Mid-Round Wide Receiver Sleepers
People always say you don’t win your draft in the early rounds; it’s the later rounds that you find quality. A mid-round wide receiver sleeper should be your goal every draft, and if you snag one, you can guarantee you’ll be in the fast lane to a championship.
Every year fantasy owners always want to know, what’s the secret to finding a quality mid-round WR sleeper?
The answer: just look under the hood.
What? Under the hood? What the heck am I talking about?
Think of a fantasy football sleeper as a high-performance car with an unassuming exterior. It’s just an ordinary vehicle on the outside, but once you look under the hood, you realize that the car has some serious muscle to it.
We’ve all heard the expression “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Fantasy owners are all about flashy players, and often overlook and underestimate potential. Then, when that light turns green, people are in shock wondering how they overlooked such speed and power.
Two great sleeper examples from 2015 were Allen Robinson drafted as wide receiver 29, and Doug Baldwin drafted as wide receiver 66. Both of these guys finished in the top 10, and accelerated their fantasy owners to the checkered flag.
Time to Buckle Up! Hang on tight, these five mid-round wide receiver sleepers will take you to the podium.
Height: 6-2 / Weight: 222/ Age: 22
Third-year receiver Donte Moncrief is in line for a breakout season in 2016. His combination of size and speed, along with his run after the catch ability which is highlighted in this video, are some of the reasons he found himself being a favorite target of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. When looking at Moncrief’s 2015 season, you need to look into the first seven games. Why only the first seven? Those were the games when Andrew Luck was healthy.
Even though Moncrief had fewer targets than teammate T.Y. Hilton, he still led the team in touchdowns. The Colts lost some players this offseason, which freed up 222 targets to be dispersed throughout the offense. In the seven games with Luck, Moncrief averaged 4.6 receptions, 50 yards and 0.71 touchdowns on only 7.7 targets per game, which extrapolates to 73-802-11 for an entire season.
Moncrief is 2nd on the depth chart behind Hilton. Personally, I believe he is one of the best complimentary receivers in the game, with guys like Eric Decker, Emmanuel Sanders, and Michael Crabtree who were the 2nd receivers on their depth charts. If you average out their targets it comes out to 9 targets per game. Now with Luck, Moncrief’s catch rate was 62 percent, his touchdown catch rate was 0.15 percent and his yards per catch were 9.8. If we give Moncrief nine targets per game and keep his stats with Luck last year the same, his numbers look like 89-875-13.
The Colts offense will have a huge bounce back season with Andrew Luck being healthy and a better offensive line to protect him, which is why Donte Moncrief is a smart Colt to bid on out of the gate.
Height 6’3” / Weight 218 / Age 23
Parker is a physically imposing receiver who was taken in the first round of the draft last year. When people make a receiver in Madden, they create them with the physical build and athletic ability of DeVante Parker. This video showcases how Parker is basically a cheat code. Unfortunately,
Unfortunately, DeVante Parker was injured most of the season last year and played with a dumpster fire of a team. The Dolphins had so many issues on and off the field last year; they were the Cleveland Browns but with palm trees. Now with new head coach Adam Gase, the Dolphins are on track for a great season.
When Parker was finally healthy for the last six games of the season, he was on pace for a 59-1187-8. This year he will likely be playing the “X” receiver role in Miami. Why is that important? The “X” receiver in an Adam Gase run offense has produced Alshon Jeffery’s 2015 game average of 6-90-0.44, which through an entire season looks like 96-1440-7, as well as Demaryius Thomas’s 2014 season of 6.9-101-0.69, which through a whole season equates to 110-1616-11.
Now all that being said, Jeffery and Thomas were the number one options in their offenses. Parker will be the second look in the Dolphins offense behind Jarvis Landry. In Gase’s play calling career the number two receiver has averaged 19 percent of the targets. Last season, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill had 586 drop backs. The last six games of the season, Parker’s catch rate was 51 percent, his yards per catch was 19, and his touchdown catch rate was 0.14 percent. If we keep Parker’s numbers the same but give him 19 percent of Tannehill’s drop backs, his numbers will look like 57-1083-8.
The future is as bright as the Miami sun for DeVante Parker, and he will leave his owners streaking through the beaches with joy after 2016. From myself and everyone here at Gridiron Experts, remember to wear sunscreen.[wlm_nonmember]
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Height 6’2”/ Weight 220/ Age 26
The three-headed monster of Cardinals receivers consists of Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd. Better luck flipping a three sided coin…wait, is that even possible? More importantly, is it possible to predict which of these three is going to be the fantasy darling we know the Cardinals can produce? I believe it is.
Michael Floyd was injured last year with a horrifically gruesome finger injury. Look it up, if you dare. But after returning to the field fully healthy in week six, Floyd was the favorite. Now when I looked at his numbers, I looked at stats from weeks 6 to 16, because the Cardinals rested their starters in week 17.
In those nine games, his numbers averaged out to be 4.7-81-0.67. If you extrapolate those numbers through an entire season, his numbers look like 75-1296-11, which puts him in wide receiver one discussion. If you think those numbers aren’t possible for Floyd, I encourage you to watch him torch Richard Sherman and the entire Seahawks defense in week 10.
I understand people have been riding the Michael Floyd roller coaster since he entered the league with his inconsistent play and injuries. But Floyd has the size and the speed to be a top receiver in the NFL and is about to hit the prime of his career. Not to mention, this is a contract year for Floyd, and we always see receivers put up career years when they are looking to get paid.
Height 5’10” / Weight 193 LBS / Age 23
Sterling Shepard, drafted 40th overall by the New York Giants, is in the perfect situation to succeed right away. Shepard was by far the best route runner in the 2016 draft class, and is a player who can change speeds effortlessly in his routes. He is also a good run blocker for his smaller size. Speaking of size, that’s the only knock against Shepard since he can do everything well, but scouts will always doubt his ability to be an outside receiver. Size never stopped the Oklahoma alumni where he totaled 86 catches, 1,288 yards, and 11 touchdowns in his final season.
So why am I so high on Shepard? A few reasons. First, a good comparison for Sterling Shepard is Packers receiver Randall Cobb, but more athletic. Next, the Giants run more three-wide receiver sets than any other team in the NFL. Finally, the Ben McAdoo offense turned Rueben Randle into a top 30 receiver last year…yes I know, I should have just said that first, because turning Rueben Randle into something positive is taboo. Want to see Shepard’s skills for yourself? Watch his highlights here.
But Victor Cruz is coming back and going to regain the 2nd receiver role, right? Wrong. Cruz is saying he is healthy, and for some reason, I don’t believe him. Why don’t I believe him? Probably because he said he was healthy last year and ended up not playing all year; players with patellar injuries are players to stay away from.
Each year the Giants have been under McAdoo’s offense, they have gotten better, and I don’t expect anything different this year. I am expecting Shepard’s numbers to look similar to the year Randall Cobb had in 2012. I think Sterling Shepard will see around 100 targets, and if that happens he should finish with a stat line around 75-900-7.
Height 6’1” / Weight 220 LBS / Age 27
Meet Chris Hogan. Some of you may have never heard of him, which is fine, but after reading this, you won’t forget him. Chris Hogan received a scholarship to play Lacrosse at Penn State University where he excelled for three years. He found himself going to football games and telling himself that he could do all those things but better. So, his senior season he wanted to play football, but nobody was willing to give this 23-year-old freshman a shot on their football team until Monmouth University gave him a chance. After his senior year, Chris Hogan was granted the opportunity to go to a scouting combine at Fordham where he amazed scouts, finishing in the 99th percentile of SPARQ athletes. That’s not a typo, 99th percentile. To get an idea of his athleticism watch his highlights.
Chris Hogan was signed by the Dolphins practice squad, where he earned the nickname Chris “7-Eleven” Hogan because he was always open. Shortly after, the Bills signed him and he has played the last three seasons in Buffalo. Why does that story matter? It matters because these are the kinds of players that Head Coach Bill Belichick loves, which is why the Patriots went out and signed Hogan.
The Patriots have needed an outside receiver since Randy Moss left, and I believe they have one in Hogan. Hogan may enter training camp behind a crowded Patriots receiving corps, but by the time the season starts he will earn the outside receiver spot and be second on the depth chart. Also, Patriot receivers such as Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman haven’t been the poster children for staying healthy, which could open the door for Hogan.
I am optimistic with Hogan, because if the Patriots can turn Brandon LaFell into a 74-953-7 receiver than anything is possible. If Hogan (arguably) starts the season as the Patriots No. 2 receiver, he will have a good year. My prediction for Hogan is 65-850-7.[/wlm_ismember]
Mitchell is working full-time as Senior Writer & On-Air Talent at Chat Sports in Dallas, TX. Mitchell is a Head Writer at Gridiron Experts and Co-Host of the Empire Fantasy Podcast. He also is a featured fantasy writer for the Fantasy Footballers and FantasyPros. Mitchell has a Ph.D. in Fantasy Football so give him a follow on Twitter @MitchellRenz365.