR23 in standard last year, WR21 in PPR, and he racked up 196 total yards (and caught 83 percent of his passes) in Philly’s playoff run. He’s earned his stripes.
“Slot receiver” need not be a pejorative. The coverage is generally easier, the throws simpler and easy to see. And it’s not like Agholor comes without pedigree; he was a first-round pick in 2015. It just took him a while to figure out the pro game.
If Agholor can merely approach last year’s stats, he’s an easy profit at current ADP. And maybe there’s more upside to come. Agholor’s 29 December catches last year were fifth in the NFL; perhaps that’s a random and noisy stat, or maybe it speaks to a young player starting to spread his wings. I’d like my fantasy opponents to pay for Alshon Jeffery’s name brand (and wonky shoulder) in the fourth round or so, knowing I can land the stealthy Agholor 4-5 rounds later.
Brad: EMMANUEL SANDERS, DEN (78.8 ADP, WR35). Recall two years ago Sanders ranked WR17 in fantasy points per game. Why? Trevor Siemian was somewhat respectable. Last year, his numbers greatly suffered primarily due to Denver’s triumvirate of suck – Bad Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch. A right ankle setback only exacerbated the situation. He was WR53 in catchtable target percentage and WR103 in overall success rate. Blame the situation, not the player.
The presence of Sutton and Hamilton combined with a more run-aggressive approach should cap his target share in the 21-23 percent range. Still, Sanders possesses attractive qualities. He’s an astute route-runner and versatile. It’s likely he’ll see more slot work this season, a position Keenum leaned on while in Minnesota. In what could be his swan song in the Mile High City, a return to 70-1000-5 is plausible.
Dalton: ROBBY ANDERSON, NYJ (104.81 ADP, WR45). He finished as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver last season despite playing on a poor offense that’s bound to improve in 2018, and while the Jets added bodies at the position, Anderson is by far the most talented wideout on the roster. He ranked top-15 in yards per route run and “Air Yards” last season (sandwiched between Adam Thielen and Keenan Allen in the latter), and he should only improve during year three (offseason reports have been positive regarding his off-field issues, but the league could still give him a short suspension to open the season).
Anderson should continue to dominate targets in New York (Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had the fourth-most targets inside the five-yard line in the NFL last season in just 13 games, is gone), and Josh McCown and rookie Sam Darnold should provide competent enough quarterback play for the rising star to put up big numbers. I have Anderson ranked as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver, yet he’s costing significantly less than that.