WR Fantasy Football Sleepers To Draft: Players Include Zay Jones, Rashee Rice, and K.J. Osborn

Identifying fantasy football sleepers has the ability to push your roster over the top. Who are some WR sleepers you need to draft in 2023?

No position leads to fantasy football glory more than wide receiver. Not only is WR the flashiest position in the game, but there’s a case emerging that it’s the most important one too. Just as many wideouts (6) eclipsed 240 total half-PPR fantasy points as running backs in 2022, and now seven of the top-12 ranked players by ADP heading into 2023 redrafts are receivers.

Who are some of the wide receivers that are flying under the radar that you should draft in 2023?

Behind in research? Get a trade offer in your dynasty or redraft league? Not sure who to start or sit this week? Leverage PFN’s FREE fantasy tools — our Fantasy Football Draft Kit, Fantasy Football Trade Analyzer and Calculator, and Start/Sit Optimizer! Put the finishing touch on your A+ draft with 1 of our 425+ fantasy football team names.

Fantasy Football WR Sleepers

I cannot promise nor encourage you that a future WR1 is lurking in the back half of fantasy football drafts, though there are some late-round candidates who I project as possible starters in your lineup.

With most leagues now requiring up to three WRs — with potential to play four using your Flex spot — these guys could be more than just hopeful bench pieces.

Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Players can become “sleepers” for a multitude of reasons, one being that the player is flat-out boring yet effective for the most part. That description fits Zay Jones, who only three years ago was a 25-year-old catching just 14 passes across an entire season with the Raiders.

Fast forward to 2022, after Jacksonville took a chance on him with a three-year, $24 million contract, and Jones produced a career-best season with 82 receptions (17th in NFL) and 823 receiving yards (32nd in NFL).

That was good enough to rank Jones as the WR26 in half-PPR scoring in 2022. Yet, now he enters the 2023 fantasy football season with an ADP of…WR61?

The logic makes enough sense. With the Jaguars’ acquisition of Calvin Ridley, the common thought is that Jones’ target share will take the biggest hit. That might be true, and I’d agree that Jones is likely the least talented player among Ridley, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram. (Jones’ 13 drops in 2022 led the NFL.)

That said, this organization and Trevor Lawrence clearly value Jones, so don’t expect him to disappear. In Jacksonville’s first preseason action, Jones even played over Kirk in odd personnel groupings.

Jacksonville should predominantly play in 11 personnel, but if this offense mixes up formations more often in 2023 — and they did use their Round 2 pick on a tight end (Brenton Strange) — then the fantasy community might have downgraded the wrong Jags WR.

Rashee Rice, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

Another good place to look for sleepers? Rookies, particularly those of the non-first-round variety.

It’s rare for rookies to connect as fantasy football contributors, especially when those rookies didn’t hear their names called on the first night of the NFL Draft, but it’s possible.

In recent years, receivers who overcame those slim odds include Tee Higgins, Chase Claypool, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. There are a few candidates for 2023, including Jonathan Mingo, Jalin Hyatt, and Tank Dell, amongst others, but my favorite of the bunch is Rashee Rice.

Rice has NFL size and was a massively productive player at SMU, but a lackluster pre-draft process dropped him to No. 55 overall. That isn’t to say that Rice doesn’t possess the tools to succeed, though.

It’s been covered that length and explosiveness are two key traits in pegging instant-success rookies among WRs, and Rice checks both of those boxes. His 33″ arms measure well above average, and his 41″ vertical jump ranks in the 95th percentile among WRs at the NFL Combine.

On top of that, Rice landed in the league’s best offense with minimal high-level competition for outside reps. He’s already shining in training camp and the preseason, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Rice usurps Kansas City’s WR1 role vacated by JuJu Smith-Schuster instead of Kadarius Toney or Skyy Moore.

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings

A final strategy in targeting sleepers for this article? It sounds overly simplistic, but it’s just picking the good football players who are lowly ranked, often due to circumstances.

Think Tyler Boyd, who isn’t too bad of a candidate for this list, either. Despite being Cincinnati’s WR3, Boyd has finished as the WR30 and WR31 over the last two seasons, respectively.

It’s a long season with injuries and individual ups and downs. The good and consistent players usually find ways to regularly get onto the field. And K.J. Osborn is a good, consistent player.

fantasy football sleepers

Osborn is a sure-handed weapon for Kirk Cousins, who’s entering his age-26 contract year, and he’s been sneaky productive for the Vikings. There are only 22 WRs in the NFL with 50 receptions, 600 yards, and five TDs in each of the last two seasons, and Osborn is one of them.

Not to mention, he has a chance for more playing time in 2023 despite the Vikings spending their Round 1 draft pick on Jordan Addison.

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for Addison, who’s now in the concussion protocol. I also wasn’t particularly high on him as a prospect, especially out of the gates. He’s very young and undersized, and I don’t think he’s as polished or explosive as other recent first-round WRs who physically compare to him.

Minnesota figures to play in more 12 personnel following their investment into one of the NFL’s preeminent blocking tight ends in Josh Oliver, and Osborn is a better fit for heavy groupings than Addison.

Even if I’m off-base with my instincts on the divide in playing time between Osborn and Addison, the Vikings should continue to be one of the more pass-happy teams in the league. They were third in the league in pass attempts in 2022, and Dalvin Cook wasn’t really replaced this offseason, so there are plenty of receptions and touchdowns to go around.

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Articles