After a week of mock drafting I've found but one constant in my final rosters; I'm never disappointed in the wide receivers. This is by far the deepest position in fantasy football this year. Looking over a list of the top 50 receivers too quickly could likely give you a case of the bends.
The consensus number one is Calvin Johnson. Yes, I am aware of the Madden curse, but you take your chances with the unstoppable Megatron. You can expect the first wave of receiving picks to take place in rounds 2 and 3. This feeding frenzy will include names like Fitzgerald, White, Jennings and Hicks. Keep the following statement in mind when drafting: "Missing out on the elite receivers isn't a death sentence."
With so much value at the position you can easily avoid drafting a receiver with your first three picks and still come out with a decent group. Your draft position factors into your strategy so I'm not saying avoid the elite receiving options. I am suggesting that a few receivers going in the middle and late rounds have a chance at finishing in the top ten.
This week I'll point out some of the better wide outs you can find after round five and examine the 49er receivers from a fantasy standpoint.
Here are five guys going after round 5 that can potentially be fantasy stars this year.
Eric Decker is currently going in the sixth round and his value increases in PPR leagues. Demaryius Thomas is going to get most of the red zone targets, but the early reports from Denver are that the Manning/Decker connection will be lethal. We saw him do damage with Kyle Orton at QB last year and I only expect greater gains with Manning under center.
I know Niner fans shake their fists to the heavens at the mere mention of his name, but how can you not like the triad of Lloyd/McDaniels/Brady? Even with Gronkowski gobbling up the targets there should be plenty of passes coming Lloyd’s way. Don't forget he was the #1 receiver in 2010 and that was with Kyle Orton at QB.
Many fantasy managers have written off the former favorite. Wayne is a year older with a rookie QB, but he is still a great route runner in what should be a pass heavy offense that will be playing catchup in most contests. I’m finding him available in the 6th to 8th rounds in most mocks. His success does depend on the arm of Andrew Luck, but this will be a better offense than the atrocity that took the field in 2011. If you draft your running backs early and need great value in the middle round, keep your eyes on Reggie.
Darrius Heyward-Bey/Denarius Moore
People are sleeping on the Oakland receivers this year and allowing them to fall to rounds 9 and 10. I have my ticket for the Carson Palmer bandwagon and someone is going to have to catch those bombs. Either Darrius or Denarius could be used as a WR3 or a flex play when the match up is right.
My adoration for Smith may exist solely due to the amount of sports radio I listen to here in Baltimore. Despite this voluntary brainwashing Torrey is set for a huge year. Look for Joe Flacco to hit him deep with more accuracy as defenses drawn in to stop Ray Rice.
San Francisco Receivers
I expect Alex Smith to have significantly more passing attempts this year. No offense to Arnaz Battle or Antonio Bryant, but this is the most talented collection of 49er receivers in the last 7 years. However, there are only a certain amount of passes and the team also beefed up its backfield. Only Moss and Crabtree are going in drafts this year. Oh yeah, then there is this Mario Manningham character whose role is a mystery. Harbaugh will open up the playbook, but it is difficult to know which wide out will have the most to benefit.
Both Moss and Crabtree are going as tertiary receiving options in early mock drafts. Their usefulness depends on whether your league awards points for receptions. In a PPR (point per reception) league I prefer Michael Crabtree this year. Over the final weeks of the regular season he showed flashes of fantasy relevance. Through the last 4 games he averaged 6 receptions and 66 yards a game. Not spectacular, but decent considering the offense. He could be a name you take late, keep on your bench and start when you need a bye week fill-in. A 90 reception, 1000 yard, 5 touchdown season is within reach for King Crab.
For some reason many of us still play in leagues that don’t recognize receptions. You’ll hear them referred to as "standard leagues". Not my particular taste, but in these formats I like Randy Moss. He won’t have as many receptions or targets as #15, but he should get considerable attention in the red zone and on go routes. Expect Moss to produce similar numbers as his first year in Oakland. Queue the band for a 60 reception, 800 yard and 8 touchdown swan song.