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Fantasy Football 2013: Top 10 Late-Round Sleeper Wide Receivers

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Fantasy Football 2013: Top Late-Round Sleeper Wide Receivers

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Fantasy football owners can find potential sleepers virtually anywhere, with league format and league depth helping to narrow who to focus on to some degree.

Wide receiver is traditionally the deepest position for fantasy owners each year, due to pure volume more than anything. Preseason publications, via print or the internet, rank up to (and sometimes more than) 100 wide receivers, so finding depth and potential sleepers can be easy or difficult depending on your point of view.

At this time two years ago, no one had heard of an undrafted free agent out of UMass that saw action in three games and had no receptions as a rookie in 2010. But Victor Cruz quickly emerged as a primary option for the New York Giants, finishing in the top 10 in the league in receptions (82-ninth), receiving yards (1,536-third) and receiving touchdowns (nine-sixth) in 2011. He followed that up with another solid campaign last season (86 receptions for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns), and Cruz is now a top-10 wide receiver in most fantasy leagues until further notice.

We may not see someone emerge like Cruz did in 2011 this year, but there are plenty of wide receivers that are off the radar right now that could emerge as viable fantasy options fairly quickly and sustain value all season. Even with the possibility of a second coming of Cruz unlikely, I have attempted to unearth some wide receivers that have a chance to provide excellent value relative to where they will be drafted this year.

With all of that, here are 10 wide receivers I think are worth considering toward the end of fantasy drafts and auctions in 2013.

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10. Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks

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Tate set career-highs across the board in 2012, with 45 receptions for 688 yards and seven touchdowns. He led the Seahawks in receiving over the final nine games of the regular season, with 32 catches for 497 yards and four touchdowns, and had 10 receptions for 138 yards and another touchdown in the team’s two playoff games. The offseason trade that brought Percy Harvin to Seattle stands to take away targets from Tate, but he is still a worthy choice as a WR4 or WR5 in 12 and 14-team leagues.

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9. Davone Bess, Cleveland Browns

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Bess had at least 51 receptions in each of his first five seasons, all with the Miami Dolphins, and now he moves into a potentially prominent role after being traded to the Cleveland Browns in April. Cleveland does not have great wide receiver talent in place, and with Josh Gordon suspended for the first two regular season games they will be even thinner to start the season. Bess has only topped 800 receiving yards once in his career and he has just 12 total touchdowns, but fantasy owners in PPR leagues could extract some value here.

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8. T.J. Graham, Buffalo Bills

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Graham played a lot as a rookie (68.6 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps, per the Buffalo News), but he had just 31 receptions for 322 yards and one touchdown in 15 games played, with no more than four catches or 54 yards in any game. Stevie Johnson is well-established as Buffalo’s No. 1 option in the passing game, but after that Graham will battle rookies Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Da’Rick Rodgers for playing time. Graham did average 16.5 yards per catch for North Carolina State in 2011, so that big-play potential should put him on the radar of fantasy owners if he can lock down a prominent role.

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7. Rueben Randle, New York Giants

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Randle got extra reps during offseason work with the contract situations surrounding Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, and Giants’ offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has been singing his praises. Cruz and Nicks are clearly the Giants’ pass catchers fantasy owners need to hold in the highest regard, but Randle is line for more playing time and he could see extra opportunities if Nicks again misses games this season.

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6. Joseph Morgan, New Orleans Saints

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A glance at Morgan’s 2012 stat line requires a double-take, as he averaged 37.9 yards per catch (on 10 receptions) for the Saints. His role has a good chance to expand this year with the offseason departure of Devery Henderson, and catching passes from Drew Brees is great for any receiver’s fantasy value. Morgan’s week-to-week production is likely to be inconsistent, but owners in deep standard leagues can find some draft day appeal here if he can win the job as the No. 3 wide receiver for New Orleans.

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5. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots

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Dobson looks likely to move into an immediate role as a rookie, with the Patriots facing a lot of questions over who will catch passes from Tom Brady due to offseason departures, injuries and off-field issues. Dobson has good size (6’3”, 215 lbs.) and reliable hands, so if he can grasp the complexities of New England’s offense there’s no reason for him to not see plenty of playing time. He has slightly more appeal in touchdown-heavy leagues at this point, but Dobson could finish the season as one of the top rookie wide receivers regardless of league format.

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4. Leonard Hankerson, Washington Redskins

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Hankerson had 22 catches over the first seven games last season, but he had just 16 more catches over the final nine games with less than 50 receiving yards in seven of those contests. But he is entering the pivotal third season of his career, and there could be an opportunity to earn a significant role in Washington’s passing game if Pierre Garcon struggles to stay on the field again.

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3. Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams

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Quick had a dismal rookie season last season, with just 11 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games (one start). But the Rams’ coaching staff has compared him to a young Vincent Jackson, and his role is in line to expand with the departure of Danny Amendola via free agency. Quick has the size (6’4”, 220 lbs.) to at least become a legit red zone option for quarterback Sam Bradford, and if he can usurp offseason star Austin Pettis during training camp there is legit breakout potential here.

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2. Ryan Broyles, Detroit Lions

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Broyles saw limited action at the start of his rookie season in 2012 as he recovered from the torn left ACL he suffered during his senior season at Oklahoma, then he had some good moments before tearing his right ACL in Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts and missing the rest of the season. A recent report suggests he is ahead of schedule in his recovery, and could be ready for Week 1. Fantasy owners should monitor his progress closely during training camp, and if Broyles remains on track to be ready for the start of the season he has nice potential in PPR formats.

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1. Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers

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Brown missed all of last season after suffering a broken left ankle during the preseason, but all indications are he is now 100 percent healthy. Brown should have every opportunity to emerge as a starter over the underachieving Malcom Floyd, though rookie Keenan Allen is also in the mix. Brown’s continued health will be worth keeping an eye on during training camp and preseason games, but at this point he is shaping up as a legitimate fantasy sleeper.