Written By: Jason Feiner
While running back is generally the most important position in fantasy, there are so many quality options at the top of the draft and a shortage of wide receiver talent. Finding receivers at the tail end of the draft who are hidden gems thus becomes imperative. Going into a fantasy draft without sleepers in the later rounds could cause chaos in your lineup as the season progresses; injuries occur and rosters become thin with potential starters. Landing a player in the mid to late rounds with high upside could turn into the steal of the draft. At the top of the draft, players are usually looking for the safe options with high ceilings; these players are categorized as known commodities or high-upside selections. It is in the later rounds that drafting becomes tricky. These picks typically hold players with potential production and low floors, so finding the correct players to fill out the roster becomes that much more difficult.
Landing players with the potential to explode throughout the duration of a season can have lasting implications in creating a better and deeper roster. Josh Gordon, Marvin Jones and Sammy Watkins are popular sleeper selections in the early goings of the draft. Here are some of the lesser-known options as the draft turns to deeper waters.
Marquise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars
Currently, Marquise Lee has been given an ADP of 140, meaning he is being selected on average with the first pick in the 14th round of 10 team leagues. If I could get Lee in the 14th round I would be jumping for joy, as capturing a possible WR3 with upside this late in the drafting process is the golden ticket to a healthy depth chart. Lee, selected with the 38th pick in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, has begun to gain steam over the past two years. Still only 26, he has the possibility to break out in 2018.
Many fantasy players don’t realize the impact Lee could have throughout this coming campaign. Blake Bortles has built a rapport with him. Over the last two seasons, Lee has recorded 201 targets (6.7 per game), while missing three contests in 2017. That is good for 27th among all receivers over that time frame. Now, with Allen Robinson out of the picture entirely, Lee is looking to assume the number one role in Jacksonville’s offense. A big year could be on the table for the quick and dynamic receiver, as the chance to exceed 110 targets in 2018 is entirely possible. With an excess of targets up for grabs, more receptions are on the horizon. If you’re playing in PPR leagues, Lee may make for a great round 9 or 10 selection as a 4th receiver on the roster. He is the definition of a high upside depth pick.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
Entering an underwhelming positional battle, the 2018 second round pick is primed to gain favor within the Cowboys system. Gallup will enter the preseason with a straight line to a starting role on the roster, as he attempts to steal targets from Allen Hurns, Terence Williams, and Cole Beasley. The Cowboys lost their two most targeted and reliable receivers from a season ago (Dez Bryant remains a free agent and Jason Witten retired), and a total of 219 targets and 11 touchdowns left with them. Obviously, these opportunities will not fall into the lap of a single player, but Gallup remains in the best situation on the depth chart to take the majority of those vacant targets. With the potential to see upwards of 110 targets, Gallup has the opportunity to account for WR3 numbers as a floor.
Teams will be focused on the ground game, and with their sights set on stopping Zeke, Gallup will be receiving one-on-one coverage along the boundary. Gallup is a big body standing at 6’1” with the talent to become a threat in the red zone. Finishing as a top 10-option in both of his first two campaigns, Dak Prescott is likely to remain a top tier fantasy quarterback. He needs to throw to someone, and the third round pick out of Colorado State is the best bet to win a starting job. Michael Gallup’s ADP is 159, the second to last pick of 10 team drafts. If you can get your hands on Gallup at this point in the draft, the Rookie of the Year candidate could become the new meaning of a sleeper.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Last season Williams suffered a myriad of injuries, appearing in just seven games with eleven total receptions. This has caused his ADP to drastically decrease, as he sits with a designation of 129. Now healthy and with a full offseason of work with Phillip Rivers and the offense, Williams has the opportunity to break out as he plays second fiddle to Keenan Allen. Williams has the potential to take a large step forward, as he is a big play threat and a dangerous red zone target. In his senior season at Clemson Williams was unstoppable, racking up 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has the talent to make eye-popping catches down the field, as he did against Alabama in their game winning drive during the 2016–2017 season.
As the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Williams was selected to start alongside Keenan Allen as the second option in the passing game. With teams focused on LA’s two superstar talents, Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon, only so much attention can be thrown at Williams. The loss of Hunter Henry was a big blow for this hopeful and talented Chargers roster, but it makes Williams even more of a dangerous commodity in fantasy. With Henry out for the season, an additional 63 targets are to be split up by their receiving corps, giving additional opportunities to Williams in what is looking like a high-powered offense.