2015 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Sleepers

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With the 2015 NFL season less than 2 months away, it’s time to start doing prep work for your fantasy football draft. Over the next few weeks I will be breaking down every position with a primer, rankings, sleepers, busts, and rookies.

We are in the midst of a changing of the guard in fantasy football. Since the beginning of fantasy running backs have been the core of fantasy squads and made up most of the first two rounds of draft picks. Over the last two seasons there has been a shift away from bell-cow RBs and towards the passing game. WRs gained a record number of yards last season by 1,083 due to teams passing the ball more than ever (56.6% of plays).

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Wide receivers are as valuable as ever with the proliferation of PPR leagues, teams passing more than ever, and NFL rules making it easier than ever for WRs. The top WRs are sure things who are going to require high picks or significant portions of your auction budget. With most leagues requiring three starting receivers, finding some mid-to-late round options is crucial to winning your league. I’ve listed some players below who are going in the 5th round or later who have the potential to vastly outperform their average draft position.

Wide Receiver Sleepers

Jordan Matthews, Eagles (avg pick= 49) – Jeremy Maclin and his 143 targets are gone, leaving Matthews as the Eagles top option. Despite not starting the first six games of the season, Matthews still got 103 targets from the slot position as a rookie. He had a solid season with 67/872/8 and should be inline for a significant boost in stats this year as Sam Bradford’s primary target.

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Allen Robinson, Jaguars (85) – He struggled with injures early and late in the season, but had a useful six game stretch mid-season where he averaged roughly six catches per game. The Jags O-line had trouble keeping their QB clean and running the ball which hurt their passing game and in turn Robinson. He’s the most talented receiver on the Jags roster and with some improvements across the board offensively, Robinson’s numbers could spike significantly.

Jarvis Landry, Dolphins (99) – Was one of the most efficient receivers last season with a catch rate just under 80%. The Dolphins lost deep threat Mike Wallace, but replaced him with a younger deep threat in Kenny Stills and veteran Greg Jennings. Landry will stay in the slot this year and could be primed for a huge season with some improvement from the Phins O-line and QB Ryan Tannehill. Landry’s catch/TD ratio last year was among the lowest in the league, but a regression to the mean and a slight improvement in his overall numbers should put Landry in the top 25 receivers by the end of 2015.

Charles Johnson, Vikings (109) – Was Teddy Bridgewater’s go-to WR down the stretch last year and their rapport has carried over to training camp this season. Johnson has locked up a starting spot opposite deep-threat Mike Wallace and should lead the Vikings in receiving targets. The former 7th round pick from Grand Valley St came out of nowhere last season, but has the size (6’2 | 217), speed (4.38), and athleticism (39.5″ vert, 11.1 broad) to be a legit #1 WR.