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Fantasy Football: Sleeper wide receivers for 2023

2MAE05A Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman (7) runs with the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)

• Draft the overlooked first-round wide receivers: The first-round wide receivers who end up breaking out as rookies aren’t always the ones we expect, and Quentin Johnston is getting overlooked.

• Take a chance on wide receivers returning from injury: Multiple wide receivers suffered injuries early on in 2022 and should be ready to go for 2023, including Rashod Bateman.

• Two sophomore wide receivers could take a big leap: Romeo Doubs and Kyle Philips were both among our top 100 players in the 2022 NFL Draft and are second on their respective depth charts.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

These sleepers are five players with an average draft position outside of the top 120 on ESPN who I have ranked notably higher.

Some of these players will have an ADP inside of the top 120 at other sources where a higher percentage of users are experts, but a variety of players were picked so that at least some players could be considered a sleeper at any site.

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Last updated: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 16

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Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 136.3, From ESPN)

First-round wide receivers who also rank well on PFF's big board tend to have big rookie seasons.

  • Garrett Wilson (WR21), Chris Olave (WR25) and Drake London (WR31) all outplayed their ADPs last season, while Ja’Marr Chase (WR5), Jaylen Waddle (WR13) and DeVonta Smith (WR30) all performed well the year before.
  • The only wide receiver who was both picked in the top 32 and ranked in the top 32 of our big board last season who wasn’t an instant hit was Jameson Williams, which was expected due to his injury.
  • The one exception the year before was Rashod Bateman, who also started the season injured.
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jordan Addison and Johnston are the three wide receivers who fit this criteria this season, with Johnston having the lowest ADP of the group.
  • Johnston is the best receiver from the class after the catch, and he’s the freakiest athlete.
  • Johnston joins a Chargers team where he should instantly be a starter in three-receiver sets on the outside.
  • Los Angeles' top two receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both dealt with injuries last season.
  • Both veterans had their peak season several years ago, so it is entirely possible Johnston moves to second on the depth chart even without an injury.
  • The receivers’ fantasy values will benefit from Kellen Moore as offensive coordinator. The Chargers had the lowest average depth of target last season, at 6.9, while Moore’s former team the Dallas Cowboys had an above-average 8.7 mark.
  • The Chargers have a top-10 roster heading into 2023.
  • Johnston will be a risky pick like any rookie wide receiver, but it is a gamble worth taking.


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