by Joe Delcorse
Everybody is well aware of the top dogs at wide receiver on draft night. Once you get past that top-tier there is a significant drop off in talent, fortunately there are plenty of good options available to round out a solid fantasy receiving corps. Depending on where you draft will determine what direction you will go with your team. As always is the case, it seems draft strategy has come full circle and running backs are again flavor of choice atop of most draft boards (after wide receivers had their time at the top) and with good reason. Running backs arguably have more responsibilities than any position in football as they catch, run, block and some may even pass.
Opportunities are plentiful with a surge in scoring around the league due to changes in rules and offensive philosophies. Short of Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins there is no reason to even look at wide receiver in the first couple rounds of your draft. Furthermore, if you do decide to choose among the top-tier… good luck because I honestly have trouble ranking anyone after Brown.
- Hopkins had a career year and catapulted himself into the elite category along with both Jones and Beckham. Even with a healthy Deshaun Watson, Hopkins may not be able to replicate last season’s production to warrant such a high selection.
- Beckham is coming off a disappointing couple seasons due to injury
- Jones’ lack of touchdowns last season is bizarre and unexplainable.
Pittsburgh seems to have some inner turmoil with Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement coming sooner than later and Le’veon Bell’s contract dispute. among other issues. makes it hard to predict what to expect from even the electric Brown. It’s hard to pass and bet against any of the top tier, but short of one falling into my lap I suggest feasting on number 2 receivers because good offenses with good quarterbacks mean scoring chances. Not to mention the injury bug doesn’t’ discriminate against any player creating more opportunities for other under the radar players to outperform expectations.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the potential targets:
Alshon Jeffery WR PHI
While he technically sits atop the Eagles depth chart I am going to include him as potential All-Pro sleeper since they spread the ball around and don’t have a true primary target. Jeffery quietly had 9 TD last season and while he failed to reach the 1,000 yard mark and only had 53 catches, I expect him to continue to be a red zone favorite for Carson Wentz with an uptick in yards and targets. Jeffery has freakish ability and there is no reason not to expect a big season in this offense.
Emmanuel Sanders WR DEN
Prior to last season Sanders had proven to be a reliable receiver by posting three straight 1,000-yard seasons. He has the ability to score and rack up receptions among the league elite due to his excellent hands and catch radius. He’s a rarity in that he excels with underneath and over the middle of the filed routes, but has the speed to stretch the field vertically. Denver was an abomination at quarterback last year and many believe that Case Keenum will bring stability to the offense. Plan accordingly and you will have a receiver that Keenum will rely on heavily and could see equal production to his counterpart Demaryius Thomas.
Cameron Meredith WR NO
Coming off a major knee injury many will overlook Meredith. New Orleans is betting that he can return to form sooner rather than later, and with Drew Brees throwing to him there should be a plethora of touchdowns to be had. Meredith can line up outside or in the slot, which should blend well with the Saints offense. While they showed more of a balanced attack last season than in the past, this is a team that is among the best offensively and is eager for the season to begin. Meredith will get a lot of open looks and will not be the forgotten man in a loaded offense for very long. With a full healthy season, he has the talent to eclipse 1,000 yards and maybe reach double-digit TD.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: