Three Sleeper Wide Receivers
August 7, 2014 | Chet
Using Fantasy Pros ADP here are three players I’ll be targeting in the late rounds with a 175 ADP or lower.
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Markus Wheaton: ADP 175 – Wheaton has been compared to Mike Wallace as far as his speed and deep play ability, but that he’s also a better route runner. And much like the next guy on this list, he’s a hard worker and detail oriented. He’s not the 6’3” 220 pounds guy we want in our top fantasy receivers, but he runs a 4.4 40 and has been impressive the last two training camps. Last year he had surgery on his finger and also was behind veterans Jerricho Cotchery and Emmanuel Sanders. With a healthy finger and both of them gone, Wheaton has won the spot opposite Antonio Brown and will get all the work he can handle this year.
Much like Wallace, I think Wheaton can use his speed on plays where Ben Roethlisberger extends time for him to get open. We know what Roethlisberger can do when outside the pocket and that sets up well for Wheaton.
Number two receivers in Todd Haley’s offense have averaged 64 receptions for 787 yards and 5.3 touchdowns over the last three seasons and Wheaton’s upside is higher than that in an offense that will most likely need to score since the defense is not what it once was. Over the last eight games of last season the Steelers were fourth in touchdown passes with two per game. They seemed poised to put points on the board this season and Wheaton should be a big part of that
Jordan Matthews: ADP 180 – The hype for Mr. Matthews has been high this training camp. First off, he’s 6’3” 212 pounds, runs a 4.46 forty and set the SEC all-time record for receptions and yards. Interestingly enough he’s Jerry Rice’s cousin and like Rice he never takes off a down and gets praise from everyone about his work habits.
Ever since OTAs he’s been getting talked up as the best looking receiver in practice and all accounts put him as the starting slot receiver this season behind Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on the outsides. Coach Pat Shurmur went on at length about the rookie in a recent radio interview, saying, “I don’t know what he’s missing. He’s big. He can run. He can catch. He works as hard as anyone. He was just out here catching extra balls while some guys were eating breakfast. He works extremely hard.”
“I think he can play anywhere,” Shurmur told reporters after the July 28 practice. “He can play outside, inside. But as a slot receiver, he’s got size. He’s good against bump-and-run coverage. His spatial awareness is good . . . You’ve seen throughout camp, he’s been able to get open and make plays.”
His work ethic should help him in Chip Kelly’s offense, both in learning the diverse playbook and being a positive in run blocking. Last season the slot receiver for the Eagles was Jason Avant. He caught just 38 passes for 447 yards and two touchdowns, but thankfully Matthews is much better than Avant and with DeSean Jackson out of the picture there are more targets that could come his way. I also think he will cut into Riley Cooper’s targets and in this offense he has plenty of upside with his ability and work ethic.
Kenny Britt: ADP 211 – Can you believe Kenny Britt is just 25 years old? It feels like his knees are about 50. He was just 21 in 2010 when he put up nine touchdowns in yet another of his injury shortened seasons. The guy is a beast on paper. At 6’3” 223 pounds he is a prototypical NFL receiver and when healthy he has shown he can be a team’s #1.
His old coach Jeff Fisher is going to try to resurrect Britt and so far all the news out of camp has been positive. Jason La Canfora says he “seems like a changed man” and “looks explosive again coming out of cuts.” But the best news is that he’s at the top of their depth chart and has been working with the first team all camp. A team’s #1 receiver at pick 211? I can get on board with that.
The negatives for Britt are numerous. Last season he was absolutely horrible. There’s no questioning that assessment unfortunately. And he can’t stay healthy. That’s also not up for debate. But again, his ADP and upside make for a flier I’m willing to take.