A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. There is value available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. In an attempt to point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco
James Brimacombe: Everything about the 49ers offense has been positive this offseason as they look to continue with their late-season success a year ago. The connection between Jimmy Garoppolo and Marquise Goodwin was a big contributor to that success and the duo have been locked in all offseason and ready for a full 16 game season together. Goodwin hauled in 56 catches for 962 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 105 targets last season. If the 49ers are truly on verge of ascending it will be Goodwin who is one of the key pieces in making it happen and at his ADP right now he is a nice value.
Will Grant: Goodwin and Jimmy Garoppolo looked pretty solid at the end of last season with Goodwin posting consecutive games with six or more receptions and 99 or more yards receiving. With Pierre Garcon back to full speed, the assumption is that Garcon will take over the primary role. However, Goodwin has proven himself and should see plenty of action as well. The confusion has both of them going lower than their expected value, but Goodwin is the better buy.
Ryan Hester: Goodwin is being drafted as the WR2 on a potentially high-scoring offense when he’s actually the most talented and dynamic pass-catcher on the team. His ADP should not only be higher in general, but it should be well above that of Pierre Garcon. Take advantage of this market inefficiency while you can.
Jason Wood: Once Jimmy Garoppolo took over, Goodwin played an All-Pro level. His five-game totals prorate to 93 receptions and 1,229 yards. He was uncoverable in single coverage. While Pierre Garcon will have a role, too, Goodwin has maintained the No. 1 position in the early preseason. Kyle Shanahan’s No. 1 receiver is always a fantasy commodity, and Goodwin will be no worse than a top-25 receiver over 16 games as long as Garcon doesn’t re-assert himself as the top option.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Phil Alexander: It feels like forever since Lockett posted 51 catches, 664 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns in only 8 starts as a rookie. An MCL sprain hampered him through most of 2016 and while he appeared in every game for the Seahawks last year, he clearly lacked explosiveness as he made his way back from a gruesome leg injury. With 34% of Seattle’s targets vacated by the departures of Paul Richardson Jr and Jimmy Graham in free agency and no inspiring additions to take their place, the Seahawks will give Lockett every chance to prove he can return to form. For what it’s worth, Lockett feels stronger physically and says he "can go back to playing his game this year." Doug Baldwin's murky injury status gives Lockett additional upside.
Sigmund Bloom: Lockett’s ADP is absurdly low considering the convergence of factions he represents right now. The Seahawks let Paul Richardson Jr walk in free agency, freeing up more deep targets for Lockett. Doug Baldwin has a mysterious knee issue which could affect his play or availability in season. Lockett was coming back from a gruesome leg injury last year and has admitted that he wasn’t at 100 percent and feels much better this year. The Seahawks are likely to be a losing team this year with a defense that is in transition, which will lead to more pass-heavy game scripts. This is a layup.
Dan Hindery: Lockett is well-positioned for a breakout campaign. He looked like an emerging star as a rookie but struggled through injuries the last two seasons. Now, fully healthy, Lockett will have every opportunity to prove his talent. Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson Jr are no longer around and Ed Dickson and 34-year-old Brandon Marshall are unlikely to command anywhere near the same share of targets as replacements. Plus, Doug Baldwin continues to miss time with a knee injury. While Baldwin may not miss regular season games, he could be slowed the same way Lockett was last season if his knee injury lingers. If Baldwin is anything less than 100%, Lockett could easily emerge as the top target for Russell Wilson.
Jeff Pasquino: Now that Paul Richardson Jr is out of the mix for Seattle, Lockett has a clear route to starting for the Seahawks. Aside from team WR1 Doug Baldwin, only free agent Jaron Brown will compete with Lockett for chances in a passing game that will also be without tight end Jimmy Graham, who caught 10 touchdowns last year for Seattle. When a top-five ranked quarterback like Russell Wilson has a new starter and target, you have to take notice and see the upside opportunity. Lockett also adds a little more value as a speedster return man, offering even more chances to find the end zone.
Players Receiving 3 Votes
Cooper Kupp, LA Rams
James Brimacombe: Cooper Kupp had a fine rookie season with a 62/869/5 stat line on 94 total targets. His chemistry with quarterback Jared Goff was no secret as he quickly became one of his reliable targets. Even with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods in the receiving core, there is still a lot of value with Kupp based on his role in the offense. If you are looking for a solid floor play each week that offers upside game to game than Kupp would be your guy in the mid rounds and he comes fairly inexpensive.
Jeff Pasquino: The Rams are poised to really make a mark this season, and the young stars on offense will have every chance to emerge. Kupp should be starting along with Robert Woods, which will give two strong options on either side of the field for QB Jared Goff. Kupp had six or more targets in his final seven contests last season (and 11 of 16 overall), resulting in respectable numbers (62-869-5) for any NFL wide receiver – but these metrics should be viewed as remarkable for a first-year player. Kupp could easily increase these numbers 25% or more, making him a very valuable selection in the middle part of most fantasy drafts.
Matt Waldman: Brandin Cooks hasn’t been a productive red zone threat with a pair of future Hall of Famers throwing to him. Kupp was a frequent red zone target at Eastern Washington and as a rookie. If Kupp converts more of these targets this year, his value climbs within the range of the top 15-20 fantasy receivers. Kupp is an accomplished route runner with elite quickness, and his skill against press coverage is rare. Former All-Pro Steve Smith said Kupp was the best receiver prospect in 2017’s draft class. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, a fine defensive mind who has spent years studying how to defend passing games, told a broadcast team before the Vikings-Rams game that Kupp was the team’s best receiver. People see Kupp as a player who has reached his ceiling of production but last year was only a decent starting point.
Robert Woods, LA Rams
Phil Alexander: Brandin Cooks was brought in to stretch defenses, which will allow Woods and Cooper Kupp to continue piling up catches underneath. It was clear last season Woods is Jared Goff's most trusted pass catcher, making it safe to lock him into a ~20% target market share in one of the league's most dynamic offenses. Prior to getting injured in Week 11, Woods was on a six-game tear in which the only receiver to score more fantasy points was DeAndre Hopkins -- last year's overall WR1. If forced to choose between Woods and Cooks at their respective ADPs, Woods is the easy choice almost four full rounds later.
Andy Hicks: Robert Woods was heavily undervalued heading into the 2017 season and history appears to be repeating itself heading into 2018. Brandin Cooks is a much better option for the Rams than the departed Sammy Watkins, but this team has weapons everywhere. Woods finished as the 32nd receiver last year, despite missing four games and playing injured in others. On a points per game basis, Woods was a borderline number one fantasy receiver. It is clear that Jared Goff likes him as a target and as is evidenced by multiple 100-yard games, multiple eight-catch performances and multiple double touchdown games he is a reason why fantasy owners can draft him as a third or fourth option and expect so much more.
Matt Waldman: Woods is a good all-around receiver who escaped Buffalo just in time. Most had the perception that Woods was the lesser receiver to Marqise Lee when they played together at USC. Lee was a slightly better athlete, but Woods was a much better route runner. Look for Woods to lead the Rams in yardage again this year because he’s the most versatile and reliable option of the receiving corp. Remember that last year was Jared Goff’s first full year as a starter in a new offense with a completely new receiving corps and significant new additions along the offensive line. This group will have more continuity this year and it’s a squad capable of delivering multiple fantasy starters on offense. A strong defense will give the offense more possessions and the offense’s run-pass balance will create some excellent mismatches for every starting receiver, including Woods.
Players Receiving 2 Votes
Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo
Andy Hicks: Kelvin Benjamin is threatening to become the forgotten first-round pick from the fabled wide receiver class of 2014 after his midseason trade from Carolina to Buffalo. Recent criticism of Cam Newton by Benjamin seems to be at the heart of the move and while Buffalo is hardly the surest team for quarterback play, Benjamin will be clearly pushing for a big free agent payday. It should be expected that Benjamin is the clear number one for the Bills and given his size and range, should easily outperform his ADP.
Jason Wood: Fantasy enthusiasts have short memories. Kelvin Benjamin had a nightmarish 2017 as poor conditioning, and personality conflict led to a mid-season trade to Buffalo. The tumult was enough to derail Benjamin’s season; he finished barely inside the Top 50. However, in his two healthy seasons (2014 and 2016), Benjamin was a top-20 fantasy receiver. One season is a fluke. Two seasons is not. The Bills have a void, and Benjamin is going to see a disproportionate target share much in the same way he did as a rookie in Carolina back in 2014. It’s going to be hard for Benjamin not to outperform his ADP; perhaps significantly.
Marvin Jones Jr, Detroit
Ryan Hester: His deep-ball efficiency and touchdowns may regress slightly, but his volume should increase with the 86 targets vacated by Eric Ebron. Kenny Golladay has plenty of talent and should take a step forward, but Jones and Golden Tate are still the more trusted players and will see more volume than Golladay, who is closer to a one-trick pony than a model of versatility. Between increases and decreases in efficiency and volume, Jones has four possible scenarios, three of which would yield a significant profit on his draft price.
Matt Waldman: He's the best receiver in football that no one gives the appropriate amount of credit. He’s one of the top route runners in the league, he excels at the catch-point against tight man coverage, he wins vertical routes, and he’s dangerous after the catch. However, people think of him as an oft-injured secondary receiver splitting time with Mohamed Sanu in an A.J. Green-led offense and they’re waiting for Kenny Golladay to overtake Jones. Golladay had easy matchups last year because of Jones commanding the top defender and is nowhere near ready to assume a primary receiver role unless Jones gets hurt and the coaches simplify the passing game. Jones outperformed many of the best receivers in football when they faced the same top cornerbacks. You’re getting a top-15 fantasy producer at the position – and most likely a top-10 option at a steal of a deal.
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland
Dan Hindery: Jarvis Landry is only 25 years old and has already seen 570 targets in his four NFL seasons. Sure, you can point to his low yards per reception, but isn’t it at least as important to focus on the mere fact that he earned the huge number of targets in the first place? His quarterback and the coaching staff in Miami trussed him to run the right route, fight for every ball, and make contested catches. He has yet to miss a single game in his career. Landry has finished WR13, WR11, and WR4 over the past three seasons, but is being drafted outside of the top 20 at the position in 2018. The presumption was that he wouldn’t see as many targets in Cleveland. But why not? He is still the most trustworthy and consistent target for the Browns. Even if Josh Gordon does return at some point, Landry has built the rapport with Tyrod Taylor that will again make him the go-to guy in his offense.
Jason Wood: It was easy to discount Jarvis Landry after he took huge money to leave Miami for Cleveland. But as the preseason has unfolded, Landry has crept back into the top-12 conversation, and yet his ADP still puts him toward the lower end of the WR2 tier. That’s a mistake. With Josh Gordon being absent for the foreseeable future, Corey Coleman traded to Buffalo, and rookie Antonio Callaway already in trouble with the law, Landry is as good a bet for 150 targets as any receiver other than Julio Jones and Antonio Brown.
Players Receiving 1 Vote
Amari Cooper, Oakland
Phil Alexander: Cooper is one of four receivers in NFL history to post consecutive seasons with 70+ catches and 1,000+ yards to start his career. Players on historic career trajectories don’t mysteriously lose it at 23-years-old. Whether Cooper was hurt, the victim of poor play-calling, or declined with the rest of the 2017 Raiders offense after Derek Carr hurt his back, is immaterial. Cooper and Carr are now healthy and new head coach Jon Gruden is an innovative play-caller. Gruden has made it clear Cooper will be the team’s offensive focal point and recently revealed plans to "move Cooper all over the place and find more ways to get him the ball" -- huge considering Cooper has thrived from the slot in his career. In Gruden’s 11 years as a head coach, his WR1 was targeted at least 130 targets in a season nine times, making Cooper a dark horse to lead the league in targets and turn a massive profit at his ADP.
Michael Crabtree, Baltimore
Ryan Hester: He’s new in town, but Crabtree is the favorite to lead Baltimore in targets. And without a presence at tight end or other tall receivers, projecting him to lead the team in receiving touchdowns doesn’t seem like a stretch either. Reports suggest that Joe Flacco is looking his way near the end zone. Baltimore’s offense should see a resurgence in 2018 with the return of Marshal Yanda and the running back position settled.
Jamison Crowder, Washington
Sigmund Bloom: Alex Smith and Crowder already have a connection, and Crowder’s ability to frequently create separation on short, quick-breaking routes with dovetail nicely with Smith’s penchant for high percentage throws. Crowder didn’t meet expectations last year because he was hurt for the first half of the season, but he’s healthy now and ready to carry over his second half, when he was a fantasy WR2. Crowder’s cost is WR3/WR4, so he is an easy profit in PPR leagues.
Corey Davis, Tennessee
Daniel Simpkins: The reasons to tout Davis are the same reasons for optimism about Marcus Mariota. The offensive system making a leap from the Stone Age to more modern concepts can only mean good things for the soon-to-be primary target in the passing game. The spread-based offense will center around short and intermediate passes, and Davis proved in college that he excels in this type of passing attack. Finally healthy, Davis will be able to benefit developmentally from a full offseason of OTAs and training camp. Despite the rocky start, Davis flashed near the end of last year. Expect him to build on that breakout in year two. See this Spotlight if you want a more detailed look at why Davis is a value this year.
Josh Doctson, Washington
Andy Hicks: After a miserable rookie season, Josh Doctson was on the field for every game last year and either will have learned a lot and take that leap or he is going to be disappointing. The value at wide receiver in fantasy drafts comes from players making a massive leap and almost always is from younger receivers where it finally clicks for them. Doctson is a late pick in most drafts and his highest upside is probably as a WR2. He will be a starting receiver for an offense that will throw the ball. His skill set should mesh with Alex Smith and his upside is worth that investment.
Will Fuller V, Houston Texans
Chad Parsons: Will Fuller V was electric with Deshaun Watson under center as the two combined for 279 yards and seven touchdowns over the four games they played together. Watson missed the rest of the season and Fuller's production took a downturn. In fact, during Weeks 4-8 DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller V were the top-two PPR PPG receivers in all of fantasy. Houston's passing game targets are largely unchanged from a year ago, still with WR3 and tight end question marks. Expect the targets to run through Hopkins and Fuller again this year and strong play from Deshaun Watson promotes Fuller crushing his ADP in 2018 production.
Devin Funchess, Carolina
Andy Hicks: Devin Funchess does have considerable upside as a wide receiver, but he needs to make his move this year. The Panthers didn't spend a first-round pick on D.J. Moore because Funchess is a sure thing. Funchess is an ascendant talent though who showed big-play ability but was inconsistent. He finished the 2017 season ranked 20th, thanks to eight touchdowns and at his current draft price, will be worth any associated risk.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay
Matt Waldman: Fantasy players are slow on the uptake that Godwin is the Buccaneers second starting receiver opposite Mike Evans. Godwin has the strength, speed, and hands to win the ball as a deep target against tight coverage but he’s also a complete route runner. He could easily become the leading receiver on this team and an underrated red zone threat because he’s a better route runner than Mike Evans, who has had trouble getting open on end zone targets. Although the Buccaneers will rotate Godwin, Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Adam Humphries in the starting offense, Godwin’s barely registering as a player on most fantasy league’s radars when he should be considered no worse than a top-36 fantasy receiver with top-24 production upside at the position.
Kenny Golladay, Detroit
Sigmund Bloom: Golladay was on his way to an impact rookie season before getting hurt last year. This year, he’s healthy, and Eric Ebron is in Indianapolis, so there’s a lot of freed up targets in the Lions offense for Golladay to inherit. Golladay is likely to get a lot of high-value red zone and deep targets and could easily turn the Lions wide receiver target pecking order into a 1A/1B/1C situation. He’s much cheaper than Marvin Jones Jr and Golden Tate even though it is within his range of possibilities to equal their value.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland
Ari Ingel: He’s the ultimate risk/reward pick, but he should report to the Browns around September 1st, right when Hard Knocks wraps and final cuts are made. His floor should be Sammy Watkins 2015 season playing with Tyrod Taylor when he put up 1,047 yards and 9 touchdowns. Recently retired All-Pro left tackle, Joe Thomas, stated that Gordon was the most physically gifted athlete he has ever seen and mentioned last year that he was amazed that after so much time off he could look so good. That was backed up by Chargers All-Pro cornerback Casey Heyward who stated last year that Gordon was the toughest player he faced all season long. Last year I told you that Ezekiel Elliott would be suspended for six games and that Gordon would be reinstated, perhaps it’s worth listening to me.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis
Sigmund Bloom: The last time Hilton and Andrew Luck were on the field together, Hilton led the league in receiving yards. Luck has had an uneventful return to the field, which means we’re likely to get something close to Luck of old this year. Hilton is in top form by most accounts, and a weak supporting group of wide receivers means he’s in contention to lead the league in targets. Hilton was a late first/early second round pick before Luck’s 2017 went south before it began. He’ll probably be worth that again this year.
Rishard Matthews, Tennessee
Jeff Pasquino: The value for Rishard Matthews is incredible in my view, as he is the top wide receiver in Tennessee yet at least 40 wide receivers are getting drafted ahead of him. How often can you select a team’s top wideout that late in fantasy drafts? I understand that most are hitching their WR1 ride to Corey Davis, and he has the talent to become a WR1, but until he does – I am looking firmly at Matthews as the top outside target in Tennessee. Even if he is a WR2, selecting Matthews about 20 wide receivers (and about four rounds in 12-team drafts) after Davis screams value. His upside far outweighs his downside risk, while the opposite is true for Davis.
Anthony Miller, Chicago
Dan Hindery: Allen Robinson going off the board nearly 100 picks ahead of Anthony Miller makes little sense to anyone paying attention to Chicago’s training camp. Robinson’s return from his ACL injury has been slower than some expected and Miller has often been described by beat writers as the best player on the field offensively. Miller has already locked down a starting role and has the extreme confidence and strong work ethic required for a young wide receiver to make an immediate impact. Cooper Kupp finished as WR25 in 2017 as a rookie playing out of the slot for the Rams and Miller has similar upside in the same role for the Bears.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver
Ryan Hester: Even with rookie Courtland Sutton emerging in camp, the target distribution in Denver should remain thin. They have next to nothing in terms of receiving tight ends, and they lack a pass-catching specialist at running back. Case Keenum is a vast improvement over the quarterbacks in Denver last season as well. Additionally, Sanders has experience running routes from the slot, where Keenum looked often last season when he fueled Adam Thielen’s excellent 2017 campaign.
Sterling Shepard, NY Giants
Jeff Pasquino: Sterling Shepard is one year further along his NFL development, and he enters his third season for a team that looks to be throwing and playing from behind this season. The entire offense was down last year for New York as they were 31st in points league-wide. Shepard scored eight touchdowns as a rookie but that number fell to just two in 2017 despite having nearly the same number of catches and yards both seasons. The Giants adding a top draft pick for their backfield will give Eli Manning more chances to find Shepard and to make more plays. Shepard looks to be a wide receiver that can finish in the Top 36 in fantasy but comes much cheaper than that in nearly every draft.
Kenny Stills, Miami
Will Grant: With Jay Cutler under center for most of the season, and Jarvis Landry sucking up 112 receptions on the other side of the field, Kenny Stills still managed to finish last season with almost 850 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns. That’s good enough to be a low WR2 or a flex position in any PPR fantasy league. Landry is in Cleveland now and while DeVante Parker will see the most benefit from Landry’s departure, Stills should also see a bump. Yet the return of Ryan Tannehill and the threat of Brock Osweiler have people shying away from Stills this season. Take advantage of it. At his current ADP, Stills is the decent value if he can repeat last season’s performance.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver
James Brimacombe: Demaryius Thomas has played in all 16 games the past six seasons and has never seen fewer than 140 targets in any of those seasons. Last year was his lowest output in those six seasons as he saw 140 targets for 83 catches, 949 receiving yards and five touchdowns all while having a variety of unreliable quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Fast forward to this season and he now has Case Keenum throwing him the ball who helped Adam Thielen get to 91/1277/4 and Stefon Diggs 64/849/8. His ADP right now is at a bargain as people are looking at his down year but in reality, he has a chance to break out and get back to his 2012-2014 form where he finished as WR5, WR2, and WR4.
Mike Williams, LA Chargers
Daniel Simpkins: Owners forget that Los Angeles invested the seventh overall pick in Williams in a year in which their Super Bowl window was very much still open. The team was riddled with injuries and lost close games that ultimately put them out of contention for a playoff spot. Williams also struggled with injury and didn’t see the field until the middle of the year. The Super Bowl window remains open and the Chargers will now expect a return on the high investment. He did make some positive strides in his rookie year and the reports about him in organized team activities have been that he is showing increased confidence and explosiveness. Fantasy players should not let the crowded wide receiver corps scare them. With Hunter Henry out for the year, there are more targets to be absorbed. Expect Williams to be only second to Keenan Allen in receiving opportunities.
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