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Mid-round wide receivers to target

August 11, 2011

To me there is a clear-cut top-tier of fantasy wide receivers: Andre, Roddy, Calvin, Nicks, Wallace, Jennings, Wayne, Austin and Fitzgerald. The second tier is a bit smaller with some young, established guys mixed in with older veterans.

But where the real value in drafting wide receivers comes from is in the middle rounds, say 5-10, with even more great values to be had in the later rounds. By my count there are at least eight or nine receivers that are going on average in the fifth through tenth rounds, according to fantasyfootballcalculator’s ADP. I’ll go over those picks, as well as the deeper sleepers in this post.

The guy that jumps off the board first and foremost is Mario Manningham. In Sporting News’ fantasy magazine, Manningham is ranked 35th, despite finishing 17th among receivers in ESPN standard scoring last year. Chad Ochocinco is ranked 20th by SN, despite finishing 35th among WRs last year. Ocho is currently going 15 picks before Manningham according to FFC. Manningham had 42 more points than Ocho last year, over 100 more yards and five more touchdowns. Ocho is 33 years old, and his move to New England might – MIGHT – mean a small bounceback, but this is not going to be a repeat of Randy Moss 2007. Manningham is by far the safer pick.

The most well-known guy on this list could be Wes Welker. He’s going 47th overall, in the middle of the fifth round. This could be a steal, especially in PPR leagues. Welker caught at least five passes in nine games last year and had 50 or more yards in eight games. He’s averaged over 100 catches the last three years, and last year, coming off knee surgery at the end of the ’09 season, didn’t miss a beat and caught 86 balls, which was tied for fifth among WRs. If you can pair him up with a Mike Wallace or DeSean Jackson in a PPR league, you should be good to go.

Percy Harvin finished 20th among WRs last year, but is going 24th among them this year so far. Despite missing two games last year, Harvin caught five or more passes in 10 games. He also had nine games of 60 or more yards receiving, and five games where he scored points rushing, which is the same number of games he scored rushing points in 2009. Donovan McNabb is still a viable quarterback in the NFL and with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Harvin should have room to improve in 2011.

Two Indianapolis Colts make my list: Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon. Collie has scored 15 touchdowns in only 25 career games. He was on pace for a monster year last year (More yards per game than Fitz and Colston), but was sidelined by concussions multiple times. If he makes it through the preseason he should be a great value in the seventh round. Garcon played in 14 games and improved a bit on his breakout 2009 season. Garcon was very consistent last year, and he’s being drafted in the eighth round, where he’d be your fourth/flex receiver. When drafting a guy who would be your fourth/flex receiver, don’t you want a guy getting thrown to by Peyton Manning over John Beck or Rex Grossman? I do.

Johnny Knox also stands out to me, going late in the ninth round on average. He had a great year last year (tied-fifth in yards per catch), is only 24, and had 10 games of 50 or more yards last year. He’s a threat to take it to the house on any long bomb, as evidenced by having seven games where his longest catch was over 30 yards. Against Minnesota, NYJ and Philadelphia – teams usually regarded with good defenses – Knox averaged over 80 yards a game with four total touchdowns.

Another ninth-round receiver is Malcom Floyd. In eight of the 10 games he played in last year Floyd had at least 45 receiving yards. If you’re worried about Vincent Jackson stealing catches and targets from Floyd, just look at Floyd’s 2009 season, which was very similar to last year’s production. For a fourth/flex receiver Floyd has very high upside and his downside isn’t bad at all, because when he plays he produces.

Mike Thomas, 24, improved in every statistical category last year, eventually taking over the No. 1 receiver spot in Jacksonville. He’s going late in the 10th round on average, but could break the 1,000 yard barrier this season. Take him over Hines Ward, who is going three spots earlier than Thomas.

Jacoby Ford came on strong in the second half of last season. He’s a former NCAA track champion, so when he gets into the open field chances are good that he won’t be caught. He provides stats similar to Harvin – Ford scored points on rushing yards in five games last year, including two rushing touchdowns. A season similar to DeSean Jackson’s or Mike Wallace’s rookie years isn’t out of the question.

Late-round options that could prove to be very valuable:

  • Steve Breaston (118th overall) – Already has a 1,000-yard season, and back-to-back 700+ yard season coming into this year. He’s in Kansas City now, reunited with Todd Haley, who was Breaston’s offensive coordinator in his breakout 2008 season. We saw what Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe did last year, so Breaston should be a good bet to have good numbers this year.
  • Danny Amendola (120th overall) – In a PPR league this is just highway robbery. Amendola caught 85 passes last year, and in the improving St. Louis offense, he should improve on his 689 receiving yards.
  • Emmanuel Sanders (132nd overall) – Provides a complimentary deep threat to Mike Wallace and should assume a bigger role in the offense with the decline of Hines Ward this season. Forty-five to fifty catches and 750 yards isn’t out of the question.

From → Fantasy Football

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