Fantasy Football: WR3’s with WR1 Potential
There are a few times every fantasy season where we see a player drafted outside the top-24 at their position finish inside the top-12. At the end of the season, we’re left wondering, “How did we not see that coming?” Sometimes, it’s as clear as day, while others were impossible to predict due to an injury or suspension.
We’re here to predict those top-12 finishes before they happen. Yesterday we took a look at the running back position, while today, we’ll focus on wide receivers being drafted as WR3/WR4-type players, but have top-12 upside. Wide receiver is a position much tougher to get into the top-12 than running back, simply because an injury doesn’t guarantee a backup wide receiver significantly more work. The team may take the targets that went to their injured superstar and spread them around. This is the article based on players who have that No. 1 upside and they may not even need an injury to do so.
Martavis Bryant (PIT) Current ADP: WR26
It’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes just how good Bryant was in 2014 and 2015. In 21 regular season games, Bryant has totaled 1,314 yards and 14 touchdowns. Some have labeled as boom-or-bust, but looking closer at where he did bust, a lot of those performances came at the end of the season. Why would that be? Well, Bryant recently admitted to not working out more than one time in the prior offseasons. This past year, he moved away from Los Angeles to be away from distractions, he worked out, put on 10 pounds of muscle, and reportedly is still running a 4.3 40-yard dash. His upside is ridiculous, even with Antonio Brown on the other side of the field.
Stefon Diggs (MIN) Current ADP: WR28
Before you think that this is not possible for a player like Diggs, think about this – if he performs EXACTLY as he did in 2016 for the entire 16-game season, he would finish as the No. 14 wide receiver in PPR formats. Was he a bit up-and-down? Sure. Was he injured for a majority of the season? Sure. It was his first year with Sam Bradford under center, yet they managed to hook up on 75 percent of their attempts, one of the highest marks in the league. Diggs is entering his third-year in the league and has shown glimpses of what could be a superstar. Are there some inconsistencies? Sure, but it’s not like you’re paying a WR1 or ever WR2 price-tag. He’s someone you should get plenty of exposure to this season, especially if you get him for his current WR28 price.
Donte Moncrief (IND) Current ADP: WR38
This likely isn’t the first time you’ve seen Moncrief mentioned as a player with WR1 upside. It hasn’t panned out quite yet, but there are surrounding factors that line up with someone like Davante Adams from last year. He has an elite quarterback, plays on a high-scoring team, has a lack of run game, and a bad defense. He also happens to be really good in the redzone, catching all five of his targets inside the five-yard line last year for touchdowns. In fact, he’s scored a touchdown in 11 of 15 games he’s played with Andrew Luck the last two years. If they can both stay on the field, this could be an elite duo in the making. While T.Y. Hilton gets double coverage over the top as the “Jordy Nelson” of the offense, Moncrief could very well be the Adams, where he doesn’t even need 1,000 yards to finish in the top-12.
Jeremy Maclin (BAL) Current ADP: WR39
After two seasons with the Chiefs and Alex Smith, most have written off Maclin as a boring fantasy pick. He’s far from that, as he has been a chameleon in whatever offense he’s been in. You need a deep threat? He averaged 15.5 yards per reception in 2014. You need a red zone option? He’s scored 10 touchdowns twice in his seven-year-career. The Ravens have said they’ll have him in the Steve Smith role, which has amounted to 8.3 targets per game over the last few years. If that’s the case, Maclin should be in the 130-target range. There’ve been three seasons in which Maclin saw 115 or more targets. In those years, he’s averaged 75 receptions, 970 yards, and 8.3 touchdowns. Those numbers would have amounted to a top-15 wide receiver in 2016. Don’t give up on Maclin after one bad year on a low-volume passing offense. The Ravens lead the NFL in pass attempts the last two years.
Devante Parker (MIA) Current ADP: WR35
Let the offseason hype reports flow through your body… In reality, the acquisition of Jay Cutler only helps Parker’s outlook as we head into his third NFL season. Just one year after Adam Gase and the coaching staff ripped into him for not being in shape and not seemingly willing to work as hard as they wanted, Parker has been given praise all offseason. He changed his workout regimen, diet, and those around him say that he’s as dedicated as anyone. In the 13 career games Parker has seen five or more targets, he’s averaged 4.4 receptions for 70.1 yards and 0.4 touchdowns, which amounts to 9.4 fantasy points per game. That number would have tied Michael Crabtree as the No. 14 wide receiver last year. Parker is the only wide receiver on the Dolphins roster who has true No. 1 wide receiver upside.