- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Last week I wrote about five running backs offering great value. This week, I’m tackling wideouts. There’s glut of great receiver value in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. These are players who could easily outperform their current average draft position (ADP). Let me be very clear: I’m not suggesting that you reach for any of these guys. But if you’d like to insure some upside selections from earlier in your draft, or are looking to speculate on late round lotto tickets, then consider these five under-the-radar receivers.
Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
ADP via FFCalculator (12-team Round): 10.01 (WR44 overall)
Garcon broke a lot of fantasy hearts last season after completely busting at his round-five price tag. The additions of coach Jay Gruden and speedster DeSean Jackson, as well as a carousel of incompetency under center, took a giant chunk out of Garcon’s volume. The result was a nosedive in production and the fewest end zone appearances in his seven-year career.
Not a whole lot has changed in Washington, but Garcon is capable of putting up WR3 numbers and out-producing his current draft spot. According to Pro Football Focus, he caught 68.7 percent of the passes thrown his direction last year. He also only dropped two balls all season, giving him the sixth best drop rate in 2014. That sort of efficiency matters when there isn’t a surplus of opportunity.
Speaking of opportunity, Gruden has offered up numerous Pierre-centric platitudes and expressed a desire to get Garcon more involved in this season’s aerial attack. Some may brush it off as coach-speak, but with tight end Jordan Reed perpetually banged-up and pass-catching back Roy Helu now in Oakland, there will be looks to give. A capable possession receiver, Garcon won’t net more than 5 TDs, but he offers more consistency than Breshad Perriman and will out-produce Larry Fitzgearld … both of whom are being drafted earlier.
A tougher and more consistent fantasy asset does not exist in the league. Boldin has been a machine since coming into the league, only allowing his total receiving yards to dip below 830 one time, and that was due to injury. Since arriving in San Francisco he’s ranked among the top twenty-four fantasy players at the position. Last year he was QB Colin Kaepernick’s most trusted weapon, leading all receivers in targets and red-zone looks.
This offseason has been a dramatic one for the 49ers. The franchise has undergone a massive overhaul of staff and talent. Through this transformation, however, Boldin’s rapport with Kaepernick remains constant. There’s even talk that new offensive coordinator Geep Chryst (whom Boldin is familiar with from his time in Arizona) plans to run a faster offense, which would feature more passing plays. Given the team’s defensive woes, that seems entirely likely. Expect the gritty vet to keep pace and produce another 1,000 yard and 5 TD season.
Eric Decker, New York Jets
ADP: 11.03 (WR49)
In 2013 Decker was the ninth best receiver in fantasy. After leaving Denver (and Peyton Manning) for New York (and Geno Smith), he closed out 2014 as the twenty-eighth most productive player at the position. This year his stock has continued to free-fall, landing him in WR5 territory.
The Decker backlash was caused in large part due to his lack of consistency on a week-to-week basis. But let’s not forget that he was hobbled by hamstring issues from the preseason through Week 11. By the time he was actually healthy, former coach Rex Ryan was forbidding Smith from throwing the ball. And yet Decker still managed to put up a 74-962-5 stat line by season’s end.
This season, Decker will have Brandon Marshall drawing top cornerback coverage. He’ll also benefit from new OC Chan Gailey’s spread offense. The quarterback talent will remain subpar, but with Smith taking it on the chin, Ryan Fitzpatrick figures to be a capable and more even-keeled option who’s already familiar with Gailey’s system. Likely to replicate his stats from last year, Decker’s reality show - not his on-the-field potential - is what should be avoided.
Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers
ADP: 12.01 (WR54)
From 2010 through 2012, Johnson was a coveted fantasy talent, producing three consecutive 1,000+ yard seasons. Unfortunately, in 2013 he suffered a mélange of injuries that squashed his productivity. Traded to the 49ers in 2014, Johnson was buried on the depth chart and unable to make an impact in such a run-heavy offense. A casualty of San Francisco’s offseason blood-letting, Johnson was signed by the Chargers and is one of this season’s most intriguing bounce-back candidates.
At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, he can man both the slot and the outside. That means he can slide into Eddie Royal’s old spot or spell the 34-year-old Malcom Floyd (who has already announced that he’ll retire after this season). Furthermore, perennial target hog TE Antonio Gates will be riding out a four-game suspension when the season opens.
Entering the eighth year of his career, Johnson finally has the chance to work with an elite signal-caller. He and QB Philip Rivers spent much of the offseason working out together and reportedly have great chemistry. If he can stay healthy, Johnson could revive his career and fantasy relevance to the tune of 70-850-5, which is well worth his current twelfth round price tag.
Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears
ADP: 13.11 (WR61)
Speaking of the Chargers’ former slot-man, Royal will be spending the eighth year of his career in Chicago. His new team will be full of old faces as he reunites with Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
In 2008, which was Cutty’s last - and Royal’s first - year in Denver, the duo connected 91 times and both produced their highest yardage totals to date. Seven years later, the pair still seem simpatico, displaying breezy chemistry and lauding each other’s talents.
The Bears’ first-round draft pick Kevin White has been hampered with a pesky bout of shin splints, which has opened the door for Royal’s playing time. He won’t see the 90 balls he did his rookie season, or match Wes Welker’s volume from 2013, but he could haul in around 60 catches for just under 700 yards and 4 TDs. Those numbers put in him in the WR3 discussion, especially in PPR friendly formats.
Follow Liz on Twitter @LizLoza_FF
More fantasy football advice from Yahoo Sports