We analyzed the average draft position of quarterbacks and now we’re on to the wide receivers. With the number of stud running backs dwindling and numerous solid fantasy options at tight end, the wide receiver position is more than ever likely to determine your fantasy success or failure.
When it comes to drafting wide receivers, there has been a general trend to avoid solid veteran receivers who are unlikely to produce a surprise top ten fantasy season in favor of younger wide receivers who have upside but lack a history of production and are, for the most part, unproven. That being said, there are always a few big names that generally get drafted before they should.
Terrell Owens, BUF (ADP 3.10) – Owens has missed significant time during Buffalo’s preseason, QB Trent Edwards has looked horrible (and tentative) and the Bills have an inexperienced offensive line that will likely be amongst the league’s worst. The O-line will likely relegate the team to few deep throws and Edwards does not appear to have changed from his low risk approach of the past two seasons. Add it all up and Owens carries significant risk from both production and disruption perspectives.
Lee Evans, BUF (ADP 6.05) – Evans is a big play threat playing in a conservative offense led by a quarterback who is reluctant to throw deep. At his current ADP, he is the 25th receiver off the board and it is easy to find plenty of better options than Evans.
Lance Moore, NO (ADP 7.02) – He was one our projected busts and his current ADP (29th wide receiver) makes him an overvalued player in fantasy drafts. As we noted previously, in the six games that Reggie Bush missed, Moore averaged 15.5 points per game. In the other ten games, Moore averaged six points per game. In the five games in which Marques Colston, Bush and Moore all played, Moore averaged 3.3 points per game. If you draft Moore, you are banking on one or both of Colston and Bush being injured. That was his recipe for fantasy success in 2008. Remember that when you decide to overpay for Moore.
Anthony Gonzalez, IND (ADP 4.12) – Amongst wide receivers, Gonzalez is currently sandwiched between DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. If that seems odd, that’s because it is. While Gonzalez possesses decent talent and plays in what figures to be a solid Indy offense, he isn’t a great red zone threat and his average yards per catch declined in his second season as he received more attention from opposing defenses due to Marvin Harrison’s decline. Gonzalez is a solid option as your third receiver but drafting him as a low end number two will prove costly.
Percy Harvin, MIN (ADP 8.02) – Let’s go back to the comparison we used above. Harvin is sandwiched between Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets and Derrick Mason of the Ravens. Harvin doesn’t have a defined role but we keep hearing that he will be used in multiple roles (wildcat, quick screens, reverses, out of the backfield). Given his lack of maturity and the number of roles he is being expected to learn, it seems more likely that he will struggle to remember his assignments. Given the history of rookie wide receivers and Harvin’s undefined role in Minnesota, this ADP makes no sense whatsoever.
Derrick Mason, BAL (ADP 9.02) – Although there is a small risk he could reconsider the retirement option, there is also a high probability that Mason will provide significant production in 2009. He has chalked up seven, 1,000 yard seasons over the last eight years and missed only six games during his 12 years in the league. In summary, he’s consistently healthy, consistently productive and his ADP represents little cost with a solid upside. What more can you ask for?
Hines Ward, PIT (ADP 7.03) – As we noted, veteran receivers are often undervalued so it isn’t a surprise that our second bargain at receiver is another veteran. Ward is coming off a 1,047 yard, seven touchdown season in which he was slowed in two games due to injury. Add in that the Pittsburgh running game isn’t what it once was, Santonio Holmes has yet to eclipse Ward as Ben Roethlisberger‘s main target and security blanket and Ward is a solid fantasy option in 2009.
Josh Morgan, SF (ADP 10.09) – Rookie hotshot Michael Crabtree‘s ADP is 9.10 and Morgan’s is 10.09. While Crabtree hasn’t signed a contract or proven anything, Morgan has taken over as the team’s number one wide receiver after an impressive rookie season that could have been outstanding were it not for injuries, the team’s reluctance to play the rookie more and the situation at quarterback. Basically, the talent is there and he has an opportunity to produce given the team’s current lack of depth at wide receiver. Look for Morgan to be a surprise fantasy performer in 2009.
Brandon Marshall, DEN (ADP 4.12) – Marshall clearly carries major risk given his ongoing feud with Denver management. However, he finished 10th in the wide receiver rankings in 2007 and followed that up with an 11th place ranking last year. He has caught 206 balls over the last two years, is in an offense that figures to rely heavily on the pass and is playing for a team that figures to be behind early and often. Plus, can new head coach Josh McDaniels really afford to run both his star QB and his star WR out of town before he’s even coached a game? Stranger things have surely happened but that sounds like career suicide. If he’s playing, Marshall will produce and it says here that McDaniels needs Marshall playing if he wants to return as head coach in 2010.
Domenik Hixon, NYG (ADP 10.05) – Hixon isn’t an overly talented wide receiver but, given the poor performance of the team’s young receivers during the preseason, he figures to be the team’s top receiving threat in 2009. With the Giants possessing a solid running game and one of the league’s better offensive lines, Hixon is unlikely to be regularly double teamed. In the middle of the 10th round, the receiver options are limited so grabbing the number one receiver on a team with a solid offense is excellent value.