If there is one position that has plenty of depth for fantasy football owners, it's wide receiver. Last season, 23 receivers eclipsed 1,000 yards, a whopping 67 snagged 60 or more receptions and half of that group netted 70 or better catches, and 15 managed to pull down 10 or more touchdowns. The position is so deep that owners can essentially guarantee 10 to 15 fantasy points per week, no matter the league format, from a fourth or even fifth-round pick.
But fantasy owners are also fickle, and tend to be swayed by gut decisions rather than research or logic. So far, based off the average draft positions (ADP) tabulated by FantasyPros.com, owners are actually balking at some star receivers in the first five or so rounds.
Thus we’ve come up with a list of five receivers who are being drafted too low, but can be selected by a clever owner between the sixth and 11th rounds in most league formats.
Based on ADP from FantasyPros, and following a 10-team standard roster (1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 defense, 1 Kicker, 6 Bench) here are five wide receivers who could land in your lap on draft day.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (ADP: No. 56 overall)
What’s really changed in Detroit that makes Tate a fifth or sixth-round choice? Nothing. And that's why owners should capitalize on this blunder should it occur in their league. Tate still has Calvin Johnson drawing away defenses, Matthew Stafford will still throw 30 to even 40 times a game due to the lack of a true No. 1 running back, and the Lions are still waiting for tight end Eric Ebron to reach his potential.
Whether you’re in a PPR or standard league, if Tate’s available before the fifth or sixth round snag him immediately.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (ADP: No.57)
Yes, Allen went through a sophomore slump last season, but that had more to do with the reemergence of tight end Antonio Gates, who could miss as much as the first four games of the season after testing positive for PEDs. With Gates out, Allen will fly, and last year he still caught a team-high 77 passes.
Allen will be catching passes from quarterback Philip Rivers, who's in a contract year, which may mean both players are in for a big season. In any league format, Allen is an excellent No. 2, and if he’s still on the board in the sixth round it’s an incredible value pick with little to regret later.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ADP: No. 71)
There’s some good justification for Jackson to be selected so low. He's 32 years old, he will be getting his passes from rookie quarterback Jameis Winston, and he will be competing with burgeoning star Mike Evans for targets as well as a three-headed running back monster in Tampa Bay’s backfield.
But at No. 71 overall, Jackson’s just the kind of late-round find that can swing a fantasy team’s fortunes. Assuming Winston is healthy, Jackson actually has a solid history with young quarterbacks. He made then second-year QB Josh Freeman look like he had a promising future in the league with 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012, even with Mike Williams and running back Doug Martin both putting up excellent seasons.
Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (ADP: No. 100)
After tight end Rob Gronkowski, it's difficult to say who exactly is New England’s No. 2 receiving option, but most would tab Julian Edelman for that spot. Still, it was LaFell who was second only to Gronkowski with seven receiving touchdowns last season, and he even tallied new career-highs with 74 receptions for 953 yards at 12.9 yards per catch. LaFell’s a huge target capable of going wide, coming out of the slot, or working the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Owners may be skittish on any Patriots pass-catcher other than "Gronk" because of Tom Brady’s pending suspension, with even Edelman slipping to No. 52 overall. But keep in mind, the Patriots still have to make up for the loss of running back Shane Vereen, who caught 52 passes off 77 targets for 447 yards and three touchdowns. With no true No. 1 running back on the roster, those targets will have to be divvied out, and LaFell could be the beneficiary. And, as seen above, LaFell's getting exponentially better each season.
Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: No. 107)
Smith rejuvenated his career and the Ravens offense with his 1,065 yards and six touchdowns off 79 receptions last season, but owners seem skeptical that the 36-year-old can repeat that performance in 2015.
The Ravens do have some nice young weapons in the passing game, most notably rookie receiver Breshad Perriman, and tight end Maxx Williams, with receivers Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown perhaps poised for big years. But Baltimore and quarterback Joe Flacco’s singular proven receiver is Smith, and barring injury he should once again fly this season.
Honorable Mention(s): Charles Johnson, Vikings (ADP: No. 103); Marques Colston, Saints (ADP: No. 114); Terrance Williams, Cowboys (ADP: No. 129); Michael Crabtree, Raiders (ADP: 213)