Continuing on with my series of fantasy articles, here is a list of sleeper WRs who I project will outperform their current ADP.
Garcon is by no means a sexy pick, but everything is lining up for him to have a solid fantasy year. 49ers new head coach Kyle Shanahan made it a point to acquire Garcon in the offseason and sign him to a five-year deal with player options during the final three seasons. The last time these two were together was 2013, when Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Redskins. That year Garcon recorded the best statistical season of his career with a league best 113 receptions off of 181 targets, totaling 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. Moreover, throughout his career, Shanahan’s offenses have averaged 4,039 passing yards a season. The clear number one wide receiver, Garcon should receive a ton of targets from a serviceable Brian Hoyer. Currently being drafted as the 33rd ranked wide receiver, Garcon is a solid WR2 with even higher upside in PPR formats.
After being cleared to participate in preseason activities, Bryant has started to reemerge on draft boards. Although he has never played a full NFL season, in just 21 games (eight starts) he has accrued 76 receptions for 1,314 yards and 14 visits to pay dirt. The Steelers are happy to have their speedy wide out back as Bryant will be a critical down field target. Furthermore, Bryant should benefit from opposing defenses added attention to Antonio Brown. Bryant will make for a great WR2 who will put up monster numbers some weeks thanks to his knack for “home run” plays.
It was a busy offseason for Coleman and not in a good way. Fortunately, his assault charges have been dropped and nothing is stopping him from taking the next leap in his career this season. Before breaking his hand in Week 3, Coleman had two touchdowns and 173 yards and was displaying the type of talent everyone expected him to. Although Coleman had trouble getting going after he returned from injury, I would attribute that to poor quarterback and overall team performance. With the departures of Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge, the Browns have a ton of receptions and touchdowns up for grabs this year. Coleman, who is expected to line up as the Browns WR1, should be the primary beneficiary of that. His fantasy productivity may be limited by quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Deshone Kizer, but I think Coleman has huge upside and potential. Especially when you consider he is being drafted as WR48.
After being cut by the Browns, Gabriel found a home with the Falcons. In just 13 games last season, he posted 579 yards and six touchdowns. His 16.54 yards per reception was seventh best in the NFL, 11.5 yards per target was second best in the NFL, and 7.8 yards after catch per reception was the best in the NFL. Similar to Martavis Bryant, Gabriel is a down field threat, making him a boom or bust fantasy option. But when you consider his ADP in the 12th round, he is a steal. The Falcons prolific offense coupled with the prowess of Matt Ryan will only heighten Gabriel’s ceiling. There aren’t many other 12th round picks that have flex upside like Taylor Gabriel does.
Injuries derailed Diggs’ 2016 campaign, but the Maryland product still managed to record 84 receptions for 904 yards in just 13 games. During the first 10 weeks of 2016, Diggs posted WR1 numbers as he averaged 18.1 FPPS, good enough to rank him seventh among fantasy wideouts. Fast forward to 2017 and Diggs will retain top wide receiver duties. A lot of pundits are questioning the capabilities of the Vikings offense, but if it’s anything like last year Sam Bradford will continue to pepper Diggs with targets. And more times than not, Diggs will make the most of those targets. He caught 75% of his targets last year which was good enough to rank him fifth among pass catchers in the league. If Diggs can stay on the field for the entirety of the 2017 season, I’m expecting him to take that leap into high WR2 and fringe WR1 territory.
After leading the FBS in receptions last year, Zay Jones enters the NFL with a great opportunity to fantasy relevant. Reports from training camp indicate that Jones has won the WR2 job and is actually battling for WR1 duties with the departure of Sammy Watkins. As far as his teammates, I don’t expect the Bills to give 36-year-old Anquan Boldin a profound offensive role and Jordan Matthews is more of a slot receiver whereas Jones will line up out wide. Matthews is a solid receiver, but nowhere near as dominant enough to eat up all of the Bills targets. Expect Jones to lead the charge in recovering the reception and touchdown void left behind by Goodwin, Woods, and Watkins. If Jones can win the WR1 job, he has tremendous value as he isn’t even being drafted in some formats.