Over the years I’ve developed different draft habits.
Some have changed, though my most successful teams have have come when I take a running back in the first two rounds.
Which means I need to find value at receiver later on.
I’ve done well there — partly due to watching enough football to make my fiance want to shoot me, partly due to the fact that what I look for is explosive play.
Jeremy Maclin and Antonio Brown in 2014, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in 2013, and so on.
I have a preference for larger bodied players, mostly because I know first hand how difficult the type is to defend, but the guys who post explosive play numbers are generally more reliable.
And so I mix them in.
There’s not a whole lot of a formula, though. Fantasy stats are subjective, and can change drastically year to year based on several variables such as touchdowns. This typically works out well for me, since a lot of my usual opponents will overbid on the guys I drafted one year prior.
But I’m spoiling that this year. Here’s my top 10 value receivers, which should all be available after the fifth round, and will vastly outperform their draft position.
1. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans
Cooks is a monster, and now becomes the focal point of New Orleans’ spread offense. This should be fun to watch.
2. Mike Wallace, Minnesota
Wallace has actually been solid over the last two seasons with Miami, scoring 10 touchdowns last season, and now he becomes a deep threat with Teddy Bridgewater, one of the most efficient quarterbacks in deep passing during his rookie season.
3. Jarvis Landry, Miami
Landry replaces Wallace as the focal point of Miami’s receiving corps, and while Tannehill isn’t the deep threat quarterback that Bridgewater is, Landry is much deadlier after the catch than Wallace is. Both teams hit home runs this offseason, in real life, and should have several contributors in fantasy too.
4. John Brown, Arizona
It’s my guess that you have no idea who John Brown is. Unless you’re from Arizona. It’s okay, you’re not alone. Brown is perhaps the most explosive receiver in football right now. And his fantasy production took a major hit after Carson Palmer got hurt. But I think Brown could finish as a top five receiver in 2015.
5. Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh
Antonio Brown will get a lot of looks, but Bryant is a guy who should be worked into Pittsburgh’s system much like Alshon Jeffery was with Chicago in his second season. And the production should be similar as well. If not better.
6. Keenan Allen, San Diego
This is an intriguing proposition. But referencing ProFootballFocus, Allen was actually a better receiver than DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace were. Only his diminished usage hurt his fantasy value. But that’s got to change. Right?
7. Paul Richardson, Seattle
Yeah, this is probably my favorite player here, though I doubt he’s atop the list at season’s end in points. Nonetheless, Richardson’s explosiveness, coupled with his natural feel for football and solid hands and extreme catching radius make him the most valuable if I was a general manager.
8. Tavon Austin, St. Louis
Can Austin finally realize his potential with a quarterback who can stay healthy? Yes, Sam Bradford is a better player than Nick Foles when healthy. But Bradford has played in only 23 games since 2012, only seven since 2013. Nick Foles will probably come to love Tavon Austin’s skillset after the catch.
9. Kevin White, Chicago
White is taking over for Brandon Marshall, who’s caught 279 passes for over 3,500 yards and 31 touchdowns since 2012. And his 2014 season was dismal compared to his production over his first two seasons with Chicago. White is just as talented, or so it seems, but rookies at this position can disappoint quicker than they can reward, too.
10. Jordan Mathews, Philadelphia
Now the best receiver in Philadelphia by a wide margin, Mathews will likely score double digit touchdowns and surpass 1,200 receiving yards, in Chip Kelly’s high octane offense without LeSean McCoy.