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10 WRs to Target When Using RB Heavy Strategy (Fantasy Football)

by Eric Moody | @EricNMoody | Featured Writer
Jul 21, 2018

Emmanuel Sanders is a good bounceback candidate thanks to his improved QB situation

Donald Gibson recently took a look at the ideal fantasy draft using the running back heavy strategy. He went round by round providing his draft picks and rationale. I also wrote an article back in May sharing five things you need to know to execute an RB-focused fantasy draft strategy properly. This article will highlight 10 wide receivers to target in the middle rounds of a 12-team PPR league who have the upside to outperform their average draft positions. Let’s get started.

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Michael Crabtree (BAL)
Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only two WRs to score eight or more touchdowns in three consecutive seasons according to Pro-Football-Reference. He enters the 2018 season as the Ravens No. 1 receiver after being released by the Raiders in free agency. General Manager Ozzie Newsome has overhauled the team’s entire group of wide receivers by releasing Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin and replacing them with John Brown and Willie Snead. Crabtree has been very productive over the last three seasons on a per game basis.

2015 9.1 5.3 57.6 0.6 14.4 16
2016 9.1 5.6 62.7 0.5 14.8 16
2017 7.8 4.5 47.5 0.6 12.9 13

Crabtree has the potential to finish as a top-20 receiver in PPR formats this season. The biggest risks he faces are the Ravens’ run-heavy offense and the inconsistent play of quarterback Joe Flacco. The team ranked seventh in rushing attempts per game with 29 and 10th in rushing yards per game with 116. Flacco only has one 4,000+-yard passing season on his resume and has never been reliable as a streaming option. Crabtree’s guaranteed target volume in Baltimore provides him an opportunity to bounce back from a down 2017 season. He is an excellent value at his current average draft position.

Emmanuel Sanders (DEN)
Sanders is an excellent bounce-back candidate in Denver with new QB Case Keenum under center heading into 2018. He will look to get back on track after being limited to 12 games and posting his worst statistical season since 2012. Sanders only had two weeks where he finished as a top-24 receiver in PPR formats last season after doing five times the previous seasons. He has been very productive during his time in Denver.

2014 8.8 6.3 87.8 0.6 18.7 16
2015 9.1 5.1 75.7 0.4 15.2 15
2016 9.1 5.3 68.8 0.3 14.2 15
2017 7.7 3.9 46.2 0.2 9.5 12

The biggest risk Sanders faces this upcoming season is a healthy Demaryius Thomas who has averaged 9.7 targets, six receptions, and 81.4 receiving yards per game since 2012. Keenum was able to support two top-20 PPR WRs in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs last season in Minnesota. Sanders is a good bet to bounce back in 2018.

Jamison Crowder (WAS)
Crowder’s production dipped in his third year as he was limited last year by a preseason hip strain and hamstring injury which remained all last season.

2015 4.9 3.7 37.8 0.1 8.2 16
2016 6.2 4.2 52.9 0.4 12.1 16
2017 6.9 4.4 52.6 0.2 11.1 15

Crowder was healthier by the end of the season accumulating 70 or more receiving yards per game, including 123 and 141-yard games, from Week 8 to 12. The Redskins’ transition from QB Kirk Cousins to Alex Smith also helps his fantasy value. Crowder excels at short to intermediate routes and Smith tends to heavily target WRs in those areas of the football field.

The biggest risk that he faces heading into 2018 is the Redskins receivers vying for targets. Paul Richardson was signed in free agency, and Josh Doctson is having his first healthy offseason as a pro. Tight end Jordan Reed, when healthy, has historically commanded a high number of targets. While Chris Thompson has emerged as the Redskins’ passing-down back. Crowder is entering a contract year and drew praise from Smith during OTAs. He is one of my favorites values in PPR drafts this summer.

Randall Cobb (GB)
The statistical trajectory on Cobb’s career has trended down since finishing as the WR8 in PPR formats back in 2014 despite being tied to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. He has failed to meet the expectations of the sizeable contract he signed after his breakout season.

2014 7.9 5.7 80.4 0.8 18.5 16
2015 8.1 4.9 51.8 0.4 12.7 16
2016 6.5 4.6 46.9 0.3 11.4 13
2017 6.6 4.7 46.6 0.3 11.2 14

The Packers did not sign a slot receiver in free agency or select one in the NFL Draft. The departure of Jordy Nelson opens up more targets, and the addition of TE Jimmy Graham should not negatively impact Cobb’s target share. Cobb is classified as medium risk according to Sports Injury Predictor with multiple ailments.

Since head coach Mike McCarthy has been the Packers head coach the tight end position has only averaged 6.4 targets per game. The team’s No. 2 wide receiver has averaged 6.73 targets, 4.24 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 0.61 touchdowns per game. Recency bias is negatively impacting Cobb’s perception among fantasy players and as a result, is another value in drafts at his ADP.

Will Fuller (HOU)
Success or failure for Fuller is tied to Texans QB Deshaun Watson. He missed the first three games of last season due to a broken collarbone suffered in August. Watson and Fuller connected for seven touchdowns on only 13 receptions in four games. Did you know that Fuller did not score a touchdown once Watson’s season ended due to an ACL injury?

2016 6.6 3.4 45 0.1 8.7 14
2017 5 2.8 42.3 0.7 11.3 10

Fuller’s fantasy production can be volatile on a weekly basis as a receiver who attacks defenses vertically. He has a career catch rate of 53 percent on 142 targets, but has accumulated 2,237 air yards in only 24 career games. At the moment Fuller can be drafted as a WR3 with WR1 upside any given week. If the Texans allow him to run a more robust route tree, it could have a dramatic impact on Fuller’s fantasy value in 2018.

Kelvin Benjamin (BUF)
Benjamin’s statistical body of work does not leave you feeling good after selecting him in the double-digit rounds of a fantasy draft.

2014 9.1 4.6 63 0.6 14.2 16
2016 7.3 3.9 58.8 0.4 12.4 16
2017 5.6 3.4 49.4 0.2 9.7 14

Benjamin did have positive receiving fantasy points over expectation last season, but did see his target share dip below 20 percent for the first time in his career. He enters the 2018 season as the Bills No. 1 receiver, so he should see a significant number of targets per game. The QB situation in Buffalo is not ideal with A.J. McCarron, Nathan Peterman, and rookie Josh Allen competing for the top spot vacated by the front office’s trade of  Tyrod Taylor. When evaluating the wide receiver position, targets are the lifeblood of fantasy production and few at Benjamin’s current ADP will see the number he is projected to see this season.

Kenny Stills (MIA)
What about DeVante Parker? This is a question you may be asking yourself as you see Stills on this list. He saw a career-high 105 targets in 2017, recording 58 receptions for 847 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Did you know he had 42 receptions for 726 receiving yards and nine touchdowns back in 2016?

Hope is not a viable fantasy football winning strategy when it comes to Parker. Jarvis Landry leaves behind a whopping 161 targets. Stills can be viewed as a WR3 with upside.

Marqise Lee (JAC)
The season-ending injury to Allen Robinson allowed Lee to see a career-high 23.6 percent target share last season. The Jaguars allowed Robinson to test the waters of free agency as the offense now revolves around Leonard Fournette, the offensive line, and the running game. Lee finds himself as the Jaguars’ No. 1 receiver entering 2018.

His most significant risks to fantasy viability are his negative receiving fantasy points over expectation in 2017 and the multitude of receivers in Jacksonville. The Jaguars currently have Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, signed Donte Moncrief in free agency, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and selected D.J. Chark in the NFL Draft with a second-round pick. The team led the NFL in rushing attempts (33.1) and rushing yards per game (141.2). There are only so many targets that can go around in the Jaguars’ offense, but Lee should see the bulk of them.

Allen Hurns (DAL)
Hurns could lead the Cowboys in targets after the departure of the release of Dez Bryant. His only competition for targets is veteran receiver Terrance Williams and rookie Michael Gallup. Hurns is only two seasons removed from his 2015 breakout season where he finished with 64 receptions, 1,031 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns. Injuries have derailed his career since then missing 11 games from 2016 to 2017. Hurns is a nice value in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts as the Cowboys look to fill the void of the 218 targets left by Bryant and tight end Jason Witten.

Quincy Enunwa (NYJ)
Enunwa finds himself competing for the Jets No. 3 wide receiver spot behind Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse entering the 2018 season. Terrelle Pryor, Chad Hansen, and ArDarius Stewart are also competing for targets. Enunwa’s 2017 season was lost due to a neck injury, but he averaged 5.6 targets, receptions, and 43.4 receiving yards per game in 27 career games. The QB situation is not optimal with Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, and Teddy Bridgewater, which limits his fantasy value. Enunwa is essentially free at his current ADP and is worth drafting as an upside WR4.

All of these wide receivers are marvelous options if you plan to implement the “RB Heavy” strategy. Targets are the most predictable year-to-year stats for wide receivers. Many of the names on this list are in a great position to see a high number of targets and reward fantasy players who prioritized the RB position early in drafts.

Do you agree or disagree? What did you find most useful? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out via Twitter @EricNMoody. Until next time!

The Ideal RB-Heavy Fantasy Football Draft
The Perfect Mock Draft (RB-Heavy Strategy)
The Ideal Zero RB Fantasy Football Draft
Players to Target When Using the Zero RB Strategy

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Eric Moody is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Eric, check out his archive and follow him @EricNMoody.

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