There aren’t many better feelings in fantasy football than setting your draft queue full of players you want to target in the middle and late rounds and then having some of those sleeper players lead your team to fantasy glory.
Of course, sleepers inherently come with some level of uncertainty — or else they’d be drafted earlier and everyone would want them — but these 10 players have strong cases to be made to be true fantasy football sleepers in 2023.
ANTHONY RICHARDSON, QB, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Anthony Richardson has all the traits of a high-end fantasy quarterback but won’t cost you premium draft equity, as he is being drafted as the QB15 on average.
But overlooking the athleticism scores and controlled environments, simply, the math is just there based on the projections.
Richardson is projected to be one of the highest-volume rushing quarterbacks in the NFL this season.
I’ll leave you with this stat from an outlook on late-round quarterbacks to target:
“Since 2000, QBs finishing fifth or better in rushes among the position have an average fantasy rank of 10.2, and 67.2% of them finished as a top 12 fantasy quarterback with 48.3% of them finishing as a top eight fantasy quarterback.”
For a QB15 draft position? Sounds good to me.
KADARIUS TONEY, WR, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
I’m a fan of late-round players who will get snaps in a top-shelf offense. Well, that’s Kadarius Toney.
There’s an opportunity for someone in the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense other than Travis Kelce to step up and be a quality fantasy contributor. While you can make a case for Skyy Moore or Jerick McKinnon — Toney is the one I’m most drawn to because of the depth chart.
COURTLAND SUTTON, WR, DENVER BRONCOS
Courtland Sutton finished with the 17th-most air yards last season among wide receivers and a 12.2 average depth of target, which was the fifth highest among those 17 WRs.
Sean Payton, the new head coach, of the Denver Broncos, has been a pass-first coach. From 2013 to 2021, the New Orleans Saints finished in the top half of the league in pass-play percentage five times.
Sutton’s big-play ability is clear, and if the Broncos are primed to push the passing game with Russell Wilson, Sutton is a viable sleeper this season.
RASHEE RICE, WR, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Looking at Kansas City receivers as potential “sleeper” candidates has been a struggle, but Rice brings a few differences that could potentially land him as Patrick Mahomes’ top wideout for years to come.
Entering the season with second-round draft capital from April, Rice is behind a trio of holdovers on the depth chart that commanded just 133 targets last season. Rice drew 158 himself at SMU last year and has proven to have the durability to play every regular-season game for the Mustangs since the start of 2020 as a redshirt freshman.
This is an offense looking to Rice, Skyy Moore, or Justyn Ross to step forward.
DE’VON ACHANE, RB, MIAMI DOLPHINS
The Miami Dolphins′ offense is designed to put the ball into the hands of their fastest players. We didn’t get to see that from their injured running backs last season, but rookie De’Von Achane could change that this season.
Achane was productive in his time at Texas A&M and has big-time speed: he blazed a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He might not see the same workload as some of this season's early round backs, but he could run with enough efficiency to get similar production.
SAMAJE PERINE, RB, DENVER BRONCOS
With J.K. Dobbins last year, we saw just how difficult it can be to return from a significant knee injury.
Javonte Williams tore his ACL and LCL last season. Return to play does not always equal return to performance. On the first day of free agency, the Broncos signed Perine to a two-year deal.
Perine caught 38 passes with the Cincinnati Bengals last regular season and offers standalone value with upside.
MICHAEL THOMAS, WR, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
There’s reasonable doubt regarding Michael Thomas heading into 2023 after playing just 10 games over the past three seasons.
Not only is he working his way to being 100% for the first time since his 149-catch season in 2019, but he has a new quarterback he’s connecting with in Derek Carr.
There’s real value here if Carr favors Thomas over second-year receiver Chris Olave.
SKYY MOORE, WR, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
It was a difficult rookie season for Skyy Moore, but moving from Western Michigan to the NFL is quite the leap. This season, he can be a second-year breakout receiver that we often see.
The target hierarchy with the Kansas City Chiefs behind Travis Kelce is up in the air. JuJu Smith-Schuster is gone, and Kadrius Toney has had trouble staying on the field in his two years in the NFL, so Moore could be in line for a high target share.
He could be the Chiefs’ top slot receiver in 2023, a valuable role for fantasy.
AARON RODGERS, QB, NEW YORK JETS
The four-time MVP quarterback heads to Gotham City to join the New York Jets in 2023, which will be his first season in the AFC. In Year 19, Aaron Rodgers looks to return to elite form after a down year in 2022.
Rodgers will have the opportunity to mesh with young offensive talent such as 2022 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson and other young playmakers in Breece Hall and Mecole Hardman.
Additionally, trusted receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb have also joined Gang Green.
ZAY FLOWERS, WR, BALTIMORE RAVENS
Zay Flowers is going later than the other three first-round receivers from this year’s draft class, but he’s the one with the clearest path to volume.
As the Baltimore Ravens lean more into the passing game under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Flowers could be the latest rookie receiver to star in fantasy, and he’s an absolute steal in the late rounds of drafts.
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Brandon Gdula, The Associated Press