15 Best Fantasy Values at Wide Receiver on Draft Day
For anybody who has ever played fantasy football, it's understood that there are only a select few receivers that go in the first few rounds.
For those of you who are new to fantasy football and are asking yourselves, "Why?" the answer is simple. Running backs are more of a necessity.
At least, that's how it's always been in the past. This year, things aren't too different, but it's obvious that the whole "running back by committee" idea is making itself known all the way through the NFL.
Nowadays, star receivers have a good shot at getting as many or more points as star running backs. That's what happens when teams have solid goal-line or third-down running backs.
There's no question that you're going to get more value in late rounds from wide receivers than running backs, and that's due to the depth of the position.
We all know that Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald and (this year) Hakeem Nicks are likely going to be snatched up within the first two rounds. So, who are the receivers you can pick up in the later rounds for value?
This article is about to show you.
1. Vincent Jackson (San Diego Chargers)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 26
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 8
Projected Round Taken: 3
Some of you may be thinking, "Vincent Jackson? He's a top 10 wide receiver. I thought this article was about value picks."
Well here's the deal, Jackson has the ability to be a top-five wide receiver by the end of the season. If you can pick him up in the third round, I'd say that's value.
Jackson was due to have a break out year last season. He was coming off back-to-back 1000-plus-yard receiving seasons, and he was only getting better.
Unfortunately, Jackson was limited to only five games last season due to injury, but he's back this season and ready to make up for lost time.
I really like Phillip Rivers. I think he's an underrated quarterback. He's kind of like LeBron James in that he's a stud during the regular season, then has trouble winning the big games.
Lucky for us fantasy folks, we only have to worry about the regular season. Aside from Antonio Gates, Jackson is Rivers' favorite target. I have no doubt in my mind that he won't have a 1200-yard season at least.
That is, if the Chargers can get their running game going. Look for the Ryan Matthews and Mike Tolbert combination to work better this year than it has before. This should open things up for a lot of Rivers to Jackson touchdowns.
2. Miles Austin (Dallas Cowboys)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 31
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 10
Projected Round Taken: 4
Personally, I think Miles Austin is a steal this year in most drafts. If you're getting Austin in the fourth round, chances are you already have at least one star running back, one star wide receiver, and/or one star quarterback.
This means Austin is going to be your second star wide receiver, or your first if you have two star running backs. The fact that Austin is only tenth among wide receivers is laughable.
By the end of the season, Austin will be a top-five wide receiver. How do I know? Let's look at some statistics:
Austin had a huge breakout year in 2009. He had 81 receptions for 1320 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year his stats slipped a bit. He had 69 receptions for 1041 yards and seven touchdowns.
These still weren't bad stats by any means, but we have to remember that Tony Romo only played in five games last season. When Romo plays, Austin gets better numbers, as seen by these stats:
While Romo was still in the lineup, Austin had 33 receptions for 486 yards and two touchdowns. In five games, this averages out to 6.6 receptions per game for 97.2 yards per game and 0.4 touchdowns per game. The touchdowns could have been better, but here's what Austin's averages look like without Romo: 3.3 receptions per game for 50.5 yards per game and 0.5 touchdowns per game.
Guess what? Romo is healthy. If he stays healthy all season, look for Austin to have a huge year.
3. Brandon Lloyd (Denver Broncos)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 46
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 17
Projected Round Taken: 5
Everybody seems to be writing off Brandon Lloyd. They think the that last year had to be a fluke.
If you weren't aware, these were Lloyd's numbers last season: 77 receptions, 1448 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Not too shabby.
I can see how people may think this was a fluke, as this was literally the only year that in Lloyd's eight-year career that he has done anything. His best year had been 48 receptions for 733 yards in 2005.
Well, here's the thing: it's possible that Brandon Lloyd could be a one-hit-wonder, and I would be completely against drafting him had Kyle Orton been traded... but he wasn't.
Orton is still the starting QB in Denver. Lloyd had all his success with Orton flinging the ball to him. The only hiccup with drafting Lloyd this year is the fact that Denver has to get their running game going so Lloyd can continue catching deep balls.
I'm one who believes that Knowshon Moreno will get everything together this year and be rather solid, and the acquisition of veteran Willis McGahee doesn't hurt their running game at all.
Take a chance on Brandon Lloyd. He may not have as much success as he did last season, but last season was one-of-a-kind for an undrafted fantasy wide receiver.
For a projected fifth-round pick this season, Lloyd is worth the risk.
4. Santonio Holmes (New York Jets)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 49
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 18
Projected Round Taken: 5-6
Santonio Holmes has proven he can be a worthy receiver in this league. After coming back from a season-beginning suspension, Holmes had 52 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns in just 12 games for the Jets.
Holmes is by far the best option Mark Sanchez has to throw the ball to, and because the Jets are a run-first type of team, Holmes should get plenty of one-on-one coverage opportunities to exploit.
With Jerricho Cotchery signing with the Steelers and Braylon Edwards signing with the 49ers, Plaxico Burress is assumed to step in to the No. 2 wide receiver spot.
A lot of people are really high on Burress, but Holmes is definitely the receiver on this team to snag up with a draft pick.
We have to remember that Plaxico is 33 years old and coming off of a two-year break from playing football. Holmes is going to be the man, and he's going to have a big year.
He's a tremendous pick-up for a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick.
5. Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 57
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 21
Projected Round Taken: 6
Harvin is electric; everyone knows this. He's got big-play written all over him, and with Sidney Rice signed with Seahawks, Harvin is now the definite No. 1 wide receiver on the Vikings.
Like most people, I wasn't very high on Harvin before the McNabb signing. The Vikings quarterback situation was rough, and even though Adrian Peterson is the best running back in the league, that wasn't enough. They still needed a quarterback.
Even though McNabb is getting older and isn't the same player he was in Philadelphia, he's a huge upgrade from Joe Webb or rookie Christian Ponder. McNabb gives Harvin a chance to be a really nice fantasy player.
Harvin is a huge-risk, high-reward type of player, though. He is constantly sidelined due to migraines, something he hasn't been able to get rid of since he's been in the league. Because of this, Harvin misses random games, sometimes multiple games in a row, and you're left debating whether or not you should drop him for a hopeful waiver-wire receiver.
That's never a good feeling, but for some reason I really think Harvin is going to have a stellar season.
Maybe I just really like Donovan McNabb. Who knows. Whatever the case, go with Harvin. He's going to get a ton of looks this season.
6. Mario Manningham (New York Giants)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 60
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 23
Projected Round Taken: 6-7
After Steve Smith signed with the Eagles, this choice became too easy.
The Giants are down to two really solid wide receivers: Hakeem Nicks (who is a second- or third-round choice) and Mario Manningham.
Manningham is one of the best values at wide receiver in this season's fantasy world. Nicks definitely shined last season by catching 79 passes for 1052 yards and 11 touchdowns, but I think people are forgetting that Manningham also grabbed 60 passes for 944 yards and nine touchdowns.
These are really good stats for a receiver who's going in the sixth or seventh round! With Smith gone, Eli Manning now has no choice but to throw to either Nicks or Manningham. They're the two best options, and they could both easily have 1000-yard seasons.
Ahmad Bradshaw will once again get the bulk of the carries, and once again he will shine. Bradshaw's running ability gives Manning the chance to throw the ball quite a bit.
Look for Mario to have over 70 catches this season with the hope that he even gets more than that.
Pick. Him. Up.
7. Brandon Marshall (Miami Dolphins)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 63
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 25
Projected Round Taken: 7
Brandon Marshall is one wide receiver in this league that should be a top-five candidate every season solely based on his talent. Unfortunately, Marshall keeps getting in terrible situations.
Playing in a really poor Miami offense, Marshall was still some how able to gain over 1000 yards last season, but he was limited to only three touchdowns.
That marked Marshall's fourth year in a row to gain at least 1000 receiving yards, but is it going to be the same this year?
Aside from their quarterback woes, Miami is also in line to start a rookie at running back this season. A rookie running back mixed with a lackluster quarterback is never a good sign for a star wide receiver.
If Marshall wasn't so good, I would be afraid to waste a draft pick on him, but because he is so good, I will gladly waste a seventh-round pick on him and hope for the best.
But really, if he gains over 1000 yards again this year, I think it's safe to say he's a top-five receiver in this league for sure.
8. Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 68
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 24
Projected Round Taken: 7-8
Anquan Boldin has always been a solid receiver. In his seven years in Arizona, Boldin racked up five 1000-yard seasons while playing behind Larry Fitzgerald.
Even though Arizona has been a pass-heavy offense, these are still impressive numbers for a constant No. 2 receiver.
Last season, Boldin's first season with the Ravens, he took a dip in receptions and yards (64, 837), but his seven touchdowns were an increase from his previous season. With Derrick Mason and Todd Heap gone, Boldin figures to be Flacco's primary target.
The acquisition of Lee Evans is going to provide a huge boost to Boldin's stats. Evans will put enough pressure on defenses so that Boldin won't be double-covered.
Flacco is improving every season and Ray Rice is a top-five running back in the league. All signs point to Boldin having a big year, and he'll be a great pick up in the middle rounds of your draft.
9. Mike Thomas (Jacksonville Jaguars)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 89
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 34
Projected Round Taken: 10
Mike Thomas has only played in two seasons, and he already looks like he's going to to be a fantasy star, but is this going to be the year that he becomes a primary option rather than a flex play?
For a 10th-round pick, he's worth taking a chance on.
David Garrard isn't a terrible quarterback by any means, but Blaine Gabbert should have the opportunity to challenge him for the starting role. Either is a more than suitable option for Thomas to have fantasy potential, though.
Thomas outplayed every receiver on the Jags last season, so there's no doubt that he'll be the No. 1 option in Jacksonville again. With Mike Sims-Walker now playing for the Rams, Thomas will get even more opportunities in this season.
Thomas may not be developed enough yet to take the step into fantasy stardom, but when you're playing with a decent quarterback and a great running back (MJD), things typically work out in your favor.
10. Chad Ochocinco (New England Patriots)
Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 91
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 35
Projected Round Taken: 6-8
I love Chad Ochocinco, formerly known as Chad Johnson. Always have. Before he was traded to New England, Ochocinco was 10th-round draft pick at best due to Cincinnati's offensive problems.
He was a sleeper. Now that he's with Tom Brady, he's wide awake and everybody's talking about him.
ESPN still has him ranked as No. 91 overall, which would logically put him in the ninth or 10th round. However, now that everyone's aware that Ochocinco has a great QB to throw to him, he's been going as high as the fifth round.
I like to think that Ochocinco's home is anywhere between the sixth and eight round of most drafts. Some people want to take him early and hope for the best, and some want to wait around on him since his behavior always makes him a risky draft choice.
One thing is for sure: he has all the talent in the world. I would definitely use a sixth-round draft pick on him if he was available and I needed wide receiver depth.
If you didn't know already, here's what Tom Brady helped Randy Moss achieve in his first year in New England:
Moss's Numbers: 98 receptions, 1493 yards and 23 touchdowns.
That's a career year for anybody. Moss and Ochocinco are a lot alike both physically and in the talent department, and their arrivals in New England almost mirror each other.
Is Ochocinco going to have a season that compares to Moss's first in New England? It's unlikely, but stranger things have happened, and Ochocinco definitely has the talent and now he has the motivation to play well.
11. Either NO Saint: Lance Moore, Robert Meachem
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 94, 103
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 36, 39
Projected Round Taken: 10-11
When you're drafting in the double digit rounds, chances are you have a pretty set lineup; everything from here on out is for depth.
Look no further. Everybody knows the Saints are a pass-heavy team, and last season Lance Moore was Drew Brees' second favorite target.
He finished with 66 receptions for 763 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The eight touchdowns were a team high. That's really good value for a receiver in the double-digit rounds.
Meachem, on the other hand, is extremely athletic and the team's best deep threat. He only had 44 receptions last season, which isn't bad for a team's third receiving option, but he also added five touchdowns.
Really, any New Orleans Saints receiver that gets playing time should be considered during your draft. Even Devery Henderson, who is currently No. 247 in ESPN's Top 300. He even had 34 receptions for 464 yards last season.
When Drew Brees is healthy, any receiver on the Saints' roster is a decent fantasy play.
12. Davone Bess (Miami Dolphins)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 133
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 50
Projected Round Taken: 14-16
Did I already talk about why Brandon Marshall should be considered one of the best wide receivers in the league because he could gain 1000 receiving yards in an abysmal offense?
So, does this make the second wide receiver in the list coming from an abysmal offense?
Yes, and let me tell you why.
Bess is the only other option Henne has had to throw to. Last season he had 79 receptions for 820 yards and five touchdowns. This was only seven fewer receptions than Marshall and actually two more touchdowns!
With the acquisition of Reggie Bush, Henne now at least has another option to throw to, but Bess has proved his worth in this offense.
While defenses are keyed in on Marshall, Bess has taken advantage of lackadaisical defense and one-on-one coverage.
Bess is young and just getting better. He's going to be a good fantasy option for years to come.
13. Mike Sims-Walker (St. Louis Rams)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 139
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 52
Projected Round Taken: 14-16
Before being traded to St. Louis, Mike Sims-Walker was going undrafted in virtually ever league. Then the trade happened and suddenly people are realizing that he has gobs more potential in St. Louis then he ever did in Jacksonville.
After many believed that Sims-Walker would improve on his impressive sophomore season with Jags, his play proved otherwise, as he had 20 fewer receptions for 300 fewer receiving yards. He was out-shined by fellow starter Mike Thomas, and just like that David Garrard found a new favorite wide receiver to throw to.
Sims-Walker gets to start fresh in St. Louis where he'll be playing with an up-and-coming star in Sam Bradford at QB. If motivated, there should be no reason Sims-Walker won't win a starting job with the Rams.
The wide receiving corps in St. Louis is in desperate need of somebody to step up and be the go-to guy much like Torry Holt was for so long.
Danny Amendola did his best Wes Welker impression last season and finished with some pretty decent stats, but if that's Sims-Walker's biggest competition, then he should be pretty set to have a nice year.
14. Steve Breaston (Kansas City Chiefs)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 172
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 55
Projected Round Taken: Undrafted
Breaston has had a solid four-year career in Arizona playing third fiddle to wide receiver and superstar Larry Fitzgerald as well as the aforementioned Anquan Boldin. He had his best season in 2008: 77 receptions for 1006 yards and three touchdowns.
Those three touchdowns were the most Breaston has had in a single season since joining the league in 2007. Now that Breaston has signed with Kansas City, that number has a great chance to change.
Again, Breaston will have to be the No. 2 receiver, but getting receptions while playing behind the inconsistent Dwayne Bowe is a lot different than playing behind Fitzgerald.
Bowe had his best season last year as he and Matt Cassel finally got on the same page. Bowe will be Cassel's first target, but the speedy Breaston is easily Cassel's new deep threat, and he should see plenty of passes thrown his way.
We have to remember that the Chiefs are first and foremost a running team. Jamaal Charles is poised to have a huge year, and Thomas Jones is still around in the backfield as well. One good thing about having a solid rushing attack though is making the defense cheat closer to the line of scrimmage.
The running game opens up the passing game, and Breaston is going to benefit from this like he was never able to do in Arizona.
15. Arrelious Benn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
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Current ESPN Fantasy Overall Ranking: 232
Current ESPN Fantasy WR Ranking: 75
Projected Round Taken: Undrafted
There's really no need to draft Benn. He's definitely going to be available on waiver wires after the first week, so you can judge for yourself how he's doing.
But if you're wondering how to use your last-round draft pick and you need depth at wide receiver, Benn isn't a bad choice.
He was a highly touted rookie coming into last season who just didn't perform as well as many projected he would. Instead, fellow rookie Mike Williams became the fantasy star.
Williams is still a good No. 2 receiver on your team this year, but Benn could become a solid flex play if defenses start paying more attention to Williams.
Right now, Benn is set to start at flanker for the Bucs, so he will have opportunities; he just has to make the most of them.
Value Wide Receivers to Avoid
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Colston plays on a pass-heavy offense, which is a good thing, but he's also surrounded by other good options at receiver and tight end, which isn't a good thing. Last season, Colston had 10 games in which he scored in the single digits and eight games in which he caught fewer than five passes.
You can find better production for a wide receiver who's projected to be drafted in the fifth round.
See: Brandon Lloyd and Santonio Holmes
Johnson came out of nowhere last season and had 10 touchdowns. He's the Bills best receiving option, but that's really not saying much, especially now that defenses are aware of his ability. Ryan Fitzpatrick is still the QB, and even though he may eventually be a decent QB, Johnson needs a good one now.
Look for defenses to blanket Johnson this season. If that happens, Johnson is going to get upset and start blaming people not named Steve Johnson.
Rice is a really good receiver, there's no doubt about that, but he's in a pretty terrible position in Seattle. Had Matt Hasselbeck stuck around, Rice may have had some value, but with Tervaris Jackson looming in the shadows as Seattle's potential starter, Rice can only wonder why he left Minnesota only to play with his former back-up QB teammate.
Oh yeah, he's making $18 million.
Edwards has all the talent in the world, but it seems like he rarely shows it. He's the NFL's Lamar Odom. His inconsistency is a constant nag, but he at least did show signs of bettering himself last season with the Jets. Unfortunately, he is now playing in San Francisco where Alex Smith has even less of an arm than Mark Sanchez.
The bright side is that Michael Crabtree is constantly injured, so Edwards should see the bulk of the targets.
Yes, Michael Vick took some time off to go to prison and returned valiantly, but who's to say that Plaxico is going to do the same thing?
Plaxico was certainly a great receiver with both the Steelers and the Giants while he was in the league, but now that he's 33 and he's taken two seasons off there is a high chance that injuries could occur. There's also the fatigue thing.
Here's a good sign: Plaxico won't play in the Jets preseason opener due to spraining his ankle while route-running.
Yeah, I'm staying away from Plaxico this season.