To qualify as a dart throw rather than a mid-round target, a receiver must have an average draft position after 168. Using that as the cut line means the following players are being drafted, on average, in the last six rounds of 12-team best-ball formats. All but one of the following players is primarily a deep threat. My rationale for selecting this archetype is simple. You’re not looking for consistent week-to-week performance that late at receiver. Rather, you’re hoping for a few spike weeks.
John Brown (WR – LV): 171.57 ADP in 12-team BestBall10s (All Drafts) from 5/1/21-6/22/21
Injuries limited John Brown to nine regular-season games for the Bills last year. Unfortunately, they prevented him from following up a career year in 2019 with a reliable encore. Still, he’s just a year removed from his most productive season, and he joins a Raiders squad looking to replace their most productive receiver from 2020, Nelson Agholor.
Like Agholor, Brown’s a speedster. According to Sports Info Solutions, among receivers and tight ends targeted a minimum of 50 times, Agholor had the third-deepest average depth of target (15.3 yards). Brown ranked inside the top-25 as well, with an average depth of target of 12.6 yards. Further, last year’s depth of target was the shortest of his career, and it checked in at 14.3 yards in his excellent 2019 season.
Brown’s speed should pair well with Derek Carr. Carr’s average throw depth cratered to dink-and-dunk territory in 2018-2019 before surging to 7.8 yards last year, tying for 15th among quarterbacks who attempted a minimum of 100 passes. He was sensational throwing the deep ball, too.
He earned Pro Football Focus’s second-highest pass grade on 20-plus yard throws out of 44 quarterbacks who attempted a minimum of 10. Further, his 117.4 NFL Passer Rating on those throws was seventh-best. Drafters are selecting second-year burner Henry Ruggs as WR57 with an ADP of 147.56. I’d rather wait and select Brown more than two full rounds later.
Breshad Perriman (WR – DET): 197.89 ADP
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET): 204.38 ADP
In late May, I highlighted Breshad Perriman and Amon-Ra St. Brown as players to target. Their draft positions have moved up only roughly half of a round. They’re still players to target, and they’re two of my favorite dart throws. My rationale for targeting them remains the same as when I discussed their 2021 outlook then. Their inclusion here is a reminder to include them among your dart throws at the position late in drafts.
DeSean Jackson (WR – LAR): 233.07 ADP
DeSean Jackson’s entering his 14th NFL season. Injuries have limited him to only eight games played the last two years combined. So there might not be much left in the tank, but his ADP in a dreamy situation is worthy of firing some bullets at. D-Jax has been one of the game’s premier field-stretchers throughout his career, averaging a gaudy 17.4 yards per reception for his career. Despite injuries limiting him in recent years, he’s still averaged approximately 50 receiving yards per game when suiting up.
At this point in his career, he’s a tertiary threat. However, all he needs is one play to deliver a fantasy-starter week. His speed hasn’t abandoned him, as he has a 75-yard long reception, 53-yard long, and 81-yard long in the three subsequent seasons. D-Jax’s speed should also pair well with new Rams’ starting quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Among quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 pass attempts last year, Stafford’s average throw depth of 8.5 yards tied for the fourth-highest depth. When the team’s former starting quarterback, Jared Goff, was at his best running head coach Sean McVay’s offense in 2018-2019, his average throw depth marks were 8.0 yards and 8.2 yards, respectively. As he’s regressed, his average throw depth has cratered.
Presumably, with strong-armed Stafford in the fold, McVay will dial up the deep passing game again this year. The free-agent addition of D-Jax and drafting the speedy duo of receivers Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris supports the presumption of McVay utilizing the deep passing attack more often this year. A blow-up week or two would be enough to validate a D-Jax selection at his ADP, and with an 8-154-2 line in the 2019 opener and a 1-81-1 line in his last game played last year among his eight games played the last two years combined, it certainly appears to be in his range of outcomes.
Dyami Brown (WR – WAS): 234.61 ADP
The Football Team used a third-round pick to add field-stretcher Dyami Brown to their receiver room. He’s averaged more than 20 yards per reception on 106 receptions over the last two years combined, per Sports-Reference.
He doesn’t have the clearest path to steady playing time. However, if he’s used as a vertical threat like he was at North Carolina, he might not need a ton of playing time or targets to make the most of them. Additionally, fearless gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick could be the perfect man to help him make the most of limited chances, as Fitz allows his receivers to make contested plays.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Fitz had the second-highest aggressive throw percentage (21.7 AGG%) in 2020. The veteran YOLO-ball Picasso also isn’t shy about airing it out deep. He’s had little to work with in the passing game the last two years with the Dolphins. However, when he was throwing to a talented pass-catching group with the Buccaneers in 2018, he had the third-deepest average throw depth (10.1 yards) among quarterbacks with a minimum of 100 pass attempts. I wouldn’t suggest going overboard drafting Brown. Still, he’s a player who’s worth mixing into your endgame selections if you’re drafting multiple best ball teams.
D’Wayne Eskridge (WR – SEA): 238.02 ADP
If picking between Brown and fellow rookie D’Wayne Eskridge, give me the latter. I have them back-to-back in my rankings, but Eskridge commanded earlier draft capital and is paired with the superior quarterback. The Seahawks made Eskridge the eighth receiver selected in the NFL Draft when they snagged him with the 24th pick in the second round.
He’s obviously not going to supplant D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett on the depth chart. Yet, he adds another home-run threat to the equation, complementing Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays and chuck it deep. Wilson’s average throw depth of 7.8 yards downfield tied for 15th-deepest among quarterbacks who attempted a minimum of 100 passes last year.
A middle-of-the-pack rank suggests maybe Wilson can’t support another deep threat. Not so fast. His previous low for average throw depth was 8.3 yards in 2018, so last year’s middle-of-the-road mark looks like the low end of his range of outcomes.
Revisiting Eskridge’s big-play ability, he averaged 18.5 yards per reception in his college career at Western Michigan. Last year, he averaged a whopping 23.3 yards per reception on 33 catches. He can scoot, too, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at his Pro Day. Eskridge has an opportunity to fill David Moore’s vacated role in the offense, one that resulted in the occasional spike week. That would do the trick at his ADP.
Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with Starting Your Own Fantasy Football League or head to a more advanced strategy – like What is the Right Amount of Risk to Absorb on Draft Day? – to learn more.