Three Early Wide Receiver Sleepers - July 12th
We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as training camps will open in a few weeks. Fantasy mocks and MFL10s are kicking in to high gear, and so too, we'll start seeing rankings and sleepers/busts articles. Average Draft Position (ADP) will swing up and down wildly as stories about how whats-his-name had their best offseason yet, so and so worked with hall of farmer oh-that-guy. All of last year's poor performances, as it turns out, can be explained by an until now undisclosed, nagging injury, or a problem with someone or something that is no longer a hindrance. Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts (KV). We should neither ignore nor blindly accept all these narratives, but we should keep in mind that this is when those first little seeds of fantasy championships are planted.
With that in mind, I have a few guys that I really like at their current cost. I'll breakdown why these guys should be on your radar as the season approaches. All ADP data is via fantasyfootballcalculator.com.
Eric Decker, New York Jets
Decker finished last year as PPR WR26, pulling in 74 receptions on 114 targets for 964 yards and 5 touchdowns in 15 games. He did this while playing on one of the worst offenses in the NFL and while playing with one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league.
Betting on the Jets offense to improve this year is a safe play as it's hard to fall from the bottom. Geno Smith will get first crack and piloting the Jets offense under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Gailey has a great track record of turning some underwhelming quarterback talents in to viable QB plays. Smith may take a step a forward, but if he doesn't, Ryan Fitzpatrick is waiting in the wings. Fitzmagic showed last year that he is at least good enough to support a couple of fantasy wide receivers.
Decker was the only real for the Jets in 2014, a negative for a guy with his skill set. This year, Brandon Marshall should slide in to the WR1 role, allowing Decker to exploit his abilities against number two corner backs. This will get Decker back in the discussion as a low end WR2 or a nice flex play in PPR. Decker is coming off the board in the middle of the 10th round, making him a great, low cost option.
Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints
Colston is coming off the board in the middle of the 10th round, a fair price for last year's WR36. In 2015, the Saints have shipped off 83 targets and 931 yards by sending Kenny Sills to the Miami Dolphins. The Saints also sent 125 targets and ten touchdowns northwest to The Seattle Seahawks when they traded Jimmy Graham. Sophomore wide out Brandin Cooks will undoubtedly see a bigger role this year, but that still leaves huge opportunity for Colston.
Marques Colston has slowed with age and injury, but he is still a big, reliable target playing with one of the league's best quarterbacks. There are high hopes for tight end prospect Josh Hill, and he may end up having a very nice year. Even if Hill succeeds, Colston will still get the lion's share of the intermediate, over the middle and end zone looks that used to go to Graham. If you'd rather take a chance on a grizzled old vet instead of an unheard of young prospect, Colston is your guy in the 10th.
Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins
Stills finished his rookie season as WR55 and followed up in his sophomore campaign as WR38 in PPR. I expect he'll take another big step forward this year playing in Miami with offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Stills certainly takes a step back in the QB department, moving on from Drew Brees. What he loses at quarterback he can gain in tempo. The Dolphins offensive game plan mirrors that of the Eagles; they're going to run a lot of plays, fast. Last year Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill struggled to connect deep, but Wallace still ended up as WR20 in PPR. Miami imported a few weapons that will compete with Stills for targets, but I believe we'll see Stills separate himself as the lead dog in training camp and in the preseason. With Stills' currently going in the middle of the twelfth round, you could end up with the steal of the draft with Stills this year.
Check my out on Twitter @NFLClark, and let me know what you think!