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August 25, 2021

Fantasy football wide receiver sleepers: Buy high on Marquez Callaway, Elijah Moore

In contrast to finding running back sleepers — a position where just one player is on the field at a time — wide receivers is a much different endeavor.

You don't need to focus too much on potential injury replacements or breakthrough performers that can unseat the starter, you just need to find someone hidden on the depth chart who you expect to get a ton of targets.

Simple right?

We've found five guys we think will far exceed their average draft position (ADP) in the 2021 season. Two of them are rookies who could be rock stars by midseason, one is a journeyman who is taking advantage of a special situation and two are veterans who still have a lot left to give.

Here's a look at our fantasy wide receiver sleeper picks:

Elijah Moore, Jets (ADP: 145)

Deciding whether to draft Moore is really a matter of deciding whether you believe the hype. Coming out of Jets camp there is a ton of talk about how talented he is, how much of a steal he was for New York in the draft and how he is sure to emerge as the No. 1 for New York over the next few years.

If Jamison Crowder hadn't signed his new contract with the Jets, Moore probably would be looking at WR1 targets. But with a new quarterback in town there could be a great chance that a rookie connection between Moore and Zack Wilson puts Moore on the map quickly this season. While we are not suggesting you take a stab at him before you have your starting lineup filled, he is a really smart play to add to your bench somewhere after the 10th round if he is still on the board.

Marquez Callaway, Saints (ADP: 155)

Maybe you've heard of Callaway, but you probably haven't. The 23-year-old had just 21 catches last year for New Orleans and struggled to find the field behind Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith — and Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders. But with Thomas' status in doubt heading into the regular season and Callaway turning heads in the preseason, he could be a legitimate fantasy performer.

Callaway is another player who is worth a stab at a bench role somewhere in the 12th round range. He could wind up being the Saints WR1 and then you'll look like a genius. Or he could just be a flash in the pan who winds up on waivers when you need the roster spot. He's worth a try.

Russell Gage, Falcons (ADP: 161)

With Julio Jones in Tennessee, it's time for Gage to assume the No. 2 role alongside stud wideout Calvin Ridley. Many may be scared by all the hoopla surrounding Kyle Pitts, who could get the second most targets on the Falcons offense, but Gage should still be on the field a whole heck of a lot as the second receiver.

The opportunity is there and it's not like he did nothing last year — he had 786 yards on 72 catches with four touchdowns after all. But for whatever reason, he's being taken as the 60th receiver in fantasy drafts. Keep an eye on him for good value later in your draft.

Emmanuel Sanders, Bills (ADP: 185)

Sanders has seemingly drifted from team to team, playing for the Broncos, the Saints and now the Bills over a three season stretch. But he's proven he can still make an impact even at age 34. Last year in a crowded New Orleans pass attack he had 762 yards and five touchdowns. 

With Josh Allen and the Bills — who love to run four wide receiver sets — he will be on the field alongside Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. Davis had a breakout year last year but there really is no clear No. 2. Sanders is worth drafting to wait and see, and he could be a good option off your bench as the season progresses.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions (ADP: 201)

And finally, a rookie wideout whom most casual fans will say "wait, what?" after you take him in the 15th round, but he's worth drafting, not waiting for on waivers. 

Here's why — the Lions have a really big void at wide receiver. St. Brown, a 4th round pick out of USC, will only have to beat out Breshad Perriman, Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus for targets and that shouldn't be hard.

Jared Goff will need to pass it to someone, and St. Brown's ability to get yards after the catch and be effective in short passing situations is perfect for Goff, who doesn't throw it down the field much. St. Brown deserves a spot on your bench but there's a chance he isn't there long. Fantasy Pros' predicts he'll have over 800 yards in 2021.

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