NFL fantasy fans know football is a passing game more than it’s ever been. Few teams can seriously contend in this wide-open era of offense without a quality quarterback throwing the ball.
But who is catching those passes? As it turns out, a lot of players are. Not only are three- and four-wide sets routine, but tight ends and running backs are playing bigger roles, too.
The target-sharing situation makes selecting the third, fourth, and fifth wide receivers a bit of a crapshoot. The odds of catching a great sleeper pick takes some real analysis and maybe a little luck.
Naturally, we are up to the challenge. We found five wide receivers getting drafted in the eighth round or later who we think will be NFL Fantasy starters at some point this season.
From best bet to a pretty good bet, here they are:
1. Courtland Sutton- Den (current ADP: WR42, round 9)
Courtland Sutton has the talent and toughness to be a star in this league. Emmanuel Sanders dubbed Sutton “Mini-Megatron” because he reminds Sanders of the great Detroit Lions wideout, Calvin Johnson.
That’s not a bad player to be compared to, but Sutton had an uneven freshman season. Rocky quarterback play and a tense locker room played a role, but concentration lapses didn’t help.
This season, Sutton has an accurate and savvy passer in Joe Flacco operating behind an improved offensive line. He has some competition for the WR-2 slot, but the job is his to lose.
Denver will try to run the ball first. When they throw, Sutton will see a healthy share of targets. He’s shown he can find open areas or catch a contested ball as well as anyone. He has the stuff to be a second wide receiver.
2. Marvin Jones- Det (current ADP: WR35, round 8)
There was a time last season when Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones lined up together for the Detroit Lions. When Golden Tate got traded away, Golladay’s value picked up.
But Marvin Jones was still the premier receiver. It wasn’t until Jones’ season ended due to injury that Golladay became an NFL fantasy revelation.
Come September, Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones will line up together again. Jones has no intention of playing second fiddle to the youngster.
He has been good for 800-1000 yards since 2015. In 2017, he started scoring touchdowns and finished as the WR-11, just ahead of Golden Tate. Jones was on track for similar numbers last season.
Golladay might be worth his ADP of WR-18 as Tate’s replacement. But Marvin Jones will be right there with him.
3. James Washington- Pit (current ADP: WR49, round 11)
NFL Fantasy owners are going gaga over the JuJu Smith-Schuster now that Antonio Brown is a Raider. The Steelers left no room for discussion about who will step into the number one role for Big Ben Roethlisberger.
But if Smith-Schuster is this year’s Antonio Brown, who will be this year’s JuJu Smith-Schuster?
Smith Schuster had more catches and more yards than Brown last season. The new number one in Pittsburgh was already the WR-8 in the league.
Enter James Washington. Washington plays just as tall, fast, and strong as JuJu. His only fault as a rookie was some sloppy route running. This preseason, he is catching anything thrown in his direction.
Pittsburgh added Donte Moncrief to a mix that includes Ryan Switzer and Eli Rodgers. Like every season, Roethlisberger will give each of them some moments. But James Washington seems ready to be the Ju Ju of 2019, and a steal in the 11th round.
4. Dede Westbrook- Jax (current ADP: WR43, round 11)
Jacksonville went out and got a better quarterback, a couple of veteran receivers for depth, a new tight end, and a pass-happy offensive coordinator in the off-season.
Dede Westbrook started his third season with an impressive training camp. He looked sharper, and caught practically everything Nick Foles threw to him.
He’s always been fast and gets good yards after the catch. That helped him be the NFL Fantasy WR33 (WR30 in PPR) last season, despite an inaccurate passer working behind a decimated line.
Westbrook could see more work in the slot while letting Chark and Lee race down the sidelines. He’s up for anything and ready to break out. Definitely worth more than an 11th-round pick.
5. Devin Funchess- Ind (current ADP: WR55, round 13)
It’s never a bad thing when a team signs you as a free agent and then the coach says you’re way better than he thought you were when he signed you.
That’s the situation for Devin Funchess. Coach Frank Reich signed Funchess for his size and ability to create space. Reich said he was surprised by Funchess’ route running ability and knack for positioning himself well for the quarterback.
Rookie Paris Campbell is fighting hard to take the number two receiver spot away from Funchess. But even if that happens, Funchess is more likely to be on the field in the red zone.
When your quarterback is Andrew Luck, that’s good enough to make you NFL Fantasy relevant. Eric Ebron caught 14 touchdown passes last season. Funchess figures to funnel some of those away as he gives Luck another tall target who can win a jump ball or create a passing lane.
Funchess is at least worth a risk in the late rounds. He could turn into a steal.
There you have it. Do you think we nailed it? Or are we off the mark? Let us know in the comments section below!