The presence of a good stable of wide receivers for your fantasy squad is often overlooked on draft day. Most get caught up in the quarterback and running back bonanzas that inevitably take place. In PPR leagues especially, WRs value a can vary and while some owners like to jump on big names early, they may leave themselves vulnerable at other positions on their roster. There is definite value in the top tier of wide receivers but there are also some elite names that are being chosen way too early. On the flip side there are some quality names that could be available in the middle rounds – ones that could start and produce for your championship winning squad. Let’s take a look…
Greg Jennings – Green Bay Packers
Average Draft Position: 2.11
When choosing a wide receiver in the second round, he had better be an unquestioned #1 on his team. That’s where the problem lies with Mr. Jennings. There is a guy named Jordy Nelson on the Packers – a player that not only out gained Jennings by 300 yards in 2011 but also scored six more touchdowns. There is no doubt that Jennings is an elite talent on an absolutely insane offense but Nelson and Jermichael Finley turn him into a risk that I am unwilling to take in round second round. I love Greg Jennings and would love to have him on my team but I am only willing to spend a third round/early fourth round pick on him which means Jennings will not be on any of my fantasy teams this season.
Wes Welker – New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 3.06
Welker, like Jennings is certainly an elite talent in the league but at present he is the fifth WR off the board on average. A look at his numbers late in the season throws up a huge red flag for me. During his torrid first eight games last season Welker averaged over eight catches per game, 120 yards and 0.75 touchdowns. The rest of the way he averaged just 6.8 catches, 71 yards and 0.36 touchdowns while garnering nearly the same amount of targets. He failed to record 60 yards receiving in seven of his last eleven games proving the feast or famine rule with Welker. Brandon Lloyd has been added to take some of Welker’s targets and the tight ends still loom and may affect his production. Don’t get me wrong – I love Welker but not at this price as ahead of Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Kenny Britt – Tennessee Titans
Average Draft Position: 7.07
I am not touching Britt this season. More arrests will lead to more suspensions for sure. There is also his knee issues that haven’t seemed to right themselves quite yet – 2 surgeries on the same knee has me wondering if he will be close to 100% this year. Britt in the 7th round, as a WR2 could offer tremendous value but I can’t help but think that the downside far outweighs the upside. My guess is that Britt will spend more time on the sidelines than the field this season – not exactly a recipe for fantasy success!
Brandon Lloyd – New England Patriots
Average Draft Position: 5.04
Remember when Lloyd was the #1 fantasy receiver with Kyle Orton throwing him the ball? That was only a couple of seasons ago after which he endured some terrible quarterback play (A.J. Feeley and Kellen Clemens included). He is now in the fruitful gardens of Foxboro and has already developed a rapport with Tom Brady – the same Tom Brady that had 5200 yards passing last year. He has a chance to do what Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco failed to do – become that legitimate deep threat that the Pats have been missing since the hay-day of Mr. Moss. With Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez creating distractions, Lloyd promises to see more open field than he ever has in his pro career. Something else to remember – Josh McDaniel is the offensive coordinator in New England and will be employing a similar system that made Lloyd a stud only a couple of seasons ago. Lloyd finished 25th in fantasy rankings last year and is being taken on average as the 21st WR in mock drafts. My mouth is watering at the prospect of 1100 yards and double-digit scores in the fifth round.
Eric Decker – Denver Broncos
Average Draft Position: 6.05
Decker has the potential to become this year’s Victor Cruz. He has been working with Peyton Manning this off-season and we already know that his route running and ability to hold onto the ball are right up the alley for Mr. Manning. Decker has shown good fantasy chops in the past – only last year he was the #7 fantasy wideout after five weeks, then Tebow took over and the Broncos threw the ball five times per game. Manning himself has already praised the athleticism and hands of Decker and we all know that when you have Peyton’s attention, good things happen. Expect Decker to become Manning’s more talented Austin Collie or Brandon Stokley with more upside. 80-90 catches, 1000 yards and 8-10 touchdowns are likely but the ceiling could be higher.
Robert Meachem – San Diego Chargers
Average Draft Position: 7.07
Meachem comes into the season as the No.1 receiver for Philip Rivers and is being drafted on average in the seventh round – incredible! He has the size, the durability and most of all the chance to break out in a huge way this year. Meachem has Malcolm Floyd and Vincent Brown, not to mention Antonio Gates to compete for catches with – my guess is that Meachem outperforms them all. Look for 120+ targets this year instead of his customary 50. Also expect 1100-1300 yards along with 8-10 touchdowns for San Diego. The #1 receiver in San Diego typically means big numbers which means that Meachem should be in for a big season – not bad in the seventh round.