Late Round Wide Receivers To Target For 2018

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Chris Martini (@Martini269)


Finding late round values is something every fantasy owner should look to do in their drafts, regardless of league format and type. According to their Average Draft Position (ADP), quite a few wide-receivers are underappreciated heading into the 2018 season. Targeting one of these late round receivers could give you the advantage over your competition and possibly become a difference-maker for your squad.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Green Bay Packers

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Geronimo Allison is the “de facto” number three wide receiver on the Green Bay Packers depth chart. The release of Jordy Nelson in the offseason will give a lot of opportunity for the Packers pass catchers for the upcoming season. From 2013, Nelson averaged 129.5 targets and 10.25 touchdowns a year as one of Rodgers top wide receivers in that duration. Even with Devante Adams assuming the No. 1 role in the Packers wide receiver corps, there is still plenty of meat on the bone for Allison to feast.

When it comes to fantasy football, Aaron Rodgers has easily supported two wide receivers. In the last seven years, two of Aaron Rodgers wide receivers in the same year have finished in the top 24, four times. Keep in mind, Rodgers missed significant time in two of those seven years. If we didn’t know how well the Packers offense is by now, well, let’s not forget they have ranked top ten in points and yards in all but two of Rodger’s seasons since becoming the starting quarterback in 2008.

The lack of threats on the roster is another reason to be optimistic about Allison’s situation. The competition that stands in Allison’s way for fantasy production is Randall Cobb, and three rookies in J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Cobb has only registered one WR1 season in his seven-year career in this Packers offense, and low draft capital was spent on the rookie wide-receivers, as they were drafted in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds.

Many analysts are high on Cobb because of this, but he always seems to be hobbled and dealing with some sort of injury. Cobb has sustained numerous injuries, such as a pulled groin, sprained knee and shoulder, fractured fibula, punctured lung, and injuries to his hamstring, ankle, and chest. For example, spring training has not even started, yet The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Michael Cohen has reported Cobb in a walking boot on his right foot already. Why waste a fourth-round pick on him, when you can have the same upside, essentially free with Allison.

When given the opportunity, the 24-year-old, 6-foot-3 receiver has been productive on the field for the Packers, flashing his big-play ability. The table below illustrates Allison’s performances the last two years when Cobb was out and Allison drew the start.

Year

Week Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdown

2016

8 2 21

1

2016

16 4 66

0

2016

17 4 91

1

2017 3 6 122

0

 

According to MFL, Allison is being taken in the 21st round, which in most leagues means he is going undrafted. With your last round pick, you can stash this wide receiver that could potentially become the number two wide-receiver option in an Aaron Rodgers led offense. The value Allison’s ADP provides should draw the attention of any savvy fantasy owner and makes Allison an attractive late round value.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Buffalo Bills

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Kelvin Benjamin is being selected in the 13th round of 2018 fantasy drafts, according to MFL. Benjamin is serving as the Buffalo Bills top wide-receiver in an unimpressive offense; however the volume he will demand as the top dog becomes very intriguing in the second half of drafts.

I don’t foresee any threat for Benjamin in this wide receiver corps, with No. 2 receiver, Zay Jones not only dealing with personal issues but also missing the rest of the offseason program after undergoing knee surgery in May and shoulder surgery in January. Along with incumbents such as André Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, and Kaelin Cole filling out the rest of Buffalo’s depth chart, it would not be shocking if Benjamin saw an uptick of 120 targets in a Bills uniform in 2018.

Benjamin is a massive 6-foot-5, 245 pound receiver with a 34 7/8 arm length. His impressive measurables make him a huge target for quarterbacks to trust as he provides mismatches for defenders in the red zone and on jump balls. Benjamin has proved he can do it, registering 1,008 yards in 2014, and 941 yards in 2016, while scoring a touchdown in 41% of games played.

In 2017, Benjamin was traded mid-season from the Carolina Panthers to the Buffalo Bills. In just his first game with the Bills, he played 41-of-48 snaps and was targeted three times in the opening drive, including one in the red zone. Benjamin went on to injure his knee in the second game after reeling in a 20-yard catch on the opening drive. He went on to miss two games and played the remaining 4 games at well under 100%.

We saw how Benjamin was featured right out of the gate in the passing game, so the upside after a full offseason should bring Benjamin back to fantasy relevance. With a healthy Benjamin practicing fully during OTAs, in a contract year, he provides legitimate WR-3 numbers with an upside to jump into the top 24. The high forecasted target-share, along with his productivity in the red-zone makes his 13th round ADP laughable.

 

Allen Hurns, WR, Dallas Cowboys

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Looking for another team’s No. 1 receiver for the 2018 season in the late rounds of drafts? Look no further than Allen Hurns, who is going off draft boards in the 14th round. Hurns signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason, and immediately supersedes the underwhelming presence of the current receivers already on the roster. With the likes of Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, and Deonte Thompson on the team, the only threat to Hurns resides in rookie Michael Gallup.

However, even Gallup has to adjust as a rookie coming into the league as a late third round selection. Reporters such as Marcus Mosher, who were present at the Cowboys’ spring practices, has proclaimed that Hurns was the team’s “clear-cut” No. 1 receiver throughout. Additional reports indicated that he was lining up everywhere on the field for the Cowboys.

This comes as no surprise, as Hurns has established himself as a deep threat that can play all three receiver positions, X-receiver, Z-receiver and slot-receiver throughout his four-year career in the NFL. This indicates a lot of playing time and involvement for the veteran, which will give him a high floor and respectable target share.

About 260 targets and 14 touchdowns are available in the passing game, after the departures of Dez Bryant (133), Jason Witten (87), Brice Butler (24), Alfred Morris (9), and Ryan Switzer (7). With so much opportunity and so little competition for targets, Hurns provides the upside of a consistent fantasy producer for only a late-round pick. There is a real possibility that Hurns can come close to what he did as a Jaguar back in 2015 when he caught 64 passes for 1,031 yards and 10 touchdowns in 15 starts. He’s a steal at his current late round ADP!

 

Rishard Matthews, WR, Tennessee Titans

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Rishard Matthews has been on the Tennessee Titans for the last two years, where he has averaged 870 receiving yards and 6.5 touchdowns. He has fantasy football finishes of 14th and 36th with the team in that duration. Matthews is the second wide receiver on the depth chart, after Corey Davis, who is receiving a lot of buzz and hype coming into the 2018 season. Because of this, Matthews is being drafted criminally low, the middle of the 16th round to be exact.

Advantages for Matthews coming into the season would be newcomer offensive coordinator, Matt Lafleur, who is coming over from the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff. He served as the offensive coordinator, working under head coach Sean Mcvay in a very impressive offense last year. Lafleur also was the Quarterbacks Coach for the Atlanta Falcons, working under offensive coordinator at the time, Kyle Shannahan. During Lafleur’s tenure in Atlanta, the team finished 6th and 3rd in passing yards a game and 10th in 2017 when he was with the Rams. Lafleur has worked with great offensive minds and will be able to get the most out of this Titans stagnant offense from 2017.

Mathews should be able to surpass 100 targets easily, under this revamped offense that has a Top 15 strength of schedule for Tennessee wide-receivers this year, according to Fantasy Pros. Over 130+ targets are available with the departures of Eric Decker and Demarco Murray which leaves plenty of upside for Tennessee’s most reliable receiver. Matthews proved to be efficient with the Titans as he averaged 9.2 yards per target and played on over 82% of offensive snaps with the offense.

This compares to Corey Davis’s pedestrian 5.8 yards per target and zero regular-season touchdowns. An unproven Corey Davis is being drafted, on average with the 51st pick, which equates to the late 4th round. With the excitement surrounding the Titans this year as they go from a run-heavy offense under past head coach Mike Mularkey to a more pass-friendly game-plan, why not get better a value later in the draft. Rishard Matthews is the 64th wide receiver going off the board and will be a serviceable wide-out for your teams.

 

Josh Doctson, WR, Washington Redskins

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Washington receiver Josh Doctson, a first-round pick in 2016, is going way too low in 2018 fantasy drafts. Along with Kelvin Benjamin, this is another late round wide-receiver that offers much upside when it comes to touchdown production. In the 2017 season, Doctson saw 40.5% of end-zone target share, which ranked 9th in the league. In addition, he received 25.8% of red-zone target share, ranking 18th in that category.

Overall, he hauled in 6 touchdowns in 14 games while splitting X-receiver duties with Terrelle Pryor for half the season. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound receiver had just 78 targets come his way because of the split timeshare, a number that is sure to increase significantly heading into the new season. The table below illustrates how Doctson’s targets were dispersed before and after he took over the X-receiver role in week 7.

Weeks

Targets

1 – 6

9

7 – 17

69

 

Doctson will be operating as the full-time X-receiver at the start of the season and should see targets exceed 100, especially being a big threat in a pass-friendly offense. Jay Gruden likes to throw the ball, as the Redskins have ranked top ten in pass percentage four of the last five seasons. Even in college, Doctson proved he can do it all, not only hauling in an average of 12.5 touchdowns his last two seasons, but also surpassing the 1,000-yard mark, including a 1,327-yard senior season at TCU. Still entering his prime, at 25-years old, Doctson has shown flashes of the potential that led to him being drafted in the first round. With his underrated route-running, and his ability to out leap defenders and make spectacular catches over the top of them, he has the talent to become a true No. 1 receiver for the Redskins.

Even Doctson realizes the opportunity he has and wants to put the league on notice, “I lost my first year (to injury), last year I was able to play and then this year looking to do huge things.”  Doctson said at a football camp at TCU, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Overall, Doctson should be in store for a third-year breakout and have no problem surpassing both his 2017 numbers and his current late round ADP as a full-time starter for the Washington Redskins in 2018.

Honorable mentions:

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals; Mike Williams, WR, L.A. Chargers; Quincy Enunwa, WR, New York Jets

 

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