Fantasy Football 2020: Sleeper Wide Receivers to Target in Late Rounds

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs in an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The wide receiver position is a gold mine in fantasy football, and that's not only true at the top.

In fact, if you snag a sleeper pass-catcher right as they awaken, it could be the first step toward securing a playoff spot or even winning a league title.

Sleeper receivers often come in two varieties: the unproven or the low-ceiling veteran. Both sleeper types are seen here among our favorite pass-catchers to target in the late rounds (consensus average draft position outside the top 100, per FantasyPros).


Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 112)

Johnson was the 40th-highest scoring fantasy receiver last season. That probably doesn't sound like the most impressive stat you've heard, but the deeper you dig into his profile, the better it looks.

For starters, he was a rookie third-rounder, which isn't exactly the typical launching pad for a fantasy asset. Plus, with Ben Roethlisberger knocked out during the Steelers' second game, Johnson was left catching passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, who almost matched their 18 touchdown throws with 17 interceptions.

It wasn't the best situation by any means, and he made it work in a bigger way than many realize.

"Diontae led all 2019 rookies with 59 receptions, while he led the Steelers in receiving touchdowns (five) and targets (92)," NFL.com's Adam Rank wrote. "He also averaged 3.6 yards of separation per target last year, the most among receivers with at least 50 targets."

Johnson can get open, and a healthy Roethlisberger can consistently find him. In 2018, this passing offense averaged more than 400 yards per game and totaled the second-most yardage on the season (5,008).


Jamison Crowder, New York Jets (ADP: 132)

In standard leagues, 50 wide receivers are coming off the board ahead of Crowder. Why is that notable? Because last season, only 33 players outscored him at the position.

It seems people are reaching for upside or perhaps scared off by the Jets' investments at the wide receiver position. They paid up for Breshad Perriman's breakout in free agency and spent a second-round pick on Denzel Mims.

But Robby Anderson and Demaryius Thomas are no longer on the team, which frees up 154 targets. Given Crowder's chemistry with Sam Darnold, Crowder seems more likely to gain targets than lose them to the newcomers.

He won't deliver league-winning numbers, but he could be a reliable WR3 who costs significantly less than the role typically does. Last season, he turned 122 targets into 78 receptions for 833 yards and six touchdowns.


Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers (ADP: 183)

Wide receiver seemed a natural need to upgrade for the Packers this offseason, and they effectively did nothing to change their receiving ranks.

The draft came and went without a member of the loaded 2020 receiving class heading to Green Bay. In free agency, the Packers made their biggest splash—really, it was more of a ripple—with Devin Funchess, who has since opted out of the season.

It's enough to drive Aaron Rodgers mad—who wasn't exactly in love with the selection of Jordan Love—but it's also reason to prop up Lazard ahead of his ADP. He's probably the No. 2 wideout in this offense (remember, Geronimo Allison left in free agency), and even if Rodgers heavily targets Davante Adams, Rodgers' second option is almost always worth owning.

Undrafted out of Iowa State in 2018, Lazard is still finding his NFL niche, but his size (6'5", 227 lbs) and hands helped him earn Rodgers' trust. Lazard's numbers didn't always pop last season, but there were flashes of the kind of impact he can make this time around. He had three games with at least 60 receiving yards and a touchdown, and he totaled 17 targets across Weeks 16 and 17.