Every week I see a WR catch a touchdown, and my first response is: Who?

And then, of course, my mind splits down a few thought paths. 

First, I’m mentally reviewing my rosters, hoping I started whoever just fell into the end zone. Second, I’m hoping I mentioned them in some content earlier in the week (analysts need as much validation as possible, OK?). Finally, I’ll look at their targets and routes to see if the result is fluky.

The last part is much more useful to you.

Late-round WRs pop up for big performances, and we usually don’t know who to target until we get into the season. But, after looking through some data, I’ve got a couple of profiles we can look for and potential options for the upcoming season.

Process Notes

Let’s define “late-round” before we get too deep into the weeds.

Qualitatively, I think of WR3s when I see the term late-round. I picture role players (e.g., perimeter receivers, good at downfield blocking, low floor/high ceiling) that would fit into our FLEX spot if we’re looking for a one-week solution on our roster.

Quantitatively, we can see those player types appear in our ranks once you scroll down the list.

Late-Round WRs


The first three names are perfect examples.

Zay Jones may play more in two-receiver sets than Christian Kirk, but he’ll lag behind Jacksonville’s slot man in targets per route run. Tyler Boyd’s been third in looks from Joe Burrow since adding Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. And, with Odell Beckham playing alongside two youngsters, we can’t expect the same passing share compared to his days in New York. 

So, I’ll use WR55 as the cutoff. Now, let’s find an archetype we can stash on our rosters.

As usual, I pulled data from the last two Best Ball Mania tournaments to see who the relevant late-round receivers were. However, to be clear, we’ll focus on redraft strategy. Regardless, you can easily see when the late rounds start on Underdog (the last six). And, I found some names.

SeasonNamePre-Season RankEnd of Season Rank
2021Van Jefferson9928
2021Allen Lazard10368
2021Hunter Renfrow12516
2021Zay Jones20699
2021Jalen Guyton12773
2021Tim Patrick13342
2021Devin Duvernay15687
2021James Washington15895
2021K.J. Osborn19646
2021Donovan Peoples-Jones10066
2021Quez Watkins9869
2021Olamide Zaccheaus10583
2022Zay Jones8426
2022Curtis Samuel8834
2022Donovan Peoples-Jones9140
2022Devin Duvernay9356
2022Noah Brown11658
2022Parris Campbell8348

Coincidentally, a few of these guys are available at a similar cost for 2023. More importantly, most of the list share an important trait.

ADOT


Twelve of the 18 WRs had an average target depth of 10 or more yards. We can’t expect them to win on volume, but their downfield looks are volatile enough to win weeks. For example, take Van Jefferson.

Jefferson averaged 37.5 yards on his six touchdown catches in 2021. That’s (an average) 10.75 PPR points from one play. So the “DeSean Jackson” archetype lives on in 2023. But that’s not the only WR profile worth considering.

The hype around Davante Adams going to Las Vegas caused folks to forget about their slot receiver, Hunter Renfrow. Washington drafting Jahan Dotson had a similar effect on Curtis Samuel (along with his injury history). 

We know an interior WR can be lucrative for fantasy if given enough snaps. But offseason uncertainty can skew our thoughts on the situation. Regardless, I’ve found three guys matching either profile we should load up on in drafts for 2023.


Michael Gallup, Cowboys

It’s been a long road for Dallas’ X-receiver.

Gallup missed seven games at the start of 2021 due to a calf strain and tore his ACL in Week 16 of the same season. As a result, he missed the first three weeks of ’22, but his return was too soon. However, the five-year veteran looks ready to make a comeback.

(Note: Gallup hasn’t recorded a rushing attempt in the NFL, so Mike McCarthy may be devising new ways to deploy him on the field.)

Anyways, let’s hop back to the 2020 season when we last saw a healthy Gallup. The Cowboys’ offense featured Amari Cooper and an electric rookie named CeeDee Lamb. Lamb’s first-round capital and Cooper’s footwork should have rendered Gallup the odd man out. But he still kept up with the young bucks throughout the season:

  • Air Yard Share: 25.5% (1st)
  • 3rd and 4th-Down Targets: 28 (2nd)
  • Redzone Targets:  13 (3rd)

Dallas had legitimate ancillary options in Ezekiel Elliot and Dalton Schultz, but Gallup kept them at bay while edging out Lamb in high-value looks. Now, Dak Prescott has even fewer choices. And yet, Gallup (one of Prescott’s primary weapons) has an ADP four rounds after Brandin Cooks.

The football community has lamented over Mike McCarthy resuming playcalling duties in Dallas. But in his final three years with Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers ranked third and fifth in deep-ball rate. McCarthy’s West Coast influence may benefit the passing game, and Gallup’s value should rise with the offense.


Jayden Reed, Packers

The story out of Green Bay all offseason has been Jordan Love. We’ve spilled so much virtual ink about his talent level, accuracy and command of the offense that only two of their skill players reside in the Top 100.

But Jayden Reed may fall into the “obscure slot WR” category I mentioned before.

Let’s rewind to Week 9 of 2021. Love had to start in place of Rodgers against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. The then-rookie posted a 7.8 passing aDOT (18th among all starters that week) and targeted the slot on 15 of his 34 attempts (44.1%). It’s a single-game sample. But a logical result for a rookie QB in a tough spot.

Now, fast forward to the end of the ’22 season. The Packers added Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs to the group. But only one became an impact player in an area that favors their new passer.

GB Slot Receivers


Lazard and Cobb are out in Jersey. Doubs flashed downfield but was inefficient inside. Meanwhile, reports consistently highlight Reed as their starting slot WR. Reed broke out as a junior with a 30.0% dominator rating and 2.03 yards per team attempt. His athletic profile fits with Love’s current skills as a passer and has a direct path to beating his ADP.


Michael Wilson, Cardinals

The Cardinals are in a similar category as Green Bay but have sadder vibes.

Kyler Murray’s injury timeline has no clarity, and Arizona’s roster ranks as one of the worst in the league. So, like the Packers, the Cardinals also have just two skill players in the Top 100. But their passing game (whatever it’s worth) is unsettled.

Marquise Brown headlines the aerial attack but operates best as the Z-receiver. Rondale Moore’s 181-pound frame limits him to the slot. Arizona’s OC Drew Petzing was Cleveland’s QB Coach in ’22, where Jacoby Brissett and Deshaun Watson operated out of 11-personnel on 67.1% and 68.2% of their dropbacks. The Cardinals need a third receiver.

And, no, Zach Pascal (currently listed as the starting receiver opposite Brown) isn’t the answer.

The steady drumbeat out of camp indicates Wilson has the inside track on the starting job. Plus, he was able to cap off his preseason debut with a 7-180-2 statline. And most importantly, his collegiate profile matches what we want.

In his final year at Stanford, Wilson had a 10.4 aDOT while lining up on the perimeter on 76.3% of his snaps. Despite catching passes from Colt McCoy, stashing Wilson on your bench will pay off as he ascends within the offense.

You can take stabs on all three of these late-round WRs on Underdog Fantasy, where you can get a 100% deposit match of up to $100. Simply sign up with promo code LIFE below and start drafting TODAY!

Late Round WRs
Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
Chris Allen is a Fantasy Analyst and Content Coordinator at Fantasy Life, but he’s also a mechanical engineer by trade that leverages his analytical background to study the various components of fantasy football. From how weather impacts results to draft strategy, Chris uses a 'process over results' approach to deliver actionable analysis on multiple platforms for any fantasy football format.