Most fantasy analysis is devoted to sorting the order of players likely to have an immediate impact, but every year there are a handful of overlooked deep sleepers who emerge to fill a starting role in redraft.
Last year, it was guys like Phillip Lindsay and James Conner at running back. Deep sleepers at WR are a little harder to find, but we did tell you to watch out for Curtis Samuel, and he flirted with WR4 numbers.
Most of these guys in this deep sleeper series will be misses, but the goal is to look for the silver lining and find a handful of players that will emerge from their sleeper slumber in 2019.
Here’s a look at the rest of our deep sleeper series so far:
The Oakland Raiders turned over a majority of their receiver corps this offseason, and there’s plenty of targets up for grabs this year. We should expect that Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams should see the majority of the targets, but the depth chart behind both WRs is currently unsettled. Hunter Renfrow, Oakland’s 2019 fifth-round draft pick, has been running with the starters in camp and could start the season as the the teams slot WR. Renfrow was a four-year starter for Clemson, but unfortunately never registered a breakout season. Additionally, Renfrow’s NFL Combine numbers were subpar.
Although Renfrow performed well in the shuttle, 3-cone and vertical drills, his Freak Score of 26 is one of the worst in the 2019 class. Renfrow’s closest NFL comps per the RotoViz Box Score Scout include Ryan Switzer, Braxton Berrios, and Demarcus Robinson. Some of Renfrow’s teammates refer to him as a substitute teacher and Raiders’ general manager Mike Mayock called him “Doogie Howser” after drafting him. However, it doesn’t matter what Renfrow looks like, provided he’s able to carve out a role for himself.
Renfrow is currently going outside of the top-300 picks in FPPC Best Ball leagues and should return value if he earns the starting role.
If you’re not looking to roster an undersized, slow, marginally productive WR with a receding hairline, maybe you should consider keeping tabs on Marcell Ateman. Ateman’s prospect profile wasn’t particularly impressive and the lack of collegiate production dinged his Phenom Index Score.1 Athletically speaking, Ateman compared favorably to Brian Quick, Steve Johnson, and Jarrett Boykin.2
Ateman was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft and spent most of the season buried on the Raiders’ practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster before the teams Week 11 game and finished the season with a 15-154-1 receiving line.
Ateman was the worst receiver on a per-target basis over the last few weeks of the season and it’s unlikely that he did enough to earn more work this year. Not only does Ateman face competition from Renfrow, but also both J.J. Nelson and Ryan Grant. We’ll have to track how the Raiders use all four auxillary WRs in preseason in order to gauge how the depth chart will shake out.
Note that none of these WRs are recommended adds outside of the deepest of dynasty leagues.