Fantasy Football Drafting 101: Wait on Wide Receivers

Unless you can grab a top five WR, don't burn an early draft pick

Unless you grab a Top-5 WR, don’t burn any early round draft picks on one

A starting fantasy RB obviously has the potential to rack up yards both on the ground and through the air on nearly every offensive play. However, when it comes to a fantasy WR, the window for scoring top fantasy points is much smaller. There’s no denying that there is an ELITE TIER of wide receivers that stands tall above the crowd, but after the top 5, there’s no reason BURN a pick when you should be concentrating on other players.

After the crème de la crème of wideouts, there is a massive logjam of wide receivers that can help you round out a fantasy team without wasting any high picks on average point producers. 21 wide receivers and two tight ends cracked the 1,000 yard mark last season while 13 WRs and 2 TEs scored at least ten touchdowns.

There’s no debate that every team needs wide receivers, but the list of elite players is very short.

  • Antonio Brown
  • Demaryius Thomas
  • Dez Bryant
  • Calvin Johnson
  • OBJ

This list of players all grabbed consistent points and lived up to the hype of their high ADPs. However, after this list of elite players, things begin to get interesting. Take Alshon Jeffery as an example. Last season Jeffery averaged only 10.4 points (in standard leagues) during the weeks he was active. He also hovered around the 25th pick in most leagues, as a late third round, early fourth round selection. That’s a bust for fantasy owners considering that 33 wide receivers averaged more than 7 points per week. Of these 33, 13 were available after the 100th pick.

Look at the numbers for the two rookie receiving phenoms that broke out last year: Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin. Evans performed slightly better than Jeffery, averaging 10.5 points with an ADP of 101; Benjamin had an average of 9 points per week and was selected around the 106th pick. In most leagues, these rookies were still available in the 12th round in eight-team leagues. For an upside of one fantasy point per week (comparing Jeffery and Benjamin), Jeffery owners sacrificed the prospect of drafting a premier player like Le’Veon Bell or Rob Gronkowski.

Fantasy numbers can be unpredictable; players may explode for dozens of points per week, or underwhelm and disappoint a majority of their owners. Injuries can strike unexpectedly and deliver a swift end of the season to an unfortunate player. But the consensus is this: after the elite tier, receivers and tight ends are just a dime a dozen; consider carefully before you waste high picks for little upside.

 

 

5 Fantasy Wide Receivers Sporting 2015 Deep Sleeper Potential

John Brown

As long as Palmer stays healthy, John Brown should develop into a top-notch fantasy producer

The wide receiver is arguably the deepest position in fantasy football. While there are a handful of players in tier one, there are a plethora of gems that can be found in tiers three, four, and five. That’s right, we’re talking sleepers. For the purpose of this article, a sleeper pick is defined as a player who will exponentially provide more value than their low draft position. When the draft winds down, and the later rounds come along, keep an eye out for these five wideouts.  – ADP rankings powered by FantasyPros.com

John Brown (ADP: WR #37)

Heading into his sophomore year, look for John Brown to build off a solid rookie season. In Arians’ offense that rotated quarterbacks such as Ryan Lindley, Drew Stanton, and Logan Thomas, Brown still managed to catch 48 balls for 696 yards and five touchdowns. Although Brown is third on the depth chart behind Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, he has the potential to be the Cardinals number one receiver by January. Floyd is currently no lock to start week one so look for Brown to take advantage of the added targets. Brown is currently being drafted outside the top 30 but has top 20 upside; grab him while you can.

Eddie Royal (ADP: WR #50)

Finally reunited with his ole friend, Cutler, Eddie Royal settled into Chicago after a career year with the Chargers. So far, the transition doesn’t seem to be too difficult for Royal. Both starting receivers for the Bears are hampered by injuries leading to more opportunities for Royal. While Alshon Jeffery is slated to return at some point this year, Kevin White is rumored to be out all season. Jay Cutler is going to have to throw the ball…and then he’ll throw the ball some more. All those targets are not just going to Jeffery and Bennett. Royal will make the most of his receptions and look to build off a stellar 2014 season.

Markus Wheaton (ADP: WR #53)

Markus Wheaton had a quiet sophomore campaign no thanks to the fantasy explosion of rookie teammate, Martavis Bryant. Recently, Bryant was just suspended four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. That upticks Wheaton’s value just enough as he’ll now be starting across Antonio Brown in a high-powered offense. “I think Markus Wheaton is our breakout player of the year,” Roethlisberger said in an interview for SiriusXM NFL Radio August 2. “I want that pressure on him because when we’re in two wide sets, he’s our No. 2 guy”. Big Ben certainly knows what’s going on in the locker room better than anyone else. Cheers to year three and that a diamond in the rough is made from all that pressure.

Brian Quick (ADP: WR #58)

This selection has the most potential to blow up in my face. Last season, Quick was a top 20 wide receiver in weeks one through six before suffering a season ending shoulder injury. Fully healthy once again, Quick is back atop the depth chart as the Rams number one wide receiver. However, he may not just be the top receiver for the Rams, but also the top option as Tre Mason and Todd Gurley are both questionable for the season opener. Quick will have the opportunity to resume his breakout season early in 2015 and if he can stay healthy, who knows what his ceiling is?

Stevie Johnson (ADP: WR #60)

Stevie Johnson is the one receiver I tend to have on every one of my rosters at the completion of a draft. Johnson is low enough in the rankings and on the depth chart for everyone to overlook him. Don’t be that guy. After a couple down years in Buffalo and an awful stint in the run-first San Francisco scheme, Johnson has found himself in the best situation since the start of his career. As the third string receiver in San Diego’s offense, Johnson shall be revived. The Bolts utilized three wide sets on 86% of their plays, third highest mark in the league. Initially slated to play the slot position, Johnson will see soft coverage while defenses have their hands full with Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. Side note: Eddie Royal accumulated 1,409 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons as a slot receiver in San Diego.

4 Fantasy Running Backs to Avoid in 2015

Carlos Hyde has some flex appeal, but don't rush out to draft him

Carlos Hyde has some flex appeal, but don’t rush out to draft him

– ADP rankings powered by FantasyPros.com

Carlos Hyde (ADP: RB #18)

Some devoted Niners fans are still optimistic that this young sophomore out of Ohio State can still fill the void left by Frank Gore and be the franchise back for the future, but common sense simply dictates that this year is not Hyde’s year. Finally inheriting the starting job for a team that has dwindled down to the bottom echelon of the NFL, it will be difficult for Hyde to make any significant (fantasy) contributions, especially without the help of run-happy offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Furthermore, the regression of the Niner defense suggests that the team will likely be playing games from behind, decreasing Hyde’s touches even more. Lastly, with Reggie Bush also a more likely candidate to steal receptions because of his proven status as a target, I struggle to suggest Hyde even as a bottom-end RB2.

Tevin Coleman (ADP: RB #33)

I definitely fell into the pre-draft hype of Coleman, especially during the past offseason. I even put him high up on my likely fantasy breakouts list for this year. So why the sudden change of heart? First of all, the most concerning part of Coleman’s fantasy draft stock is his unbelievably high ADP, at 76. Sure, he has immense raw talent and a high ceiling, but he is way too unproven to be placed that high in player rankings. Coleman is also sharing the spotlight with former Florida State product Devonta Freeman, who is also top-100 in most fantasy lists. Though they both returned from injury for tonight’s game against the Dolphins, Freeman was listed as an inactive, and Coleman did not fare much better, posting 2 yards on 4 carries. Coleman can be a risk worth taking, but definitely not as a seventh-round pick.

Joique Bell (ADP: RB #27)

Bell has never been a solid fantasy pick, as he never was the sole starting back for the Lions, and he will not get that opportunity this year. With a proven specimen coming from Nebraska in Ameer Abdullah, who greatly impressed during his preseason appearances, the Lions will likely return to their usual run committee this season. Not only is Bell struggling to return to health before the start of the season, but there is some threat that the Lions’ third and fourth string backs, Theo Riddick, and Zach Zenner, will further drain the depleted amount of carries that Bell will start his season with. Though he has good hands and is a threat for receptions, he has little-to-no potential as a solid RB2 and owners should avoid drafting him.

Melvin Gordon (ADP: RB #16)

A report from Chargers RB coach Ollie Wilson refuted any claims that Gordon had concerning pass-protection issues, stating that he’s had no problem with Gordon’s pass protecting. Be that as it may, from a fantasy standpoint, this bares little to no relevance. Not only is Gordon dealing with ankle issues, but a huge part of what made Ryan Mathews an attractive fantasy option was his receiving abilities from an ever-improving quarterback in Rivers. Sure Mathews is now out of the picture, but Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver are still more of a threat than Gordon. Let’s also not forget his meager 34 yards on 14 carries in his latest preseason showing—not persuasive by any means.

2015 Quarterback Sleeper Guide

Teddy

Teddy Bridewater could break out as a fantasy game changer this season

ADP Rankings powered by FantasyPros.com

Teddy Bridgewater (ADP: QB #16)

After an impressive rookie season in which he completed 64.4% of his passes for 2,919 yards and 14 passing touchdowns, Bridgewater is the go-to quarterback for the Vikings and looks comfortable taking on his role as the leader of the Minnesota offense. This fantasy QB has the benefit of a rapidly improving receiving corps with the likes of Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson and tight end Kyle Rudolph. The second-year quarterback is a decent QB2 option with the probable return of Adrian Peterson. Bridgewater is only one spot ahead of the embattled RGIII (according to ADP) so he is basically a steal at this position.

Ryan Tannehill (ADP: QB #13)   

Finishing as the 10th overall quarterback in fantasy points, Tannehill signed a six-year, $96 million contract extension that should put him as the Dolphins undisputed starting quarterback for the near future. Throwing for 4,045 yards and 27 TDs last season, the fourth-year dual threat out of Texas A&M will work with a revamped offense, boasting the likes of Kenny Stills, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron. Another solid QB2 option, Tannehill will definitely provide a safe amount of points on a weekly basis.

Derek Carr (ADP: QB #24)

Carr was the most successful of all of the rookie quarterbacks last season, showing miserable Raiders fan a glimpse of hope in a constantly bleak situation. Amassing 3,270 passing yards and 21 TDs on 12 interceptions, Carr will benefit from a bolstered offense due to the addition of stellar college wideout Amari Cooper as well as esteemed coach Jack Del Rio. Combine that with the newly acquired Michael Crabtree and Andre Holmes, and Carr could put together a surprise season for fantasy owners.

Sam Bradford (ADP: QB #15)

Though Bradford has struggled mightily for the majority of his career, his draft stock must be trending up simply because of the offense he is playing for. Chip Kelly made a flurry of acquisitions during the offseason, adding Miles Austin, DeMarco Murray and drafting Nelson Agholor to an already dangerous receiving squad. And let’s also not forget that Coach Kelly led the Eagles to be the 13th most efficient passing offense with Nick Foles and one Mark Sanchez. Scoop up Bradford with confidence.

Blake Bortles (ADP: QB #29)

After a slightly down rookie season for the 3rd overall pick last year out of UCF, Bortles featured both flashes of potential as well as sloppy play. He possesses the league’s worst completion rate while under pressure at 36.4% and only threw for two or more touchdowns twice. So why does he make this list? Not only did the Jags’ weapons improve with the additions of Julius Thomas and T.J. Yeldon as well as the developments of Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee, but the Jags will get Luke Joeckel back, who missed the majority of the season and was a huge piece missing from an offensive line that allowed 71 sacks on the season. Look for the situation in Jacksonville (as well as Bortles’ numbers) to improve this season.

2015 Wide Receiver Sleeper Guide

Martavis

Playing opposite Antonio Brown, Bryant will continue to get open looks this season

– ADP rankings powered by FantasyPros.com

Donte Moncrief (ADP: WR #67)

Averaging 306 passing yards per game, the Colts flash a talented receiving corps and Donte Moncrief is no exception. Bolstered by the addition of the versatile veteran Frank Gore, the Colts will feature an elite passing game as they try to make another deep run into the playoffs. Moncrief collected a modest 444 yards as a rookie, but has a high ceiling due to his solid frame and speed. Though playing time will sometimes be hard to come by after the Colts signed Andre Johnson, Moncrief’s flashes of potential will make him a solid WR3 that will reel in big points by surprise.

Martavis Bryant (ADP: WR #28)

Despite his 4-game suspension, Martavis Bryant has the potential to be a fantasy steal during the upcoming season after exploding for eight touchdowns in ten games as a rookie last season. Scoring a touchdown once every six times he was targeted, the former fourth-round selection out of Clemson projects to be one of Big Ben’s favorite red-zone targets. Only five players saw more targets in the ten games that Bryant played. He’s a touchdown machine with tremendous upside and is a comfortable regular WR2 play.

Victor Cruz (ADP: WR #35)

The former fantasy star, whose season was cut short by a torn patellar tendon, has solid potential to have a rebound year. Projected as the 50th receiver to be taken off of the boards, Cruz’s production has slowly deteriorated year by year since 2011, and his ceiling is even further limited by the rising stardom of one Odell Beckham Jr. However, if he stays healthy, Cruz is a solid target for Eli Manning as a #2 receiver. Though he is questionable to return by the start of the season, fantasy owners can hope that Cruz can remain healthy for the entirety of the season; if so, Cruz could be a steal.

Nelson Agholor (ADP: WR #30)

Taken 20th in this year’s draft, Agholor, according to some NFL executives, already shows potential to start as the Eagles’ top receiver. In a dangerous Chip Kelly offense, Agholor will take the helm of a deep receiving corps. Collecting 1,313 yards and 12 TDs at USC last year, the rookie will provide fantasy owners with a solid point production, getting a good amount of targets week-by-week. Projected as the 34th receiver to be drafted, Agholor is an absolute steal.

Fantasy Draft Zone: Next up in Green Bay

Ty Montgomery

Ty Montgomery is just one of the players who will try to fill the void left by Jordy Nelson

Along with the news that Jordy Nelson is out for the entire 2015 season due to an ACL tear, the Packers offensive line is also suffering some key injuries. However, if there is any concern about Green Bay’s offense this season, cut it out now. The Packers have certainly suffered their share of woes this preseason but as long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, a prolific offense remains in Wisconsin.

The man who protects Rodger’s blind side is currently sitting out the rest of preseason. Left tackle, David Bakhtiari, is currently nursing a knee ailment although he expects to be back for the regular season. The Packers starting line is also missing right guard T.J. Lang who is working through the concussion protocol and Josh Sitton with an ankle injury. The Packers line is comprised of backups right now but all the starters figure to be healthy by week one.

Unfortunately for Mr. Nelson, he won’t be available by week one. In 2012, Nelson also endured an injury-riddled season in which he missed four games and caught only 49 balls for 745 yards. Other starting receivers such as Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, and Donald Driver accounted for 12 more missed games. Yet, Aaron Rodgers still threw for 39 touchdowns that year, his second most in his career.

In football, when someone goes down, the motto is, “next guy up”. The injuries to the Packers are unlucky and untimely but the season must go on. Production will have to be filled by one person or more likely, a collection of guys. Davante Adams is a name that has been tossed around but Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery are also players to watch out for. Aaron Rodgers is still the best quarterback in the league and he will make do with the weapons at his disposal.

Andre Williams Closing in on Rashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings

Rashad Jennings can feel the footsteps of Andre Williams right behind him

Andre Williams has certainly been busy this offseason. The Giants 4th round pick in last April’s draft spent the offseason working on weaknesses in his game with veteran teammate Rashad Jennings. The two backs have been spending plenty of extra time just catching passes out of the backfield and working on the discipline needed to allow a play to develop.

Williams is also fighting for the starting running back job with Jennings, who left the Oakland Raiders last summer to sign a 4 year $10 million deal with the Giants. Jennings’ first season in the blue and white was less than impressive, running for only 639 yards on 167 touches and just 4 touchdowns. He was also nursing a nagging ankle injury as well as a strained MCL for most of the season. Williams came in for the injured Jennings and took advantage of the opportunity, leading the Giants in rushing with 721 yards on 217 touches and 7 touchdowns.

This offseason, Williams set out to become a bigger part of the Giants passing game, an area which he struggled last year, dropping the ball 19 times out of 37 targets. In addition to dropped passes, he also fumbled the ball 6 times. His hard work this offseason has resulted in an increase in first team reps in camp and in preseason games. There is little doubt that Andre Williams will be the starter for the Giants this season, the real question to ask is when?

The Giants are already committed to improving the run game this season, which ranked 23rd in the league last season. Besides the offensive line, a big reason for that was Jennings’ injury plagued season and both backs not being able to follow their blocking. “I’m just really working on staying patient this year, not just go-go-go as soon as you see the first hole, but remembering what’s supposed to happen and waiting to make sure that its time to go,” Williams told reporters after Saturday nights preseason game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jennings, who turned 30 last March, realizes that he is no longer the young back he once was, and he has turned his focus on teaching Andre Williams different tricks of the trade. Jennings turned Williams onto watching film of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who last season proved to be one of the leagues most patient and elite running backs. Jennings said that William’s biggest problem last year was not waiting long enough for his blocking to develop, and has helped the young player work on that this offseason, truly showing how a veteran teammate is supposed to act.

20 Fast Facts for Your Fantasy Football Draft

21

Last Season: 21 backs and QB Russell Wilson scored more rushing touchdowns than Shady McCoy

Earlier this season I rolled out 50 Fundamental Facts for your upcoming fantasy drafts, but things change quickly once the preseason gets rolling. There are only a couple weeks left to the start of the NFL season and so much has already happened. Here are 20 additions facts to keep you up to date and primed for not just a strong draft, but also a successful fantasy football season.

  1. Drew Brees led the league and set a career high with 659 pass attempts last season.
  2. Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, and Pierre Thomas altogether caught 193 of those passes.
  3. None of the aforementioned remained in the Mardi Gras city for the 2015 season.
  4. Before his season-ending injury in 2014, Brandin Cooks led all wide receivers last season by catching 80% of his targets.
  5. Cooks is healthy and the undisputed No. 1 option for Drew Brees. *
  6. Cam Newton’s yardage total has regressed every year he’s been in the league with his lowest total last season of 3,127 yards.
  7. Kelvin Benjamin accounted for nearly a third (32.2%) of Newton’s passing yards.
  8. Benjamin is out for the season with a torn ACL.
  9. Greg Olsen has led the team in receiving yards for the previous two years. Strong chance Olsen gets the hat trick in 2015.
  10. Eddie Royal has 15 touchdowns in the previous two years.
  11. Eddie Royal’s WR ADP is 51. A couple spots behind the likes of Percy Harvin and Terrance Williams.
  12. C.J. Anderson was fantasy’s No. 1 running back from week 12 on, averaging 18 points per game.
  13. The Denver Broncos have averaged 12 rushing touchdowns a year since Peyton Manning has been under center.
  14. In 2012, Green Bay receivers missed a combined 16 games.
  15. That year, Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,295 yards and 39 touchdowns, while finishing as fantasy’s No. 2 QB.
  16. 21 running backs and QB Russell Wilson scored more rushing touchdowns than LeSean McCoy’s 5 scores last season.
  17. The Texans ran the ball on 52% of play calls, most in the league.
  18. Arian Foster is out for at least half the year paving the way for Alfred Blue who averaged 93 yards in the three games Foster missed last season.
  19. Larry Fitzgerald had his worst statistical year last season (lows in receptions, yards, and touchdowns).
  20. Carson Palmer is definitely better than Cardinals’ reserves Stanton and Lindley, but Fitzgerald will have competition for targets. (Ellington, Floyd, and Brown combined for 141 receptions).

Fantasy Running Backs: Late Round Gold

Chris Ivory is quickly moving up fantasy draft boards

Act now because Chris Ivory is quickly moving up fantasy draft boards

Chris Ivory, Jets:

After three seasons with the Saints, Ivory was shipped to the Jets as an intended first-line back to bolster a staggeringly weak offense. For the past two seasons, Ivory’s draft stock has gradually risen as he produced two 800-yard seasons and a career-high six touchdowns last year. Although his workload was considerably light, splitting some of the sparse touches he got with Chris Johnson, this future could be the next point on a career that is trending upwards. With Johnson signing with the Cardinals, the Jets’ running depth chart has become noticeably bare. The only two serious contenders are Ivory and former Patriots back Stevan Ridley, who is ten months removed from the ACL and MCL injuries that sidelined him for the majority of last season. With Ivory getting a serious number of touches this year and another season of experience under his belt, his average ADP of 81 looks a bit too high.

Ameer Abdullah, Lions:

Arguably the most impressive preseason rookie (perhaps a bit of my Lions bias is in play here), Abdullah’s ADP has risen nearly ten spots since the first list was compiled. This was mostly due to Abdullah’s explosive preseason week 1 performance against the Jets, which saw him gather 67 yards on just 7 carries and a comparison to Barry Sanders in terms of raw speed. An absolute phenom as a college player at Nebraska, Abdullah will have to wrestle the starting job away from Joique Bell and Theo Riddick, with the former trying to return to 100% before the end of the preseason. As he has crossed the threshold into the top 25 of RB ADPs, Abdullah is a safe RB3 with good RB2 potential, should he get the starting job in the Motor City.

Doug Martin, Buccaneers:

After two severely disappointing years in Tampa Bay following a spectacular rookie season, Doug Martin is in quick need of redemption. The negative signs that are pointing for owners not to draft Martin are surely there: a weak offensive line to work with and a solid trio of backs all competing for the starting job does not help Martin’s case for fantasy viability. However, he showed up to camp 15 pounds lighter and noticeably quicker, which could give owners flashes of the Muscle Hamster’s superb performances as a rookie. With Martin a frontrunner to start in Tampa, he is a safe RB2 selection.

Fantasy Draft Zone: Another Down Year for Cam Newton

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Kelvin Benjamin owners weren’t the only ones who took a hit when the young star tore his ACL last week. Cam Newton’s value also took a serious smack in the chops. In 2014, Newton attempted 448 passes for 3127 yards and 18 TDs, and many of those targets went Benjamin’s way. Benjamin’s injury drastically reduces Newton’s value.

Benjamin was Newton’s safety blanket and go to receiver as the season progressed, especially in the red zone. Newton has a nasty habit of throwing the ball too high for most receivers to catch. What made Benjamin special is that he consistently was able to handle Newton’s errant throws.

Expect Cam’s pass attempts to fall and his rush attempts to increase as he arguably has no viable options at receiver. Cam’s stock should fall quickly, mostly because his value as a rusher will be difficult to replicate, as many defenses gameplan specifically for Cam’s read option, and his scrambling talent. As a result, Cam will find it much more difficult to have success in the run game.

With Benjamin’s injury, Devin Funchess becomes one of the Panthers only viable receivers the team has after tight end Greg Olsen. Carolina expects Funchess to become the team’s go-to-guy, but that’s asking a great deal from an unproven rookie.