Tuesday, June 26, 2012

12 Receivers to Draft Late

Sorry for the lack of posting recently, family issues have kept me away from the blog and my research. Assessing receivers has also been driving me crazy. Did you know that only ~17 receivers break 1,000 yards each season? Did you know that the 50th ranked receiver (in yards) typically ends up with just over 600 receiving yards? That makes predicting receivers a monumental task. The best advice I can give is to load up in the late rounds, because there is an extremely low correlation between draft position and success for receivers, compared to other positions (especially when you remove injuries). Furthermore, the difference between receivers between 30 and 50 is pretty small in terms of fantasy, so your goal should be to draft 5-6 receivers that could be great. Naturally there are a number of receivers that you can count on, I won't list them here, but they are most of the same guys who finished towards the top last season. This post will not discuss any receiver ranked lower than 80th on the NFL's top 200 list (other lists may vary slightly), but anyone after 80th would definitely be considered a "late-round" pick. This list is designed to giver you a better grasp of which receivers are likely to be available for you at the end of the draft, given the high degree of uncertainty amongst receivers. (Just so you are aware, none of these players are ranked higher than 73rd on ESPN's "top 200" list, either).

Antonio Brown (ranked 87th) - Antonio Brown is actually on the list of players I believe will have over 1,000 receiving yards this season. He had 1,108 receiving yards last season but only caught 2 touchdowns. He has an added opportunity with Mike Wallace holding out, so the fact that he is set up to be a 9th round pick is unbelievable. Feel free to grab him in the 8th round and feel confident that he will be a top-20 receiver this season.

Greg Little (ranked 90th) - Greg Little had a surprising rookie season with the Browns, where he led the team in receptions (61) and yards (709). This receiving corps didn't get any better, so Greg Little has the ability to have a good season if he can increase his touchdown total. Hopefully he will find more open space with Trent Richardson running the ball, but I still don't think he will have 1,000 receiving yards. Definitely worth a look at the top of the 10th round, especially since most people have no idea who Little is, and could allow him to drop into the 11th (depending on how many computers are drafting).

Darrius Heyward-Bey (ranked 95th) - DHB was on fire at the end of last season, and he really seemed to connect with Carson Palmer. Even if he doesn't do much better than last season (975 yards and 4 touchdowns) he still has value as a 10th round pick. I believe that DHB will help your fantasy team, although he might start climbing up draft boards once training camps and preseason games start. This guy has the speed, and he had three of his 4 touchdowns in the last 5 games of the season. Feel confident that there are very few players ranked this low with this much potential.

Denarius Moore (ranked 110th) - A lot of experts predict Moore to overtake DHB as the top receiver in Oakland this season. While I don't see that happening, Moore still has serious speed and had more touchdown receptions (5) than DHB last season, despite missing 3 games. He has the ability to have 1,000 receiving yards, but 800-900 is more likely. He is going to be a lot like Torrey Smith in that he could have 1 catch for 5 yards one day and then 4 catches for 130 yards the next. If he proves to be consistent you will feel great about drafting him in the 10th or 11th rounds.

Doug Baldwin (ranked 114th) - While I don't like him as much at Moore, he did prove to be a valuable asset for the Seahawks (788 yards and 4 touchdowns) in his rookie season with T-Jax throwing the ball to him. If you are like me and expect Matt Flynn to be better than Jackson, Baldwin certainly retains the potential to have 1,000 receiving yards. Considering that Sydney Rice has been so injury prone lately, he might be the top receiver on the depth chart for most of the season. Furthermore, look at how well Flynn did finding Jordy Nelson in Week 17. There is always a chance of Baldwin breaking out this season, and he is well worth the 12th round pick for that chance.

Pierre Garcon (ranked 122nd) - I am not a huge fan of Pierre Garcon, but I doubt that I could pass up a probable primary target for any quarterback in this league (except the Jaguars). Garcon caught 70 balls for 947 yards and 6 touchdowns with Dan Orlovsky and Curtis Painter throwing the ball to him. I think most people would agree that RG3 is at the very least comparable to those guy (at the very very least), and that Garcon would be an absolute steal with those numbers in the 13th round. Odds are that he moves towards the 100th spot as training camp goes on.

Mike Williams (ranked 132nd) - Mike Williams disappointed a lot of fantasy owners last season, but this might be his season. Vincent Jackson should be able to pull coverages away from him, allowing for a yard-per-catch number closer to the 14.8 that he enjoyed in his rookie season. I bet you didn't know that Mike Williams caught the exact same number of passes (65) in 2010 and 2011. The big difference was his drop from 11 touchdowns in 2010 to only 3 touchdowns in 2011. At the very end of the draft it is hard to pass up a player who has big-play potential in an improving offensive system. I wouldn't draft him with confidence, but I would definitely consider him a worth-while risk in the 13th or 14th rounds.

Danny Amendola (ranked 138th) - This might be the highest-ranked Rams receiver on the whole list. Amendola was a deep sleeper last season before he had two huge, unlucky injuries. You should feel confident with his return because NEITHER injury happened in his legs. The final injury that kept him out of the last half of the season was a triceps injury. Amendola is a deep sleeper again, and many people compare him to Wes Welker. If he can get 900 yards and 6 touchdowns he will be worth an extremely late round pick.

Brandon LaFell (ranked 141st) - The Panthers have said that they really love LaFell, saying that he should be 2nd on the depth chart for them this season. That is a huge vote of confidence for this third-year receiver who had 613 yards and 3 touchdowns last season. If you believe in Cam Newton, you should feel good about LaFell's chances to have a break out season. I don't like him as much as some of these other receivers, but this is a list of possible choices. You should pick people from this list who you feel most confident with.

Titus Young (142nd) - That's right; Titus Young is currently rated as a 15th round pick by the analysts at NFL.com. Now I am going to say that there is absolutely no way he stays here, but sometimes players get overlooked. Keep an eye on this position, because you will be thanking me if you end up drafting Titus Young in the 13th-15th round. This is one of the highest rated 2nd-year WRs, and I like him much better than Baldwin (Doug or Jon).

Sidney Rice (ranked 158th) - This guy is a huge risk, given his recent injury history, but can you believe that he is only 2 seasons removed from his 1,312 yard - 8 touchdown performance with Brett Favre in Minnesota? Oh how the times change. Again, if you think Matt Flynn will be a decent quarterback, drafting Sidney Rice is a great idea. He did have two 100-yard games last season, in the 9 games he played. Take a chance on him if you need a receiver late in the draft.

Randall Cobb (ranked 184th) - Consider this guy an extremely deep sleeper, but the 2nd-year Packer could be the one to replace Donald Driver on the depth chart. I wouldn't draft him unless I was in a really deep league, but you have to consider him an option if Nelson or Jennings get hurt this season. Just be aware of him.

A few other receivers deserve a mention; Austin Collie (191st) could have a nice year for the Colts, Eddie Royal (unranked) could become one of Rivers' favorite targets.


  1. Great article. Love the blog. Are you gonna do weekly projections/rankings?