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Draft Analysis

50 Players to Draft at Cost

by Rich Hribar
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Even though I’ve already reinforced why I believe the recent surge of drafting wide receivers early is sound strategy and isn’t going away anytime soon, I’m someone who likes to tinker with multiple draft approaches. Every draft room breathes its own life and flexibility can save you from being at complete mercy of a concrete agenda heading in.

 

Since I’m also fortunate to play in many leagues that allow me to incorporate different approaches, I get to draft a lot of different players over the course of the summer. In a majority of drafts, I’m going WR early with a mix of running backs in the middle rounds before hitting wide receiver again late, but I’m going to share all of my favorite players at their current costs so that you can apply your own strategy and thoughts around those picks while also providing a look ahead when you have to change an approach on the fly. Since nearly all of the leagues I play in reward receptions to some degree, I’m using the PPR aggregate ADP available at Fantasy Pros as the baseline for ADP and 12-team leagues to determine the rounds.

 

Keep in mind that ADP is only a proxy of price and it varies league to league. These are not the only players I am targeting this summer. Players will be drafted higher than you expect and some will slide further. These are players in the early, middle and back portions of each round that I feel represent the most attraction at their current costs.

 

First Round

 

A.J. Green: Like most, I have the triumvirate of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham and Julio Jones at the top, and the next receiver after those is Green. Green is the only player other than Randy Moss to have at least 60 receptions and 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons. Despite his continued run in extending that streak last season with 86 grabs for 1,297 yards, Green was targeted just 8.3 times per game and on just 22.8 percent of his routes, Green's lowest marks since his rookie season. Despite the reduction in volume, Green held high-end output per look on a career-high 9.8 yards and 2.1 fantasy points per target. Green has known to be slightly volatile with big games covering up some lower moments, which prevents him from threatening the first tier of receivers. He’s been outside of the top-24 weekly scorers at his position in 20 of his past 45 games with really bizarre home-road splits, averaging 36.4 more yards per game on the road than at home for his career. That was a trend that continued in 2015 in Andy Dalton’s best season as a pro, but with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu gone, and with Tyler Eifert potentially limited or inactive to start the season, we should see the Bengals’ offense completely run through Green as it did in 2012 and 2013.

 

David Johnson: The sample wasn’t over a full season, but Johnson led all qualifying running backs in rushing points per carry (.85) and receiving points per reception (1.94) last year as he carried owners to fantasy titles once Chris Johnson was lost for the season. Over the final five weeks, Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (131.6 per game) and all non-quarterbacks in fantasy scoring while having the second-most touches in the league. With his receiving ability, he’s virtually game script-proof as evidenced by his 108 total yards in Arizona’s blowout loss to Carolina in the playoffs. Johnson scored on 7.5 percent of his touches and that type of elite touchdown production per opportunity has been a precursor to major production for other backs. The return of Chris Johnson shouldn’t have owners spooked too much as Chris averaged over two full yards fewer per touch and offers no versatility. While David may not be a perfect player amongst many, his pros far outweigh the cons as he’s a fantastic athlete and great receiver in arguably the league’s best offense.

 

Lamar Miller: Only 25 years old, Miller is still prime in the apex range for running backs and fresh on a new contract that gave him top-six guaranteed money at his position.  I’ve already highlighted how Miller’s change in climate to Houston should impact his expected volume as he was 5th in scoring last season despite ranking 11th in touches. He’s also consistently improved in the receiving game, increasing his reception totals every year of his career. RG Jeff Allen is arguably an upgrade to Brandon Brooks in the run game and second-round center Nick Martin should step right in and start. It’s not farfetched to believe that Miller can be the best RB in fantasy this season.

 

Second Round


Keenan Allen: Allen was fourth in the NFL in targets per game (11.1) before missing the final eight weeks with a kidney injury and had three games of 130 or more receiving yards, bested only by Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, the three guys leading off the top receiver tier for just about everyone. Allen has kind of been a rich man’s Jarvis Landry the last two years as volume has anchored low yards per reception (10.8 and 10.2) and yards per target (6.5 and 8.2 yards) totals as well as having a hard time finding the end zone since his rookie season, scoring on just 5.2 and 5.9 percent of his receptions over the past two years. But 2016 could see that volume meld with his rookie year usage with the return of OC Ken Whisenhunt. The last time Whiz was in San Diego was Allen’s rookie season in which his average depth of target (aDOT) per Pro Football Focus was 10.7 yards downfield and he saw 10 targets from the 10-yard line and in.

 

Jamaal Charles: It’s easy to see why Charles has slipped out of the top tier of running backs. He’s going to be 30 years old and is coming off of his second ACL tear, which may hold him out for the entire preseason. Still, Charles is a Hall of Fame quality player when active and still ranked second in PPR points game (16.0) and rushing points per attempt (.85) in 2015. Even if Charles’ workload is shaved this season, he’s shown he can be elite on lesser volume as he has three top-12 scoring seasons on 275 or fewer touches. And even if Spencer Ware vultures a few touchdowns, Charles is still the best pass catcher in Kansas City and I anticipate the Chiefs will throw more in 2016. Don’t let Charles last too long in the second round. 

 

Alshon Jeffery: No player was targeted more per route than Jeffery last season (32.7 percent) as he cleared double digit targets in six of his nine games with seven games of 75 yards or more.  Jeffery was working toward a 165-target pace in an offense that only passed 54 percent of the time (25th in the league). Jeffery may not be targeted as heavily with Kevin White returning, but the drop off shouldn’t be overly damaging and the 26-year-old receiver has shown he can be effective sharing targets with Brandon MarshallI also expect the Bears to have more balance throwing the football when game conditions apply. The recurring soft tissue injuries are a concern, but I won’t let Jeffery fall too far based on what he’s done while active.

 

Mark Ingram: Ingram had one of the best floors of any player in the league last season as he had just one fantasy week lower than RB19 in his 12 games played due to a career-high 50 receptions and 97.8 yards from scrimmage per game. Ingram did top 80 yards on the ground only once, so there’s some minor concern if the receptions get shaved down, and he’s missed multiple games in three straight seasons. He’ll remain the back that will see the scoring opportunities in what remains one of the highest-scoring offenses.

 

Third Round


T.Y. Hilton: Hilton is just one of three active players to see 125-plus targets in each of the past three seasons as he’s been the WR10-24 in standard leagues in four consecutive years and WR12-22 in PPR formats in each of the past three. Hilton may not have massive touchdown upside, but Andrew Luck back under center, the Colts remaining pass heavy, and their questionable offensive depth could all create a perfect storm, giving Hilton the most volume he’s seen in a season to date.

 

Sammy Watkins: Watkins suffered a fracture to his fifth metatarsal this spring, which is why his draft position has consistently hit the third round, but so far everything has been positive about his return. Both Dez Bryant and Julian Edelman suffered similar injuries last year and neither was the same upon return, which may keep Watkins’ price in this area. Watkins led the league in yards per target (10.9) and was second in fantasy points per target (1.65) in 2015 as he finished the season on fire. After failing to see more than eight targets in any game until Week 12, Watkins saw double digit targets in four of his final six games where he had 679 yards (with at least 80 yards in each game) and six touchdowns.  That was a glimpse of Watkins’ ceiling, but also may have been a pocket of perfect storm production and volume. Watkins also lived on the long touchdown, scoring eight of his nine TDs from 20 yards or longer.  There’s risk galore with Watkins in terms of his foot, volume, and reliance on long scores, so I’m not taking him to be my WR1 if by chance I started RB heavy. But if I have a lead receiver or two that I have confidence in as safety nets, I want to add his upside to my roster in creating a receiving unit that can put up points in bunches.

 

LeSean McCoy: After back to back seasons with 300-plus touches, McCoy dealt with hamstring, shoulder and knee injuries in 2015, which caused him to miss four games. McCoy remained a top producer when active, ranking 11th in points per game (14.9), and 8th in both yards from scrimmage (98.9) and touches (19.6) among running backs. With the Bills' depth at running back suspect to start the season, McCoy should be leaned on heavily once again. The downside to McCoy is he’s been a lackluster touchdown producer. Over the past four seasons, he’s scored on just 2.2 percent of his touches with no season going past three percent. History suggest that the Bills will find the end zone more in 2016 and his volume is about as stable as it gets as Buffalo ran the ball on 50 percent of their offensive plays last season (highest rate in the league) and 51.6 percent of the time while trailing (second highest).

 

Randall Cobb: Cobb was an ultimate letdown in 2015 as he posted career lows across the board, but I feel solidly that those lows will be an outlier for him. Just turning 26 this August, Cobb plays alongside arguably the best passer in the league, and in an offense that will return healthy all around and has one of the most favorable outlooks in the league schedule-wise per Warren Sharp.  While Watkins and Hilton are my choices in this area when playing for weekly ceilings, Cobb is my choice when my roster calls for point smoothing.

 

Fourth Round


Jeremy Maclin: Maclin has been ultra-consistent with multiple quarterbacks in multiple offensive climates. He’s been a top-30 scorer in each of his past five seasons and is coming off a WR17 finish in his first year in Kansas City, also finishing 19th in points per game (16.2).  Maclin wasn’t hurt by the Chiefs' low volume offense, something that should uptick in 2016 as I previously mentioned and linked with Charles. Maclin is a fantastic floor-plus-upside option in any team build at this point in drafts. 

 

Carlos Hyde: There are certainly things not to like about Hyde. He may not catch a lot of passes (although even that is an uncertainty) and his team likely won’t score a lot of points, but at RB17 cost, I’m willing to take on those negatives and play on the positives.  The pace of Chip Kelly’s offense should result in at least an extra game’s worth of rushing volume for Hyde. Schematically, this is a run-based offense that Hyde already excelled in at Ohio State and got him drafted in the NFL second round, and he’s carried that over into the pros. Hyde’s splits running out of the pistol and shotgun line up supremely well with how Kelly has used backs at the NFL level. Hyde is the best 49ers' offensive player by a wide gap and it’s hard not seeing him clear 300 touches regardless of a heavy dose of negative game scripts.

 

Donte Moncrief: I expressed my affection for Moncrief in the wide receiver notebook and circled him as a must own player of mine. His price has climbed a bit as gurus such as Matt Harmon have also tagged him as a player to explode, but his cost in leagues is still more than palatable for his floor and potential if T.Y. Hilton were ever to miss any time.  Moncrief is arguably my favorite 4th round selection regardless of team build. I only avoid Moncrief on teams where I’ve already selected Hilton.

 

Rounds 5-6


Latavius Murray: Murray was the 10th-highest scoring running back, but he was far from the 10th best option week to week. Murray was a top-20 scorer in eight games with seven games as the RB30 or lower. He benefited from opportunity as Oakland kept leaning on him. Murray had 80 percent of the Raiders’ backfield rushing attempts with another 42 percent of their targets. With the addition of only DeAndre Washington, it’s probable that Murray’s receiving work is threatened but with the Raiders’ upgrades on the offensive line and defense, Murray should be in line for another strong workload as the play calling splits in Oakland continue to take steps toward more balance. Murray also gets a really nice outlook in hopes of starting off strong with New Orleans, Atlanta and Tennessee to open the season.

 

Eric Decker: Decker is definitely a candidate to score fewer touchdowns and those touchdowns he scored in 2015 smoothed out some lean yardage weeks, but his overall volume isn’t expected to be compromised as the Jets still project to have one of the shallowest ball distributions while remaining a pass-first team under Chan Gailey. In fact, they should even throw more. The Jets trailed for just 40.7 percent of their offensive plays in 2015 (12th lowest rate in the league), but on those plays, they threw the ball 71.2 percent of the time (7th highest).  For this reason I’m also buying into Brandon Marshall when he hits the third round, but Decker remains a cheap source of targets and longstanding touchdown production. It’s likely that Decker sees 140-plus targets and he has room for his weekly ceiling to increase in terms of yardage with any added bonus if Marshall misses time.

 

Michael Floyd: From Week 6 on, Floyd ranked 21st in points while averaging 15.4 points and 7.2 targets per game.  Over those 10 games, Floyd had 70 receiving yards or a touchdown in eight while being outside of the top-25 scorers at his position just three times.  He ranked 9th in points per snap over that span, which is the only potential downside as he was third in snaps in 12 of the 14 games where all three of the Cardinals' main receivers played together.

 

Gio Bernard: Last week I ran through why I believe Bernard is priced properly even if he remains the same player that he’s always been but also offers upside in a plethora of scenarios that could play out.

 

Ryan Mathews: Mathews is dinged by the loss of Chip Kelly’s pace, but still is in line to lead the Eagles' backfield in touches. In a subpar season for the Eagles a year ago, Mathews was a bright spot. Mathews’ .84 points per carry trailed only David Johnson’s .85 mark for all top-36 scorers in the league. Wendell Smallwood and Darren Sproles cap his receiving ceiling, but Mathews is also a viable receiver if given the opportunity. He’s caught 78.3 percent of his career targets, the 11th best mark for any running back with at least 100 targets since Mathews entered the league in 2010. Any move to a rookie quarterback is concerning to some degree, but Mathews stands to be a value as a secondary option in your lineup if you can get past the fantasy stigma of being perpetually let down any time he requires significant investment.

 

DeVante Parker: Over the final six weeks of 2015, Parker’s PPR weekly finishes were WR20, WR28, WR85, WR40, WR24 and WR12. Over that six-game span, Parker had just 61 fewer yards than teammate Jarvis Landry on 29 fewer targets as he closed the season with 87, 93 and 106 receiving yards in his final three games. Parker did all of that damage while seeing just 19 percent of the Miami targets and catching just 51 percent of those looks, usage and efficiency that have room to improve.

 

Coby Fleener: Fleener’s price has crept toward his ceiling over the summer, but in the majority of drafts, the top-36 receivers will be either fully or nearly gone, making his cost more palatable in the context of pass catchers as whole. Fleener isn’t perceived as a great football player, but finds himself in a great opportunity. Ben Watson and his 110 targets are gone and Drew Brees is coming off of a season in which he made Watson, Willie Snead and Tim Hightower all relevant, so Fleener not being an alpha talent shouldn’t get in your way. Only Gary Barnidge ran more routes than Watson did in 2015 and Fleener already has a TE6 scoring finish on his resume from 2014 in which he showed he was capable of big weekly ceiling output as he was TE1 overall in more weeks than any tight end in the NFL that season.

 

Jonathan Stewart: I fully expected to dislike Stewart coming into this offseason because he had once in a career game script last season and turned it into just six top-24 scoring weeks. Stewart topped 80 yards on the ground in just five games and has had just one season in which he’s caught more than two passes per game. Still, Stewart is available late in the 6th round and sometimes into the 7th, has bankable weekly volume as the lead player on his depth chart in a good offense, and still had 12 carries from the 5-yard and in last season (T-6th) despite sharing goal line opportunities with his quarterback. If going with a WR-heavy approach, Stewart is the kind of back you’re looking to add for stable usage and sneaky upside. 

 

Rounds 7-9


Jeremy Hill: Hill is interesting because his range of outcomes is fairly thin. On one more carry than he had in 2014, Hill ran for 330 fewer yards as he failed to generate the amount of explosive runs that he did as a rookie. The year before, Hill had 28 carries go for 10 or more yards and eight of 20 or more yards with long runs of 85, 62, 60 yards. In 2015, he totaled 18 runs of 10 or more yards, with just one run over 17 yards. Even if he fails to generate those splash plays, Hill has the most touchdown runs from 5 yards and in over the past two seasons (15) and tied for the second most carries (30).  Turning just 24 years old in October, I’m willing to take on Hill’s floor of being reliant on short touchdowns in hopes that he can channel some of his rookie efficiency if I’ve gone WR heavy out of the gate and miss out on a player like Stewart. But Hill does open with the Jets, Steelers and Broncos, three defenses I expect will make it hard for him to find a path to blow up out of the gates.

 

Frank Gore: Gore has a lot of negatives priced into his cost for good reason. No back 33 years old or older has rushed for 1,000 yards since 1984, and just five have eclipsed 1,000 yards from scrimmage over the past 20 seasons. The Colts drafted mauling center Ryan Kelly who shows up on nearly every Derrick Henry highlight to help Gore improve on his career low 3.7 yards per carry last season. The offense should bounce back at least over 2015 standards with the return of Andrew Luck and the Colts have marginal reliable depth behind Gore, which seems to indicate that they will use up whatever he has left in the tank.

 

Marvin Jones: Even with the signing of 36-year-old Anquan Boldin, there’s no reason to believe that Jones won’t see the most targets he’s ever had in a season for his career and he has already been a top-36 overall performer in each of his past two seasons played.

 

Charles Sims: Sims ranked 30th of all backs in yards from scrimmage per game (68.1 yards) and 30th in points per game (11.3) in 2015. With no major additions to the offense this offseason, those give him standalone flex juice with the added upside of being a Doug Martin injury away from possible RB1 status.

 

DeAngelo Williams: A caveat on Williams is that roster construction will matter greatly in determining how I will go about pursuing him. If I’ve already gone very wide receiver heavy and plan on running a rotation of backs to cobble together my best outcome over the long haul, then I’m willing to take his opening month outlook as an RB1 and use that to my advantage as a bridge to the second quarter of the season. In games with Le’Veon Bell inactive, Williams averaged 87 percent of the team snaps, 21.3 touches, 112.1 total yards and 21.3 fantasy points per game. In those 10 games, he finished outside of top-16 weekly scorers just twice. With Bell’s suspension, Williams is a top-12 fantasy option for the season’s opening month when the 33-year-old back will be at his freshest.  If by chance I did grab Bell already, I’m not pressing to handcuff him at Williams' increased cost because there other options here that have more probable full-season usage.

 

DeSean Jackson: With Josh Doctson already behind, all of the vertical receiving work is Jackson’s to open the year. We know Jackson has a high ceiling when on the field. When he returned last season, he had three top-20 scoring weeks with two in the top-7, but we also know Jackson has a low floor as he posted four weeks at WR46 or worse. Jackson is a target on specific team builds where my wide receiver roster already is littered with high floor types and I can take on strictly chasing Jackson’s ceiling weeks.

 

Rashad Jennings: When I’m still fishing for running back production, Jennings is a target as the draft approaches double digit rounds and he has already ended up on the majority of rosters I’ve selected.  Jennings still ranked 29th in touches per game (14.0) and 23rd in yards from scrimmage per game (72.4) and if he’s used in the same capacity that he was to close last year, then he can easily trump his cost.

 

Eli Manning: Eli is the first quarterback I’m monitoring in drafts outside of the signal callers who fill the expensive tiers that I’m passing on as I continue stack backs and receivers. In two years in Ben McAdoo’s system, Manning has reached 600 pass attempts, 4,400 yards and 30 passing touchdowns in each season while averaging 17.4 points per game.  That can also be tied into having Odell Beckham, but you can make a case that in 2016 the Giants have more on offense than they’ve had in totality for the past two seasons and they also hold one of the lightest outlooks schedule-wise.

 

Willie Snead: Snead tallied 101 targets last year while missing a game and not playing over half of the offensive snaps until Week 3. While the additions of Coby Fleener and Michael Thomas can surely soak up the departed targets left from Ben Watson and Marques Colston, there’s still plenty of room to believe Snead will push triple digit targets again, and he is a solid bet to score more touchdowns this season.

 

Torrey Smith: Smith stands to see a target spike off of a down 2015 season and his career to this point isn’t overly dissimilar from another receiver that was known for inconsistency prior to being a part of Chip Kelly’s offense.

 

Sterling Shepard: As I’m sure you have noticed by the players listed in this portion of the draft, I like the Giants' offense a lot and love that they only have one expensive player. Shepard is heading to a team that was second in offensive pace last season per Football Outsiders, tied for first in the league in passing scores, and has one of the best receivers in the league clearing space. If Victor Cruz doesn’t return to form, Shepard could lead all rookies in fantasy scoring and if anything happens to Odell Beckham at any point, even more targets become available.

 

Rounds 10-11


Antonio Gates: Gates has age and injury risk priced into his cost, but he still has performed as a top end tight end when available the past few seasons. I have no issues entering the season with him as my lead (or only) tight end while he’s fresh to start.

 

Bilal Powell: Powell has standalone flex value even if he’s on the shorter end of a time split with Matt Forte, while he has multiple avenues to upside with or without an injury to Forte.

 

Stefon Diggs: Once he cracked the lineup in Week 4, Diggs had as many receptions (52) as Amari Cooper with just 60 fewer receiving yards (720) and one less touchdown (four). Diggs saw at least 20 percent of the team targets in eight of his 13 games, but it wasn’t all gravy for Diggs as a rookie.  After opening up his career with five consecutive top-30 scoring games, he had just one over the last seven weeks while topping five targets in just three of those games.  While Laquon Treadwell gets acclimated as a rookie, Diggs is the main pass catcher to focus on in Minnesota, but the passing pie could remain relatively small altogether. At this cost I’ll take a few bites as a bench option based on the upside Diggs showed starting out just in case that becomes more consistent or in the event the expected low volume of Minnesota's passing game spikes.

 

Kamar Aiken: Aiken is the only stable pass catching presence in Baltimore to start the season. He performed as a WR2 while shouldering the load last season without Steve Smith and that was also with some very sketchy quarterback play. While I believe his ceiling can be hampered by any of the Ravens’ receivers or tight ends stepping up and the threat of Baltimore passing less than they did in 2015, Aiken also was a flex play option before Smith went down last season.

 

Kirk Cousins: Over his final nine games, Cousins was a top-10 scorer six times while throwing 20 touchdowns to just three interceptions.  For the season, only Cam Newton finished as the highest scoring quarterback in a week more times than Cousins did and Russell Wilson was the only quarterback other than Cousins to throw a touchdown pass in every game. While expecting his back half of 2015 to be the norm is definitely lofty, Washington is built to be a pass-first team, creating tangible volume to neutralize any loss in efficiency. 

 

Dwayne Allen: The Colts made it a priority to bring Allen back this offseason when both he and Coby Fleener were free agents and they did so by paying him the same amount that Fleener received on the open market.  The Colts had over 200 targets depart from their roster, with 84 of those directly tied into Fleener. While Fleener and Allen are very different types of players, and I doubt Allen pushes 70 plus receptions, he is a solid play for those chasing double digit touchdown potential from a later round tight end.

 

Vincent Jackson: Jackson is now 33 years old and had two down seasons in a row, but the Buccaneers haven't put much in his path from seeing triple digit targets while he’s a Mike Evans injury away from being force fed looks once again.

 

Rounds 12-14


Tyrod Taylor: Taylor carried one of the lowest passing floors due to his offensive environment, averaging 13.7 passing points per game (26th) and just 2.5 pass attempts per drive (last), but he was hyper efficient if those attempts see any type of uptick, ranking sixth in passing points per attempt (.498) and fourth in adjusted yards per attempt (8.3). Despite that passing floor, Taylor still offered one of the best floors for fantasy last year due to his rushing ability, something I’m stocking being there again this season. He ran for 40 or more yards in nine of his 14 games while scoring 15 or more points in 10 of those.

 

Mohamed Sanu: Sanu is a versatile player who was given a large contract for his talents, but he stands to inherit a large portion of the 116 targets that Roddy White and Leonard Hankerson left on the table. Those targets alone are enough for him to meet cost, but Sanu is also one play away from being the Falcons' main passing target and has shown his weekly ceiling when forced into that role previously when A.J. Green missed time.

 

Matthew Stafford: I didn’t anticipate that Stafford would be a target of mine coming into this summer as I assumed many would inflate his second half of the season totals and I believe the Lions will score less and Stafford himself will throw fewer touchdowns than he did in 2015. But Stafford has remained dirt cheap and offers a lot of bankable volume at his cost. Stafford threw the ball 35 times or more in 12 games last season, third in the league as Detroit had the NFL's highest passing rate at 65.7 percent and ranked 5th in passing rate (58.7 percent) while leading on the scoreboard.  That volume paired with a start of facing IND, TEN, GB, CHI and PHI has me looking to Stafford when I miss out on the quarterbacks previously mentioned as the quarterback to get through the start of the season at minimum.  If I don’t have a quarterback by the time Stafford clears the board, then I’m going fully in on streaming.

 

Sammie Coates: Coates is the cheapest way to board a Steelers passing game that still offers upside above what we’ve known Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey to have. Only Drew Brees (235) has attempted more passes over 15 yards downfield than Ben Roethlisberger’s 225 over the past two seasons, and getting downfield is one thing Coates exceled at as a prospect. If he beats out Heyward-Bey in camp, that role was targeted more than Wheaton while Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell were out as Heyward-Bey was second on the Steelers in targets through five weeks with 18 percent of the looks.

 

Michael Thomas:  The theme of taking late-round receivers is targeting cheap entries into elite passing games and Thomas fits the mold. Thomas is another player that the organization has said nothing but positive things about all summer and he will soak up most of Marques Colston’s 67 vacant targets as well as try to tally as many of Brandon Coleman’s 49 for himself with the added possibility to cut into any of Willie Snead’s production if he makes himself a factor early on.

 

Phillip Dorsett: Every Colts offensive skill player made the list as I find all of their prices more than palatable and Dorsett fits the mold of the two previous receivers mentioned. The Colts have already indicated they are moving into a three wide receiver base and have 202 vacated targets from 2015. Dorsett should have no trouble pacing toward 90 plus targets with the upside for more in the event either T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief misses any time. I definitely don’t have any problem reaching a few rounds above ADP to grab Dorsett and the previously mentioned Coates and Thomas because my goal is to leave every draft with two of the three.

 

DeAndre Washington: When sifting through the potential noise of the offseason, one thing you’re looking for is constants through OTAs, training camp and the preseason. So far, the Raiders have only had positive things to say about Washington, so it’s time to begin stocking him as a factor. From this draft class, Only Josh Ferguson caught more passes in college than Washington’s 124 receptions, he’s a really good interior runner, good in pass protection and he has some special teams experience to help him contribute. Washington's ceiling comes into play if Latavius Murray fails to rebound on his 2015 inefficiency.

 

Chris Thompson: Even though an injury to Matt Jones likely doesn’t change much for Thompson’s outlook, he is a cheap play on the type of output you’re paying for in Theo Riddick in that his role is largely tied to game conditions. In games he was active last season, Thompson had 14.6 percent of the team targets while Washington was trailing on the scoreboard compared to just a 7.3 percent share tied or ahead as 32.9 percent of his fantasy points came in the 4th quarter down two or more possessions. That’s nothing you want to latch onto weekly, but as your end of roster pick, Thompson can be a usable flex play in a pinch since Washington faces the second roughest schedule per Warren Sharp’s latest adjustment. If Washington brings back Pierre Thomas or another pass catching back, then throw this out the window.

 

Rishard Matthews: Mathews was second in the league in yards per target (10.9) behind Sammy Watkins in 2015 and may stand to be the best receiver on his team. Marcus Mariota showed us that he can have a high weekly ceiling as he was a top-6 weekly scorer in four weeks and he threw three or more passing touchdowns in four games as a rookie, tying Peyton Manning for the most ever in a rookie season since the 1970 merger. Tennessee has already established they’d prefer to play games tight, but that may not be a reality given their expected game scripts. With Dorial Green-Beckham stuck fighting the doghouse and Kendall Wright having reached 60 yards receiving in just six of his 24 games over the past two seasons, I’m taking shots on Matthews being a player that has strong odds to outperform his cost to a degree that is fantasy relevant.

 

Brandon LaFell: Although Tyler Boyd has the sizzle (and higher cost in drafts), it’s LaFell who will start on the outside opposite of A.J. Green. Players that are available this late are mostly either unknown or bad and LaFell fits the latter. He ranked 69th in yards per target (6.9 yards) last season and secured just 50 percent of his 74 targets from Tom Brady. That said, the argument for LaFell is similar to the one for Sanu. With Sanu and Marvin Jones gone, the Bengals are missing 152 targets and with Tyler Eifert questionable to start the season and Boyd expected to operate mainly from the slot, LaFell stands to acquire the crux of those looks while being one play away from becoming the Bengals’ lead receiver if anything were to happen to A.J. Green. If LaFell remains a pumpkin until Eifert is back or ends up getting passed by Boyd, then he’s easily disposable. 

Rich Hribar
Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. You can find him on Twitter @LordReebs.