By John Healy
The NFL has evolved into much more of a passing league in recent years and that has led to a greater emphasis on wide receivers when it comes to fantasy football.
Obviously, there are the studs like Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, but with offensive production at its height, there are certainly plenty of wide receivers deep into your draft that can make an impact on your team.
Here are some potential sleepers for the 2019 season (and for five more sleepers check out the video above):
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have had a facelift this offseason, bringing in a new head coach in Kliff Kingsbury and drafting a new quarterback in Kyler Murray. The offense will look completely different from last year meaning someone is bound to breakout if it all goes according to plan. Look no further than Christian Kirk as that possibility.
Kirk showed some flashes of his potential last season as a rookie, playing in just 12 games but still had 68 targets, including 43 catches for 590 yards and three touchdowns. A full season in a new system that is meant to be a fast-paced offense means Kirk’s numbers should only improve from there.
Average Draft Position (ADP): 7.10 (Round 7, pick 10)
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans
Coutee showed some flashes his rookie season that indicate he could be in for a breakout year, as long as he stays healthy. The 22-year-old was hampered by a hamstring injury last season that saw him play only six games. Still, he had 41 targets in that span, an average of 6.8 targets per game. If that trend continues in 2019 over a full season, he will see 109 targets from quarterback DeShaun Watson.
Coutee caught 28 of those 41 targets for 287 yards and a touchdown, averaging 10.3 yards per reception. DeAndre Hopkins will shoulder the load for most of the offense, but Coutee could emerge as the WR2 on the Texans ahead of Will Fuller if he stays healthy and continues to produce at the pace he showed last season.
Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs
Hardman’s fantasy value is largely dependent on what happens to Tyreek Hill. Hill faces a potential suspension once the league concludes its investigation of an alleged domestic violence incident.
If Hill misses significant time, or the whole season, it could be Hardman tasked to fill those shoes. While Hardman should not be expected to put up Hill-like numbers, he will still be in a position to succeed with Patrick Mahomes at the helm of one of the NFL’s most potent offenses. The second-round pick out of Georgia has 4.33 40 speed and could be a downfield threat for Mahomes in Hill’s absence, making him someone worth keeping an eye on.
N’Keal Harry, New England Patriots
The Patriots have a lot of offensive production to replace with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and losing Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson to free agency. There is also the uncertainty of whether Josh Gordon will return from another indefinite suspension, too. Enter rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry. The Patriots selected Harry in the first round of the NFL Draft -- the only receiver to be taken in the first round -- and he should be in a starting role immediately.
Gronkowski and Hogan had 127 targets between them so Harry could replace a good bulk of those. The Arizona State product stands 6-2, 228 pounds and could emerge as a red zone target for Tom Brady, too.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Green Bay Packers
Valdes-Scantling had his moments his rookie season and is going to look to expand on that in Year 2 in Green Bay. The 24-year-old played the second-most offensive snaps for the Packers last year with 691 and was targeted 73 times for 38 catches and 531 yards with three touchdowns. He had three games of at least 75 yards receiving, including two 100-plus yard games.
It certainly helps when Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback and new head coach Matt LaFleur may help rejuvenate the Green Bay offense. Valdes-Scantling will have competition for the WR2 role on the team, though. Geronimo Allison, who will play the slot, was hampered by injuries last year and could take targers away from Valdes-Scantling. Equanimeous St. Brown could also position himself as the WR2 in training camp.
Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Sutton put up solid numbers as a rookie with 42 catches for 704 yards and four touchdowns on 84 targets. Denver used Sutton as a deep-ball threat but with Case Keenum does not quite have the big arm like Joe Flacco does. While Flacco may not be the same quarterback he was five years ago, he can still throw the ball downfield which could prove to be even bigger numbers for Sutton. Of course, Flacco has struggled to find consistency with the Ravens in recent years and if that is the case Sutton would come with some boom-or-bust risk.