Is there a more frustrating position in fantasy football than wide receiver? You spend all week debating pass defenses, shut down corners and targets to only be let down when your guy barely sniffs the ball. Even worse, you go against a guy who only has two catches but scores the cheap touchdown.
As for draft strategy, do you use a top pick for one of the top tier, elite WRs or do you wait and take chances later in the draft? The popular sentiment this season is to load up on running backs early and try to find the best value in round three or later for your WRs. But what happens when the guy you were looking at gets drafted before you? There is a good chance others will be willing to spend a high pick on that top tier WR. No need to panic, here are a few guys that are going as the 20th WR drafted or higher that will have fantasy impact this season.
Torrey Smith, Ravens (Overall – 52; WR – 20)
Torrey Smith is an interesting player heading into this season. He has shown flashes and athleticism to be a top target in the NFL but disappears at times during a game. Last season wasn’t a horrible year finishing with 49 catches, 855 yards and 8 touchdowns but you get the sense there could be more. Will this be the season? With the departure of Boldin and injury to Pitta, the targets will be there. As the clear cut number one, the defense will focus on him as well.
He is a third year WR and according to Tristan H. Cockcroft over at ESPN, there is truth to the myth that third year WRs are poised for breakout seasons. When opportunity meets talent you get a great season and Smith is in line for one in 2013.
Steve Johnson, Bills (Overall – 78; WR – 30)
One thing Steve Johnson has been recently is consistent. He was 8th in the league in targets last year and has averaged 1,043 yards over the past three seasons. Yes his touchdown total has declined during that time frame but he also has had a weak QB and uncreative coach his whole time in Buffalo. Now with a new head coach preaching a high pace offense, he will have more opportunities within the system. Buffalo also added speedsters on his outside, allowing him to work in the slot this year, which should boost his reception total, and lead to an increase in both yards and touchdowns.
Lance Moore, Saints (Overall – 97; WR – 37)
As with others on this list I wanted to focus on teams that are going to be pass or offensive play heavy. WRs need targets to succeed and even though Lance Moore will be the third option for the Saints, Drew Brees is going to air it out and do it frequently. Brees was second in passing attempts, first in yards and touchdowns. Moore was targeted 7 times a game last year and at worst should be a WR3 for you going in the 9th round or later.
Josh Gordon, Browns (Overall – 99; WR – 38)
Looking past Josh Gordon’s two game suspension to start the year, he is still capable of big numbers. As a rookie last year, Gordon caught 50 passes for 805 yards and five touchdowns. Let’s not forget he is still the number one guy for a much improved Browns team now led on offense by Norv Turner.
Gordon is definitely one of the biggest risk/reward guys at the position. But, if he comes back from his suspension focused on football, he also has one of the highest ceilings for a WR being drafted 38th at his position.
I am drafting Gordon and hiding him on my bench for the first couple weeks and then watching the show the rest of the way. Getting a guy possibly outside the top 100 who could realistically become a WR2 is a risk I am willing to take.
Late Round Flyer Guys
Vincent Brown, Chargers (Overall – 121; WR – 46)
Vincent Brown was everyone’s darling last year and he couldn’t stay healthy to show us what he could do. This season he is looking like he healthiest WR San Diego has starting the season. The bottom line is San Diego needs someone to take control of the number one spot. Even though he hasn’t completed two full seasons, this is Brown’s third year and history has shown he could breakout. If he lives up to the potential and becomes the go to WR for Phillip Rivers, you are getting a number one guy on a team at an extremely cheap price. Brown is going 121 overall and is the 46th WR selected. He is definitely worth a late pick on potential alone.
Ryan Broyles, Lions (Overall – 143; WR – 51)
I will admit, last season I fell hard for all the Titus Young talk and his role on the Lions. Looking at the numbers last year it was hard to argue taking a shot on Young as Drew Stafford threw the ball a record breaking 727 times! Well this season I am back for more punishment and jumping back in with the Lions and Ryan Broyles.
We didn’t get to see much of Broyles last season (suffered another torn ACL) but if he can stay healthy there will be plenty of passes coming his way. With back-to-back blown ACL injuries, fantasy players are still not sold on him. But, with an overall ADP of 143 and 50+ positional ADP, he can be had at an extremely cheap price. The Lions need someone outside of Calvin Johnson to shine and Broyles will get every opportunity, of course if he stays healthy.