Swing for the fences: The highest-upside WRs at every ADP
Getting players at a value is the goal of any fantasy owner. Having players produce well past their value is what wins fantasy leagues.
Here’s a look at the players with the highest potential that are currently being selected outside of the top 15 wide receivers on the board, according to FantasyFootballCalulator.com:
Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 3.10, WR17)
With Watkins it all comes down to health. He was limited to just eight games in 2016 following surgery to repair a fracture of his fifth metatarsal and he had a second surgery this offseason. He’s now missed 11 games over the past two years. Even when he played last year Watkins wasn’t very effective, finishing with just a pair of touchdowns while averaging just 3.5 receptions and 53.8 yards per contest.
The Bills declined to pick the option on his rookie contract this offseason, but let’s not forget that Watkins put up top-five numbers during the second half of the season in 2015 when healthy. He averaged 100 yards and scored seven times during his final nine games of that campaign and helped deliver many fantasy owners to championships. Despite flashing a very high ceiling at times, Watkins has still just finished as a top-24 fantasy producer in 15 of his 37 career outings.
Buffalo lost 171 wide receiver targets from a year ago and a have a new offensive coordinator in Rick Dennison, who is expected to bring some life to the team’s passing game. His current late-third-round price tag makes the Bills’ wideout one of this year’s highest-risk/highest-reward players heading into the 2017 fantasy season.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh Steelers (4.08, WR22)
While Bryant delivers great upside, he comes with more risk than any other player on this list. Still not fully reinstated yet from his one-year suspension, the Steelers’ receiver is one slip-up away from another lengthy suspension. When on the field though, there is no denying his playmaking ability.
In the 10 games, he started in 2015 Bryant averaged five catches for 77 yards and scored seven touchdowns. In both 2014 and 2015 Bryant finished inside the top-15 at the position in fantasy points per game (standard). Pittsburgh’s offense is more explosive when Bryant is on the field. Over the last three seasons they’ve scored 5.5 more points per game in the games he’s played than the contests he has missed.
There’s hope that he could improve even more. At 6-foot-4 you would think he’d better in the red zone, but to this point we’ve yet to see it. During his breakout campaign two years ago he only pulled in one of his nine targets inside the 10-yard line.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs (4.08, WR23)
Few players in the league are capable are doing more with the ball in their hands than Hill, as evident by the fact that he scored a touchdown on every 9.4 touches in 2016, the best mark in the league of players with at least 75 touches.
After a slow start to the season, the fifth-round pick finished his rookie year 1,836 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns, including 24 carries for 267 yards and three touchdowns rushing. He played limitedly in college as a receiver and it took time for him to get going a year ago. He showed some signs of progress down the stretch though, by averaging five catches for 47 yards receiving over the final 10 games. That, coupled with injuries elsewhere, led to increased playing time as he played 56 percent of the team’s snaps during the final nine weeks after being in on just 20.8 percent of the plays during the first seven games.
The Chiefs were confident enough in Hill to let Jeremy Maclin go earlier in the summer and that will translate into more snaps and targets for the second-year wideout. If Hill can stay healthy and get in the ballpark of 100 touches he should have no problem delivering on his current WR2 price.
The first two seasons of his career haven’t quite been what the Dolphins were hoping for when they invested a first-round pick on Parker two years ago. Yet it hasn’t been a total disappointment either. He pulled in 64 percent of his targets and had a 13.2-yard aDOT finishing while scoring 2.0 fantasy points per reception in 2016.
Parker reportedly has looked impressive to start camp, but like other weapons in the Dolphins’ passing attack the news of the Ryan Tannehill’s injury could have a negative impact. The hype train was starting to roll a bit fast on the third-year wideout so maybe this speed bump will help the breakout candidate still come at a good value in later drafts.
Dolphins WR DeVante Parker expects a ‘big season’ this year. pic.twitter.com/JdABKzdgye
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 20, 2017
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the Cardinals’ aging passing attack in 2017, but Brown may be the exception. After battling sickle-cell issues a year ago, the speedy wideout is a prime bounceback candidate heading into this season. He should play a major role in the Bruce Arians’ vertical passing game as the clear-cut favorite to be the WR2.
Brown bulked up this offseason to 185 pounds and has been drawing rave reviews during most of the team’s offseason program. He could easily approach his 2015 numbers when he finished as WR21 in standard formats by pulling in 65 of his 99 targets for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns. The fourth-year receiver has dealt with soft-tissue injuries since arriving in the league and is now currently nursing a quad injury. If he can stay healthy he’ll far outperform his current value.
With Keenan Allen back healthy, at least for now, and the team drafting rookie wide receiver Mike Williams, many owners dismissed Tyrell Williams and his 2016 production. That is not an advisable approach. After Allen went down for the season with a Week 1 ACL injury, Williams emerged as the Chargers’ No. 1 wideout as he pulled in 69 catches for 1,059 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 60 or more receiving yards in 11 of the team’s 16 contests last season.
His combination of size, speed, and athleticism make him a legit NFL weapon. Allen will likely be the primary option in the passing game, but with Mike Williams’ status in question and Allen’s injury history Tyrell Williams has a ton of potential and is going off the board in the latter rounds of fantasy drafts. Even if Allen stays healthy he should manage to post decent WR3 numbers.
If healthy, Doctson will have a chance to compete for a big role in the high-powered Washington passing attack. The 2016 first-round pick played in just two games as a rookie and finished with 66 yards and two catches. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leaving via free agency, the second-year wideout will battle Jamison Crowder and newcomer Terrelle Pryor for wide receiver target shares in D.C. He is expected to Garcon’s role in the offense as the “Z” receiver.
Prior to entering the NFL, Docston was a highly touted prospect. His overall grade of 92.0 is the highest PFF grade to date for a college wide receiver. With Kirk Cousins and the Redskins poised for another big passing season there are very few players going off the board in Round 12 or later of fantasy drafts with more upside than Doctson carries in 2016.
Lockett was a popular breakout candidate a year ago after making some eye-popping plays as a rookie in 2015, but he could never get going and most of his second season as a pro was marred by injury. Before he suffered a broken leg in Week 16 though, Lockett was having a strong finish to his sophomore campaign, with 16 catches for 209 yards and a touchdown over his final three complete games, Weeks 13-15.
He has 4.4 speed and is electrifying when he gets the ball in his hands. Lockett was just activated from the PUP list this past week and is on pace to be a full go for the start of the season. Lockett is a dart worth throwing in the latter rounds on draft day. If he can beat out Paul Richardson and Jermaine Kearse to be the team’s WR2 big things could be ahead for this post-hype sleeper.