When I released my blueprint for dominating your league by going Robust RB, I mentioned that one of its strengths was the ability to load up on wide receiver talent after an RBx5 start. While I think you can have a roster that is still heavily comprised of WRs, taking them later in the draft necessitates being able to identify players who could outperform their ADP. Here are some guidelines I like to use when trying to find such players:
- Target rookies
- Target WRs in high-volume passing attacks
- Target WRs that play with top quarterbacks
- Target WRs with terrific collegiate production
These guidelines are not exclusive, and will not always result in landing on a player who will hit. However, if we can acquire even a couple of boons in this fashion, we will be set up for a great fantasy season. I pruned down my list of WRs for the Robust RB drafter to 15 players. I will list them in reverse order of ADP, starting today with number 15.
15. Chris Moore
When I originally wrote about Moore as one of my favorite rookie WRs, I talked about how potential chaos in the Ravens WR core could lead to increased opportunity for Moore:
Now imagine the scenario where everything breaks wrong for Baltimore. Smiff give into his age and injury and is no longer good. Perriman’s injury lingers longer than expected and he still isn’t ready for the start of the season. Wallace goes full Wallace and completely bottoms out, and the rest of the guys on the depth chart show to be the JAGs that they are. Now you have a full blown top target in an offense primed to throw the ball a ton. Even if you give this just a 5 percent chance of actually happening, it is very much worth gambling on given Moore’s price.
Well, it appears as thought the first couple of dominoes have already fallen. Breshad Perriman suffered a sprained ACL during OTAs, and while he is not expected to require reconstructive surgery, and he should be ready for the season, there is still a chance this leads to further injury or impacts his play.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith has come out and said he may “get in his car and go home” after catching his 1,000th reception. I’m not super into player narratives, but considering he is coming off of a torn Achilles tendon, we may not see the same, motivated Smiff in 2016. He also may have his role scaled back due to the injury and his advanced age (37). All of this is to say that Moore’s odds of being a starter this year are probably now substantially higher than five percent, and he is coming at a dirt cheap price.
14. Bruce Ellington
When the off-season first started, I was all over Ellington’s teammate, DeAndre Smelter. But with Smelter now being projected to not even make the 49ers final roster, I am pivoting to Ellington, whom Jon Moore has been advocating for since March. I will summarize his excellent points, though you should absolutely read it for the full effect.
- Ellington has athleticism that rivals Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks
- Ellington was insanely efficient in his final two collegiate seasons, with a yards per target of 10.8
- Chip Kelly is now calling the shots in San Fran
- The rest of the WR depth chart is fairly unimpressive after Torrey Smith
So we have a crazy athletic Chip Kelly WR who is slated to start in the slot, a position that has amassed 232 targets over the past two seasons for Jordan Matthews. This sounds like someone you should be targeting heavily throughout the summer.
13. Jeff Janis
I have to imagine that there are many loyal RotoViz readers who arrived at this article due to a Google alert they set up two years ago, so, welcome! I recently wrote for numberFire that Janis is ready to take the next step in fantasy football, and I firmly believe it. Again, to summarize:
- Janis’ playoff performance against the Cardinals was the best by any Packer WR all season.
- Janis’ collegiate profile was so strong, it caused Davis Mattek to write an entire love story about him.
- There is a strong chance he opens the season as the WR3 catching passes from Aaron Rodgers.
- Even if that results in less than 100 targets, Rodgers has already supported a top five WR season on such a target load.
Janis has been quite the fantasy buzz word over the past couple of seasons, but it finally comes to fruition in 2016.
Bonus Target: Quincy Enunwa is another 2014 athletic specimen receiving no buzz right now, and should open as the WR3 for the Jets. Should anything ever happen to the aging Brandon Marshall or Eric Decker, he could be in for a huge target load in a Chan Gailey offense.
12. Jermaine Kearse
It was Doug Baldwin who stole the show last year in Seattle, and Tyler Lockett is the WR gaining steam as a potential breakout player, but we should not forget about the uber-efficient Kearse. From the AYA App.
Despite the massive 2015 breakout, Baldwin has only been slightly more efficient than Kearse over their careers with Russell Wilson. Now let’s see how the trio of Seattle WRs performed in 2015 courtesy of the Career Graphs.
Again, not a huge separation in performances here outside of opportunity, and Kearse had the same number of targets last year as Lockett. He also had nine double-digit fantasy performances to Lockett’s five and Baldwin’s 11. Jimmy Graham also may be done as we know it. So why are we assuming the other two WRs receive so much more opportunity than Kearse in 2016?
This ADP gap simply does not make sense to me right now, and I plan on taking advantage of it this season.
11. Robert Woods
Not a sexy name by any means, but this is probably a good time to remind you that Sammy Watkins is still recovering from foot surgery, and has been one of the more oft-injured WRs in the league during his young career. As such, he has been labeled “high risk” by Sports Injury Predictor, which gives him a 94 percent chance to sustain injury this season, the highest of any WR. Now let’s see how Woods did last season when Watkins was out.
Woods saw a sizable boost in performance last year with Watkins out, and that should be exaggerated in 2016 now that Chris Hogan is with the Patriots. In fact, league average WR1 performance in 2015 was about 14.7 PPR points per game. If Watkins ends up missing time this year, it would not shock me to see Woods approach something like 12.6 points per game (splitting the difference), which would be very usable.
Here is a snapshot of where you can obtain these WRs currently in MFL10s. You’ll note that all five WRs are going after pick 190.
Stay on the lookout for more WRs for the Robust RB drafter!