In season long fantasy football leagues, having the early waiver priority can pay off big time. Finding a breakout star or a couple weeks of high-level output is a great feeling. You beat everyone else to the party. What’s even better, grabbing that player late in your draft. Adam Thielen, Cameron Meredith and Quincy Enunwa helped a lot of folks win games last year.
Here, we’ll look at the crowded summer rosters and find receiver targets to keep an eye on. Frist up, the AFC.
Their top-two WR’s –Mike Wallace and Bershard Perriman – are the only receivers on the roster who caught ten or more passes last season. Second year man, Keenan Reynolds, and third-year WR, Michael Campanaro, are in a wide-open battle for WR-3. With Devin Hester gone, Reynolds could hold return value. Right now, the only value for Ravens pass catchers, outside Wallace and Perriman, is if one of them gets hurt. RB Danny Woodhead might end up as the Ravens second or third leading receiver.
With Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin gone, rookie Zay Jones, could earn the starting role opposite Sammy Watkins. The Bills roster is littered with veteran wideouts and non-of them are that appealing. The 37th overall pick from East Carolina, is 6-foot-2 and ran a 4.45 at the combine. With Watkins injury history, Jones could be in line for targets early and often.
The Bengals don’t have a sleeper in the receiving corps, as their ninth overall pick, John Ross, will be a known name in draft circles. Ross is recovering from shoulder surgery post combine. The man who could end up starting the season as their slot receiver is Tyler Boyd. The second-year WR from Pittsburgh caught 54 passes for 603 yards and one touchdown last year. While I can’t wait to watch teams try and cover A.J. Green and Ross down field, Boyd is the handcuff here.
It’s fair to question the sanity of any team who trades for then praisesBrock Osweiler. But, here we are. It’s Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman atop the depth-chart, as we play the what could have been game with Josh Gordon. The Browns selected three receivers after Coleman last year; Ricardo Louis (18), Rishard Higgins (6) and Jordan Payton (1). In the parentheses, their receptions from last year. There are 100 theoretical catches up for grabs with Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Andre Hawkins gone. Personally, I like Higgins after watching him while at Colorado State. This is a situation just like Baltimore, avoid unless injury or vaults up the depth chart.
Quarterback questions and talent have made any slot receivers in Denver nonexistent. Rookie RB Devontae Booker (31-265-1) was the Broncos third leading receiver last year. Rookie Carlos Henderson has the tools to be a factor. At 5-foot-11 with a 4.46 40 at the combine, the Louisiana Tech standout has a chance to factor into a ‘pass happy’ Mike McCoy offense. Jordan Taylor, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer have all underwhelmed.
It was T.Y. Hilton or bust for Colts WR’s last year. Donte Moncrief is the number two and the battle for number three is wide open according to reports. That means it’s newly signed Kamar Aiken against former first-round pick Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett put up 33-528-2 in 15 games last season. Aiken spent the last three years in Baltimore and his 2015 performance (75-944-5) shows his ability with consistent targets.
From Allen Robinson disappointing those who drafted him in the first round to finding out Arrelious Benn was still in the NFL, it was an adventure for those catching passes from Blake Bortles last year. New head coach Doug Marrone is going to lean on Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory to pound opposing front-sevens. With the top-three spots solidified; Robinson, Marquis Lee and Allen Hurns, the watch list option is DeDe Westbrook. The fourth-round pick from Oklahoma could chip in return yards while awaiting his opportunity.
Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Connelly is the “in case of emergency” option. He caught 44 passes for 530 yards last season. It took Tyreke Hill being awesome to become a fantasy football asset; adding three rushing and return touchdowns to his team leading six TD receptions.
Los Angeles Chargers
This should be a situation most are familiar with due to the unfortunate run of injuries for Keenan Allen. The Chargers seventh overall pick, Mike Williams, has a pair of solid veterans to beat out for WR3 looks, in Travis Benjamin and Dontrelle Inman. All three are viable bench options. For keeper and dynasty leagues, Williams jumps to the front of the line. For redraft, right now I would go Inman, Benjamin then Williams.
There’s always a chance for a winning week from Tom Brady’s targets. If you want to go deep, it’s the battle betweenDanny Amendola and free agent Andrew Hawkins. That’s 5-foot-11 verse 5-foot-7. Hawkins losses the height battle, but would be a lot of fun to watch in this offense. In 2014 catching passes from Brain Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, Hawkins posted a 63-824-2 season. Been there done that, Amendola, needs a healthy camp to hold him off.
The return of Martavis Bryant – pending official starting role – gives Ben Roethlisberger a plethora of options. Third-round pick JuJu Smith has been getting looks in the slot. Smith showcased his hands at USC, only dropping 5.6% of his targets. Eli Rodgers (48-594-3) and Sammie Coats (21-435-2) were solid options last year. Whoever wins the slot job is worth a WR3 look and all of them should be on your watch list.
Will it be another rookie who slides into a WR role for Marcus Mariota behind fifth overall pick Corey Davis? Taywan Taylor holds every receiving record at Western Kentucky. The 72nd overall pick could slide past last year’s sleeper, Tajae Sharp, who is dealing with some offseason issues. Late season injuries hit Carr and Mariota. Both are primed to start creating fantasy football contributors at wide receiver across the board.