Everyone is always looking for the next big thing in fantasy football. After all, there are few things better than making a call and getting it right. The best players to look at are players that the majority of people are sleeping on. These sleepers can often be league winners, so take note of them earlier rather than later. Here are some fantasy football WR sleepers for the 2021 season.
Fantasy Football WR Sleepers 2021 | AFC
In the AFC, there are some terrific teams, but there are also teams at the bottom of the barrel. In fantasy, the talent on the field definitely translates to fantasy success, but sleeper options come from bad teams as well as good ones. These two are prime examples of that.
Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
One of the most notable sleepers in fantasy right now is none other than Bills’ WR Gabriel Davis. The Bills’ offense exploded last year under the command of QB Josh Allen and stud WR Stefon Diggs. But they didn’t really have a solid WR2 option outside of John Brown, who left to join the Raiders in Las Vegas, and aging veteran Cole Beasley, who is still on the team.
With the departure of Brown, the Bills signed free agent WR Emmanuel Sanders to fill his role. However, Sanders is more of a slot receiver than a deep threat like Brown was last season. Therefore, this opens the door for Davis to step up in Year 2.
Davis did well last year as the team’s third receiving option. He finished as the WR56 with 136.9 PPR points (8.6 ppg, WR72), while Brown finished as the WR83 with 96.8 PPR points (10.8 ppg, WR52) in only nine games.
Neither of these guys lit it up, but when Brown missed time, Davis took advantage. In the nine games he played with Brown, Davis averaged 2.7 targets per game (a 7.9% target share) but a whopping 5.4 targets per game in the seven without him (a 14.5% target share).
I expect Davis’ targets in 2021 to be at or above his targets when Brown missed time last year. Even with the addition of Sanders, Davis is a prime choice as one of fantasy football’s WR sleepers.
Anthony Miller, Houston Texans
By contrast, Texans WR Anthony Miller has a much wider range of outcomes than Davis. Miller was traded to the Texans from the Chicago Bears this offseason. Both his new team and his old team are dealing with QB controversies, albeit very different ones.
The Bears are deciding who to start between veteran Andy Dalton and rookie Justin Fields. Meanwhile, the Texans aren’t sure if their star QB in Deshaun Watson will ever play a snap for them again. It’s hard to argue that Miller’s situation got any better, but it didn’t get much worse either.
Miller leaves a crowded WR room behind in Chicago. The Bears have a dominant WR1 in Allen Robinson, young talent Darnell Mooney, and a plethora of other viable options at tight end and running back.
The Texans, on the other hand, are looking at a total rebuild. They have Brandin Cooks, Keke Coutee, rookie Nico Collins, and a hodgepodge of aging vets in the backfield, and that’s about it. It’s possible that Miller finds a home as the starting slot receiver for a team that is expected to be playing from behind often.
Moreover, if the team decides to start a new QB, a slot receiver is often the quickest read with the least risk. This means Miller could be in for a lot of opportunities right out of the gate. The Texans traded away veteran slot WR Randall Cobb, making Miller’s path to relevance even easier. He’s practically free in deeper leagues and could pay off big time at that value.
Fantasy Football WR Sleepers 2021 | NFC
Both of the NFC players highlighted on this list of fantasy football WR sleepers are somewhat similar. They both play for teams with a lot of offensive firepower and are the third option in the passing game. This gives them a lot of potential to break out and become fantasy-relevant as the season progresses.
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
This one’s almost too easy. It seems like most fantasy football WR sleepers’ lists include Dallas WR Michael Gallup lately, but I can’t help it. Gallup is one of the few receivers taken in later rounds that could end up as a top-36 WR by season’s end. While he may seem like the obvious choice, he’s still underrated. His recent ADP suggests that people are still sleeping on him for some reason.
Last season, Gallup finished with 173.3 PPR points as the WR38 (10.8 ppg, WR52). This means he was basically worthy of a flex start in most weeks, and yet, his ADP is currently WR47. He’s going behind players like WR Curtis Samuel, who is on a new team in Washington, and Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault, who has a new quarterback to adjust to.
Gallup, meanwhile, gets QB Dak Prescott back and should see much easier defensive schemes as the team’s third WR option. He’s not Justin Jefferson or anything, but grabbing a guy like Gallup as your WR4 is a solid way to win a title. Don’t overthink this one.
Russell Gage, Atlanta Falcons
The other third option on my list of fantasy football WR sleepers is Falcons WR Russell Gage. The Falcons parted ways with WR Julio Jones this offseason, trading him to the Tennessee Titans for future draft picks.
The Falcons also used their first-round pick to select TE Kyle Pitts, showing that they wanted to bolster their offense. But there’s still a gap at WR that needs to be filled. Why not look to Gage to do that?
Gage played well last year, finishing as the WR36 with 181.1 PPR points (11.3 ppg, WR48), all while splitting time with Jones. Jones missed seven games, but even in the nine he technically played in, he wasn’t 100% all of the time.
Gage’s 11.3 PPR points per game was solid enough to be a flex option in most leagues last year. Now that the team has moved on from Jones, Gage may become the true WR2 behind Calvin Ridley. Much like Gallup, don’t sleep too long on Gage. You might regret it.
Deep fantasy sleepers
Here are some deeper fantasy football WR sleepers to keep an eye on as the season approaches:
Parris Campbell (IND)
Christian Kirk (ARI)
Breshad Perriman (DET)
Marquez Callaway (NO)
Tim Patrick (DEN)
Bryan Edwards (LV)
Van Jefferson (LAR)
Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.