- The receivers that all fantasy football owners should be targeting late in drafts.
Wide receiver has always been the deepest fantasy position, simply because of its nature. Every team in the NFL starts two receivers, and some start three. Nearly all of those starters are fantasy relevant, and plenty of teams that technically start just two receivers feature at least three. In even the shallowest fantasy leagues, 50 receivers will get drafted, and most leagues will have 60, and some even 70, go up on the board on draft day.
The position has gotten deeper in recent years in a figurative sense, too. With the league increasingly pass-happier and pass-friendlier year after year, receivers’ barrier to entry for fantasy relevance gets lower. If you were in a fantasy league of any depth last year, chances are Kenny Golladay, Keelan Cole and Josh Doctson were owned for most or all of the season. They finished the year ranked 56th, 61st and 64th in fantasy points per game.
This is all to say that when you sit down at your draft table this summer, your cheat sheet should go at least 60 deep at wide receiver. When you start to get into the late rounds, here are the wildly undervalued receivers you should be targeting.
Kenny Stills, Dolphins
Stills was one of last year’s late-round gems, ranking 61st among receivers by average draft position, but finishing 27th in total points in standard-scoring leagues, and 26th in PPR formats. Stills racked up 105 targets, catching 58 of them for 847 yards and six touchdowns. It was his second straight year providing sneaky value after he pulled down 42 balls for 726 yards and nine scores the year before. While everyone in the fantasy football world has been waiting for DeVante Parker to break out in Miami, Stills has been busy putting up easy WR3 numbers, regardless of format. Despite all that, Stills’ ADP makes him the 53rd receiver off the board in a typical draft. Jarvis Landry leaves behind 161 targets, and while Stills is a completely different receiver, it’s safe to assume that a decent share of those will go in his direction. For the third consecutive season, Stills is getting no love from the fantasy community. There’s reason to believe he will make it look silly for the third consecutive year, as well.
Rishard Matthews, Titans
Matthews is another player in which the fantasy community refuses to believe. He was one of the most surprising players in the league two years ago, catching 65 passes for 945 yards and nine touchdowns. He wasn’t nearly as productive last season, but he turned in a useful 53 receptions, 795 yards and four scores while missing two games due to injury. Even with that step back, though, Matthews was the No. 35 receiver in standard-scoring leagues, and the No. 37 receiver in PPR formats. He’s a good bet to produce WR3 numbers, and he likely has a high-end WR4 floor. Yet, he’s the 55th receiver off the board in typical drafts. Corey Davis could eat into his target share this season, but he has proven his reliability and clearly has a rapport with Marcus Mariota. There isn’t any real reason to expect him to fall short of 100 targets.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers
Williams has followed a pattern eerily similar to Matthews’ over the last two seasons. He, too, was a big surprise in 2016, notching 69 receptions for 1,059 yards and seven scores, ending the year ranked 15th in standard leagues and 18th in PPR formats. Williams regressed last year, but still gave his owners 43 catches for 728 yards and four touchdowns, which made him the No. 42 receiver in standard, and No. 43 receiver in PPR. His ADP ranks 73rd among receivers this year, but, if anything, his standing with the Chargers has improved since last year. Hunter Henry is out for the season after tearing his ACL, leaving Virgil Green as the top tight end on the depth chart. Mike Williams, last year’s first-round pick, remains an unknown commodity. Meanwhile, the Chargers don’t have a big-time pass-catcher in the backfield, with Melvin Gordon doing the vast majority of his damage as a runner while also dominating the touches among the team’s running backs. Williams is essentially free, despite being the No. 2 receiver in what could be one of the best offenses in the league. He’s the ideal endgame target.
Dede Westbrook, Jaguars
Westbrook made himself into a popular sleeper pick last draft season on the strength of one of the best preseason performances in the league, when he caught 13 passes for 288 yards and two scores. A nagging hamstring injury, however, cost him the first nine games of the season. Still, he made a mark in his seven games, racking up 27 receptions for 339 yards and one touchdown. Westbrook, Marqise Lee and Keelan Cole all have viable paths to ending the season as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver, but Westbrook may end up being the cheapest on draft day. His ADP makes him the 63rd receiver off the board in a typical draft, behind players like Geronimo Allison and Tyler Lockett. Westbrook has yet to prove much in his young career, but every fantasy owners should be excited about the possibility of getting a player with his potential at so low a price.
Michael Gallup, Cowboys
When the Cowboys waived Dez Bryant and lost Jason Witten to retirement, they watched 131 receptions, 219 targets, 1,398 yards and 13 touchdowns from last year walk out the door. Someone has to pick up all those stats, and right now the top four receivers on the depth chart are Gallup, Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams and Deonte Thompson. The famous saying may go the other way, but in fantasy football you’re better off with the devil you don’t know, rather than the one you do. We know what Hurns, Williams and Thompson are, and it isn’t all that exciting. Gallup, on the other hand, has some real potential. The Cowboys selected the rookie out of Colorado State with the 81st overall selection in the draft, making him the ninth receiver off the board. In two years with the Rams, he totaled 176 grabs for 2,690 yards and 21 touchdowns. Hurns and Williams certainly have higher floors, but Gallup is the only Cowboys receiver with a real ceiling, and that makes him a great target at his 162.7 ADP, 62nd among receivers.