Fantasy Football Sleeper Projections for Wide Receivers 2021: What late-round WRs will surprise this season?

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The Wide Receiver position is easily the deepest position in fantasy, which means you can find some pretty good receivers much later in the draft.  The same cannot be said for a majority of Running backs, and pretty much all Tight Ends and Quarterbacks.

Whether they are rookies, players who had some big offensive/team changes, or players coming off injuries, there are always a few Wide Receivers who are drafted late (or undrafted) that bring some massive fantasy points each year.  In PPR leagues it’s always worth taking a shot at a few of these WRs in the later rounds, hoping that at least one hits.

Let’s take a look at some of the Wide Receivers being drafted in the 2nd half of drafts that could surprise this season.

ADPs come from our 12-team PPR ADP .

Laviska Shenault Jr. – Jacksonville Jaguars

Laviska Shenault Jr. is the earliest WR on this list, going later in the 9 th round. His ADP is slowly climbing this offseason, especially since he is getting a lot of hype from fantasy analysts.

Shenault had a relatively good rookie season in 2020, catching 58 passes for 600 yards and 5 touchdowns.  He also rushed 18 times for 91 yards, which is nice to see that he could potentially break a few long runs if he gets open.  He also did all this in a season where the Jaguars went 1-15 and started 3 different QBs.  When your best starting QB was Gardner Minshew, you know it was bad.

This season Shenault gets highly anticipated rookie QB Trevor Lawrence and already has a ton of praise from new Head Coach Urban Meyer.  DJ Chark has been disappointing as of late and leaves the door wide open for Shenault.  If everything works in his favor, Shenault easily could reach the 1000 yard mark and surpass his ADP.

Shenault is the 41 st WR off the board, making him a WR4.  Shenault easily could hit WR3 status and has the potential to get into the WR2 discussion.  If he hits that, he returned tremendous fantasy value.

Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams has been a bit all over the place in his first three seasons.  In his first real season, he caught only 43 passes but had 10 touchdowns.  In 2019 he went over 1000 yards but only had 2 touchdowns.  In 2020 with rookie QB Justin Herbert, Williams caught 48 of 85 targets for 756 yards and 5 touchdowns.  You can see why I said he is a bit erratic.

However, Williams is an athletic receiver.  Standing at 6’4” he makes a giant red-zone target but has the speed to beat defenders deep.  Herbert hopefully takes another step forward in 2021, which will only help Williams.

Williams is being drafted as the 47 th WR off the board and in the 11 th round.  That means you can wait for the double-digit rounds to grab the 2 nd WR on the depth chart of a very good offense…a guy who is almost being drafted as a WR5!

Now to be fair, Williams finished as the WR #48 last year in PPR, but all indications point to a better season for him.

Russell Gage – Atlanta Falcons

Russell Gage was targeted 109 times in 2020, catching 72 passes for 786 yards and 4 touchdowns.  He finished as the WR #37, but somehow is going in the 12 th round as the 55 th WR off the board.  That’s a pretty big slap in the face for the #2 WR for the Falcons, who lost HoF WR Julio Jones this offseason to the Titans.

QB Matt Ryan has shown that he can handle 2-3 receivers in the past, and there is no real reason to doubt he can do it again.  Obviously, Calvin Ridley gets to be the new top dog, but he is going a full 10 rounds earlier than his WR counterpart.  Gage has shown he has what it takes to be a solid fantasy receiver, and his 2020 season (in which he was the 3 rd option) showed he can handle the workload.

Gage has an easy path to hitting 1000 yards, and his 6’ frame makes him a decent red zone target.  The Falcons also have an awful defense and 0 run game, so he will see a ton of targets as they look to keep up with opposing teams.  He is being drafted as a WR5 and will most likely end up in the WR2 or WR3 range, giving him some massive sleeper upside.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

I promise you I didn’t pick this one because his name sounds really cool.  Amon-Ra St. Brown was picked in the 4 th round by the Detroit Lions in the 2021 NFL draft and is making headlines as one of the rookies who will outperform their fantasy ADP and their NFL draft spot as well.

St. Brown is currently the 69 th WR off the board and is the last pick in the 15 th round, so you may even be able to grab him after the draft.  Now I know I’ve said rookie WRs often disappoint in fantasy, but St. Brown literally will cost you nothing and has a very good chance to end up in the top 50 WRs.  Let’s see how that might happen.

First, QB Jared Goff might not be the most exciting, but he did produce two fantasy-relevant receivers while with the Rams.

Seconds, the Lions lost star WR Kenny Golladay and veteran WR Marvin Jones to free agency, so they literally have no one at the WR position of note.  Seriously, their depth chart lists Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman as their starters.  It wouldn’t take much for St. Brown to leap them and be a vital part of this offense.  If there is a rookie worth taking a shot at super late in the draft, Amon-Ra St. Brown is the guy.

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