Each year, receivers come from seemingly out of nowhere and become fantasy relevant. A savvy fantasy football player will look to see what potential values exist in the later rounds in an attempt to identify who some of those breakout players will be. I am going to detail a few players with relatively late ADPs on Myfantasyleague.com and ESPN who have the potential to breakout in 2017 because of either talent or opportunity.
Kendall Wright – Chicago Bears – MFL 200th – ESPN 170th – At this time last week Kendall Wright wasn’t even fantasy relevant. However, within the last week Cameron Meredith tore his ACL in addition to other damage to the knee. Kendall Wright is now the most established proven receiver on the Bears roster. Wright is not a home run threat, but if given sufficient volume, he is more than capable of being a 1,000 yard receiver as he showed in 2013 when he was targeted 140 times and caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards. Wright’s career yards per catch is only 11.6 so as I said before he will need volume if he’s going to produce. Kendall Wright may put up numbers similar to what Pierre Garcon did last year.
Torrey Smith Philadelphia Eagles – MFL 190th – ESPN 144th – Torrey Smith has never been a high volume player, but if given enough opportunities he could go over 1,000 yards receiving. Horribly miscast in San Francisco, Smith has a chance to rebound in 2017 after wasting away for the last few years. Smith is a one trick pony, but as of right now he is starting for the Eagles, and after they traded away Jordan Matthews, Smith may be worth a late round dart throw.
Marqise Lee – Jacksonville Jaguars – MFL 180th – ESPN 170th – In 2016 Blake Bortles struggled with the deep ball and we saw Marqise Lee finally put together a relevant season as Bortles check down option. So far, Bortles hasn’t shown much improvement this preseason, so I think it’s safe to say we can count on similar numbers from Lee in 2017. Lee might be worth a shot as one of your last picks.
Cooper Kupp – Los Angelas Rams – MFL 156th – ESPN 138th – The jury is still out on Jared Goff and the reality is we don’t know what he is going to do in 2017. One thing we do know is what Goff has been to date. Goff’s average depth of target was only 7.3 yards which was the third lowest in the NFL last year behind only Alex Smith and Sam Bradford. If Goff continues to be conservative with his throws, Cooper Kupp could be a volume dependent less athletic version of Jarvis Landry. Don’t reach on Kupp. In a Kentucky Fantasy Football State Championship draft I did on August 20th, somebody drafted him at the top of the 11th round which is considerably higher than his ADP. This may seem like a reach based on his ADP, but he was drafted around guys like Marqise Lee and Cole Beasley. My takeaway from that draft is that you need to know your league and be prepared to play your specific draft accordingly.
Cole Beasley – Dallas Cowboys – MFL 154th – ESPN 136th – Cole Beasley is who he is but the fact remains that he led the Cowboys in receiving yards last year. Dak Prescott is still young in his career and should continue to look Beasley’s way as his safety blanket along with Jason Witten. Beasley could be a great flex or bye week filler with one of your last round picks.
Sterling Shepard – New York Giants – MFL 143rd – ESPN 137th – Sterling Shepard is going to be a huge wild card this year due to the signing of Brandon Marshall. Shepard had 8 touchdowns in 2016 and Marshall’s presence may take away some of Shepard’s red zone production. To me, Shepard should continue to see a high volume of targets from the slot, because he is a different player than Beckham and Marshall. The wild card with Shepard will be touchdowns. Another thing to think about is that Marshall’s presence may open things up underneath a little bit more for Shepard, so he could potentially see higher volume in 2017, but that is purely speculation. At his 12th round ADP in 12 team leagues, Shepard is a great value who may offer volume based upside.
Josh Doctson – Washington Redskins – MFL 153rd – ESPN 145th – Josh Doctson needs to be a pro and figure out how to stay on the field. I am kind of getting DeVante Parker-like vibes about Doctson who struggled to stay healthy in his first two seasons in the league. However, if Doctson is able to pull it together, he has some great upside and could have a breakout season. Beware, because the breakout may not come until halfway through the season or it may not come at all. At his current ADP he is worth a shot.
Kenny Britt – Cleveland Browns MFL 136th – ESPN 112th – Naming Deshone Kizer the starting quarterback in Cleveland may benefit Kenny Britt the most between the Browns receivers. Kizer has a live arm and may look to pepper Britt with targets, especially given his large frame and catch radius. Young quarterbacks tend to favor either slot receivers because their routes are normally shorter or larger receivers because they tend to have a larger catch radius. When a player has a larger catch radius, it usually means the quarterback has some margin for error with their throws which Kizer is likely to need. At Britt’s current ADP, he could be an absolute steal as long as he gets over 100 targets.
Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions – MFL 126th – ESPN 129th – In 2016 Marvin Jones started off the season on fire but cooled off considerably over the final half of the season. Jones may have shown that he is best served as a secondary piece and not the primary passing option, but with a full year of playing with Stafford under his belt, the two should have better chemistry than they did last year. Another thing to hang your hat on with Jones is that the Lions pass the ball a lot, 11th most in the NFL in 2016, so volume should be there and he has a solid QB throwing him the ball.
Tyrell Williams – Los Angelas Chargers – MFL 111th – ESPN 117th – In 2016 Tyrell Willams was a top 15 wide receiver. In 2017, Keenan Allen is back but Allen is not a comparable player to Williams. Williams is big and fast, while Allen is more of a possession type receiver. Although Allen figures to lead the Chargers in receiving targets in 2017, if healthy, Williams should still have solid production as he achieved top 15 numbers with the 22nd most receiving targets in the league with 119. Williams is likely to repeat as a WR2, but he isn’t being drafted as such because of Keenan Allen’s presence.
Jeremy Maclin – Baltimore Ravens – MFL 107th – ESPN 90th – The Ravens were the most pass happy team in the league last year and need to replace targets vacated by Steve Smith, Dennis Pitta and Kamar Aiken. With Breshad Perriman seemingly always on the mend, Maclin could very well step in and be a back-end WR1. Keep in mind, Maclin hasn’t put up great seasons as of late, but he’s been playing with Alex Smith who is in the bottom 3 of average depth of target from 2016.
Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers – MFL 96th – ESPN 74th – Pierre Garcon has never been a big chunk play wide receiver, averaging 12.5 yards per reception over his career, but he should see a tremendous amount of volume as the number one receiver in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Garcon has never been a big red zone threat either. If Garcon gets 140 targets in 2017, he is a good bet to go over 1,000 yards off 90+ catches. Another thing to keep in mind is that he will be playing with Brian Hoyer who is competent, and will most likely be playing from behind a lot, so he might get some garbage time production.
DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins – MFL 79th – ESPN 78th – DeVante Parker has never been able to put together a full NFL season but the pedigree is there. Parker is extremely athletic and could be a draft day steal, potentially a WR1 if he stays healthy. The thing with Parker is that his ADP is currently low based on his potential, but if you draft him at his current ADP and he flops like he has the last 2 years, then you have borderline wasted a 6th or 7th round draft pick which could have been used on a top end quarterback or tight end. You need to make a decision whether you are buying in on Parker this year and proceed accordingly. Drafting Parker comes down to how risk averse you are as a person.
Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals – MFL 61st – ESPN 44th – In PPR leagues Larry Fitzgerald is as consistent as it gets. You can lock in Larry for 90+ catches, over 1,000 yards receiving and about 8 touchdowns. Fitzgerald’s ADP comes in around the late 5th or early 6th rounds because he is what he is, and he isn’t exciting anymore. The fact remains that if you draft him, you are locking in a WR2 to your roster.
Golden Tate – Detroit Lions MFL 55th – ESPN 45th – Golden Tate is in the same boat as Larry Fitzgerald only he has a little bit more juice to his game. Tate is slightly more upside that Larry because he’s a little younger and has a little bit more foot speed. Tate is currently being drafted in the 5th round which is a steal in PPR leagues. Barring injury Tate is a lock for 90 grabs.
Beware of the Chris Hogan Hype Train – At this time last week, Chris Hogan’s ADP sat at 205 on MFL. Hogan was considered nothing more than a late round dart throw who you could plug into your lineup and hope that it was his turn to come through in a crowded New England passing attack. Since last week, Julian Edelman tore his ACL leaving one less mouth to feed in the New England passing attack and Hogan’s ADP has gone up to 116th. I understand Hogan’s volume is set to increase, but we need to pump the breaks a little bit, because he put up the numbers he did in 2016 without Brandin Cooks and without Gronk for half the year. In 2017, Gronk seems to be healthy and although Edelman has been lost for the year, Brandin Cooks is there. I am a huge Chris Hogan fan, and I would draft him, but I would pump the breaks on the hype train a little bit. I wouldn’t draft him any higher than the 10th round.