In the darkest recesses of drafts, a statistical monster sleeps. Every year, a near unanimously overlooked player wakes up and snakes on the competition. When it comes to return on investment, who could be this year’s Robby Anderson? Our fanalysts weigh in.
Liz – JAMES WASHINGTON (ADP 167.3, WR71). Winner of the 2017 Biletnikoff Award, Washington averaged 20.9 yards per reception at Oklahoma State. Bailing out then-quarterback Mason Rudolph on a regular basis, the Cowboys’ deep threat converted 87.5 percent of contested catches, per Matt Harmon’s #ReceptionPerception methodology. The 22-year-old proved he could high-point in the pros last Thursday night, nabbing a score in traffic during the game’s second half.
While a preseason effort is nothing to get too excited about, Washington’s showing confirmed practice reports and scouting profiles. Earning praise from Ben Roethlisberger, and with Vance McDonald still sidelined (foot), the rookie appears poised to carve out an immediate role in the Steelers offense. At this point, a 40-catch season feels like a baseline for the Steelers’ second-round pick.
Matt – TAYWAN TAYLOR (228.4 ADP, WR84). During summer best-ball drafts (reserved for only the sickest of fantasy sickos), Rishard Matthews was a popular value pick. Sharp drafters hammered him at a WR40 or later price tag. Since then, Titans training camp has come and gone without a sign of Matthews practicing. The media has zero clues as to the nature of his injury or when to expect him back. While he’s clearly off the fantasy radar, his departure has opened room for an even better screaming value: 2017 third-round wideout Taywan Taylor.
The exciting Taylor has been a first-team player throughout training camp with Matthews on the PUP and Corey Davis in and out of the lineup with his own injuries. While Taylor was primarily a slot receiver (60.8 percent of his snaps) as a rookie, he’s played both inside and outside in the preseason. In my Reception Perception charting from his final college season, Taylor posted a 73.4 percent success rate vs. man coverage and 75.8 percent vs. press, falling at the 74th and 82nd percentile. He certainly has the skills to play outside. Despite his small frame, he also managed to haul in 76.9 percent of his contested catch attempts. Creating big plays and winning in tight spaces are still themes of his game. Bringing to a crescendo the steady positive drumbeat out of camp, Taylor darted to the end zone on a 47-yard catch and run, and hauled in a red zone score. This is a gifted player with multiple layers to his game. Taylor is firmly on the breakout radar as a cheap source of production and week-winning potential on a Tennessee offense with injured starters and new progressive coaching staff.
Scott – KENNY GOLLADAY (138.1 ADP, WR53). Although the Lions already have two name-brand wideouts in Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, this offense is dying for a goal-line staple. Perhaps that’s where Golladay, a 6-foot-4, 213-pound target, can step into the fray. Golladay also knows how to make impact plays downfield, registering a snappy 17.0 YPC in his limited time last year. A catch rate of 58.3 percent is perfectly acceptable when you’re getting downfield that often.
Don’t let the presence of three significant receivers spook you; the Lions don’t have a major mouth to feed at tight end, so Tate, Jones, and Golladay should be able to coexist nicely. Last year, between injuries, Golladay got his cleats wet. This year, he can dive into the pool and make a splash.
Brad – COURTLAND SUTTON (192.1 ADP, WR68). Jovial, good-humored and extremely talented, Sutton is a fantasy monster lurking in the shadows. Yes, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are target commanders, but the 6-foot-3, 218-pound rookie is slated to start in three-WR sets working exclusively outside. Don’t be surprised if he morphs into a red-zone favorite.
The SMU product boasts length, sensational athleticism (84th SPARQ score percentile) and high-point abilities, skills that have left onlookers and coaches drop-jawed at Broncos camp. In a way, he reminds me of an unrefined Calvin Johnson. The rookie needs to sharpen his routes, but it’s no stretch to think he develops into Case Keenum’s new Kyle Rudolph, a prime scoring threat capable of 6-8 touchdowns this season.
Dalton – RYAN GRANT (223.61 ADP, WR82). After the Ravens questionably voided their $29 million contract with him during the offseason, Grant signed a one-year deal in Indy, which is far better for his fantasy value. Suddenly on a team that made an offseason coaching upgrade with an extremely weak WR corps after T.Y. Hilton and an ostensibly healthy Andrew Luck throwing to him, Grant finds himself in a hugely beneficial situation (remember when Donte Moncrief used to be aggressively drafted?). Despite emerging as the clear favorite to act as the Colts’ No. 2 wide receiver, Grant remains an afterthought during drafts.