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2023 Fantasy Football WR Sleepers

Aaron White
Written by Aaron White
June 23, 2023
2023 Fantasy Football WR Sleepers

With potentially four starting wide receivers on your Best Ball roster, this is one of those “must hit” positions early on in the draft. However, as we approach the beginning of training camp, let’s dissect some incredible value later in the draft that can produce for your Underdog roster.

Brandon Aiyuk

Team: San Francisco 49ers | ADP: 52.5 (WR28)

Brandon Aiyuk has continuously proven to be one of the most athletic wideouts in the league. After a top 15 season last year, Aiyuk’s ceiling hasn’t even been reached yet as he enters his prime years in a Kyle Shanahan offense.

2022-23 Fantasy Season Recap

Aiyuk cooked in 2022, eclipsing 100 targets, 70 receptions, and 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. After some injury and maturity concerns to start his career, last season proved to be the breakout year as he secured 8 TDs alongside hitting the 1k yard milestone.

Aiyuk’s 47 1st down catches nearly doubled the amount Deebo Samuel secured. Another stat that catches your eye is Brandon’s YBC/R, or yards before catch per reception. In 2022, he averaged 8.0. For reference, Deebo only averaged 2.5.

Making the Case for Aiyuk as a 2023 Fantasy Sleeper

Although Aiyuk isn’t technically a “sleeper”, his ADP and Underdog positional ranking is too generous to pass on. With Christian Watson, Drake London, Mike Williams, and DJ Moore all ranked ahead of the athletic WR, the 2023 season shouldn’t be any worse for Brandon as the 49ers rotating QB door never hindered the WR’s production.

Also, George Kittle, CMC, and Deebo Samuel have all battled with injuries recently which has left Aiyuk as the premier red zone target.

With a brilliant mind calling plays nearly puppeteering this 49ers offense to success year in and year out, bank on Brandon Aiyuk getting his chunk of the touches for a 2nd consecutive season, including more red zone opportunities. Back-to-back WR20 finishes or better is on the table for the 49ers WR and he should be able to grasp it.

Jordan Addison

Team: Minnesota Vikings | ADP: 70.7 (WR37)

Addison simply isn’t getting enough buzz. A star in college at both Pittsburgh and USC, becoming the 2nd option in the Minnesota Vikings offense warrants more love than a WR37 projection via Underdog. After standout rookie campaigns by Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave last season, I expect a similar output from Addison.

Collegiate Recap

I admire Addison’s adaptability. I’m not only talking about where he can play on the field whether in the slot, out of motion, or outside the numbers. However, Jordan finds himself on his third team in three seasons.

After winning the Biletnikoff award as the top WR in college football in 2021, USC’s NIL and Lincoln Riley came calling. Although battling injuries in Southern California, Addison’s 8 TDs and 59 receptions in 11 games was enough to secure him a 1st round draft selection, where he gets to play opposite future hall of famer, Justin Jefferson.

Making the Case for Addison as a 2023 Fantasy Sleeper

At the end of every fantasy football season, there are 2 to 3 rookie wide receivers that make their mark as “the next big thing”. Addison should have no issue earning that label. I’ll talk about this player later, but Adam Thielen posted over 70 receptions, over 700 yards, and scored 6 TDs or more in the last six full seasons with Minnesota.

The offense is high-powered enough to support two top 20 wideouts and without Dalvin Cook, could make for an even bigger target share for Addison. Remember, Adam Thielen has scored 16 TDs in his past two seasons with Justin Jefferson also on the field.

I’d be shocked if Addison doesn’t reach that 6 TD marker or 700-yard marker if he is able to stay healthy this season. Behind Jefferson, Addison, and T.J. Hockenson, there aren’t many other viable receiving options for Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings.

Juju Smith-Schuster

Team: New England Patriots | ADP: 105.1 (WR51)

Sometimes a change of scenery is all you need. Juju was the scapegoat in Pittsburgh at the back end of his tenure there, before resetting to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs last season. After securing a new contract with New England, it’s a new era for Juju and this fresh start is just what he needs.

2022-23 Fantasy Season Recap

The Kansas City Chiefs offense is predictable yet unstoppable. They will check it down to their secondary receivers and running backs a few times per possession before hitting Travis Kelce for a 20-yard touchdown before the defense can even get a sub onto the field.

Kelce’s 12 TDs and 1,338 yards overshadowed the rest of the Chiefs wide receiver room, leaving Juju to pick up Mahomes’ scraps. However, we know what Juju is capable of. He’s a 80-90 reception per season guy that doesn’t need to find the end zone to have a massive fantasy impact.

While you may or may not be sold on Mac Jones yet, Smith-Schuster is competing with Rhamondre Stevenson, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne for targets now. There should be bigger expectations for the 26-year-old after sharing the field with possibly the greatest tight end of all time for 2022.

Making the Case for Smith-Schuster as a 2023 Fantasy Sleeper

Injury concerns can’t go unmentioned when discussing Juju, as he’s battled with multiple injuries since his final year for the Steelers. However, I see a more motivated, mature, and eager Juju than the tik-toker a few years ago.

New England is the perfect reset for him where a safety valve is exactly what young QB Mac Jones needs. There is a real possibility you finish watching a Patriot game this season that ends with the score 23-17 and you go, “Juju had how many catches?”

The PPR machine might drop some duds due to lingering injury or because of the matchup he might face, but sign me up for a more motivated veteran pass catcher. One little Juju stat to keep your eye on, especially as we get closer to over/under season… Juju receives $750,000 for 950 receiving yards this season. This is extremely reachable in a Mac Jones-led offense for a trustworthy slot receiver.

Adam Thielen

Team: Carolina Panthers | ADP: 140.5 (WR64)

Are you really selecting Jakobi Meyers, Odell Beckham, Romeo Doubs, or Nico Collins over Adam Thielen? Sure, the longtime Minnesota Viking is 32 years of age, but in the easiest division in football alongside a talented rookie QB, don’t be surprised if Thielen leads the division in red zone targets.

2022-23 Fantasy Season Recap

The veteran was still targeted 107 times last season. While only catching the ball 70 times making for an ugly ratio, Bryce Young will be safer than Cousins when targeting Thielen.

Over the past three seasons, the TDs, yards, and YPT have slowly regressed which is fairly normal for a guy who has been in the league for a decade. However, Thielen’s availability (10+ games in every season), TD production (9+ TD in 3 of last 5 seasons), and willingness to be a team player is what makes him a perfect late round target this draft season.

Making the Case for Thielen as a 2023 Fantasy Sleeper

Adam Thielen seems to be embracing his role as the leader of this WR room out in Carolina. With young, explosive weapons such as Terrace Marshall, Laviska Shenault, and rookie Jonathan Mingo, this team has a 50/50 chance to win the division as of today.

As the WR2 with the Vikings, he caught 10/15 balls for 4 TDs inside the 15-yard-line. You better believe Bryce Young will be looking his way during the middle to later portions of the season once they develop more chemistry. Lastly, Adam’s best season came in 2018 where he scored 9 TDs and caught the rock 113 times.

That was also Kirk Cousins’s first season in Minnesota. At an ADP of 140.5 alongside a WR64 tag by Underdog, Adam Thielen will finish as a top 35 fantasy wide receiver this season alongside Bryce Young and the young Carolina Panthers

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