- These seven wide receivers have the best chance at going from fantasy football zero to hero this season.
The Staples Series of the SI/4for4 Fantasy Football Draft Kit will cover the three labels fantasy owners have come to know and love over the years: breakouts, sleepers and busts. In this installment, SI’s Michael Beller and 4for4’s John Paulsen give their sleepers at the wide receiver position.
Kenny Britt, WR, Browns (ADP: Round 10)
The Rams had the worst passing game in the league in 2016, and Britt still managed decent numbers (WR28 in PPR, WR26 in standard)—averaging 4.5 catches for 67 yards and 0.33 touchdowns with Case Keenum and Jared Goff throwing him the ball. This season, Britt joins the Browns, where he’ll replace Terrelle Pryor. Cleveland’s offense is always a giant question mark, especially their quarterback situation, but Britt should have significant upside if he leads the Browns in targets. On that note, nothing about Corey Coleman’s rookie season—33 receptions, 413 yards and three touchdowns on 73 targets—indicates that he’s ready to be the No. 1 option in the passing game. Throw in a pretty favorable fantasy playoff schedule (Packers, Ravens and Bears in Weeks 14–16, respectively), and Britt looks like a terrific value in the 10th round. — John Paulsen
John Brown, WR, Cardinals (ADP: Round 10)
Forget about last season. Brown dealt with injuries related to his sickle-cell trait all year, a diagnosis he received in October. That essentially robbed him of the entire season, which has conspired to send his 2017 ADP tumbling downward. Now with a plan for managing the trait, Brown should be back on the trajectory he set for himself during the first two seasons of his career. Remember, the speedster is just one season removed from a 65-catch, 1,003-yard, seven-touchdown campaign. That could be his ceiling, but there’s no universe in which he should be the 47th receiver off the board in a typical draft. In a perfect world, he puts up WR2 numbers, and a worst-case scenario likely has him no worse than a WR4. — Michael Beller
Tyrell Williams, WR, Chargers (ADP: Round 11)
Boasting a big frame (6' 3"), good speed (4.48-second 40-yard dash) and a 98th-percentile catch radius, Williams finished as the WR12 in standard formats and the WR18 in PPR formats after taking over as the Chargers’ top wide receiver last season. With Keenan Allen sidelined most of the year, Williams caught 69 passes for 1,059 yards and seven scores, and racked up 12 games with at least 60 receiving yards and/or a touchdown. He showed well as a route-runner, and with rookie Mike Williams (back) missing valuable reps as he struggles to get healthy this summer, Williams should be entrenched as the team’s No. 2 option in the passing game. Considering Allen has missed 23 games over the past two seasons, Williams could quickly ascend to WR1-type targets if Allen were to miss time again this season. — JP
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, Saints (ADP: Round 13)
With Kelvin Benjamin back on the field in 2016 after losing his sophomore season to a torn ACL, Ginn’s targets remained remarkably consistent, dropping to 95 from 97 in ’15. Still one of the fastest receivers in the league, Ginn caught the Saints’ eye after they shipped Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, and he’ll take over as the team’s primary deep threat. Ginn should see a bump in numbers with Brees delivering the ball—the three starting New Orleans receivers each saw at least 104 targets last season, so Ginn could post similar, or slightly better, numbers in 2017 if he enjoys a smooth transition. It’s an extremely small sample, but in Ginn’s last two games in the Superdome, he has caught 10 passes for 134 yards and a pair of touchdowns. — JP
Zay Jones, WR, Bills (ADP: Round 14)
Barring an absolutely dreadful summer, Jones will start opposite Sammy Watkins when the Bills host the Jets Week 1. The rookie out of East Carolina was the 37th overall pick in the draft after catching 158 passes for 1,746 yards and eight touchdowns last year. His performance at the combine in drills such as the broad jump, 20-yard shuttle, and 60-yard shuttle, all of which he finished in the top four among receivers, speak to his athleticism, and a 4.45-second 40-yard dash isn’t bad for a guy who had a slow label at the end of his college career. Tyrod Taylor has been the most underrated quarterback of the last two years, and is perfectly capable of supporting two fantasy-relevant receivers. Jones is going to make a lot of fantasy owners look smart this season. — MB
Kevin White, WR, Bears (ADP: Round 14)
I know, I know, you’re not in the market for an oft-injured wide receiver who has played all of four games in his two years in the league, no matter how low the price might be. Say what you will about White’s ineffectual NFL career to this point, the fact remains that he’s a 6' 3", 216-pound receiver who ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash two years ago. He seemed to be finding his way last season, posting consecutive six-catch games in Weeks 3 and 4 before fracturing his fibula, putting his season to an abrupt end. Cameron Meredith emerged in his stead, but White will still start on the other side of the field, with the team’s offseason acquisitions at the position—Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton and Victor Cruz—competing for slot duty. GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox are significantly invested in White, who was their initial first-round pick as the Bears brain trust, so both are strongly committed to his turning into a success. The talent and the opportunity are undoubtedly present. It’s up to White to capitalize. — MB
Josh Doctson, WR, Redskins (ADP: Round 15)
Doctson lost all but two games to an Achilles injury in his rookie year, scuttling last year’s sleeper campaign before it even got started. Still, he enters this season as an expected starter opposite new Washington receiver Terrelle Pryor, with 2016 breakout Jamison Crowder in the slot. Everything that made Doctson a worthy late-round target last year is still present. At 6' 2" and 206 pounds, he’s a big presence in the red zone for Kirk Cousins. He has the speed and size to be a deep threat, as well, making him dangerous all over the field. With Pryor, Crowder and Jordan Reed on the field for every snap, defensive backs aren’t going to have the luxury of paying Doctson much attention. Washington is going to be one of the pass-friendliest offenses again this year, from both volume, and, if the first two years of the Cousins era are any indication, efficiency standpoints. You want a piece of this offense, and Doctson is a all but a free way to get one. — MB