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Early MFL10 Strategy: Wide Receiver

A look at wide receiver strategies in early MFL10 drafts

There’s no wrong strategy at wide receiver in MFL10 drafts. Wideouts that can provide 4-8 startable weeks are available when teams start to take their defenses. They are the safest picks in the early and mid rounds. It is easy to proceed with a setting of breaking ties against wide receivers because of the incomprehensible depth at the position. It can be more difficult to take a much less reliable running back over a wide receiver who is almost certain to be a core scorer every week. Just know that if you start with three wide receiver picks in your first four or five selections, it is a good idea to sit back for a while because of the quality later and need to provide baseline scoring at other positions. If you don’t take a wideout in your first 3-4 picks, don’t fret, you can still build in high floor and high ceiling players to cover for your lack of studs at the position.

First Round Options

Top 6: Antonio Brown, PIT, Odell Beckham Jr, NYG
Top 8: Julio Jones, ATL, Mike Evans, TB
Top 10: AJ Green, CIN

You can get Brown outside of the top three this year because his numbers dropped significantly in 2016. If he makes up half of the gap, he’ll help teams have a head start on the competition. If he doesn’t, he’ll still justify the pick, as his numbers were similar to Beckham, who will stay in that neighborhood after the addition of Brandon Marshall. Jones carried top three value last year, but his injuries took some of the shine off of his stock. Evans was on his way to a #1 overall wide receiver finish, but fell off in the second half of the year. With DeSean Jackson, Evans should get fewer targets, but the quality of targets should improve. AJ Green was well on his way to justifying a top five pick before hurting his hamstring. Offensive line woes could be a drag on the Bengals offense, but I won’t talk anyone out of taking Green in the first.

LeSean McCoy seems like the best running back alternative to the names here, but probably only after Brown, Beckham, and Jones are gone. McCoy comes with running back injury risk, but Jones and Green’s value were more dinged by injuries last year than McCoy’s, and McCoy gives you more flexibility in upcoming rounds.

Late 1st/Early 2nd Round Options

Dez Bryant, DAL, T.Y. Hilton, IND, Amari Cooper, OAK, Jordy Nelson, GB

If you pick near the turn, you can go RB/RB and feel okay about your picks, but there are some wide receivers worthy of a look if Green doesn’t slide to you. Bryant got back to his touchdown scoring ways in the second half of the season, Hilton had as many 20+ point weeks (6) as Beckham, Cooper was a top five receiver in the first half of the year and can be a profitable pick if he avoids the second-half swoon, and Nelson was quietly the #2 scorer among wide receivers last year. I have a second-round pick reserved for Nelson and have even taken him at the end of the first. Part of the reason I don’t mind taking McCoy at 1.8 or later is that I know I can get Nelson in the early second and lock in similar value to the wide receiver I am passing on for Shady.

Second Round Options

Michael Thomas, NO, Allen Robinson, JAX, DeAndre Hopkins, HOU, Brandin Cooks, NE

The dropoff at wide receiver in the second round can be shocking. It is possible Thomas puts numbers up to match any wide receiver drafted ahead of him and he’s the name I feel best about in the mid-late second. You want to talk yourself into Robinson and Hopkins bouncing back, but what has changed? Tom Savage, you’re our only hope. Where are Cooks’ targets going to come from in an already crowded Patriots pass offense? He could give us some high ceiling weeks, but disappear even more often than he did in New Orleans. If you start with a top three running back, you are probably only taking one wide receiver at the 2-3 turn, with Gronk or a second running back filling out your top three picks.

2nd/3rd Round Option

Keenan Allen, LAC

Allen is a tough fantasy evaluation this year, with Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, and Hunter Henry all playing sizable roles in the pass offense and keeping him from being the target hog he was in 2015 before an injury. We never got to see if Allen could live up to the torrid pace he set because of his Week 2 ACL tear. He’s valued just about right near the 2-3 turn and a fine WR1 for a team that starts with a top three running back.

3rd-5th Round Options

3rd: Sammy Watkins, BUF, Doug Baldwin, SEA, Alshon Jeffery, PHI
Late 3rd/Early 4th: Demaryius Thomas, DEN, Jarvis Landry, MIA, Davante Adams, GB
4th/5th: Stefon Diggs, MIN, Michael Crabtree, OAK, Julian Edelman, NE, Golden Tate, DET, Donte Moncrief, IND, Terrelle Pryor, WAS, Emmanuel Sanders, DEN
5th/6th: Kelvin Benjamin, CAR, Tyreek Hill, KC, Larry Fitzgerald, ARI

Watkins is a true boom/bust pick who fits well with an RB/RB start, giving you a chance at WR1 production with the hedge of going seven deep at wide receiver to build in a floor if he misses significant time again this year. Baldwin was consistent and explosive last year to make up for his touchdowns being halved from 14 to 7, but he could take a small step back if Tyler Lockett and Jimmy Graham stay healthy. Baldwin is more of a swing for a single than a home run. Jeffery is really tough to love in the third, changing quarterbacks and coming off of a suspension. He could hit if the “prove it” deal and Carson Wentz’s style unlock his ceiling, but the high ceiling weeks weren’t there last year and the third round is a good running back round this year.

Thomas suffered through a drop in targets and quarterback struggles and still scored enough to make you feel good about a pick at current ADP. Jarvis Landry grew through a big drop in targets, and Davante Adams exploded after the Packers offense opened up in Week 7. Both are more than acceptable in the early fourth. This is a great moment to point out how the much, much steeper drop at running back should encourage you to take your RB1 earlier rather than later. You will feel much better about wide receiver options in the mid rounds.

Diggs and Edelman both look like candidates to take a step back this year and should be avoided at ADP. Crabtree and Sanders are safe picks who should be solid, durable WR2 options and a good use of a fifth round pick. Moncrief is yet to put together a healthy productive full season and seems to be overdrafted at ADP, especially with the addition of Kamar Aiken. Pryor is a boom/bust option who could get a ton of targets in the wide receiver deficient Washington offense, but also comes with the risk of a wide receiver changing teams and a surprisingly tepid reception in the free agent market. Tate is a pick I gravitate to a lot in the 4th-5th. After his benching in Week 4, he was WR12 and I expect a similar level of production this year.

I tend to avoid Kelvin Benjamin at ADP, although he is a bounce back candidate a year removed from ACL surgery if Cam Newton improves. Larry Fitzgerald has age dropoff risk, but that is more than priced in with his WR12 finish last year if you can get him in the sixth. Tyreek Hill is the real gem in the 5th-6th. He was WR7 once he got more involved in Week 8, and Andy Reid is indicating that his role will grow even more this year. His high weekly ceiling profile also magnifies his value in a best ball format.

When you can get two of Crabtree, Tate, Sanders, Fitzgerald and Hill to anchor your wide receivers in the 4th-5th, it’s pretty easy to break ties against wide receiver in the early rounds.

6th-7th Round Options

6th/7th: Jamison Crowder, WAS, Brandon Marshall, NYG, Corey Coleman, CLE, Jordan Matthews, PHI
7th/8th: DeVante Parker, MIA, Randall Cobb, GB, Corey Davis, ROOK, Tyrell Williams, LAC, DeSean Jackson, TB, Willie Snead, NO, Eric Decker, NYJ, Rishard Matthews, TEN, Martavis Bryant, PIT, Cameron Meredith, CHI

Wide receiver takes a little step back in the 6th round. I prefer to reach for DeSean Jackson’s weekly ceiling or maybe the hope of a Brandon Marshall/Randall Cobb bounce back over the projected increase in Crowder (who was going in the late rounds last year) or Coleman targets. Matthews is an avoid with two viable outside receivers in Philadelphia now.

The 7th-8th round range is much kinder with Jackson and Cobb often there for the taking. Willie Snead should see a target increase and Cam Meredith is poised to be the #1 in Chicago. Parker is more speculative than I like and would probably just take Kenny Stills 4-5 rounds later and get similar output. Corey Davis is my draft WR1, but most of the landing spots in his strike zone (Tennessee, Carolina, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Baltimore) don’t spell instant fantasy success. Williams will take a step back with Keenan Allen’s return, although that seems to be priced in to his ADP. Still, Travis Benjamin is inexplicably available ten rounds later, so I’ll pass. Rishard Matthews seems to scream value, but he should be paired up with a first-round wide receiver. Still, that risk is clearly priced in when you’re getting a player who was WR21 from Week 5 on. I’m staying away from Eric Decker with his multi-surgery recovery, although Josh McCown could make him an excellent pick in hindsight.

Martavis Bryant is the big wild card in this range. He was WR15 after he returned from suspension in 2015, with five of his ten games coming in at 18.7 or higher. Target him if you went away from wide receiver early. You can afford to shank a pick or two and still win an MFL10.

8th-10th Round Options

Sterling Shepard, NYG, Josh Doctson, WAS, Jeremy Maclin, KC, Mike Williams, ROOK, Kevin White, CHI, John Brown, ARI, Kenny Britt, CLE, Adam Thielen, MIN, Tyler Lockett, SEA, Breshad Perriman, BAL, Marvin Jones, DET, Pierre Garcon, SF

Marvin Jones stands out from the pack here, and I have found myself taking him in the seventh if I don’t love the WR options. I don’t think he was healthy in the second half of the season and should be more like the player we saw in the first half. Doctson and White have some allure of the unknown, but Perriman seems closer based on what we saw last year. Lockett is another favorite from this group to have a big rebound as long as he stays healthy. He’s the best weekly high ceiling option along with Perriman. John Brown is yet another in a similar vein to Jones and Lockett, weekly high ceiling along with the promise of a big jump in numbers with restored health. Garcon is the best weekly high floor option as a likely target hog in San Francisco. Remember what Brian Hoyer did for Cameron Meredith last year.

Shepard, Maclin, Williams, Britt, Thielen are less attractive in this tier. It’s harder to tell a story of any of them exceeding ADP, and easier to tell a story of them falling short. Shepard and Maclin’s roles should be smaller than they were in 2016. Britt’s pass offense is more crowded and might not be much of an upgrade. Thielen doesn’t have a high ceiling with the possibility of Treadwell’s role increasing and Diggs/Rudolph still taking a large target share. Williams could be interesting in the right spot, but I believe he’ll have a period of adjustment after winning mainly on his physical advantages in college.

As you can see, if you made it to the eighth round with only two wideouts because you stocked up on running back and maybe even got your QB or TE1, you would be fine filling out your WR3-5 from this tier.

11th-13th Round Options

Will Fuller, HOU, Mike Wallace, BAL, Kenny Stills, MIA, Malcolm Mitchell, NE, John Ross, ROOK, Marqise Lee, JAX

The depth of options get thinner after the tenth round, but Stills and Wallace still being on the board is almost inexplicable after their performances last year. Ross is also the most enticing of the rookie trio with the best big play profile and the likelihood of going in the same range of the first round. I’ll pass on Fuller and Lee because of quarterback issues and Mitchell because of the depth of the Patriots passing game.

14th-15th Round Options

Quincy Enunwa, NYJ, JJ Nelson, ARI, Taylor Gabriel, ATL, Cole Beasley, DAL, Tavon Austin, LAR, Josh Gordon, CLE, Ted Ginn, NO, Allen Hurns, JAX, Chris Hogan, NE, Juju Schuster-Smith, ROOK, Tyler Boyd, CIN

You can get a sixth/seventh wide receiver this year in the late rounds that can help immensely. Nelson, Gabriel, Austin, Beasley, and Ginn are all likely to give you 4-8 scoring weeks, if not more. Ginn and Gabriel are personal favorites, but all are steals at ADP and easily worth a reach in the 11th-13th range. Gordon is a perfect pick if you already have good high weekly floor options but want to swing for a home run (or at least deprive a leaguemate of that opportunity). There is a numbers game going on a wide receiver in these drafts that means good options will always be there in the last third of the draft. This should inform you when breaking ties between wide receiver and other positions in the mid-rounds.

16th Round and Later Options

Devin Funchess, CAR, Robert Woods, LAR, Mohamed Sanu, ATL, Laquon Treadwell, MIN, Robby Anderson, NYJ, Eli Rogers, PIT, Torrey Smith, PHI, Tajae Sharpe, TEN, Kamar Aiken, IND, Phillip Dorsett, IND, Curtis Samuel, ROOK, Chris Godwin, ROOK, Carlos Henderson, ROOK, Travis Benjamin, LAC, Brandon LaFell, CIN

Even in the last quarter of your draft you can find contributors. Funchess will score 5-7 times this year. Woods and Sanu will have their moments. Smith could regain some old form in a functional pass offense. LaFell is a massive value if he approaches what he did last year. And I have no idea why Travis Benjamin is always available this late.

I am toying with the idea of taking no wide receivers in the first 7-8 rounds to see how it goes because the late-round values are that good. You should be able to draft your wide receivers in MFL10s with no fear of being left out in the cold no matter how crazy your leaguemates go with runs at the position in the early and mid-rounds.