We need to identify the guys who have the potential to slide up from our bench into weekly dependable starters. If you can get one or two players who you drafted late to exceed their ADP, and combine them with the studs you drafted in the first few rounds, you can be sitting on a fantasy football championship team. The first few rounds are easy, but when you get to the mid to late rounds, it gets challenging. One of my goals for the next few posts is to really dig deep into trying to project which players from those mid-to-late rounds will have the most opportunity to become fantasy relevant and outperform their ADP.
In 21 career games, Martavis Bryant has 76 catches for 1314 yards and 14 touchdowns. When he’s on the field, he really makes a difference in this offense; defenses have no choice but to pay attention to the other side of the field and not solely focus on Antonio Brown. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Brown had his lowest yardage total in four years with Bryant off the field last year, while having his two highest yardage totals with Bryant on the field for the most part in 2014 and 2015. When Bryant came into the league, he weighed in at 211 pounds, and he’s coming into 2017 around 225, looking noticeably more muscular; we’re assuming this will help him against physical cornerbacks, something he struggled with a bit during his first two years.
Bryant is being drafted early in the 5th round, behind guys like Michael Crabtree, Jarvis Landry, Keenan Allen, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and Terrelle Pryor. While I like most of these guys, the ceiling for Bryant is way higher than any of them. The offense can potentially be one of the best in the league, and Ben likes to sling it. They’ve struggled to find that second playmaker at the receiver position last year, juggling that role between multiple guys, which allows for Bryant to come back into the offense with open arms and opportunity. I expect him to step right in and continue where he left off. We know he will get the opportunity early on, and with his talent he will get results. There is obviously a risk of suspension with him, but taking him in the 5th absolves that risk.
Julian Edelman and Gronk are Brady’s favorite targets. With Brandin Cooks coming into the fold, we’re unjustly undervaluing Edelman. Gronk is also healthy, and if you look at the numbers over their career together, Edelman actually performs better when Gronk is on the field. It makes sense, similar to the Antonio Brown – Martavis Bryant duo. When defenses need to focus on multiple guys, the offense becomes more effective. Gronk has actually been the one stretching the seam, and Edelman has been catching a ton of short passes from Brady. With the addition of another elite field-stretcher in Cooks, that leaves the middle of the field a lot more open, and Brady will just pick apart what the defense gives him. With his old reliable target doing all his work in those open areas, he will gladly pepper him with targets, which means he’s obviously more valuable in PPR.
We can’t assume that Cooks will come in and pull a Randy Moss, because he’s not Randy Moss, or anything close to his talent level. Belichick wants a guy like Cooks for all these other reasons I described as well, not just so that Cooks can catch long touchdowns. Last year, Edelman did have a slow start to the season, possibly because of the injury he suffered in training camp. However, from Week 7 on, he had at least 8 targets each week, and had at least 10 targets 9 times last season. That’s opportunity I like, and I expect Edelman to continue his PPR dominance. He’s currently going in the 5th round, behind guys like Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, Jarvis Landry, Terrelle Pryor, and Alshon Jeffery. I have more confidence at this point of the offseason starting Edelman every week than I do any of those guys in PPR.
See what I think about Pierre Garcon in another article I wrote. He’s one of my favorites this year at his ADP. Brian Hoyer locks onto his favorite receiver and makes them very fantasy relevant. A potential 100-target receiver going in the 8th round? I’ll take it.
I know, I know. You don’t want to draft any Jets wide receivers. But this man had 105 targets last year. With Decker and Marshall gone, that’s about 15 more targets per game that are up for grabs. If Enunwa gets the opportunity, he will produce. The upside might not be crazy high, but this team will be passing the ball a ton in the second half trying to catch up. If Enunwa can get 120-130 targets, he can be a WR2 or high-end WR3. He’s currently going at the bottom of the 10th round, around guys like Mike Williams, Marvin Jones, Rishard Matthews, Mike Wallace, and Adam Thielen. Enunwa can probably end up with more targets than any of those guys, since he’s probably the only clear #1 on their respective teams. If Bryce Petty is the starter though, draft Robby Anderson 🙂
Tyrell Williams has been pushed to the curb by the fantasy community after a breakout season last year. Unfortunately for him, the team drafted potential superstar Mike Williams early in the first round and Keenan Allen is coming back from injury. Tyrell stepped up in a big way after Allen got hurt in the first game of the season last year. Williams is going towards the end of the 11th round. He finished with 69 receptions for 1059 yards and 7 touchdowns. His average yards per reception was a very healthy 15.3. He was one of Rivers’ favorite targets last year after, and played a big role in the offense. One play I will never forget was from one of the last games of the season where Williams had a dislocated shoulder, didn’t have any catches the whole game, but Rivers aired one out to him for a long touchdown in the 4th quarter. That showed me that Rivers has confidence in this kid. Williams is easily at least the 3rd receiver on this team, and can see plenty of time on the field, even with Allen back and Mike Williams coming in. He deserves to play over Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman.
The other thing to remember is that Mike Williams currently has a herniated disc in his back. He’s likely to miss significant time in the offseason, and this can really slow him down when it comes to catching up, and ultimately how soon he sees the field. T-Will can have another opportunity to keep reps and stay within the gameplan early in the season. If that’s the case, you got yourself a easily startable WR3 that you got in the 11th round. If not, I think he still has value. Remember, rookie wide receivers generally don’t make a huge splash. They’re involved, but unless your name is Odell Beckham or Michael Thomas, it usually doesn’t happen. Rivers can definitely help speed up that process, but the connection has to be there. I like taking Williams as a no-risk, high-reward player at the end of drafts.
Robert Woods is currently going in the 13th round. Remember what Kenny Britt did last year with the Rams? Robert Woods can easily put together a 1000-yard receiving year in Los Angeles this year. He’s a talented receiver who was capped by a team that had the fewest pass attempts last season. He’s a great route runner who wasn’t used to his ability. Cooper Kupp is a great add for the Rams, but this year Woods should be the main guy, and should take over the Kenny Britt role. We know that Tavon Austin hasn’t played like a traditional wide receiver, which makes me believe that Woods will be a guy who will soak up targets in this offense. If you told me you can get a 1000 yard receiver who can possibly get 6-10 targets a game in the 13th round, I would think you’re crazy. We’re all overlooking Woods because of the team he’s on and the QB that they have. In the two games where he had 10 targets last year, he finished with 7/89 and 10/162. If you can get solid production or even depth that you can plug into your starting lineup in a pinch, that’s a pretty good deal, especially in PPR.