Late-round wide receiver sleepers

After participating in a few drafts so far, I just wanted to list a few wide receivers that I’ve either drafted, or seen drafted in the last few rounds that could help your fantasy team this year (or in future years if you’re in a keeper league):

  • Ted Ginn, Jr. (MIA): Should be the number one target for Chad Pennington in Miami, which means a lot more than it would have meant last season when the team was in complete disarray. Around 900 yards and five scores doesn’t seem out of the picture.
  • DeSean Jackson (PHI): With number one receiver Kevin Curtis out for an extended period of time undergoing surgery for a sports hernia and number two receiver Reggie Brown already having hamstring issues, Jackson will be thrust into the action to start the season. He’s looked good in preseason and if that carries over to the regular season, expect quarterback Donovan McNabb to look his way all year long.
  • Eddie Royal (DEN): Teammate Darrell Jackson was brought in to be the number two receiver alongside Brandon Marshall, but then the team drafted Royal, who has worked his way into a starting role this preseason. Expect Royal to put up some decent numbers in an offense that should be a lot better passing the ball this year, as Cutler will be a lot healthier after taming his diabetes and Marshall draws loads of attention from opposing defenses.
  • James Jones (GB): Although a knee issue could keep him out of the first game of the season, Jones was a borderline fantasy start in his rookie year and should improve on his numbers (although a change at quarterback might have a negative affect on that.) As Donald Driver gets older and phases out of this passing game, look to Jones to take over the starting spot alongside Greg Jennings.
  • Robert Meachem (NO): New Orleans has been searching for an effective number two alongside Marques Colston and Meachem might have filled that role last year, if not held out all season long with a knee injury. This year he’s back on the field though and has looked great in preseason. Expect Meachem to contribute immediately in a passing offense that should be even better than it’s been in recent years with the new options (Meachem and Jeremy Shockey.)
  • James Hardy (BUF): We’ve already written about Hardy this season and his presence in the red zone should not go unnoticed. While he may not rack up the yardage in this offense, if your league awards heavily for touchdowns, Hardy is worth a look at the end of your draft.
  • Steve Smith (NYG): The other Steve Smith should be given ample opportunity to improve on his eight reception, 63 yard season last year, especially with the top receivers on the team entering the season nicked up already. He was great at USC, but as with most players from that college, he’ll have to prove he’s not an NFL bust and this year could be where he begins to make his mark.
  • Dwayne Jarrett (CAR): Another USC receiver trying to prove that he’s not a bust, Jarrett will be given plenty of opportunities to show his stuff early in the season, as his team’s starting receivers are also going through their own issues (Steve Smith suspended, Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett dinged up.)
  • Rashied Davis (CHI): Davis had a huge game in week three of the preseason, catching four passes for 58 yards and two touchdowns and could make an impact on an offense that struggled mightily to put points on the board over the past few seasons. While I wouldn’t expect multiple touchdowns a game in the regular season, it’s not unreasonable to expect that he will put up some decent yardage numbers and make a few trips to the endzone…especially if he can establish himself as the team’s number three receiver.
  • Devin Hester (CHI): He hasn’t done a whole lot on the offensive side of the ball so far this preseason, but don’t give up hope on Hester quite yet. He’s still learning the position and is by far the most talented player on this offense. He had nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns last season with almost zero receiver experience, so a year under his belt should boost those stats a bit.
  • Josh Morgan (SF): He’s playing his way into a starting role this preseason, but don’t expect much fantasy relevance to at least a few games into the season. He has shown some flashes of greatness though so far, including a 59 yard touchdown reception.
  • Donnie Avery (STL): He was the first wide receiver taken in the draft, but it is not assumed that he will make an impact on the team right away. He’s blazing fast, but he needs to hone his receiving skills before quarterback Marc Bulger can be comfortable throwing the ball his way consistently. Don’t draft him, but keep him on your radar screen if it turns out that he can catch and run routes better than people are saying.