Dynasty Wide Receivers: Second To None
March 18, 2014 | Chad Scott
It used to be rare air for rookie wide receivers to make any significant impact year one in the NFL – let alone your fantasy squads. It wasn’t until recently they made an impact in year two. Year three was when we could start expecting decent returns from the receiver class drafted two years prior. Not in 2014, not anymore…
Identifying the potential breakouts from the last year’s crop of wide receivers will always be key to your dynasty successes or failures. Take players like Josh Gordon, Alshon Jeffery and Michael Floyd. In most 2013 startup drafts, all three could be had after round five or later. Now, Gordon and Jeffery are consensus first round picks while Floyd is a fringe second rounder.
You won’t see names like Cordarrelle Patterson or DeAndre Hopkins on this list. Their price tag is beyond what you can or want to afford. These are guys who are going in the fifth round or later in dynasty mock drafts.
I’ll be using the data last week’s “Faked Goods Dynasty Podcast” guest, Ryan McDowell has compiled for your degenerate viewing pleasure. These ADPs can lend a snapshot of how the dynasty community is valuing player X versus player Y. It’s important to note trends in either direction – makes for good buy lows and sell highs, as you see fit.
While the names listed below might not net you the abundance of returns like the aforementioned players above, they are players I see as having better value than most are giving credit to.
Justin Hunter WR TEN (Current ADP 76.7)
Probably the most difficult second-year wide receiver on this list to acquire via trade, but worth the price of admission if Hunter performs how most expect him to.
The Titans drafted Hunter with the #34 overall pick in 2013 out of the University of Tennessee. His counterpart, Patterson, was drafted by the Vikings (via the Seahawks) in the latter part of the first round. Although Hunter wasn’t the prospect Patterson was/is, he was able to string together a 1000 yard, nine touchdown season in 2012 despite coming off a torn ACL the year prior.
At the combine, Hunter’s speed and leaping ability didn’t go unnoticed. He can absolutely jump out of the building and displayed said ability on three of his four touchdowns last season. His other score came on a short catch – which he turned into a long touchdown while making a few Raider defenders miss along the way.
The Kenny Britt project seems to be ending and Nate Washington is no spring chicken. With only Kendall Wright as a viable dynasty option, Hunter is a true buy now kind of acquisition. Standing at 6-4, 209 pounds, he has the body type we desire and turns just 23 years old in May. (That last sentence might give some the creeps and for that, I apologize.)
Not to make a specific comparison, but here’s how Hunter and Floyd stacked up based on combine/pro day results:
|Player||Height||Weight||Hands||40 time||Vert||Broad||Shuttle||3 Cone||Agility|
If you look at each player’s rookie seasons, you’ll find their total stats weren’t far off with the exception of Floyd having just over double the amount of targets.
Another similarity is Ken Whisenhunt is back to head coaching. Whiz had the pleasure of watching/teaching Floyd during his rookie year in Arizona and can now apply what he learned from him and Larry Fitzgerald into creating a new future-lethal duo in Wright and Hunter.
He and San Diego head coach, Mike McCoy, surprised most of the fantasy world when the Charger offense ranked #5 overall in the NFL last season. Both he and McCoy were instrumental in Philip Rivers renaissance and Titan nation is hoping he can do the same for Jake Locker.
It doesn’t hurt when the front office has your back, either. Rushton Webster, Titans GM, had this to say about Hunter (per blog.titansonline.com):
“I would say Justin, for somebody that came in, is an improving player. He flashed. He made some big plays, had some big games for us. And he’ll just continue to develop and get better. He has a boatload of talent… I think Justin really flashed and came on. What I was really impressed with Justin was he got a little banged up during the late part of the season and played through it. He blocked and did all those things that we kind of demanded of him, more than just being a big threat as a receiver, and then he stepped up and had some big games for us and helped us win a couple, so I think the future is bright for Justin.”
Sounds like the Titan’s front office is a believer (maybe they have to be considering they moved up to draft him) and that’s good enough for me.
Markus Wheaton WR PIT (Current ADP 100.2)
The time for hoarding Wheaton shares is nigh. Emmanuel Sanders is a Denver Bronco, or a Kansas City Chief, or a Toronto Argonaut – not sure where he actually signed first – and Jerricho Cotchery is still floating around the free agency market. As the first and second options in 2013, they collectively amassed 182 targets/113 receptions/1327 yards/16 touchdowns.
OurLads.com currently project Wheaton to start alongside target-whore, Antonio Brown (159 targets) in 2014, but that can certainly change via free agency signings and/or NFL draft. Who’s left behind them is a supporting cast that even the Carolina Panthers are laughing about.
Wheaton was drafted in the third round (#79 overall) out of Oregon State – where he holds the school record for receptions. I had the pleasure of watching both he and incoming rookie, Brandin Cooks play in 2012 when both receivers surpassed 1000 yards. It doesn’t always suck living in the Pacific Northwest.
While Wheaton isn’t your prototypical WR1 body (5-11, 182 pounds), he’s in an offense where smaller receivers can succeed. His combination of speed (former track standout) and route running will make for an interesting 2014 season so long as he receives playing time (his draft pedigree would suggest he will). Last year, Wheaton ran just 111 routes compared to 557 and 455 for Sanders and Cotchery, respectively.
Currently, Wheaton is my WR35 in dynasty formats and there’s room to improve on that as we near the NFL draft. With free agent wide receivers signing deals in other cities, Wheaton’s chances of securing a starting gig keeps improving.
Marquess Wilson WR CHI (Current ADP 196.7)
Give me a piece of anything pertaining to a Marc Trestman offense. Anything! Fellow The Fake Football writers, C.D. Carter and Rich Hribar wrote about the fantasy goodies Trestman would bring to Chicago approximately 87 times last off-season. Those who followed their counsel reaped a multitude of benefits. Those who didn’t do not like winning all the monies.
As I mentioned above, Jeffery had a sophomore breakout many saw coming. Sure, having Brandon Marshall on the other side of the field helped, but midway through the season, coverage began shifting toward Jeffery. Opposing defenses decided Jeffery was the bigger threat of the two and he still produced top-10 numbers when all was said and done.
All Wilson needs to do is beat out Earl Bennett this summer and he’ll fully engulf himself in Trestman’s circle of trust. [Editor’s note: Bennett has been released by the Bears… thanks, fantasy Gods.]
Wilson is 6-4, 184 pounds – he has some room to fill out. Ideally, I want my taller receivers pushing 210 pounds – like Hunter. Word on the street, Wilson is working out with Marshall and Jeffery this off-season in hopes of becoming a better receiver and a bigger receiver.
Wilson has the talent to be successful in the NFL, but will need to commit himself to the weight room to help ensure any future successes. The Bears were able to land him in the seventh round because he quit the Washington State University football program nine games into his junior season. If you’ve heard any whisperings about how WSU head coach, Mike Leach, handles his football players, you understand why. Before dismissing himself from the team, Wilson hauled in 52 receptions for 813 yards and five touchdowns. That’s coming off a sophomore season in which he caught 82 balls for 1388 yards and 12 touchdowns.
At his current cost, there’s no reason not to add him immediately or inquire about his services to his unknowing dynasty owner. To add a big fat cherry on top, Marshall is an unrestricted free agent in 2015.
While 2014 might not be the “breakout” year you’re hoping for, 2015 looks loaded for Bear.