As football season approaches and fantasy managers begin laying out their roster strategies, we take a look at some of the smaller names in the league. This year’s deep sleepers are a combination of rookies and veterans who have found themselves on struggling offenses. But with things changing — say, drafting a new star quarterback — it could be worth giving these wide receivers a second look.
Looking for sleepers for fantasy football isn’t about finding players nobody has heard about, because that isn’t happening. When we refer to sleepers, we’re highlighting players who should outplay their average draft position. Instead of the term “sleeper,” we can replace it with “value” and still be on the right track.
Here’s a look at some of our favorite deep sleepers that could help you win your fantasy football leagues.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans
Collins will join rookie CJ Stroud on the field this year, which could be a game-changer for the Texans receiver. The Texans packed their receiving corps this offseason with Robert Woods, Noah Brown, and TE Dalton Schultz, but Collins is an interesting sleeper. This lineup has not yet been established, and he has been with the Texans for two seasons. He can certainly prove himself as a top target — part of his struggles came from a low catchable rate, which Stroud can change. Collins had 37 receptions for 381 yards last season.
DJ Chark, Carolina Panthers
Chark made some real impact with the Lions last year, and with Bryce Young at the Panthers’ helm this season, Chark is an interesting sleeper pick who could far outplay his ADP ranking. It will be interesting to see how Young adjusts to NFL ball, but Chark was an excellent deep ball and perimeter target with the Lions last season. He could easily rise above Adam Thielen to become Young’s favorite target. Last season, Chark had 30 receptions for 502 yards.
Cedric Tillman, Tennessee Titans
Jalin Hyatt got a lot of the Tennessee hype last year, but Tillman was right alongside him in that historic Vols season. He was limited due to injury, but led the team in 2021 and led the team in receiving yards in the games that he played in 2022. Tillman sticks around his college state with the Titans, and in a wide receiving corps with no current standout options, he has a chance for a major rookie year. His size separates him from the rest in a positive way. However, the Titans’ QB situation may raise some questions here
Josh Downs, Indianapolis Colts
Downs is an interesting rookie to consider for fantasy this year. His senior year at North Carolina was a breakout season for him. The third-round pick joins an offense that largely centers around the run, but a potential new starting QB in Anthony Richardson could change some things. Downs joins Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce at the top of the depth chart.