Our basic premise in this positional sleeper series is, of course, that you can find potentially useful players in the very late rounds of your fantasy drafts. We see it every year. Value emerges from unexpected places.
Like, Nelson Agholor just produced a totally playable fantasy season, so literally any wild thing can happen in this game.
Still, let's acknowledge that it gets thin at wide receiver in a hurry. After the first 55 or so receivers are off the board, you're gonna find yourself searching for names like, say, Markus Wheaton and Austin Collie, hoping they haven't vanished from the player pool. (We're sorry to report they have.) It's rough down there in the late rounds.
And yet the mission here is to identify a few sleeper wideouts who might just make some noise in 2021, so that's what we're gonna do. We offer no guarantees here, only lottery tickets. These guys are widely available and generally drafted late, if at all:
Marquez Callaway, New Orleans Saints (19% rostered)
Callaway flashed occasionally last season and he's had consistent fantasy buzz throughout camp. And then, on Monday night, he erupted against Jacksonville:
The secret is definitely out. We'll see how long Callaway's late ADP holds. He needed less than a half to reach 100-plus yards and two spikes against the Jags, who were utterly helpless against him. Callaway is a physical receiver with size (6-foot-2), strength, and explosiveness (38-inch vertical) who demonstrated big-play ability at the college level. He averaged 21.2 yards per catch in his final season at Tennessee.
Tre'Quan Smith was sidelined by injury for much of the summer and we don't yet have a clear ETA on Michael Thomas (ankle surgery), so Callaway's services will be desperately needed. Every scrap of reporting has suggested he's been running as the top target in the Saints' receiving corps, and he appeared to finalize that status on Monday.
You want him. Realistically, he won't be a final-round flier any longer.
Terrace Marshall Jr., Carolina Panthers (12%)
Marshall has been a big-play machine through two preseason games, catching six balls for 138 yards. Exhibition production may not move the needle for you, but, well ... it beats the alternative. He's certainly passed the eye test to this point while playing pretty much every first-team snap.
He offers size (6-foot-3), speed (4.4), and versatility, plus he has a collegiate connection to OC Joe Brady, his former position coach at LSU. It's fair to question whether a Sam Darnold-led offense can support three viable fantasy receivers in Marshall, Robby Anderson, and DJ Moore, but let's recall that a Teddy Bridgewater-led offense pulled off the trick last year in Carolina.
Also, we need to mention the fact that the Panthers' early-season schedule is a layup line, loaded with opportunities. This team's offense should be of interest in the early weeks.
Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders (9%)
If you're interested in shopping in the post-hype sleeper aisle, Edwards is an interesting option. Like Marshall, he offers size (6-foot-3) and contested-catch ability, plus he seems to have earned the full confidence of his quarterback. There's absolutely no doubt he'll see the field. Try to forgive his relentlessly quiet rookie season and remember the reasons we originally liked him. The receiving hierarchy is wide open for the Raiders beyond Darren Waller; Edwards has a shot at a significant target total.
Dyami Brown, Washington FT (2%)
It's a little bit amazing that Brown slipped to the third round of the 2021 draft, considering his productivity over multiple collegiate seasons and his obvious big-play ability. But hey, he landed in a phenomenal spot. Brown produced back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns at UNC, averaging 20.1 yards per catch since 2019 while scoring 20 touchdowns. He's legit.
Brown's new quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is not exactly reluctant to throw the occasional YOLO ball to a playmaker. The rookie wideout hasn't appeared overmatched to this point in the preseason, either:
At the very least, you should make him a late priority in dynasty leagues and deep-ish formats.
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots (21%)
The Patriots spent a zillion dollars upgrading their receiving corps in free agency, yet this dude is probably still the team's best pass-catching/route-running option:
Camp reports have been positive and his preseason performance has essentially confirmed what we learned last year, when he hauled in 59 balls for 729 yards: Meyers is legit. He's practically free in fantasy drafts (ADP 128.3) yet ticketed for a significant role.