The deepest position in all of fantasy football got a little deeper in 2015. Last season, 26 wide receivers recorded 1,000-plus yards (compared to 23 in 2014) and 13 scored at least 10 touchdowns. Needless to say, it’s very possible that even fantasy football novices had one, two, or even three 1,000-yard receivers on their rosters in 2015.
Some of the top performers were expected to excel in 2015 and like many other years, several were not. There were the usual culprits like Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown, and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green, but others like Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Oakland’s Amari Cooper, and Arizona’s seemingly eternal Larry Fitzgerald all posted excellent seasons and were likely part of championship fantasy squads.
Finding the right blend of sure-fire, guaranteed points and out-smarting the competition by finding undervalued assets is the crux fantasy football stands on, and 2016 should be no different.
Based off FantasyPros.com’s early preseason rankings, here are four wide receivers who might be overlooked by owners during fantasy drafts and should exceed expectations despite injuries, sophomore slumps, or rookie jitters.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
The Panthers lost the No. 1 receiver to a torn ACL during training camp last year, and quarterback Cam Newton bucked all predictions of calamity with an MVP campaign as the Panthers finished as the highest-scoring team in the league (31.3 ppg). Newton worked with what he had: Ted Ginn Jr., Jerricho Cotchery, and Devin Funchess, along with tight end Greg Olsen.
Benjamin barely scratched his potential with 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie season, and while Carolina has been careful with him during organized team activities and will probably do the same in training camp, he could be a third- or fourth-round steal. FantasyPros currently lists Benjamin as the 20th receiver off the draft board.
Kevin White, Chicago Bears
A stress fracture in his shin pushed White’s rookie season back a year, but the No. 7 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft has the potential to shine. Unlike Benjamin, White’s injury wasn’t nearly as serious and he should still have that 4.35 40-yard dash speed coupled with an excellent 6-foot-3 frame to shuck off opposing defensive backs. It also helps that Alshon Jeffery will require lots of attention from defenses, making White a solid WR3 or utility for fantasy owners next year.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
Quick, elusive, and multi-faceted, the 23-year-old had one of the best rookie campaigns in 2015. Lockett pulled down 51 receptions for 664 yards and six touchdowns and, as a punt and kick returner, Lockett tallied 1,915 all-purpose yards. But there is potential for a sophomore-season slump as defenses won’t be caught off guard by Lockett's talent, especially his return game.
Nevertheless, as the 37th receiver off the board, Lockett’s a quality FLEX or FLEX2 play in 12 to 14-team leagues.
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings
As the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s draft, Treadwell does have heavy expectations to live up to and there’s a lot to suggest the former Ole Miss star will fly in his rookie season. For starters, he has consistent rushing monster Adrian Peterson to keep defenses honest. Also, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the more accurate passers in the NFL, completing nearly 65 percent of attempts his first two seasons.
Throw in the fact that Treadwell really only has to beat out Stefon Diggs for targets, and he should exceed projections as the No. 44 receiver off the fantasy draft board.