In this final installment of this series I will lay out some late-round wide receivers to target to balance out your roster if you find your team loaded with running backs after the early rounds. In case you missed the first two articles, the most important thing when drafting is to be flexible. If you come into the draft trying to start running back-heavy (or wide receiver heavy) you will miss out on just as much value as if you were dogmatic about building a balanced roster.
A running back heavy start to the draft has many benefits. On its most basic level, it provides the same advantage as going wide receiver heavy; you could potentially be starting to RB1’s and flexing a RB2 giving you a weekly advantage at least 2 of these 3 positions.
But it also gives you additional advantages. Top end running backs typically have more consistent usage week to week than wide receivers giving you a high floor and high ceiling every week. Additionally running back is a more scarce position making good running backs that much more valuable.
Finally, since NFL teams start more wide receivers than running backs it gives you more options of players to target later in the draft. Here is a breakdown of receivers that can be found in later rounds with a reliable floor or a high ceiling. Some high floor players also have a high ceiling.
High Floor WRs You Can Start Week 1
Jarvis Landry: We will have to wait and see what happens with the assault accusations pending against Landry before we will know his availability this season. Losing Tannehill hurts Landry slightly due to the chemistry they had that will be hard to duplicate, but Landry is a focal point of the Dolphins offense and should remain heavily involved in the offense as long as he is eligible to play.
Golden Tate: Tate has one of the higher floors of any players going after the 5th round. Golden Tate had at least 9 targets in 8 of his last 11 games last year. He is also a YAC monster, who is a prime high-floor wide receiver target if you start running back heavy. He also has a good ceiling.
Julian Edelman: The Patriots wide receiver depth chart is definitely more competitive than it was this time last year with the emergence of Malcolm Mitchell down the stretch and the addition of Brandin Cooks, but Edelman is likely going to be the go to guy for another year. The Patriots rely heavily on option-routes in their offense and Edelman and Brady have developed a rapport that will keep him heavily involved.
Willie Snead: Snead should have the inside track to being the #2 wide receiver in a Drew Brees offense. I’d keep an eye on Ted Ginn and Brandon Coleman, but Snead should have a productive start to the season based on volume if nothing else.
Jamison Crowder: Crowder has developed into a valuable underneath option for Washington and has the speed to stretch the defense too. Washington added Terrelle Pryor and are hoping for more from Josh Doctson, but also just lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. There are a lot of targets to be replaced and as the only wide receiver on the team that has game experience playing with Cousins I expect him to be relied on heavily.
Stefon Diggs/Adam Theilen: Diggs and Theilen were the two leaders in targets for the Vikings last year. Laquan Treadwell will push to be more involved, but after a disappointing rookie year it will likely take a while before he can earn a sizable role.
Emmanuel Sanders: Although its certainly fair to question Denver’s quarterback situation, Sanders is still the clear #2 option in the offense. I don't expect him to blow anyone away with his fantasy season, but he will have a decent floor with a couple low-end WR1 weeks.
Pierre Garcon: Garcon is getting older and the 49ers offense does not exactly strike fear in opposing defenses, but due to volume alone Garcon should have a good season. I wouldn't be surprised if he ended the season as a WR2.
Eric Decker: Before losing most of 2016 to injury Eric Decker was among one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league. The Titans just drafted Corey Davis, who I am definitely a believer in, but I expect him to take a little while to get up to speed. After him the Titans have Mathews and Taylor who are both intriguing players, but Decker’s veteran savvy should keep him heavily involved in the offense.
Tyrell Williams: Tyrell was one of the big surprises last year ending the season as the 14th best wide receiver in the league, only 1.4 points behind Amari Cooper. Keenan Allen is healthy again, but Tyrell Williams showed enough last year to remain a focal point of the offense. Although he was a UDFA, he is a 6’3” wide receiver that ran a sub-4.4 40 yard dash. Mike Williams will add more competition when he returns to the field, but it sounds like he will be out until at least October giving Williams at least 4-5 games to prove he deserves to remain involved when Mike Williams returns.
Cameron Meredith: We saw what Cameron Meredith was capable of last year when Alshon Jefferey and Kevin White got injured. Even if Kevin White can seize the #1 wide receiver role, Meredith should still the the #2 passing option in the offense. Like Tyrell, Meredith is another UDFA thats 6’3” and had a 4.4 40 so he is no slouch either.
Marvin Jones: Marvin Jones is criminally underrated. Before getting injured and playing through it Marvin Jones was the #3 wide receiver in fantasy over the first 6 weeks of the season. Although I don't know if he’ll repeat that, if he stays healthy he will drastically outperform his draft position. At worst, he's the 1B behind Golden Tate for targets.
High-ceiling WRs That Could Help You Win Your League
DeSean Jackson: Jackson led all qualifying wide receivers last year with and average of 17.9 YPC. After being signed by Tampa Bay he will benefit from defenses scheming to take away Mike Evans giving him more opportunities for big plays. Winston was also the #2 quarterback in the league last year in air yards showing that the Bucs aren't afraid to test defenses deep. DeSean Jackson will have some disappointing weeks, but he has the ability to put up WR1 numbers any week.
Donte Moncrief: Donte Moncrief was one of the hottest names in dynasty last offseason, but after a disappointing season due to a fractured Scapula people have forgotten him in favor of new shiny toys. We know Dorsett is no real threat to Moncrief’s targets leaving him as the #2 option in the Colts offense. He will have a lot of volume and should be one of the top redzone options in addition to Jack Doyle and potentially Erik Swoope.
DeVante Parker: This will be a big year for Parker. The 2015 1st round pick has flashed his potential, but has not been able to be a consistent contributor to this point. All reports have indicated that Parker has come to training camp in the best shape he’s been in and is taking the game seriously. I think the injury to Tannehill actually helps DeVante Parker. One of Parker’s comps coming out of Louisville was Brandon Marshall, who Jay Cutler and Adam Gase have experience with. Gase likes having an explosive downfield passing game and Parker could be the beneficiary if he is able to be more consistent this season.
Randall Cobb: Randall Cobb hasn’t been the coveted fantasy option he used to be for a couple seasons, but he also has been battling injuries. With the emergence of Adams last year Cobb will have competition for targets, but we have seen how dynamic he can be when healthy. It’s also Aaron Rodgers, so if Cobb, who is still only 26, can work himself back into the offense he has the potential to drastically outperform his draft slot.
John Brown: John Brown surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in 2015 before a disappointing 2016 due to complications with his sickle-cell trait. John Brown is a dynamic receiver that will be the #2 option behind the aging Larry Fitzgerald. He has the potential to be a weekly starter and I am targeting him in all my leagues regardless of how I start my drafts.
Corey Davis: Corey Davis will become the #1 wide receiver in Tennessee at some point, but it may take a while. He is an incredibly talented wide receiver from Western Michigan, but its going to be hard to know what his usage will be before the season. He has a high ceiling, but could have a low floor too. If you draft him prepare to be patient.
John Ross: The 4.22 speedster offers the ability for a touchdown on any given play. Although speedy receivers can often have a lot to learn still when coming into the NFL after relying on their natural talents against inferior competition in college, I do not believe John Ross is one of those players. After tearing his ACL in 2015 Ross started working with DeSean Jackson to learn how to utilize his speed more effectively and work on route running and beating press coverage. I think Ross is a lot more polished of a player than people give him credit for. Additionally with A.J. Green outside and Eifert and Mixon working the middle of the field it will be hard for defenders to key in on Ross.
Ted Ginn Jr.: He’s Drew Brees’s new deep threat. Although Ted Ginn is no Brandin Cooks, we know how productive that role in the Saint’s offense can be. He’s likely going to be somewhat boom/bust week to week, but if you find yourself without much upside at wide reciever going into the end of the draft Ted Ginn is worth a flier.
Josh Doctson: Doctson was my favorite wide receiver in the 2016 draft class. We didn’t get to see much of him last year due to nagging injuries, but the talent is definitely there. The addition of Terrelle Pryor certainly muddles Doctson’s potential targets, but after losing Jackson and Garcon Washington has plenty of targets to replace. If Reed misses extended time I expect Doctson to get a big boost in redzone targets.
Kevin White: We all know Kevin White, and how underwhelming his first two seasons have been. That being said, the Bears have a wide open depth chart at wide receiver and Kevin White is an athletic freak. If he can finally put it together, and more importantly stay healthy, he could have a big season. He will get a lot of targets and I expect the Bears to have a lot of negative game scripts going into the 4th quarter which will mean a lot of passing.
Tyler Lockett: The Seahawks aren’t exactly a pass-heavy offense, but Tyler Lockett should continue to carve out a bigger role in the offense. After missing time (and playing through) a PCL injury last year Lockett wasn’t himself. At the end of the year we finally started to see him remerge before fracturing his fibula and tibia in week 16. Lockett has a pretty low weekly floor, but if he starts getting more targets, or there is an injury to Baldwin or Graham I expect Lockett to be a big beneficiary.
Devin Funchess: I’m not quite sure how I feel about Funchess this season, but what I do know is that he’s the #2 wide receiver (maybe #3 target) for the Panthers. Although Funchess has been disappointing his first two seasons he has the opportunity to seize more of the target share and if he does he could be quite the late-round pick up, he's currently going in the 17th round of 12-team leagues.
Kenny Golladay: With a great preseason performance in Week 1 there’s a good chance Golladay’s ADP raises to the point where he is being overdrafted, but currently he is going at the end of the 15th round in 12 man leagues. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones are both established receivers, but there is still an opening at the position, especially if Tate kicks inside to slot. Maybe this is the year Ebron finally makes the leap, but if not Golladay may end up being a favorite red zone target for Matthew Stafford. Good late round flier.
Breshad Perriman: The Ravens just added Jermey Maclin and retained Mike Wallace, but Perriman, like Kevin White, is an athletic freak who has spent most of his first two years sidelined. He has flashed more than White has though, and Joe Flacco has the deep ball to maximize Perriman’s skill set. He is currently going in the 16th round of 12-team drafts so you can take a shot at him at the very end of your draft.
Waiver Wire Guys to Keep an Eye On
Robby Anderson, Torry Smith, J.J. Nelson, Chad Williams, Curtis Samuel, Ryan Switzer, Jaelen Strong, Noah Brown, Chester Rogers, Dede Westbrook, Cooper Kupp, Chris Conley, Laquan Treadwell, Mike Williams, Brandon Coleman, Leonte Caroo, Malcolm Mitchell, Nelson Agholor, Ardarius Stewart, Trent Taylor, Paul Richardson, Juju Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin, Robert Davis
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