It’s now the final week of preseason, with Thursday’s games the last opportunity for players on the fringe to make rosters before they are trimmed to 53 on Saturday. It’s also the week when most fantasy leagues will hold their drafts. Many have already done so, and based off draft results compiled by Fantasy Pros there are several players that owners might have reached for and many who are being overlooked.
Let’s take a look at five overrated and five underrated wide receivers, arguably the deepest position this year, based off their average draft position and their histories with injuries and any personnel changes their teams have experienced during the offseason. All of these are players could be available when you draft, but of course pick at your own discretion.
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
On average he’s the 14th receiver off the board, and while he’s been able to average 84 receptions for 1,151 yards and 5.5 touchdowns with quarterback busts (David Carr) and inconsistent QBs (Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, Sage Rosenfels), it’s still difficult to see Johnson fulfilling his typically lofty expectations with Ryan Fitzpatrick this season. Fitzpatrick is 26 th among active QBs in career interception-rate (3.6 percent), no receiver’s ever caught more than 92 balls in a season from him, and only one has posted a 1,000-yard season (Stevie Johnson 3x) with him under center. In a standard, non-PPR league Johnson appears to be rated correctly, but in a PPR league there are better options like Arizona’s rising Michael Floyd.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings
A solid rookie year as a receiver (45 recs, 469 yards, 4 TDs) and returner (1,393 yards, 2 TDs including a 109 yard scamper) and three rushing TDs, have Patterson pegged as the 19 th receiver drafted. But again Minnesota has some questions at quarterback (Matt Cassel unable to play a full season since 2010 with New England and rookie Teddy Bridgewater waiting in the wings) and there are plenty of more proven receivers being taken after Patterson like the Colts T.Y. Hilton and Baltimore’s Torrey Smith.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
He’s now four years removed from his breakout 2010 performance of 70 catches for 964 yards and 10 TDs, and after missing all of last year with due to an ACL tear, Maclin’s entering his first full season under head coach Chip Kelly’s lightning-quick offense. But as of now Maclin’s not even listed as the No. 1 receiver on the Eagles depth chart, and he also missed an entire college season with a similar injury. He’s the 28th receiver selected according to FP, with better picks like Buffalo rookie Sammy Watkins, the Jets Eric Decker and San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin still available.
Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons
White missed the first three games of his career with a nasty high ankle sprain last year, and broke his streak of six straight 1,100-plus yard seasons. As a result he’s aiming for a 1,500 yard bounce back year with teammate Julio Jones, something that’s never been done before. The 32-year-old receiver is averaging out as the 17th receiver selected, but there might be concerns about how he can recover even from a minor injury at his age. Targeting Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders (27th WR drafted) is a smarter play, while focusing on running backs or one of the top QBs in the first three or four rounds.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
Since he entered the league in 2006, Colston’s posted more than 1,000 yards and at least five touchdowns in all but two seasons. But Jimmy Graham is the focus of the Saints offense now. Colston is the 29th receiver drafted, but there are some younger options capable of busting out this season like Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins and Jacksonville’s Cecil Shorts.
Steve Johnson, San Francisco 49ers
Yes he joins a 49ers passing offense that was 30th in the league last year, and most of the targets could go to Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. And yes he may be in danger of being cut due to his escalating salary, but as the 63rd receiver selected Johnson presents great value even if he winds up with another team this year. He’s only two years removed from his run of three-straight 1,000-yard seasons, and still has explosive speed for big plays down field.
Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars
Listed as the 45th receiver drafted, Shorts couldn’t really build off his stellar 2012 of 55 catches for 979 yards and seven touchdowns thanks to Blaine Gabbert’s poor development under center. But whether it’s Chad Henne or Blake Bortles starting, with Toby Gerhart behind them at running back, Shorts might finally have enough offensive talent around him to lure defenders away for his big play abilities.
Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders
Holmes has already surpassed top free agent signing James Jones and last year’s No. 2 receiver Denarius Moore during training camp, and he was already first on the team with 17.2 yards per reception last season. Holmes is scheduled to be a restricted free agent after this season, meaning he’s also playing for a big pay bump. Holmes isn’t being picked at all in most drafts, so as one of your first waiver pick-ups or one of your final three picks he might be worth it.
Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills
The rookie Watkins has been amazing during the preseason and camp, and he’ll draw tons of attention from opposing defenses to open things up for Woods. He had a solid rookie year with 40 reps for 587 yards and three touchdowns, but they weren’t outstanding numbers so it makes sense why he’s the 77th wide out picked.
Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
In 2013, Smith ripped off his first 1,000-yard season and a career-high 65 catches and 70.5 yards per game. He’s unquestionably Joe Flacco’s No. 1 receiver, and the Ravens will have to pass early and often thanks to Ray Rice’s two-game suspension and Bernard Pierce questionable with a concussion. He’s the 24th receiver off the board, but he’s more proven than Patterson and much healthier than Wes Welker, both of whom are going ahead of Smith.