Lions WR Kalif Raymond has the makings of a deep fantasy sleeper this year

With a void left in the Lions' offense, Kalif Raymond may very well step into it and deliver fantasy-worthy production this year.
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A lot has been made about the Detroit Lions having question marks at wide receiver after Amon-Ra St. Brown, and/or Jameson Williams to whatever extent someone might believe he's assured to have a breakout season.

But the bottom line is this. The departed Josh Reynolds left behind 64 targets (fourth on the team), 40 catches, 605 yards and five touchdowns from last year. And his history with Jared Goff, dating back to their time with the Rams, shouldn't be discounted. That isn't to say Reynolds is irreplaceable, and Williams is presumed likely to fill a good bit of that production void.

During OTAs Goff talked about Kalif Raymond, who became something of a forgotten man in the Lions' offense last year.

"It's been invaluable (to have him). I can trust him any time he's in there at receiver at any spot and I know he's an electric returner, but he's done a great job at everything and I'm appreciative to have him on our team."

Kalif Raymond uncovered as potential fantasy sleeper

Here in June, as he acknowledged the "sickos" who would read a fantasy football sleepers column this month, Hayden Winks of Underdog Fantasy has Raymond on a list of deep sleepers based on their ADP (Average Draft Position) on Underdog.

"The Lions are fully expecting Jameson Williams (who is mostly a one-trick pony) to be thrust into 2-WR sets this year, but the Lions will need another receiver to step up in 3-WR sets and potentially in 2-WR sets if Jamo proves unready. Raymond, at times, has flashed some interesting things. He was in the 48th percentile among all receivers in yards per route against man coverage last year and finished the year with a shockingly-high 2.1 yards per route average on all of his routes. Raymond was at 1.9 YPRR in 2022, too. He's a quick underneath option with Amon-Ra contingent upside and has been productive enough to project for 3-WR sets in Week 1..."

Raymond is WR93 and just outside the top-210 overall picks on Underdog. His current ADP on Yahoo! (0.5-point PPR, h/t to Fantasy Pros) is even lower than that: WR111 and No. 275 overall. His ADP on ESPN (full-point PPR) is WR93 (No. 223 overall).

In a down year, where he played just 30 percent of the offensive snaps, Raymond had 35 catches (44 targets) for 489 yards last year. It wouldn't be stretch to see him bounce back toward 64 (2022) or 71 targets (2021) this year, and hit similar production to those seasons.

2021: 48 receptions for 576 yards, four touchdowns (WR53 in full-point and 0.5-point PPR)
2022: 47 receptions for 616 yards, zero touchdowns (WR57 in full-point PPR: WR59 in 0.5-point PPR)

Yes, a WR5 finish in fantasy isn't exciting and that's been Raymond's peak thus far. As the Lions' punt returner he would add value in leagues that count return yardage, and he gets a stray rushing attempt here and there (18 carries over the last three seasons).

Raymond won't be a league-winning fantasy player this year, and in 99.99 percent of standard-sized leagues (10-14 teams) with traditional scoring he won't be drafted. But in the right light (best ball, deeper leagues, etc.) he's just interesting enough to be worth more than dismissive look on a fantasy draft board.


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