In case you hadn't noticed, the wide receiver position is stacked.
Brandon Marshall, who is back with the quarterback that he was most successful with in his career, has five straight 1,000-yard seasons. He's being drafted sixth among wide receivers.
Which of the following wide receivers will have the best year?
Wes Welker, fresh off a 122-catch (!), 1,569-yard (!!) season, is seventh. Victor Cruz (1,536 yards and nine touchdowns last year) is 11th.
It goes on and on. The value is downright ridiculous. Grabbing Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones is nice, but in an increasingly pass-happy league, there are at least 25 pass-catchers with a realistic chance of ending the season in the top 10. You'd be much better served taking your chances on guys with higher upside in the later rounds.
With that being said, let's take a look at what underrated studs have a good opportunity to make you an ecstatic fake manager.
Note: All rankings and average draft positions (ADP) come from fantasyfootballcalculator.com
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 53.1, 20th among WRs)
Ben Roethlisberger likes Antonio Brown, maybe even to an unhealthy degree.
In 2011, he targeted Brown 124 times—10 more times than Mike Wallace—and it became clear as the season progressed that Big Ben was growing more and more comfortable with the former Central Michigan star.
It sounds like Wallace will end his holdout and that's a small hit to Brown's value, but all his absence really did was force the Steelers to give Brown a bigger chunk of the offense. See yesterday's 57-yard touchdown as proof:
Brown's upside, in the end, depends on touchdowns. He found the end zone just twice last season, and assuming he continues to be Roethlisberger's favorite target and thus racks up the same number of catches and yards, it won't take much of an improvement to crack the top 10.
This is going to rely on Michael Vick staying healthy, which scares me to my core, but it's hard to pass on Jackson with this kind of value.
The question has never been whether or not Jackson is talented enough to be a top wideout in this league. He's blazing fast and has the elusiveness of a buttered-up chipmunk. The question, however, is simple: Will he ever get his head right?
Well, if that's going to happen, this is the year. Jackson has his contract extension and guaranteed money, meaning he can start, you know, actually playing, which he apparently wasn't doing last year.
Headcase or not, a peaceful Jackson is a dangerous one.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (ADP: 38.8, 13th among WRs)
Bryant is my fantasy kryptonite.
I know the risks involved. He's often injured, he never really puts together a full four-quarter performance and, well, there's always the risk of him getting arrested.
But then he does stuff like this:
If Bryant puts together a full season with Tony Romo slinging him the ball (and that "if" is about as big as the gap between Michael Strahan's teeth), his ceiling isn't just top 10, it's numero uno.
Bryant is the Russian roulette of fantasy football. Proceed at your own risk.