Fantasy football sleepers: Wide receivers

by Cory J. Bonini on September 7, 2011 @ 10:26:22 PDT

 


KFFL.com's analysis of fantasy football sleepers will help you identify the characteristics that go into making up a sleeper. These gems can be fairly well-known players or the lesser heralded guys you may not know much about. Fear not, since no one likes doing the dirty work, KFFL.com has done it for you!

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Note: All average draft position (ADP) figures are based on 12-team, non-PPR leagues unless specified otherwise.

Wide receivers

Mike Sims-Walker | St. Louis Rams | ADP: 9th round

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

We know, we know ... been there, been burned. However, Sims-Walker seems rejuvenated in his new digs, and Sam Bradford loves him. The injury-prone newcomer has shown chemistry with the second-year quarterback in Josh McDaniels' pass-happy offense. At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, Sims-Walker has enough size to be a red zone threat and runs with fluidity in the open field to elude defenders. He is determined to show he has what it takes to shine in the NFL, and we have seen flashes before.

On average, fantasy owners are drafting him as a fourth receiver, which is perfectly fine. You may even be able to snag him much later than that, because a lot of owners have soured on him the past few seasons. So what if Sims-Walker burns you again since you didn't invest much into drafting him.

Steve Breaston | Kansas City Chiefs | ADP: 17th round

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

The fifth-year wideout is reunited with Todd Haley and has a strong understanding of the offense. He'll likely start opposite Dwayne Bowe since rookie Jonathan Baldwin (wrist) injured himself in a fight with Thomas Jones and lost valuable practice time.

Breaston is a possession receiver and can work out of the slot or as flanker out wide. He appears to be healthy. Kansas City's offense should open up more this year, and Breaston is a quality No. 5 receiver in point-per-reception leagues.

Jordy Nelson | Green Bay Packers | ADP: 17th round

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
869612811431101203015011013

Many fantasy football owners will rate Nelson as a sleeper, so be aware of his value potentially being inflated. He proclaimed his knee fully healed following a ruptured bursa sac suffered in the Super Bowl.

Wide receiver Donald Driver is 36 years old and took a major step backward last year. Nelson's playing time could increase in a dramatic fashion in 2011, regardless of James Jones returning. Tight end Jermichael Finley (knee) should return in time for Week 1, but that doesn't mean he'll be 100 percent much, if not all, of the year.

Aaron Rodgers has the Packers' O working like a well-oiled machine, and Nelson enters his third year in the same system. Don't count on a statistical explosion from his 2010 line of 45-582-2. His receptions may not improve too much, but he could bolster his pedestrian 12.9 yards-per-catch average (14.5 in 2009). Also, his touchdowns could go up, as his 6-foot-3, 217-pound frame makes for a nice red zone target.

Draft Nelson as a low-end No. 4 or ideal fifth gamble in the early stages of the final quarter of your standard 16-round draft. Anything earlier than the 10th round adds more risk than his upside warrants.

Brian Robiskie | Cleveland Browns | ADP: 20th round

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

While we really like Greg Little, he hasn't done the little things that give a rookie receiver with an abbreviated offseason a chance to stand out. Physically, he is the most gifted receiver on the team, but Little has suffered major concentration lapses and has struggled to hang on to the ball. Robiskie, on the other hand, has demonstrated his understanding of the nuances that come with being a third-year wideout and the son of an NFL receivers coach.

The West Coast offense fits his style of play rather well, and, overall, Colt McCoy has shown to have a strong grasp of the offense. Robiskie is likely to start in the X spot and is a worthwhile fantasy gamble late in your draft. Consider him a fifth or six receiver with considerable upside, especially in PPR setups.

Jordan Shipley | Cincinnati Bengals | ADP: N/A

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

It's hard not to like Shipley after a strong rookie showing. He snagged 52 balls for 600 yards and scored three times. However, that was with Carson Palmer at the helm. Rookie Andy Dalton is probably Cincy's Opening Day starter, which may scare off some owners.

Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
A PPR demon in 2011?

Cincinnati is changing from Bob Bratkowski's vertical pro-style offense to a West Coast system under Jay Gruden. Shipley, a precise route-runner, should be the No. 2 receiver in the pecking now that Chad Ochocinco is no longer on the roster. Rookie wideouts notoriously struggle to pick up the West Coast offense, so it's hardly a lock that A.J. Green will be studly this year. Additionally, Dalton's game is of the short-to-intermediate variety, exactly where Shipley excels.

Shipley is a great No. 4 receiver in point-per-reception leagues, and he could perform like a No. 3 or flex option all year. Finding the end zone could be an arduous task with a rookie passer, thus lowering his non-PPR stock quite a bit. Shipley is a low-end No. 5 in setups that don't reward catches.

Eric Decker | Denver Broncos | ADP: N/A

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi
657578693657040190158

Decker moves from our super sleepers to full-fledged sleeper status. He has size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), extremely good hands, quality route-running skills and now a legitimate quarterback. Practicing daily against Champ Bailey can't hurt your chances of improving, either.

Decker is simply too good to be overlooked by the coaching staff. Eddie Royal is coming off hip surgery, Brandon Lloyd is an enigma after breaking out in his eighth year, and Demaryius Thomas (Achilles') could be slowed for almost half the season. Oh, don't forget Denver opened up a spot with the trading of Jabar Gaffney to the Washington Redskins. David Anderson (5-foot-10), Lloyd (6-foot) and Royal (5-foot-10) don't make very good red zone targets for Kyle Orton.

PPR owners should take a chance on Decker as their fifth receiver in the early stages of the final rounds. This is a run-first offense, so temper your expectations, but Decker has all the makings for a worthwhile sleeper gamble.

Jason Hill | Jacksonville Jaguars | ADP: N/A

2011 Projected NFL/Fantasy Football Statistics

Rec Rec Yds Rec TD Run Att Run Yds Rush TD Tot TD
Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi Lo Hi

Hill is probably more of a deep sleeper than someone you should focus on landing because of the Jags' tenuous quarterback situation. Rookie Blaine Gabbert could start at some point and struggle mightily. Quarterback Luke McCown being thrust into the starting role probably helps the deep-passing game.

The expected starter opposite Mike Thomas, Hill has quality size (6-foot, 202 pounds) and experience entering his fifth year. He could be Jacksonville's deep threat, especially if rookie Cecil Shorts III is slow to acclimate to the pro game.

If you're looking to take a very late flier on a potential breakout candidate in your fantasy football draft, Hill has to be in your internal discussion. In standard 16-round drafts, think about him after the 14th round, but you can likely make him your final selection.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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