Fantasy football draft season is in full swing, which means it’s time to hunker down, break out the spreadsheets and start crafting a master strategy that will propel you to the top of your league.
But as deliberation regarding draft strategies kicks into high gear, one position should be firmly in owners’ cross-hairs as they seek to destroy the competition.
Entering the 2015 NFL season, wide receiver is stacked with studs at the top and remains solid through the WR2 realm. (For 10-team leagues, that would be receivers ranked 10-20, and for 12-team leagues it’s wideouts ranked No. 12-24.)
Take a look at where the top 40 receivers rank below:
With established stars and up-and-comers littering the board, here’s a preview of a few players worth targeting higher than their current average draft position.
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
If you’re not already on the Julio Jones hype train, now would be a good time to hop aboard.
While Jones is widely viewed as a top-five fantasy option at receiver for the upcoming season, he’s generally ranked a notch or two below the recently extended Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas.
But not here.
A year removed from catching a career-best 104 balls for 1,593 yards and six touchdowns, Jones is primed to improve upon those numbers.
Rotoworld.com’s Evan Silva explained why:
Julio Jones offers mammoth, WR1-overall fantasy potential at X receiver in Shanahan’s offense, the player through whom the passing game funnels. Past Shanahan No. 1s include Andre Johnson (115-1,575-8 in 2008; 101-1,569-9 in 2009), Pierre Garcon (113-1,346-5 in 2013), and Santana Moss (93-1,115-6 in 2010). Johnson finished second and first in the NFL in targets in his two years with Shanahan, Moss finished sixth, and Garcon ranked first. All of this can be interpreted into: Shanahan has a history of feeding his best players extremely voluminously, which bodes well for Shanahan’s new best player, who is Julio.
Jones’ current ADP is clocking in at 16.3, according to Fantasy Pros, which is an absolute steal. At 26 years old with potential still to be tapped, he should garner consideration as a mid-to-late first-round pick, not a second-round selection.
A dearth of touchdowns caused Jones to finish as the league’s eighth-best fantasy receiver in standard formats last season, per ESPN.com, but with new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan at the helm and Jones in a contract year, the stage is set for the wideout to have a monster year.
Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews emerged as the team’s most consistent downfield threat during his rookie season, and another year in Chip Kelly’s uptempo system only figures to boost his stock with Sam Bradford under center.
Last season, Matthews was targeted 103 times, racked up 67 receptions and tacked on 872 yards and eight touchdowns to his final line. However, he did so with a platoon of Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez at quarterback.
With the more accurate and mobile Bradford ready to sling it, Matthews should be prepared for a spike in production—particularly with last year’s No. 1 threat Jeremy Maclin now suiting up for the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Man, he’s got great range,” Bradford said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News‘ David Murphy. “A guy that big typically doesn’t play in the slot, and the fact that we use him in the slot I think is really advantageous to us. It makes it really easy on the quarterback to have a tight end and Jordan running down the seams or the middle of the field.”
At 6’3” and 212 pounds, Matthews is built in the mold of a past slot standout like Marques Colston. Not only are his hands steady, but he’s proved he can slice through secondaries with his speed and leaping ability.
With Maclin out of the picture and rookie Nelson Agholor still learning the offense, Matthews should finish with his first 1,000-yard season and could crack the top 15 fantasy receivers if he stays healthy.
Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Allen Robinson is the picture of upside.
At the 2014 NFL combine, Robinson recorded a 39-inch vertical jump and a staggering 127-inch broad jump that made him the combine’s top performer in that event, per NFL.com.
Although his rookie season was hardly spectacular before it was derailed by a broken right foot (48 catches, 548 yards and two touchdowns), Robinson has the elite physical tools necessary to burst onto fantasy radars with aplomb.
And lately, he’s drawn rave reviews at camp.
“He’s picked up where he left off last November against Dallas in London,” Jacksonville.com’s Ryan O’Halloran wrote. “Robinson has shown fluidity as a route runner and is making the tough and routine catches look similarly easy.”
Now that Robinson’s worked with quarterback Blake Bortles for over a year, the second-year receiver is primed to threaten the 1,000-yard plateau and at least triple his touchdown output from a season ago.
Currently being drafted as the 31st receiver off the board, per Fantasy Pros, Robinson is shaping up as a stellar draft-day value.
Top Team Names
Along with doing draft prep to construct the best roster possible, owners should be keeping an eye on team names that have other owners in their league jealous.
Here’s a list of some select favorites entering the 2015 season:
- The Walking Dez
- The Tim TeBros
- Turn Down for Watt
- Sproles Royce
- Discount Belichick
Happy drafting, folks.
All ADPs collected from FantasyPros.com and current as of Aug. 18, unless noted otherwise.
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