Fantasy Football Sleepers & Values: Wide Receivers
Updated August 20, 2014
In our final installment of Sleepers & Values, we’re going to focus on the receiver position. Some of the players below have been previously discussed in other articles like Utilizing Advanced Stats to Identify 16 Breakout Receivers and Eleven Old-Timers to Consider on Draft Day; there are players covered there that won’t be mentioned here since Sleepers & Values is very ADP-dependent (Average Draft Position). And don’t forget to read Predicting the Production of D-Jax, Decker and G. Tate if you’re considering targeting any of the top free agent wideouts in 2014.
One look at our WR rankings reveals that after the first 12 or so players, there is a bit of a dropoff to a large group of relatively similar players. Our #13 WR, Pierre Garcon, is only projected to score 10 more fantasy points than our #26 wideout (Torrey Smith) and just 20 more points than our #35 receiver (Cecil Shorts). In PPR, it’s a 32-point difference between Garcon and Shorts, so about two projected fantasy points per week.
What this means is that if you’re using a Value-Based Drafting (VBD) approach, it won’t necessarily pay to draft a receiver outside the top 12 in the first three rounds given how deep the position projects to be. I like Garcon as a player, but he’s going to be hard-pressed to be the PPR monster he was last season with the arrival of both DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts and the return of Jordan Reed.
Instead, I’m more likely to draft at least one wideout in the first two rounds and then fill out my receiving corps in the middle rounds. But this is also a function of the apparent RB depth (specifically in the 3rd to 6th rounds) heading into draft season. I would have no qualms with starting WR/WR or TE/WR and then hit the RB position in the next few rounds before turning my attention back to my receiver corps in the 6th or 7th round.
Below is a list of Values, Sleepers and Deep Sleepers along with their corresponding ADPs. If a player has an ADP of 16.01 it means he’s a threat to go undrafted, so he should be available in the final rounds of a 16-round draft.
The blurbs contain references to advanced stats. Here’s a legend for the 4for4 newbies:
T/G: Targets Per Game
FP/Att: Fantasy Points Per Attempt
FP/T: Fantasy Points Per Target
aFP/T: Adjusted (for QB play) Fantasy Points Per Target
FP/Snap: Fantasy Points Per Snap
Marques Colston, Saints (6.10)
After four straight top 20 seasons, Colston finished #27 in 2013. He got off to a decent start (#27 WR through the first four weeks) before a midseason swoon where he caught a combined six catches for 44 yards against the Bears, Patriots and Bills. Then, over the final 10 games (including the postseason), he averaged 6.1 catches for 76 yards and 0.50 TD, which equate to fringe WR1-type numbers. The 31 year-old should benefit from the loss of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, who saw a combined 143 targets last season. Health is a concern, but Colston has only missed four games in the last five seasons.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers (10.12)
Re-signing Boldin was a smart move for the 49ers. Early in the season, Boldin carried the passing game at times but he actually increased his production upon Michael Crabtree’s return. Boldin averaged 4.7-66-.45 without Crabtree and 5.7-83-.43 with Crabtree, so the potential is there for another top 20 season. Boldin finished #15 in both standard and PPR formats. Removing Week 1 (his huge game against the Packers), he was #19 and #20 in standard and PPR, respectively. The arrival of Stevie Johnson does complicate matters, but the 49ers appear to be ready to trust Colin Kaepernick more in the passing game, so the fantasy pie should grow.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars (11.04)
Shorts gutted through a sports hernia on his way to a 66-777-3 season. The 55-979-7 he posted in 2012 (his second season) is a better indication of what he’s capable of. The addition of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson should actually help Shorts avoid double coverage, and it’s encouraging to hear that he has been attending Larry Fitzgerald’s offseason workouts. He missed part of camp with a hamstring injury, but he's back practicing in a limited fashion. Owners should be able to take advantage of his lower ADP.