Undervalued WRsRead the introduction to this series if you haven't yet.
|Randy Moss - SF ADP: 128 overall, WR 48||5 votes|
Andy Hicks - This should be relatively simple. Either Randy Moss returns to being a successful wide receiver or he flames out. Given his past excellence and his performances when with a new team, given an offseason, and Moss is capable of paying massive returns for his current draft price. Just be aware that the floor is no return at all.
Jeff Pasquino - Randy Moss is back - but is he better than ever? That's the question. I think that Moss will come to play this year as he is on a title contender in San Francisco. Did he have issues in the past? Absolutely - but until I see otherwise I will give one of the best wide receivers ever in the NFL the benefit of the doubt. I expect him to start for the 49ers and put up WR3 fantasy level stats in 2012.
Matt Waldman - Okay, I'll bite. We all know the risks with a player who, "plays when he wants to play." But as the 128th player off the board, this is a player you can afford to "pick because you want to pick." The 49ers staff says Moss has been like a player-coach in meetings and his teammates say that in practice he looks like the same great receiver they're used to watching when he was with the Vikings and Patriots. Alex Smith may never ascend to the level of Tom Brady, but if Kyle Orton can help Brandon Lloyd become a Pro Bowl receiver, it lessens my doubts that Smith will be a huge problem with Moss. Of course, there's no disputing that sometime during the season Moss could have some bad sushi at the 49ers training table, throw a fit like a pop star diva, and refuse to run a route at more than three-quarter speed for a four-game stretch. That's the risk with Moss. Yet, at this point in the draft I'd rather pick a player that I know has elite physical and conceptual skill for the game but history of attitude problems than a more limited talent without a real shot to do much than perform as a solid flex play.
Jason Wood - Most will scoff. Let them. Randy Moss has a ton to prove, is running and cutting like a man possessed, and has a clear path to a starting role for a contender. The 49ers will be in most games, which will keep Moss focused. Let's be clear, Moss could be a huge bust but at his current ADP, I can't imagine a higher upside option at the same point in the draft.
|Demaryius Thomas - DEN ADP: 50 overall, WR 21||5 votes|
Bob Magaw - Thomas was a raw prospect coming out of the medieval Georgia Tech passing attack, and did little to quite dissenters in an injury filled rookie campaign. He unexpectedly burst onto the NFL scene in his second season after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in the off-season, and despite having to work with the passing challenged Tim Tebow. Thomas has everything you could look for in a breakout WR prospect... size, strength, speed, quickness, hops, hands, athleticism and spectacular RAC ability (witness the overtime game winner in the playoffs against the Steelers). On the bonus plan, he has fortuitously become Peyton Manning's primary receiving weapon.
Chris Smith - One thing we know very well about Peyton Manning is he makes all the skilled players around him better. It appears Manning is throwing the ball well and even a 70% Manning is better than 80% of the quarterbacks in the NFL. I believe the player who will most benefit from a quarterback with legitimate passing skills is the youngster Thomas who is talented and athletic. He is training hard this off season and is ready to become a fantasy star with a real quarterback throwing him the ball.
Maurile Tremblay - Demaryius Thomas is going to love having Peyton Manning as his quarterback. In his final seven games last year (including the playoffs), Thomas averaged more than 100 yards per contest. He has terrific hands and big-play ability, and should be a borderline fantasy WR1 this season.
David Yudkin - Thomas came back from injury last year and became a force down the stretch for the Broncos. From Week 13 on, Thomas compiled 106 receiving yards per game (including the playoffs). Expanded over a 16-game schedule, that works out to a tidy 80-1703-8. That was with Tim Tebow under center, and now Thomas will benefit by having Peyton Manning throwing him the football.
|Percy Harvin - MIN ADP: 42 overall, WR 15||4 votes|
Bruce Hammond - Harvin's ADP of WR15 in PPR looks low to me. He's a dynamic player who was generating monster stats over the second half of 2011, even surpassing Calvin Johnson from Week 8 forward. (It's true! 195-192 in PPR.) It will take Adrian Peterson some time to return to form after his ACL injury late in 2011, and Harvin's rushing stats will continue to be a big plus. Also, the other projected starting wide receiver, Jerome Simpson, will miss the first three games to suspension. Harvin should be top-10, maybe top-5, this year.
Andy Hicks - Rushing stats count for a wide receiver, which is why Percy Harvin ranked as the 7th highest WR last year. With a lack of options across the board in Minnesota and a young QB at the helm, Harvin could easily do a repeat or perhaps even better if his touchdown numbers continue to rise. Harvin isn't your prototypical WR1, he offers more.
Aaron Rudnicki - If you look at the way Harvin finished the 2011 season, you see a player who can be a top-10 receiver this year. Once Adrian Peterson was injured, Harvin took over as the focal point on offense and he was regularly posting 20+ points each week. With Peterson's recovery from a bad knee injury still ongoing, Harvin should once again get an opportunity to carry this team. He is a unique weapon who can contribute via the running game, as a Wes Welker-type receiver, or even in the return game. The migraine issue has held him out of some games, but otherwise he has been pretty durable. I like him at this draft spot and quite a bit higher in PPR leagues.
|Julio Jones - ATL ADP: 38 overall, WR 13||4 votes|
Steve Holloway - Julio Jones is an athletic wide receiver with excellent run after the catch skills. He scored 8 TDs a year ago, the same number as Roddy White on almost half the targets. With Gonzalez being 36 years old this season, Jones should garner some of his targets, especially in the red zone. The Falcons will have two of the most productive wide receivers this year and Jones should top White's yardage and TD production.
Chris Smith - Jones is a special receiver that is on the path to greatness. He had a wonderful rookie campaign, finishing as the 17th best fantasy receiver despite missing three games. He has exceptional size and speed and is protected within the offense thanks to having fellow superstar Roddy White and veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez to force defenses to play honest and not roll over to him. Add to that a quarterback in Matt Ryan who is entering his prime and I expect a top-five fantasy season for Jones in 2012.
Jason Wood - When the team's leading receiver comes out and says he's taking a back seat to the younger star, you listen. Roddy White has gone on record saying he expects to see less targets this year as the Falcons offense continues to evolve. Lip service or not, Jones delivered a rookie season that argues strongly in favor of a breakout second season. Jones is physically imposing, and you could see the light switch turn on as the 2011 season wore on. He could easily push for 1,200 yards and 8-10 TDs this year, and has the rare ability to either get over the top of opposing defensive backs or out leap them in a crowd.
|Greg Little - CLE ADP: 121 overall, WR 46||4 votes|
Bruce Hammond - Greg Little has an ADP of WR46. Look for Little to easily surpass his ADP and be a top-30 (perhaps top-20) receiver in 2012. Despite struggling with drops and the usual rookie growing pains, Little still managed 61 catches last year. You may recall that he sat out his entire Senior season of college and had little in the way of NFL pre-season due to the strike, so all things considered I think he did just fine as a rookie. Little has an Anquan Boldin-like skill set and should be targeted heavily as the team's clear WR1. I expect a real breakout from him in his second season, now with the threat of a running game in Trent Richardson to keeps defenses honest.
Dave Larkin - Greg Little had barely recovered from an ACL tear that robbed him of his senior year in college when he was thrown in at the deep end with Cleveland. With no proper offseason conditioning and an abbreviated training camp which was equivalent to learning a new language in a week, Little can be forgiven for struggling with drops at times. Despite all these obstacles, he posted 61 receptions and scored 2 touchdowns on a struggling Browns offense. Little can be a dynamic run-after-the-catch player like Brandon Marshall if his new quarterback can deliver him the football accurately and trust him. If Little can hone his game and eliminate mental errors, he can far outperform his ADP.
Jeff Tefertiller - Greg Little had to be the happiest guy in Cleveland when the Browns selected Brandon Weeden in April's NFL Draft. Weeden has a cannon of an arm. Little suffered through his rookie season with the noodle-armed Colt McCoy throwing passes. Now with Weeden under center, opposing defenses have to defend the entire field. Cleveland did not address the wide receiver position in free agency or in the first few rounds of the draft which showed the organization's faith in Little. He is not drafted until the eleventh round and can easily be startable in fantasy leagues most weeks as the Browns throw to stay in games.
|Robert Meachem - SD ADP: 83 overall, WR 32||4 votes|
Will Grant - This is as much of a 'someone has to catch the ball' pick as anything else. Phillip Rivers is going to have another 4000 + yard passing season, and Meachem is currently the #1 receiver on the team. He's got solid potential to outperform a 7th round pick.
Ryan Hester - There aren't many who would say that Meachem is an upgrade over the departed Vincent Jackson. But in this system, it's not nearly the drop-off that one might think. Meachem's strengths are getting down the field on vertical routes. The combination of Norv Turner's offense and Philip Rivers' ability to press the ball down the field makes this a nice fit. Like Jackson, Meachem is also heralded as an above-average blocker -- further decreasing the drop-off from old to new.
Marc Levin - While it is true that Meachem did not finish either 2010 or 2011 as a fantasy relevant WR, he enters 2012 in a much different situation. Instead of being the third or fourth -- at best -- option for Drew Brees in New Orleans, he is the presumptive #1 WR threat for Philip Rivers in San Diego. Instead of seeing 55 targets (his career target average), he will likely see 100-125. That alone should propel him into a better finish than WR32 in PPR leagues.
|Torrey Smith - BAL ADP: 78 overall, WR 29||4 votes|
Ryan Hester - Between my player comments, rankings, and this space, I feel that I've written so much about Smith that I'm doomed to jinx him. But I simply can't get past the flashes of brilliance he showed last year, the fact that his arrow is pointing up as a young receiver entering his second year, the aging receiver across from him who is on the decline but can still occupy defenses on short-to-intermediate routes, and that his most elite skill aligns perfectly with that of his quarterback. Joe Flacco can drop it in the proverbial bucket deep down the field, and Smith can get himself deep down the field. The sky is the limit for Smith this season.
Jeff Pasquino - The Ravens may have finally found their deep threat in Torrey Smith, who came on strong down the stretch to finish in the Top 25 wide receivers last year. Smith will start opposite of Anquan Boldin, a veteran who is much better on shorter routes and working as a possession receiver. Smith has great prospects for this year and years to come with the big arm of Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Look for lots of targets, especially long throws, for Smith and a strong second season.
Mark Wimer - Torrey Smith had a fine rookie campaign, and in my opinion he is set to take over as the top receiver for Joe Flacco during the coming campaign. He's got plenty of room to improve his game, and he's already a dangerous deep threat - I expect a breakout year from Smith that should vault him into the top ten among wide receivers. Smith should do much better than his current #29 ADP indicates.
|Mike Williams - TB ADP: 109 overall, WR 42||4 votes|
Bob Magaw - Like fellow soph Josh Freeman, Williams fell victim to the same general funk that tarnished a sensational rookie campaign. Will his career unfold like Michael Clayton 2.0 (after a phenomenal rookie season, the once promising former Buc inexplicably but inexorably spiraled down into mediocrity and obscurity, never to recapture his initial spark)? Parallel to hope for Freeman, a better supporting cast and surrounding talent could be a rising tide that lifts all boats in Tampa Bay. Williams won't see double teams opposite Vincent Jackson, and could benefit from a more competent ground game. His 11 receiving TDs in 2010 weren't just a Bucs rookie mark, but a franchise record.
Chris Smith - Williams came out of the gates flying as a rookie in 2010, finishing as the 11th best fantasy receiver. However last season himself and the entire Buccaneers offense came out flat and nothing came together for them. He dropped way down the charts and with the addition of veteran Vincent Jackson; many believe he will continue to put up mediocre stats. I believe the addition of Jackson is going to help Williams this year. Defenses will now likely roll over to contain Jackson and Williams is a beast to contain in single coverage with his size. I expect him to post serviceable stats in 2012 and finish in the 20-25 range at the position.
Mark Wimer - Josh Freeman got a fine receiving threat when Vincent Jackson rolled into town, but Jackson won't help just Freeman look good this year. Mike Williams should benefit from less attention and looser coverage during 2012, which means he'll be a solid third wide receiver for his fantasy owners - Williams should outperform his #42 ADP by a wide margin.
|Michael Crabtree - SF ADP: 104 overall, WR 40||3 votes|
Steve Holloway - A season ago, Crabtree was the leading receiver for the 49ers with 73 catches, 880 yards and 4 TDs. No other wide receiver had more than 20 catches. The additions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss should open up space for Crabtree to play the possession receiver role. Although his targets will not increase, he should have a similar number of receptions and possibly additional red zone targets as the 49er offense improves overall. Crabtree finished as #28 wide receiver a year ago.
Bob Magaw - Crabtree hasn't fulfilled his formidable potential as a former top ten overall selection. Between an ill-advised rookie holdout, multiple foot injuries (since healed) and last years labor issues, this will be the first time in his career that he will get to work on timing and rapport with incumbent QB Alex Smith over a full off-season and training camp. The 49ers added more talented supporting cast receivers to Crabtree and freakishly athletic TE Vernon Davis, in former Giant WR Mario Manningham and first round rookie WR A.J. Jenkins (if free agent Randy Moss has anything left it would be gravy). He lacks breakaway speed, but has the short area quickness, strong hands and basketball player's knack for positioning (recruited by Bobby Knight) to be an elite possession WR.
|Eric Decker - DEN ADP: 74 overall, WR 28||3 votes|
Aaron Rudnicki - The Broncos passing game is going to get a huge upgrade this year given the change at quarterback and in the overall offensive system. As long as Peyton can stay upright and perform like he has always done in the past, the starting receivers should both make good targets. As the better route-runner, Decker should quickly become a favorite target for Manning. He started to break out in 2011 with a pocket passer like Kyle Orton under center, and should do even better in 2012.
Matt Waldman - Decker was the No. 7 fantasy receiver after five weeks of the 2011 season. Then Kyle Orton was replaced with Tim Tebow, the passing game went back into the 1940s, and Decker's talents rotted on the vine. Now that Peyton Manning is the Broncos quarterback, there's great promise for Decker to have a career-year in Denver. Among the receivers on the Broncos depth chart, Decker runs the best routes and has the best hands. He's skilled at adjusting to the football and making plays where he'll have to deal with contact to maintain possession of the ball while in the act of making the catch. In contrast to Tebow, who did his best work in the passing game with plays where he had a receiver earning strong separation, Manning is a precision passer and thrives on well-time, pinpoint throws in tighter coverage. Decker has shown thus far that he's better at this aspect of the passing game than Demaryius Thomas, who thrived more as an athlete than a technician. While I expect Thomas to have a good fantasy season with Manning at the helm, it has already been noted repeatedly this spring and summer that Decker and Manning have a strong rapport and it's Decker that Manning has praised. I expect a Top-15 fantasy receiver year for Decker.
|Brandon Lloyd - NE ADP: 66 overall, WR 27||3 votes|
Dave Larkin - Brandon Lloyd's courtship with New England was always going to result in a contract. Lloyd is a well-rounded receiver whose talents have been largely forgotten in St. Louis and Denver before that. With Tom Brady directing the show, Lloyd could have his most productive season yet. The argument against Lloyd having a WR2 or higher quality season is the distribution of targets in New England; surely Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker will gobble up the majority of the targets? It is a fair argument, though perhaps one that is almost too easy. If Brady sees a defense in Cover-1 or Cover-3, he will give Lloyd a signal and within five seconds, the Patriots will have a 25-yard gain. In short, Brady will make use of the weapons at his disposal; Brandon Lloyd will be a prominent one.
Matt Waldman - I almost get angry when I see Brandon Lloyd as the 66th player going off draft boards according to current ADP. Two years ago Lloyd was a No.1 fantasy starter at the receiver position with Kyle Orton throwing him the football. Kyle Orton! Doesn't anyone remember that? I guess not, but with apologies to Larry Fitzgerald, I'm here to remind you that Lloyd has the best combination of hands and skill at adjusting to the football in the game and he's now catching passes from Tom Brady, one of the better deep ball throwers in the game in a Josh McDaniels offensive system where he was a star. Apparently what's not to like is finding opportunities to become a full-blown fantasy stud when Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez are also in the starting lineup. Brady had over 5200 yards passing in 2011 and 3800 of those came from this trio. Let's remember that Chad Ochocinco barely saw the field, much less meaningful targets and Deion Branch was only modestly effective, at best. As a deep threat, Matt Slater was about as scary to defenders as a hand puppet. While I don't expect Lloyd to earn the 1400 yards of the remaining 5200 that Brady could conceivably earn again in 2012, I don't expect the trio of Welker, Gronkowski, and Hernandez to reach their 2011 totals, either. What I do expect is for Lloyd to reach 1000-1100 yards and earn double-digit touchdowns with spectacular plays in the vertical passing game and the red zone. If there's a player that can play the Randy Moss role with Brady from 2007 it's Lloyd. He's one of the best values in this draft.
|Antonio Brown - PIT ADP: 65 overall, WR 26||2 votes|
David Yudkin - Brown ranked as the 24th best wide receiver in 2011 and now is getting drafted 26th at his position. As defenses migrated coverage more toward Mike Wallace, Brown saw his targets and productivity go up. With Rashard Mendenhall's health still a concern and perhaps a less effective running game, Brown should see his numbers improve, especially with Hines Ward retiring and his 65 targets now up for grabs.
|Vincent Brown - SD ADP: 147 overall, WR 51||2 votes|
Matt Waldman - The Chargers parted ways with Vincent Jackson and added former Saint Robert Meachem in the offseason. Meachem played with one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL and could not elevate his game to full-time starter status. I'm not sure how Norv Turner's system and Philip Rivers is going to make it different, but that's another story. What I do know is that Vincent Brown has excellent hands, skill at adjusting to the football in the air, and good route skills. He may not have elite speed, but he has enough skill to do quality work in the vertical game. However, what he'll do best is run intermediate routes and develop into a first-tier possession receiver with big-play upside. That's the kind of player that Rivers hasn't had since an aging Keenan McCardell was on the squad during Rivers' first year as a starter. I'm not as sold on Brown as my other value plays at the position, but that's only because the other players have demonstrated in the NFL what they're capable of and the offensive systems are more conducive for extended opportunities. Brown might have to gradually earn his place as a fantasy starter in 2012, but based on his production in OTAs and the dearth of reliable skill on the Chargers depth chart beyond Malcolm Floyd, I'll take my chances.
|Austin Collie - IND ADP: 173 overall, WR 59||2 votes|
David Yudkin - I realize it is hard to ignore last year's debacle in Indianapolis and Collie's mercurial health. But in his last 16 games playing with Peyton Manning, Collie produced 88-1065-12. That type of production is hard to ignore. Who knows how well Andrew Luck will do, but it's safe to think that it will be better than whomever the Colts rolled out on to the field in 2011.
|Marques Colston - NO ADP: 44 overall, WR 17||2 votes|
Steve Holloway - Colston averaged over 9 targets per game last year for the Saints, who allowed Robert Meachem to leave via free agency. Although Drew Brees is known to spread the ball around, Colston and Jimmy Graham will be his leading receivers this season and with the several losses on the defensive side, the offense will again be asked to carry the team. Colston has averaged 1,080 yards per season over the last three and increased his yardage last year, even while missing two games. He should be slightly more productive this year and finished as #10 wide receiver last year.
|Pierre Garcon - WAS ADP: 82 overall, WR 31||2 votes|
Bob Magaw - If you are a believer in Robert Griffin III, than Garcon holds intriguing upside. Overshadowed by Reggie Wayne in Indianapolis, he will be given every opportunity to justify his big contract (five years, $42.5 million). While he has been plagued by erratic hands at times, he has also interspersed flashes of tantalizing ability. While Griffin III looks like a transcendent talent and the real deal, the Redskins are in one of the strongest divisions in the league, and could be playing from behind and forced out of necessity into pass first mode often in expected difficult division tilts against the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys.
|Alshon Jeffery - CHI ADP: 170 overall, WR 57||2 votes|
Steve Holloway - Jeffery is a very talented rookie wide receiver for the Bears and gets the opportunity to play opposite Brandon Marshall. His low ADP is based on the perception that he can be lazy. He has a great opportunity as possibly the second option for Jay Cutler. Recent wide receiver performances by fellow Southeastern Conference rookies Julio Jones and A.J. Green bolster my confidence in Jeffery's chances to be productive immediately with the Bears.
|Steve Johnson - BUF ADP: 58 overall, WR 24||2 votes|
Mark Wimer - Steve Johnson plays for an offense on the rise (Buffalo) with an improving, young quarterback who loves to throw him the football. I'd be shocked to see him below the top 15 at his position by year's end.
|Brandon Marshall - CHI ADP: 33 overall, WR 11||2 votes|
Jason Wood - Remember two things. One, offensive coordinator Mike Tice invented the "Randy Ratio." Two, Brandon Marshall exceeded 100 receptions in each of his two seasons with Jay Cutler. Marshall needs only stay healthy to be a PPR beast this year, and push for Top 5 value.
|Nate Washington - TEN ADP: 130 overall, WR 49||2 votes|
David Yudkin - Washington is getting drafted as the 49th wide receiver off the board, yet his rankings the past three seasons have been 43, 41, and 16. He ranked as the 12th best receiver in the second half of the season last year. Kenny Britt's status is still up in the air, and the other receiving options are still young and inexperienced. Washington looks like a great bet to out produce his draft spot.
|Reggie Wayne - IND ADP: 81 overall, WR 30||2 votes|
Maurile Tremblay - I expect Wayne to bounce back with improved quarterback play this season. He has been a top ten fantasy WR in five out of seven seasons leading up to his disappointing No. 29 finish last season. Wayne still runs excellent routes and has reliable hands, and the rookie QB Andrew Luck will probably lock onto his number one target this season. A return to the top ten is not likely, but Wayne could easily return to fantasy WR2 territory, which represents solid value compared to his average draft position.
|Miles Austin - DAL ADP: 45 overall, WR 18||1 vote|
|Justin Blackmon - JAX ADP: 97 overall, WR 37||1 vote|
|Kenny Britt - TEN ADP: 55 overall, WR 22||1 vote|
|Dez Bryant - DAL ADP: 41 overall, WR 14||1 vote|
|Victor Cruz - NYG ADP: 36 overall, WR 12||1 vote|
|Malcom Floyd - SD ADP: 102 overall, WR 39||1 vote|
|A.J. Green - CIN ADP: 29 overall, WR 8||1 vote|
|Darrius Heyward-Bey - OAK ADP: 107 overall, WR 41||1 vote|
|Stephen Hill - NYJ ADP: 182 overall, WR 65||1 vote|
|Santonio Holmes - NYJ ADP: 91 overall, WR 34||1 vote|
|DeSean Jackson - PHI ADP: 61 overall, WR 25||1 vote|
|Greg Jennings - GB ADP: 23 overall, WR 5||1 vote|
|Jeremy Maclin - PHI ADP: 57 overall, WR 23||1 vote|
|Lance Moore - NO ADP: 101 overall, WR 38||1 vote|
|Jordy Nelson - GB ADP: 32 overall, WR 10||1 vote|
|Brian Quick - STL ADP: 152 overall, WR 52||1 vote|
|Sidney Rice - SEA ADP: 94 overall, WR 36||1 vote|
|Jerome Simpson - MIN ADP: 198 overall, WR 68||1 vote|
|Steve Smith - CAR ADP: 43 overall, WR 16||1 vote|
|Mike Wallace - PIT ADP: 30 overall, WR 9||1 vote|