As is the case with bad teams, opportunities come for players whose careers seem to be in flux, or even firmly on the ropes. Kalif Raymond was that kind of player on the 2021 Detroit Lions, and when opportunity came his way he grabbed it (48 receptions for 576 yards and four touchdowns; 11.2 yards per punt return)
Raymond put up similar catch and yardage numbers last season, with 47 catches for 616 yards as he also averaged 13.2 yards per punt return. A small receiver, Pro Football Focus had him as their second-highest graded wide receiver on screen passes last year.
Raymond is acknowledged internally as a valuable player for the Lions. In terms of tangible production he'd ideally have the chance to a little more, but he's not the kind of big receiver and vertical threat the team could really use.
That said, circumstances may have opportunity knocking again for Raymond this year.
Kalif Raymond lands as a very deep fantasy sleeper for this year
Amon-Ra St. Brown will command a hefty target share. After him, with Jameson Williams serves his suspension for the first six games of the season, it's Marvin Jones, Raymond and Josh Reynolds in the wide receiver pecking order for the Lions.
Andrew Erickson of Fantasy Pros had Raymond on a recent list of seven deep sleeper wide receivers for fantasy football this year.
"Over the last two seasons, Raymond has finished as a top-60 fantasy WR. He ended the 2022 season ranking 23rd in yards per route run and 11th in catch rate. He’s an underrated piece of this ascending Lions offense, and he will no doubt have a pristine opportunity to earn targets early on with Jameson Williams sidelined for the first six weeks of the season. Raymond is elusive, which is shown through his work as a special team return man. His 13.2 yards per punt return ranked third in the NFL last season."- Andrew Erickson, Fantasy Pros
Raymond's ADP has actually dropped (full PPR) since the above tweet (WR129, No. 314 overall, as of July 7). That's waiver wire fodder in all but the absolute largest of leagues, and the terms "deep" or "late round" sleeper might not be enough to describe it. But he indeed has been a top-60 fantasy receiver in each of the last two seasons in 0.5-point PPR. So there's substantial value baked in there.
In fantasy Raymond is a name to possibly stash in the back of your mind to watch in camp and preseason. It's very likely his real-life role for the Lions exceeds what he consistently offers fantasy managers. But a WR5 in 12-team leagues the last two years at a deeply undrafted ADP is worth noting.