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Fantasy Football Strategy - Drafting Wide Receivers Late

Eric’s post from yesterday has me thinking about wide receivers.  He drafted a team that is weak on WRs in a league that starts 3 WRs and he’s wondering if he’s doomed before the season has started.  My answer: no freaking way.

It’s far easier to find wide receivers late in the draft – or on the waiver wire -- than it is to find running backs.  In fact, it’s a lot easier than people realize.  I usually go weak on WRs because I know it’s possible to grab them later. 

I reviewed last season’s Top 20 wide receivers in Receiving Yards and checked to see where they were drafted.  I didn’t have average draft position info from last year, so I used the draft results of last year’s SBNation Bloggers Fantasy Football League.  That’s as close to a group of football experts as you’ll find anywhere.   Also, I realize that receiving yards isn’t the perfect way to rank fantasy WRs, but it’s easy to work with.

Out of the Top 20 WRs, nine of them (45%) were drafted in Round 7 or later.  In fact, three of them weren’t drafted at all. 

Player Rec Yards Round Drafted
Brandon Marshall 1325 9
Braylon Edwards 1289 7
Roddy White 1202 Undrafted
Wes Welker 1175 12
Bobby Engram 1147 Undrafted
Jerricho Cotchery 1130 8
Kevin Curtis 1110 11
Derrick Mason 1087 Undrafted
Joey Galloway 1014 9

Notice that I said it’s possible to grab them later, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do it.  For every owner who scored by grabbing Roddy White or Bobby Engram late, there’s an owner who flamed out by grabbing Michael Jenkins or Deion Branch late. 

It's tough, but it can certainly be done -- nearly half of the Top 20 WRs from last year were available if you knew who to look for.  If you find Brady or Manning drops into your lap in the 2nd round and then realize you need a RB2 in the 3rd.. don't worry.  If you're prepared and smart (and a little lucky)  you can grab great WRs late in your draft.