Fantasy Football Draft: Valuable Late-Round Wide Receivers

By Marcella Surra
Marcella Surra

WR Sammy Watkins
Being drafted fourth overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2014 NFL draft was a dream come true for rookie WR Sammy Watkins. In interview before the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins said that his favorite football team, as a child, was the Buffalo Bills. Now, not only is he on his favorite team, but he is also the top wide out on their depth chart since WR Stevie Johnson left to play for the San Francisco 49ers. Meaning, the majority of looks and touches will go to him. Rookie wide receivers don’t usually make a big impact their first season in the NFL. However, San Diego WR Keenan Allen was able to break 1,000 receiving yards his first season in the NFL, becoming only the fifth rookie wide receiver ever to do so. Although Sammy Watkins does not have a seasoned quarterback like QB Phillip Rivers throwing to him, he is likely to rack up fantasy points simply because he’s at the top of the depth chart and the most capable wide receiver on the team. Sammy Watkins will get looks and touches on a regular basis which makes him a reliable source for fantasy points. Plus, with his size, skill, speed, talent and ability, Watkins is capable of a breakout season should the Bills quarterback situation improve.

WR Eric Decker
Last season, Eric Decker was being drafted in the second or third round. This season, in most mock drafts, Eric Decker isn’t typically drafted until after the seventh round. Clearly, the drop in status has everything to do with the fact that QB Peyton Manning isn’t throwing to him anymore. However, there are three things to consider that increase Decker’s value in fantasy football. First, he is an amazingly talented wide receiver with speed and sure, capable hands. Secondly, it may be QB Michael Vick throwing to him early on in the season if QB Geno Smith can’t get his act together. Although Vick is no spring chicken and has some mileage on him, he is experienced and knows how to get the ball to a wide receiver; he proved that with the Eagles. Had he not been injured and been supplanted by a younger, durable Nick Foles, he might still be in Philadelphia as the top quarterback. Third, Decker is at the top of the depth chart and should get a significant amount of looks and touches. Even he isn’t producing explosive weeks as a result of a crappy quarterback, he’ll still get enough looks and touches to produce reliable fantasy points. Decker is definitely a good value in the late rounds.

WR Dwayne Bowe
Let’s face it, WR Dwayne Bowe has not put up the best numbers the last couple of seasons. He hasn’t gone over 1,000 receiving yards since 2011. Last season, in 15 games, he put up a miserable 673 yards and 5 TDs. With Andy Reid as head coach and a reliable Alex Smith as quarterback, you would think he’d be able to put up some better numbers. What’s the problem? He’s still fast and talented despite the fact that he’s now 29 years-old. The problem for Bowe was that Kansas City’s defense was so great last season that they didn’t need to throw the ball down the field as much, which cut in to Bowe’s production. Another problem was that RB Jamaal Charles had an amazing season, too amazing actually. Because Charles was so great, the Chiefs rarely needed to throw the ball. This season may be more of the same. However, Dwayne Bowe has two things going for him. First, he’s still the top wide receiver with no other talented receivers around him, and two, this season teams will be prepared to defend the Chief’s running game, which should open up the passing game a bit. If that happens, Bowe will have the targets all to himself. Although Bowe’s age is getting up there, he still has plenty of talent and fire in him. Last season, in the AFC wild card game against the Colts, Bowe exploded for 150 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. Furthermore, there is always the chance that Reid will change his strategy this year and opt for more passing. If he does, Bowe could be a valuable steal in the late rounds.

WR Kenny Britt
Kenny Britt is off to a clean start. As a first-round pick in 2009, the Tennessee Titans expected big things from Britt and they weren’t disappointed. In October of 2010, Kenny caught 7 passes, three touchdowns and gained 225 yards in a 37–19 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. These were the highest numbers put up by a Titans receiver. Unfortunately Britt’s following season did not see as much success as a result of early-career run-ins with the law as well as an ACL injury in 2011. Then in 2012, at long last, it looked like his career was turning around when he caught 101 catches for 1,765 yards (17.48 YPC) and fifteen touchdowns. However, his following season as a disaster with off-field issues that led to on-field restrictions, resulting in terrible numbers. Over a 12 game span, Britt managed a mere 11 receptions and 96 yards; a far cry from his previous season. Clearly, the Titans had had enough with his off-field antics and shipped him off to the Rams.

Now with the Rams, Britt has a chance to redeem himself. At 6’3”, 223 lbs., and a 4.49 speed, Britt can easily surpass any wide receiver on the Rams depth chart. He has the talent, ability, and speed. If he can somehow find the restraint to behave off the field, he could have a breakout season with the Rams and move into the top wide receiver spot. He’s a proven wide receiver with experience. In the late rounds, Britt could be a great value. With a healthy Sam Bradford, Britt could put up amazing fantasy numbers. He’s worth a late, late round pick up.