We are at the point of the offseason where rookie fever is reaching its peak. The combine is behind us, and the NFL Draft is fast approaching. The urge to either sell or acquire rookie picks is strong. However, I am here to suggest an alternative route, especially if your team is contending.
As the league becomes more pass-friendly, there is value to be had at the wide receiver position deeper in drafts than ever before. Securing as many talented players is the goal of any owner, but sometimes identifying the best WR3 or flex value can be the difference between winning a title and not.
Here are three undervalued wide receivers to target in dynasty this offseason.
Marvin Jones (ADP – WR43)
The perception of age at the wide receiver position within the fantasy community is downright mind-boggling at times. Yes, it is nice to be able to move on from a player before he starts to decline in production and no longer has startable value on your roster or tradeable value in your league. However, the dynasty community is becoming so increasingly infatuated with incoming rookies and youth that there are windows of opportunity for savvy owners.
Marvin Jones is a perfect candidate for this description. He’s on the wrong side of 30 years old, and many are ready to move on. Context always matters. Let’s take a closer look.
Jones had a productive season considering the quarterback carousel in Detroit and that his season was limited to 13 games due to injury. He had the second-most points in a season in his eight-year career and scored at least nine touchdowns for the third time in seven active seasons.
As mentioned in a previous article where I talked about how Kenny Golladay is the perfect target for win-now rosters, the Lions season was limited offensively by only getting eight games from starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
As noted above, the return of Stafford will help bring the Lions offense back to fantasy relevance. Jones, for his part, has had five straight seasons in which he’s been on a 100-target pace. His opportunities are certainly not lacking.
Snaps and Opportunities
This past season, even while playing alongside rising star Golladay, Jones rarely left the field. While Golladay is now the clear alpha wide receiver, and T.J. Hockenson will look to improve upon an up and down rookie season, Jones should pace as the clear No. 2 in Detroit.
Yes, Jones is starting to get up there in age as far as wide receivers are concerned. However, I firmly believe he has at least two more seasons of fantasy relevance, and he deserves a spot on your roster moving forward. Taking a quick peek at how other aging vets have performed over the years, Jones stacks up very nicely despite his lack of Day 2 draft capital.
To be transparent, using the cohort around Jones listed above, here is how they did in their ninth and 10th seasons in the league.
James Jones only played one more season while Greg Jennings fell off in Year 10. However, I would put my money on Jones following the trend of Santana Moss and Hines Ward for two more seasons. He’s tied to a talented quarterback on an offense that loves to throw the ball. Go get Jones while you can and have a safe floor of production for a couple more seasons.
Trade Suggestions – mid-2020 2nd, Jordan Howard
Sterling Shepard (ADP – WR49)
Sterling Shepard is going to be a fun player to watch as the New York Giants enter their first offseason in quite some time without Eli Manning on the roster. Shepard has been consistent and productive, if underwhelming, throughout four years in the league. Multiple concussions marred his 2019 season, so this coming season will be quite telling.
It’s always good to follow the money. Pay attention to where and how teams invest in their players and who they give notice and priority. Shepard is in the early stages of a four-year, $41 million contract that has him signed through 2023. With Golden Tate starting to age, and fifth-round rookie pick Darius Slayton coming out of nowhere, I foresee the Giants still leaning on Shepard in the passing game.
Shepard’s Secure Role
Shepard benefits by having a secure role on his offense. While his main task will be staying healthy this coming season, hitting a 90% snap share is encouraging for this wideout who I believe is beginning to come into his own. Heading into this past season, Shepard was even suggested as a cheaper, preferred buy over Corey Davis.
In addition to seeing ample opportunities on the field, physically seeing adequate targets is an excellent way to track potential production as well. Despite only playing in 10 games this past season, Shepard soaked up at least seven targets in nine of those games. His full-season pace of over 132 targets would have been good for 13th at the wide receiver position.
Speaking of targets, Shepard was highly productive down the stretch this last season. Following his Week 11 bye, he was the WR10 in terms of total targets the rest of the way. The receiving room is getting a bit crowded in New York (which is excellent for Daniel Jones) with Tate, Slayton, and Evan Engram. I believe that a healthy Shepard will be able to provide value for your dynasty team moving forward.
Trade Suggestions – mid to late 2020 2nd, Matt Breida + 2020 3rd
Dede Westbrook (ADP – WR67)
Every once in a while, there’s such a vast discrepancy in where a player is being drafted compared to where he theoretically should be that you wonder how fantasy owners let it happen. Dede Westbrook is a prime example of this phenomenon.
Here’s a quick example of who is going ahead of Westbrook.
- 17 kickers
- Five team defenses
There are almost two full rounds (in 12 team leagues) of traditionally late-round draft picks being selected ahead of Westbrook as of this writing. His current ADP, listed above, is well below where he has finished the past two seasons.
In those two seasons, he had at least 100 targets, 65 receptions, and 650 receiving yards. He is a great flex option that can be had for much cheaper than he should be. This past season, Westbrook accrued at least six targets in 11 of 15 active games. For someone who is mostly going undrafted in 12 team leagues with a 16 round draft, that’s solid, consistent volume.
Along with the rest of his Jaguar teammates, the quarterback situation will be something to monitor moving forward. There have been some trade rumors surrounding Nick Foles, but his current contract may suggest otherwise. However, the surprising success of Gardner Minshew cannot be ignored either.
Even dating back to the last offseason, we were left wondering if Westbrook could break out in 2019 or if he was just a guy. Regardless, Westbrook is in a prime position to have a solidified role on this team moving forward.
Trade Suggestions – late 2020 2nd, early 2020 3rd
Each of the three wide receivers covered has an ADP that I believe provides them value in dynasty leagues this offseason. While it’s nice to have loaded rosters across the board, it is necessary to find depth players who can be either weekly flex plays or spot starters for a particular week. Those subtle moves often make the difference for championship teams.