At this time of year, we should be stocking our dynasty benches with long-term upside plays if we are out of the playoff hunt, and even if we are in the playoffs, it’s time to cut your depth to a lean and mean level and still maximize your bench spots for future growth. For the next four weeks, we’ll look at each position and sort out end of season dynasty stashes and players to monitor next offseason into Snorkel, Scuba, and Submarine levels of league depth. This week, wide receiver, where is there is always a deep pool of players with intriguing tools and skills to stash away. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll assume Robert Foster, DaeSean Hamilton, James Washington, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Adam Humphries, and David Moore are already rostered.
Deon Cain, IND - He was probably stashed on injured reserve when he went down in the preseason, but double check just in case. Cain was impressing at every turn and on track to be Andrew Luck’s #2 receiver sooner than later before going down with a torn ACL.
Richie James, SF - James has explosiveness and inside/outside versatility. He’s still behind Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin in the pecking order at wide receiver and George Kittle will remain central in the pass offense, James could pop in a fully realized 49ers offense with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo and generate future speculative value.
Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, KC - Conley is going to be a free agent. If he gains back more of his freakish athleticism after suffering a torn achilles last year, he could bear fruit as an offseason stash. Robinson is still only 24 and could take Conley’s place as the #3. He still has untapped potential and Sammy Watkins can’t seem to stay healthy, so you might get an uptick in Patrick Mahomes II targets if you’re patient.
Justin Watson, TB - Desean Jackson isn’t worth 10 million next year. He gone. The team showed some willingness to pay to keep Adam Humphries with the higher tender this year, but that’s nothing close to what it will take to secure the services of the 25-year-old. Watson has size, speed, explosiveness, skill, production… everything you want in a young receiver. He’s in a great situation. He just needs playing time and it could come next year.
Jake Kumerow, Equamineous St. Brown, J’Mon Moore, GB - Geronimo Allison was first in line this year, but inconsistent and eventually too hurt to help. By next season, Kumerow (who had the connection with Aaron Rodgers), St. Brown (who has an intriguing combination of size/speed/ball skills), and Moore (who has an intriguing combination of size/quicks) will be vying for snaps as at least the #3 receiver, if not #2 with Randall Cobb possibly sent packing this offseason. Any receiver that could be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in hopefully a much beter
Tim Patrick, DEN - Patrick roasted some future NFL corners while he was at Utah, but couldn’t stay healthy. He’s doing that now and showing out better than Courtland Sutton at the moment. The long-term picture at wide receiver in Denver is wide open.
Cordarrelle Patterson, NE - Remember when the Patriots successfully used Patterson as a running back this year? He’s making plays downfield as a wide receiver lately too. He’s going to be 28 next year and is at his athletic prime as he enters free agency. It might be best for his value if the Patriots keep him with Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan also entering free agency, but if they don’t hopefully the team does sign Patterson will have a plan to get him 5-10 touches a game on offense.
Rashard Higgins, CLE - Higgins was coming on with Baker Mayfield earlier this year before he got hurt. He isn’t a supreme athlete at the position and will never be a #1 receiver, but he’s a great route runner and he has made numerous downfield plays this year, displaying great body control and skill.
Austin Carr, Keith Kirkwood, NO - The Brees/Payton Saints routinely make fantasy gold out of undrafted players. Kirkwood has good raw quicks and speed for a big receiver, Carr was highly productive and reliable in the slot, and Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t exactly broken out despite a few massive games. Any player that represents a possible share of the Saints offense and has demonstrated some success at an early juncture deserves a spot.
Marcell Ateman, OAK - Ateman was part of the big wide receiver massacre in the 2018 draft, but he has made it all the way from undrafted to practice squad to the field. The Raiders don’t have any long term answers at wide receiver on the roster.
Jordan Lasley, Jaleel Scott, BAL - The Ravens passing game hasn’t looked all that promising with Lamar Jackson, but give it time. This pair of draft picks hasn’t gotten a chance to show what they can do this year with Lasley a weekly healthy scratch and Scott on injured reserve, but John Brown was only signed to a one-year deal and Chris Moore is a restricted free agent. Scott has great length and good speed, and Lasley also fits as a downfield threat. Monitor their development this offseason.
Javon Wims, CHI - Wims has size, athleticism, aggressiveness after the catch, and a my ball mentality, but he is blocked from playing time for the foreseeable future with the Bears current depth and contracts at wide receiver. He was a preseason stud this year and will continue to build buzz in dynasty leagues and get Kevin White’s snaps next year.
Auden Tate, CIN - Tate has bounced on and off of the roster and failed to make an impact with AJ Green out, but there’s still hope for him. Josh Malone hasn’t been able to stay healthy and Cody Core and Alex Erickson are mainly special teams contributors. AJ Green may only be with the team for one more year (if he’s lucky). Tate is only 21 and he has a ball skills and length combination that could become very dangerous if he can develop a little more speed. Think Devin Funchess.
Reece Fountain, IND - Fountain was actually selected after Cain, but was clearly behind him in development coming into the season. He could get a few snaps over the next few weeks after getting called up from the practice squad and still could to fit into the team’s future.
Artavis Scott, Dylan Cantrell, LAC - Tyrell Williams will probably leave for greener pastures in free agency, although Hunter Henry will be back and Mike Williams of course projects as the #2. Still, this is a good offense and both of these prospects are worth a second look. Scott can be a run after catch weapon and exploit openings in the short passing game, while Cantrell is a tremendous blocker with elite agility for his size.
Breshad Perriman, CLE - Perriman is only 25 and the Browns seem to have helped him turn his career around. Antonio Callaway has had flashes and his speed has translated, but he has also had numerous mistakes to undermine the team’s confidence in him, on and off of the field. Perhaps the team could bring Perriman back, or maybe his confidence carries him to success elsewhere.
Trey Quinn, Simmie Cobbs, WAS - Quinn could be a worthy PPR stash with Jamison Crowder entering free agent and a ready-made slot receiver skillset. Cobbs was part of the big receiver massacre and it just doesn’t look like Josh Doctson is going to be a hit at this point, so he’ll have some speculative value in deep leagues if he can graduate from the practice squad next year. Update: Cobbs has been signed to the Saints active roster.
Vyncint Smith, Jester Weah, HOU - Smith has been up on the active roster despite being a small school size/speed UDFA project, and Weah had the look of an NFL receiver at his best at Pitt before being stashed on the practice squad. One one hand, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller V, and Keke Coutee are entrenched as the top three on this depth chart, but on the other, two of the three haven’t proven yet that they can stay healthy in the NFL and this is a great situation with Deshaun Watson at quarterback.
Isaiah Ford, Leonte Carroo, MIA - Look for Ford to possibly get more opportunities down the stretch after he finally got called up from the practice squad two weeks ago. The Matt Waldman favorite could be the team’s #2 outside receiver next year if DeVante Parker is released. Carroo is only slightly ahead of Ford in the Dolphins’ eyes, but has a better draft pedigree and actually made a play this year.
Damoun Patterson, NE - If the Patriots don’t keep Cordarrelle, maybe there will be a spot for another Patterson in their wide receiver corps. Damoun was an offseason and training camp star for the Steelers before turf toe got him waived. He spent some time on the Tampa practice squad, and currently is on the Patriots practice squad. With three impending free agents on the Patriots roster at wide receiver, he’s a name to file away.
Brandon Powell, DET - Powell was mentioned as a possible heir to Golden Tate’s role. The Lions may draft or sign someone to fill the spot for next year, but Powell is still a player to monitor this offseason in deep dynasty PPR leagues.
Chad Williams, ARI - Williams failed in his big opportunity to become the #2 receiver this year, but he’s a young 24 and still has room to develop as a small school receiver. If the Cardinals can get their offensive act together and Josh Rosen blossoms as a passer, the #2 receiver this offense could have value.