6 Sleeper Receivers Who Could Finish Top 5 in NFL Receiving Yards

Everyone knows wide receivers like Justin Jefferson will be in the mix to finish in the top five in NFL receiving yards every season. 

Jefferson led the league with 1,809 yards last season. The next four were Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, A.J. Brown and Stefon DiggsWhich players who aren’t getting much attention can elevate their games into the stratosphere?

6 Sleeper Receivers for 2023

Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos

It’s easy to forget Jerry Jeudy ended the 2022 season with 67 receptions and more than 900 yards plus six touchdowns. The season wasn’t a failure, but the expectations were higher because of the expected production at quarterback from the Denver Broncos

The Broncos hired a head coach who told the organization to pick up Jeudy’s fifth-year option. That tells me they believe in what they have. There is a plan Sean Payton has for Jeudy, and if Russell Wilson can be even remotely as productive as we saw him be with the Seattle Seahawks, Jeudy is going to have an outstanding 2023. – Jennings

Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns

The talent has always been there for Amari Cooper. He’s one of those guys who can win against man coverage and against zone coverage. Cooper also is one of the savviest route runners in the NFL. Now Cooper’s quarterback, Deshaun Watson, is going to have a full offseason with the Cleveland Browns

When Watson was with the Houston Texans he targeted DeAndre Hopkins over and over. Cooper is going to see that in Cleveland because the Browns didn’t bring back running back Kareem Hunt. They drafted receiver Cedric Tillman and traded for Elijah Moore. Everything points to them wanting to throw more.

When you look at the AFC North, the Browns have division games against Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, Lamar Jackson and his revamped Baltimore Ravens receiver room and even Kenny Pickett, who will step it up in his second year with the Pittsburgh Steelers

So the Browns are going to throw, and when they throw, Cooper will be the main target. He had 132 targets in 2022 and made 78 receptions for 1,160 yards and nine touchdowns. His targets could grow to more than 150 this season. – Vanek

George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive coordinator Matt Canada didn’t realize what he possessed in George Pickens last season. Pickens had 52 catches, 801 yards and four touchdowns, and he averaged 15.4 yards per catch. Pickens is a big play waiting to happen.

Expect a big jump from him after having an offseason to become more of a student of the game. He also will develop more of a rapport with Pickett, a young quarterback who is entering his second season as well. 

The Steelers are building a foundation that starts with Pickett and Pickens. The presence of Diontae Johnson and Allen Robinson will help Pickens, too. Pickens is a big-bodied receiver (6-foot-3, 200 pounds). His upside is immense if they utilize him correctly. – Jennings

Calvin Ridley

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Calvin Ridley is going to have a phenomenal season with this Jacksonville Jaguars team. He’s the alpha in that receiving room, and that’s not to discredit Christian Kirk

Ridley had a 1,000-yard season with a broken foot in 2020. He said he ran a slant route against the Kansas City Chiefs that was an inside release. He caught it, planted his foot, weaved past the safety and run 60 yards. He had to slow down because his foot started to hurt during that game. 

Ridley is capable of doing great things in this league. He’s had a full year to recover and get his mind right, and now he’s playing with quarterback Trevor Lawrence and coach Doug Pederson. Those are guys who will get him the ball. 

The Jaguars started slowly last season, but that’s not going to be the case this year. They’re going to have a phenomenal season and Ridley is going to be one of their stars. – Vanek

Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

It’s hard to call Garrett Wilson a sleeper because he was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Now he will get to play with one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Aaron Rodgers

Look at the production he had with Zach Wilson, Mike White and Joe Flacco 83 catches for 1,103 yards. No disrespect to any of last season’s New York Jets quarterbacks, but they’re not Aaron Rodgers. Offensive coordinator will put Wilson in positions to be the focal point. 

Yes, the Jets signed Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Mecole Hardman, and they still have Corey Davis, but Wilson will make the passing game thrive, and Rodgers knows it. What’s scary is Rodgers is at OTAs, he’s in the building early in the offseason. That’s going to help the Jets when the season starts. 

Wilson is a layup. It’s going to be fun to watch what he’s able to accomplish if Rodgers can stay healthy and everything aligns with the Jets offense. – Jennings

Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Chris Olave also had a phenomenal rookie year, and the New Orleans Saints added quarterback Derek Carr. Remember last season with the Las Vegas Raiders, Carr targeted one guy – Davante Adams, who was open all season.

Yes, the Saints have Michael Thomas coming back from injury, but Olave is an expert route runner. He can read coverages at a high level already, and he has the ability to get open at all three levels. He had 72 receptions as a rookie. Olave isn’t elite after the catch but he’s going to get open 14 yards down the field. There aren’t many corners who can keep up with him.

Olave also has the benefit of playing home games in a dome plus this season the Saints play five more road games in domes (Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Minnesota). Those are opportunities for a lot of scoring, and if the Saints need to throw the football, Olave will be open as their primary option.

The only drawback is if Thomas returns anywhere near his former level of play from 2018-19, when he averaged 137 catches and more than 1,500 yards. Thomas could limit the the amount of targets Olave sees. – Vanek

Greg Jennings is a former NFL wide receiver who played for the Packers, Vikings and Dolphins. A two-time Pro Bowl player, Jennings was a member of the Packers’ Super Bowl XLV championship team and is inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @GregJennings.

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