4 Sleeper Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas Is Worth It This Time

Scott Edwards Jr.
Scott Edwards Jr.@ScottEdwardsJr
4 Sleeper Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas Is Worth It This Time

Season-long fantasy football is won as much in the late rounds as it is early on, so you're always looking for value.

The wide receiver position is a major focus this year, as many of the top guys are going as early as the first round, including Justin Jefferson, who is projected as the No. 1 pick.

But if you want to find those late-round receivers who could step up big this year, then look no further than the best sleepers at the position heading into 2023.

All four of these options are outside the top 100 in overall ADP and top 40 at the position, per FantasyPros.

Late-Round WRs to Target for 2023

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

ADP: WR43 (108.3 overall)

I know... I know. But hear me out -- this value for Michael Thomas makes it worth it.

Any drafter who has picked Thomas the last few seasons has paid for it. Since 2020, the former record-setting wideout has played in 10 total games due to a slew of injuries. And those injuries are what leave Thomas outside of the top 100.

But if he's healthy, scratch that. When he's on the field and active, he still delivers.

It was only a season ago that in his three games, he averaged 14.4 points per game -- which would've been WR1 material in 2022. Oh, and now he has a better quarterback playing with him in the form of Derek Carr.

This feels like the bounce-back year we've been waiting for. Thomas has admitted he's not yet 100%, but he's working his way there and will take the field once he is.

He slots in as a 9th- or 10th-round pick in 12-person drafts. It's worth a shot.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

ADP: WR46 (120.3 overall)

There was a moment there in the offseason that Denver Broncos were trying to move on from Courtland Sutton in the offseason -- but he's still there.

And they need him.

The Achilles injury to Tim Patrick has shaken the foundation of the Broncos' offense already, instantly opening up more targets that weren't expected to be there. Sutton was a candidate to potentially lose targets to Patrick, but he's now a lock to not only start but be a key part of the offense.

Looking at the offensive numbers of almost anyone in Denver last year will bring you to a world of letdown, but Sutton has, at the very least, shown promise before.

No one suffered more than Sutton when it came to touchdowns. He had two despite a 31.1% red-zone market share last season. In Sean Payton's new offense, there has to be some hope for touchdown regression in 2023.

At his ADP, Sutton isn't being drafted as a starter or even a FLEX option for Week 1. The idea of picking him is that the Broncos' offense is a different beast this year if Russell Wilson puts it back together, and Sutton would be one of the beneficiaries as a result.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, New England Patriots

ADP: WR48 (127.3 overall)

Introducing the new WR1 for the New England Patriots: JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The decision was made in the offseason to let Jakobi Meyers move on and replace him with Smith-Schuster.

New England's offense was bad last season -- we know that. But gone is Matt Patricia and in is Bill O'Brien, which means no matter what the offense looks like, it'll be better than it was a season ago.

Now, let's look at what Smith-Schuster brings to the table.

Mac Jones had a really good rookie season and a disastrous sophomore season. Losing his favorite receiver in Meyers means that Smith-Schuster will be the one who has to step up.

Meyers averaged 10.5 points per game as the Patriots' top option. If Smith-Schuster can do that in an improved offense, you'll take that where he's going. Based on training camp reports, Jones has been looking good in this revamped offense, too.

It's rare to get top-receiving options this late in the draft. The Patriots' offensive attack will be a balanced one, but it's going to include plenty of opportunities for Smith-Schuster, aiding his sleeper potential at his 127.3 ADP.

Nico Collins, Houston Texans

ADP: WR58 (160.0 overall)

"For Stroud, Collins has appeared to be his favorite target throughout the spring," according to ESPN's DJ Bien-Aime.

Whether he kicks off the season as the starter or has to wait a few weeks before getting into the lineup, C.J. Stroud is going to be the guy for the Houston Texans, so you should consider the guy who is his favorite receiver in Nico Collins.

Collins' surface stats don't jump off the page -- 37 receptions, 481 receiving yards, and 2 touchdowns in 10 games in 2023 -- but he didn't have the best quarterback play. Per PlayerProfiler, Collins had a 50.0% catchable target rate, which ranks 99th in the league.

But when it comes to true catch rate, his 112.1% ranked fourth. He's got sure hands and can be a threat on a team that is going to be down a lot.

Collins has the ability to go and get the ball -- his 66.7% contested catch rate ranked second -- something important for a strong-armed rookie QB like Stroud. The opportunities to make big plays could be there for the Texans, who should take more chances than last year.

Heading into the season, Collins is the WR58 and has an ADP of 160.0. There's no risk in taking a flier on a player like Collins, who very well may be the top offensive weapon for Houston -- even if that title doesn't carry much weight as it did once upon a time.

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