Of all the positions in Fantasy Football, WR is arguably the deepest. There are some absurd values here, and I would recommend trying to avoid taking anybody not named Calvin Johnson in the first three rounds. Though the title is ”WR sleepers for 2012 Fantasy Football”, not everyone who’s undervalued is a sleeper. So I will also list some of the guys who may not necessarily be a “sleeper”, but should offer solid value. You don’t win your Fantasy Football league with your first couple of picks, you win it by taking guys who end up outperforming their draft position. Last year, Fantasy players who had Victor Cruz or Jordy Nelson had a huge advantage because they got elite production from a player who wasn’t drafted as an elite talent.
WR sleepers for 2012 Fantasy Football
Titus Young DET (Yahoo ADP:121, ESPN ADP:118)
If you like to be alone, you should play WR across from Calvin Johnson. Young has received rave reviews coming from training camp, and certainly has the talent to be a very solid WR in the NFL. Even though his talent probably deserves more attention from opposing defenses, he won’t get it because they will be triple covering Megatron all day long. Don’t forget that the Lions threw more than any team in the NFL last season, so he certainly won’t lack opportunities either. Add all that up, and Young could easily explode this season. At a 13th round price tag? Sign me up.
Reggie Wayne IND (Yahoo ADP: 89, ESPN ADP: 99)
Even with the dreadful Curtis Painter as his QB, Wayne still approached 1,000 yards in 2011. Now he has Andrew Luck throwing him the ball, and Luck looks as advertised. With Austin Collie’s injury, Wayne has become Luck’s lone reliable target. Before you point to Coby Fleener, his chemistry with Luck is vastly overrated. Last year at Stanford, Fleener only recorded 34 catches. In fairness, 10 of them did go for touchdowns, but it doesn’t make up for his lack of production in-between the 20s. Wayne has huge potential, and Fantasy Football owners are drafting him lower than he finished last year among the WR ranks. That’s crazy, Luck should lead to a big increase in production.
Malcom Floyd SD (Yahoo ADP:114, ESPN ADP:98)
This one goes especially for Yahoo owners. With Vincent Jackson gone, nobody knows who will emerge as Phillip Rivers’ favorite WR. Everyone is assuming Meachem will be the guy, but so far the reports from camp sound like Meachem and Rivers may not be on the same page. Floyd has chemistry with Rivers from previous seasons, and has teased Fantasy owners with some huge games in the past. He was having a very nice year during Vincent Jackson’s infamous holdout in 2010, and could carry that to this year with Jackson in Tampa Bay. Floyd is being drafted three rounds below Meachem on Yahoo, which is much too far behind a guy with similar upside. Due to Floyd’s injury history he probably should be drafted a bit behind Meachem, but 3 rounds is simply too far.
Greg Little Cle (Yahoo ADP:111, ESPN ADP:143)
Will Cleveland have a prolific passing game? No, but he is the only respectable option in the Brown’s offense. Little led the league in drops, something that he hasn’t struggled with in the past. Based on how many targets he will get alone, Little should be drafted as a high-end WR3 rather than a late round flier or undrafted. Little’s upside is probably capped off as a WR2 due to Weeden’s inevitable rookie growing pains, but he’s a pretty safe bet to outperform his draft position.
Alshon Jeffery Chi (Yahoo ADP:134, ESPN:145)
I was a huge fan of Jeffery coming out of college, as I felt that 2010 was a better representation of him as a player than 2011. In 2011 he was playing with a horrible QB situation, and it showed in his 2011 statistics. If he had come out of college in 2010, he probably would’ve been drafted just below AJ Green and Julio Jones. The guy is talented, and has a legit QB throwing him the ball in his first professional season. In the preseason, he has looked uncoverable. With Marshall likely taking most of the opposing defense’s attention, Jeffery will have his chance to showcase his ability.
Kenny Britt Ten (Yahoo ADP:56, ESPN:113)
First things first, this is exclusively for ESPN Fantasy Football owners. On Yahoo he is very overvalued, probably because ESPN updates their rankings much more often. When it was learned that Kenny Britt got arrested again, and a lengthy suspension was likely, his Fantasy value went nosediving. It was his eighth event involving police in his very short NFL career. Coming off bilateral knee surgery which cut his 2011 season short. All this is too much risk for most people, but he’s going in the 12th round on ESPN. When you get to that range you start looking for upside, and nobody has more than Kenny Britt. Nobody can deny that when he plays, he is an elite talent. Adam Schefter from ESPN reported that it sounds like the suspension from the league will be minor, around 1-3 games. If the suspension is indeed short, he has a realistic chance to outplay his draft value in a big way.
Darrius Heyward-Bey Oak (Yahoo ADP:105, ESPN ADP:126)
In the past Heyward-Bey was considered a bust by almost everyone until last year he nearly reached 1,000 yards despite missing time due to injury. For a guy who had a really strong fantasy season last year and a new QB who he finished the season well with, you would think Heyward-Bey would be valued as at least a WR3 rather than a reserve guy. I see him as a high-end WR3 with upside. He will likely have his ups and downs as almost all big play receivers do, but in the end his final numbers should look very nice.
Pierre Garcon Was (Yahoo ADP:96, ESPN ADP:82)
From what i’ve seen in the preseason, it looks like Garcon has emerged as RG3′s favorite target. Garcon definitely has the ability to catch the deep ball, and I haven’t seen many rookie QBs who can throw deep better than RG3. I fully expect RG3 to have at least a semi successful rookie season throwing the ball, and if these two gain chemistry it could turn into what Cam Newton and Steve Smith had last year.
Those are my WR sleepers for 2012 Fantasy Football, but I wanted to also add in a couple of guys who aren’t “sleepers” but I feel are going way too late.
Brandon Lloyd NE (Yahoo ADP:54, ESPN ADP:50)
Brandon Lloyd is ready to blow up like he did just two years ago, when he finished as the number one receiver in fantasy. He did that with Kyle Orton as his QB, but now he has Tom Brady. While he does have a lot more competition than he did in Denver, Brady is good enough to make up for it. While he hasn’t looked very good so far in the preseason, the training camp reports sound like him and Brady have great chemistry. He has the potential to be the number one WR in fantasy once again, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he did. I put him in the same class as the entire second tier behind Megatron(Greg Jennings, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, etc.)
Eric Decker Den (Yahoo ADP:70, ESPN ADP:72)
While Peyton Manning is regaining all of his arm strength, he’s going to be looking for the guy running the slant rather than the deep post. Decker is a much more polished route runner than Demaryius Thomas and should take over an Austin Collie type role, minus the concussions. Thomas is currently going three rounds higher than Decker on Yahoo, and I only prefer Thomas by a hair. Thomas has much more upside, but Decker is safer and a better PPR play. I like both guys, but the difference isn’t nearly as large as the ADP would lead you to beleive.
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