With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy football drafts are just around the corner. 2019 NFL schedule is out, we know our matchups and NFL Bye Weeks. Lineups.com has all the stats you need from NFL snap counts to Targets on hand. It’s time to start scouting.
In the age of the passing attack, wide receivers have arguably supplanted running backs in fantasy value. As such, big names like Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., and DeAndre Hopkins could all be gone by the end of the first round. But those superstars won’t be enough to win your league. Every year, leagues are won at the margins by breakout players that very few people saw coming.
With this list, perhaps you will be prepared for the breakouts this year. Organized from slightly sleepy to hibernation, here are potential 25 potential league-winning sleepers at the wide receiver position.
Tier One: “I Saw that One Coming”
Golden Tate, New York Giants
Projected Stat Line: 85 catches, 1010 yards, 7 touchdowns
After a disappointing half-season in Philadelphia, Golden Tate comes to a Giants team with a boatload of targets to go around after the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. Considering Tate’s ability to break tackles (he led all receivers with 29), he should become a crucial piece for an offense that will struggle throwing the ball downfield. Even if rookie Daniel Jones eventually takes over for Manning, Tate would retain his value as a short and intermediate option for a rookie quarterback behind a revamped offensive line. In PPR leagues, Tate could return to WR2 form, with a floor at WR3.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected Stat Line: 80 catches, 1150 yards, 9 touchdowns
DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries are gone, meaning that Chris Godwin is the clear second option in Tampa Bay behind Mike Evans. With 59 catches, 842 yards, and 7 touchdowns last year, Godwin has already demonstrated his worth as a fantasy football weapon, but, in the absence of Jackson, Humphries, and their combined 117 receptions, Godwin is set to become a true WR3 this season, with potential upside for more, especially in PPR leagues.
Sammy Watkins, Kansas City Chiefs
Projected Stat Line: 75 catches, 1075 yards, 10 touchdowns
With a potential suspension looming for star wideout Tyreek Hill, much will be asked of Watkins in 2019. Before an injury halfway through the season, Watkins was having a strong year for Kansas City. Unfortunately, injuries are something one must always consider with Sammy Watkins. When he’s healthy, he’s a gamebreaker with an unteachable combination of size and speed. According to NFL.com’s Next Gen Stats, Watkins ranked 17th in the league in catch percentage, suggesting that, with Hill probably out for a while, those extra targets will likely turn into completions if Mahomes goes Watkin’s way. As a result, Watkins is a potential league-buster. If he stays healthy and finds his footing, he can use that extraordinary talent to cement himself as a star in the league. With a FLEX floor and a WR2 ceiling, Watkins truly is boom-or-bust.
Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
Projected Stat Line: 85 catches, 900 yards, 5 touchdowns
The newly minted Buffalo Bill steps into a receivers room devoid of a clear first option, thus allowing Cole Beasley to become that option. With 65 catches and 672 yards last season, Beasley demonstrated his worth as an underneath threat for the Cowboys. Considering that Josh Allen ranked last in the league in completion percentage last year, the short passing game should become a priority in Buffalo, and very few players excel at getting open underneath as well as Beasley does. In a revamped and unproven receiving corps, Beasley is the known commodity, a fact that should result in WR3 upside in PPR leagues this season.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Projected Stat Line: 60 catches, 950 yards, 10 touchdowns
This offseason will hopefully be the last time Williams ends up on any sleeper list. The highly talented player out of Clemson had a mini breakout in 2018 when he posted 43 catches for 664 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns. 10 touchdowns is great for any receiver, let alone one who was on the field for only 62 percent of offensive snaps. With Tyrell Williams now in Oakland, that snap percentage should increase, giving Mike Williams opportunities between the 20s, while allowing him to retain his red zone shares. He was a FLEX last season with just 43 catches. This year, he just might become a WR3, or potentially, if that absurd touchdown rate holds, a WR2.
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
Projected Stat Line: 70 catches, 905 yards, 6 touchdowns
Upon establishing himself as Sam Darnold’s favorite target early in the season, Quincy Enunwa was a favorite pickup on the waiver wire. Unfortunately, a string of injuries derailed his promising season and opened the door for fellow receiver Robby Anderson to establish himself down the stretch. However, the $20 million guaranteed that Enunwa signed for this offseason suggests that the Jets view him as a key piece in what should be an improved offense in 2019. Still, trusting Jets offensive players outside of Le’Veon Bell is a tricky proposition, so don’t draft Enunwa expecting much more than WR3 or FLEX production.
Tier Two: “I Should’ve Seen that One Coming”
Willie Snead IV, Baltimore Ravens
Projected Stat Line: 75 catches, 950 yards, 4 touchdowns
Coming off a year with only one touchdown and 651 yards, Willie Snead probably won’t be at the the top of any draft boards, and rightly so. But the former Saint is in line for a lot of targets, even from the seldom throwing Lamar Jackson. Michael Crabtree and John Brown are both out of Baltimore, leaving Snead as the team’s only reputable receiving option. After an offseason of film study and training, Jackson should come back a better passer than he was as a rookie, and Snead just might be the only man to whom he will be able to pass. As such, Snead, the WR1 of his own team, projects as a solid FLEX option this season.
Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected Stat Line: 80 catches, 950 yards, 7 touchdowns
Despite all of the inconsistency at quarterback last season, Westbrook accumulated 66 receptions, 717 yards, and 5 touchdowns. All of those numbers figure to improve with Nick Foles replacing Blake Bortles at quarterback and with target rivals like Donte Moncrief gone to Pittsburgh. If Dede Westbrook can establish early chemistry with Foles, his natural combination of speed and power should separate him from his teammates and earn Foles’s trust. At 25 years-old, Westbrook is entering his prime with the best quarterback he’s had in his career. Expect FLEX or even WR3 production.
Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers
Projected Stat Line: 65 catches, 1000 yards, 7 touchdowns
In the four games before getting hurt last year, Allison put up 19 receptions for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Projected over a whole season, that would be 76 catches, 1156 yards, and 8 touchdowns. While it would be a bit too lofty to expect Geronimo Allison to replicate that pace over 16 games next season, I’d bet on solid production. Aaron Rodgers seemed to have lost faith in Marquez Valdes-Scantling as last season progressed, suggesting that Allison will have every opportunity to beat out his post-injury replacement.
Tre’Quan Smith, New Orleans Saints
Projected Stat Line: 60 catches, 900 yards, 7 touchdowns
After racking up 427 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, Tre’Quan Smith seems poised for more. As of this writing, Smith is the team’s second best receiver behind Michael Thomas. With another offseason to get in sync with Drew Brees, Smith is a threat to explode this year. If his targets can come in a consistent, week-by-week basis, he’ll join Thomas and Alvin Kamara as members of the Saints offense worth rostering.
Albert Wilson, Miami Dolphins
Projected Stat Line: 75 catches, 1050 yards, 6 touchdowns
The Dolphins’ receiving corps is a hectic mess right now. Projecting too deeply into it could be a mistake. With Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick both in the quarterbacks’ room, it’s difficult to say who will even be the primary signal caller this year. Add Albert Wilson’s 2018 hip injury and the perpetually disappointing Devante Parker and inconsistent Kenny Stills to the equation, and fantasy owners should be left wary. However, if you have to bet on one receiver to shine through, bet on Wilson. Prior to his injury, Wilson was a major cog in the Miami offense. His explosive speed allowed him to amass 391 yards in seven games. He also caught four touchdowns and threw for one more. If he can get back to that form, Wilson’s floor is FLEX with WR3 appeal.
Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
Projected Stat Line: 60 catches, 800 yards, 5 touchdowns
The former Washington slot man comes to New York to fill that same role for sophomore signal caller Sam Darnold, although he’ll have to coexist with the aforementioned Enunwa, who did his best work from the slot last season. Enunwa’s versatility could allow both players to thrive, which is what the Jets had obviously envisioned when they gave the two players a combined $27 million in guarantees this offseason. If the fit works, Jamison Crowder, Enunwa, and Robby Anderson could form a three-headed monster for the Jets receiving corps. Unfortunately, three-headed monsters have a lot more value on the field than in fantasy football. The roles will need to be defined for Crowder to retain the value he had pre-injury in Washington.
Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers
Projected Stat Line: 65 catches, 850 yards, 6 touchdowns
While JuJu Smith-Schuster undoubtedly steps into the WR1 role left by Antonio Brown’s departure, Donte Moncrief was brought in, presumably, to assume most of JuJu’s old role. Pittsburgh’s offense, historically, has been kind to receivers, and as long as Ben Roethlisberger is at quarterback, I wouldn’t expect that trend to shift. The only complication for Moncrief could be James Washington, the other receiver looking to assume Brown’s targets. Pay close attention to training camp and the preseason to get a better sense of which of these two player establishes himself as the clear second option. If it’s one or the other, expect WR3 numbers. If it looks like the two will split, still expect FLEX numbers for both of them.
Tier Three: “Wow. Didn’t Expect That”
James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers
Projected Stat Line: 60 catches, 800 yards, 5 touchdowns
Moncrief is much more of a proven commodity than James Washington, but the latter has youth, upside, and familiarity with the offense on his side. Head coach Mike Tomlin has already said that he expects big things from Washington this year after a rookie season that saw him catch just 16 balls. So too should fantasy owners, especially if he’s able to separate himself from Moncrief this offseason. Even if not, the Steelers offense is typically a hub of fantasy wide receiver production, meaning that Washington could put up FLEX numbers even if he’s not the clear second option behind Smith-Schuster.
Equanimeous St. Brown, Green Bay Packers
Projected Stat Line: 50 catches, 750 yards, 4 touchdowns
With Randall Cobb out of the picture, 2019 could be St. Brown’s time to shine. Last year, Equanimeous St. Brown’s two best performances of the season came in Cobb’s absence, suggesting that the young receiver could thrive in that role. In order to do so, he’ll have to gain the trust of the notoriously picky Rodgers this training camp. If he and Rodgers click, St. Brown could have WR4 or even FLEX appeal this fantasy season.
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers
Projected Stat Line: 50 catches, 750 yards, 6 touchdowns
Curtis Samuel began the year injured and struggled to see the field at the bottom of the receiving depth chart, but as the year progressed, the young wideout’s role expanded. By Week 13, Samuel had a solidified place in the lineup, accruing significant target totals. With Devin Funchess now on the Colts, Samuel’s role should only grow, especially in the red zone. He’ll probably end up as Carolina’s best wide receiver behind D.J. Moore, but with Christian McCaffrey also involved in the passing game, Samuel’s upside might still be a bit limited. Even so, he could produce worthy FLEX numbers this year. At the worst, Samuel is a solid bench piece and WR4.
Antonio Callaway, Cleveland Browns
Projected Stat Line: 60 catches, 850 yards, 6 touchdowns
Callaway is the third option among Cleveland receivers, behind the newly acquired Odell Beckham Jr. and the reliable Jarvis Landry. However, Antonio Callaway’s abilities as a deep threat should mitigate a potential reduction in targets. Callaway’s 13.6 yards per reception average from last year might only increase with Beckham Jr. perpetually drawing the safety help to his side of the field, allowing the second-year man from Florida one-on-one coverage against the opposition’s second or even third best corner. The boom-or-bust player should become more consistent this season, as the Cleveland offense is poised to become a juggernaut, potentially making Callaway a high-end FLEX.
Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers
Projected Stat Line: 70 catches, 1075 yards, 7 touchdowns
Between Week 12 and Week 15, Pettis hauled in 17 passes, 338 yards, and four touchdowns, demonstrating game-changing ability, albeit in a small sample size. His season-long average of 17.3 yards per reception further speaks to the fact that Pettis is a certified threat. However, Pettis needs to prove that he can stay healthy. He missed time at the beginning of the year and at the end of the year, keeping him from getting a complete rookie season under his belt. If he can stay healthy and develop a strong relationship with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Dante Pettis could become a league-winner at the FLEX or WR3 spot.
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears
Projected Stat Line: 70 catches, 820 yards, 6 touchdowns
Miller had a strong rookie season for the Bears, showing the skill and the swagger of a veteran while scoring seven touchdowns in 15 games. His role increased throughout the season, and, although he didn’t demonstrate himself to be a deep threat, his abilities to beat his man off the line and make contested catches should allow him to be a valuable PPR player that should be rostered in every league.
Robert Foster, Buffalo Bills
Projected Stat Line: 60 receptions, 1000 yards, 6 touchdowns
His 20.0 yards per reception average speaks to his abilities as a deep threat. Josh Allen’s arm strength and Foster’s speed developed into a lethal combination as the year progressed. After 30 total receiving yards in Weeks 1-8, Robert Foster exploded for 511 yards in Weeks 9-16, briefly capturing the attention of fantasy owners last season. If the sophomore receiver can pick up in 2019 where he left off in 2018, he’s due for a big year at the FLEX.
Tier Four: “Who?”
Justin Watson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected Stat Line: 30 catches, 400 yards, 2 touchdowns
Certainly one the deepest sleepers on this list, Justin Watson was on the field for less than seven percent of the snaps last season behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Adam Humphries, and DeSean Jackson. Well, Humphries and Jackson are gone, potentially allowing Watson, at 6’3” 215 pounds, to see more of the field and to take on the third wide receiver role behind Evans and Godwin. I wouldn’t necessarily expect FLEX production from Watson, but it’s worth monitoring him early in the season while he’s off everyone else’s radar.
DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
Projected Stat Line: 30 catches, 300 yards, 4 touchdowns
As a rookie, Chark had zero touchdowns and just 14 receptions in 11 games played, effectively placing him off of all fantasy football radare entering the 2019 season. But his combination of size and speed cannot be taught. With a new scheme and a new quarterback in Nick Foles, there’s a relatively blank slate from which DJ Chark can work this offseason. He’ll have to outperform one of Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, or Keelan Cole to earn time, but if he does, he could become just the type of big, athletic threat the Jaguars have been missing. He’s worth monitoring if not rostering early in the year.
Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
Projected Stat Line: 45 catches, 700 yards, 3 touchdowns
This year’s third-round pick could have an immediate impact on a revamped Washington offense. At Ohio State, McLaurin caught 71 percent of his passes and averaged 14.3 yards per target. Advanced statistics demonstrate that his value exceeds that of the 77th overall selection. Also helping Terry McLaurin’s cause to be a breakout fantasy player as a rookie is that he’ll be catching passes from his college quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, meaning that he won’t have to spend training camp learning that playbook AND forming a relationship with his signal caller, a huge advantage that very few rookie receiver have had.
Darius Slayton, New York Giants
Projected Stat Line: 20 catches, 250 yards, 2 touchdowns
The fifth-round selection from Auburn projects as a deep-threat at the next level, something the Giants are currently lacking with a receiving corps led by Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard. Even so, as a fifth-rounder, Slayton’s spot is far from secure. He’ll have to contend with veteran Cody Latimer, who, throughout his career, has had trouble staying healthy. If Darius Slayton impresses in camp and/or Latimer goes down, the rookie could carve out a spot for himself in New York’s offense.
Brandon Powell, Detroit Lions
Projected Stat Line: 35 catches, 360 yards, 2 touchdowns
The shifty Brandon Powell will look to fill the void left by Golden Tate’s departure. After a quiet first 16 weeks of his rookie season, the undrafted free agent exploded in Week 17 with 11 receptions for 129 yards. It’s dangerous to read too heavily into one game, especially a meaningless game as far as the standings were concerned, but Powell proved that he could play. The Lions kept him on the roster all season for a reason, and Powell gave them a glimpse of what he can do. Depending on how training camp and the preseason play out, Powell might just get the opportunity to prove that Week 17 was no aberration.
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