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Dynasty Primer: Under the Radar Wide Receivers

Dynasty Primer: Under the Radar Wide Receivers
Can Golden Tate step in and fill Calvin Johnson's shoes?

Can Golden Tate step in and fill Calvin Johnson’s shoes?

With free agency set to begin, there is a lot of buzz around the NFL. The National Football League knows how to gauge interest year-round with events like the rookie combine, free agency and the NFL Draft. While fans are watching their teams purge the acquisitions of a former coach and re-sign an injury prone player to a big money deal, fantasy owners need to be paying attention to all the commotion.

Player movement in the off-season can drastically change a player’s value. So this week, we will examine the NFL wide receivers that are flying a bit under the radar.

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Kevin White (WR – CHI) Age 23
(29th in our Dynasty Rankings)

In the 2015 NFL Draft, White was selected seventh overall by the Chicago Bears. As the second receiver to come off the board, it was expected of him to have an immediate impact on the team. However, Kevin White missed all of 2015 with a stress fracture in his shin.

Therefore, his impact in the NFL has yet to be seen. As such a high draft pick, it is confounding that he is ranked where he is. Though realistically, his value hinges on the performance and/or presence of Alshon Jeffery.

Just recently, the Chicago Bears placed their franchise tag on Jeffery. With that being the case, White will be the No. 2 receiver behind him. Even though White will be behind him on the depth chart, Chicago has had recent success using two talented receivers.

They boasted both Jeffery and Brandon Marshall in 2014. That year, Jeffery finished 12th, and Marshall finished 31st among wideouts.

There is also the potential that White outperforms Jeffery and overtakes the WR1 role at some point. Although he hasn’t set foot on an NFL field yet, White was drafted as a potential star receiver who could take over the starting job. His college stats were astounding in 2014, amassing 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns for West Virginia University.

The upside is even higher if the Bears cannot come to a long-term deal with Jeffery. White would assume the No. 1 role in 2017 and will be the most heavily targeted player on the team. Since 2012, at least one Chicago Bears wide receiver has finished among the top-25 in fantasy points.

Kelvin Benjamin (WR – CAR) Age 25
(30th in our Dynasty Rankings)

Benjamin is another name that is flying under the radar. Benjamin had a breakout rookie year in 2014, hauling in 73 balls for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.

However, a torn ACL during the 2015 preseason put him on the sidelines. His reinsertion into the Carolina Panthers’ lineup should make them even more dangerous.

In 2015, without Benjamin, quarterback Cam Newton had his best season to date. He threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions and additionally rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.

These numbers put Cam Newton atop fantasy quarterbacks in 2015. More importantly, he put up these career numbers without much other help from his receivers.

The top target on the team was 30-year old tight end Greg Olsen, who collected 77 receptions for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns. This was arguably his best season in his nine-year career. The second passing option for the Panthers was 30-year old wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.

He also had the best year of his career, catching 44 passes for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Other wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery  (39-485-3), Devin Funchess (31-473-5) and Corey Brown (31-447-4) each had tertiary roles for Carolina.

Newton is a unique and extremely talented player who makes every player around him better. This is great news for Benjamin, who is also a talented individual with a proven NFL track record.

His addition to this offense only makes it more potent, more effective, and more dangerous than it was in 2015. Expect Benjamin to build off his rookie year and put up top-20 numbers in 2016 and beyond as long as Cam Newton is his quarterback.

Golden Tate (WR – DET) Age 27
(38th in our Dynasty Rankings)

While I’ve already covered Tate in a more detailed article, it’s important to cover the basics again.

Calvin Johnson has officially retired from football. Some writers thought that he was trying to prompt a release by the Lions in order to sign with a contender.  Whatever the case, Tate looks to be the Lions’ top receiving option for the time being.

While Tate has usually been a No. 2 wide receiver, he has excelled in starting roles both with Seattle in 2013 and Detroit in 2014. Since 2013, Tate has averaged 84 receptions for 1,014 yards and five touchdowns. Since 2013, Johnson has averaged 81 receptions for 1,261 yards and 9.67 touchdowns. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Tate step up into Megatron’s role and perform like a high-end WR2 in 2016 and beyond.

However, after the beginning of NFL Free Agency, he may have some competition for targets…

Dark Horse: Marvin Jones (WR – DET) Age 25
(52nd in our Dynasty Rankings)

Jones has always been an interesting fantasy receiver. Drafted out of UC Berkeley by the Bengals as the 166th pick in the 2012 draft, Jones was projected to be decent NFL wideout. In 2012, he was just that, catching 18 balls in 11 games for 201 yards and one touchdown.

In 2013, Jones took on a larger role with Cincinnati. He found himself in a hybrid WR2 role with Mohamed Sanu. In Week 8 against the Jets, Jones set a franchise record by catching four touchdowns. Behind stud receiver A.J. Green, Jones caught 51 passes for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.

2014 was supposed to be a breakout year for the receiver, but he was sidelined for the entire season with ankle and foot injuries. Jones returned for all 16 games this past season. Still flying a little under the radar, Jones hauled in 65 catches for 816 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.

Jones just signed a big contract with the Detroit Lions to the tune of five years and $40 million. Both Jones and Tate will look to fill the huge hole left by Calvin Johnson’s departure. Marvin Jones got paid big time, so expect Marvin Jones to be the second most targeted receiver on the team. Although he may be playing second fiddle to Golden Tate, Jones has the potential to peak as a low-end WR3 with quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing the ball almost 600 times.

Check out my coverage of other positions:

Jeffrey Greco is a correspondent at FantasyProsTo read more from Jeffrey, check out his archive and follow him @Jeffrey_Greco.

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