Some NFL teams are Wide Receiver Wastelands. Fantasy managers avoid the receiving corps of Denver, Oakland, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay, like I avoid new M. Night Shymalan movies. The mediocrity is mostly a result of poor Quarterback play, poor WR talent, or unclear roster rotations. Managers are drafting the fourth WR on Indy (Anthony Gonzalez or Austin Collie) before drafting any WR from most of these 4 teams. But inevitably, there has got to be some value on these wasteland teams.
You know the passing game won’t be a fantasy goldmine when someone named Josh Freeman is the QB and the team is close to starting 2 rookie WRs. Freeman is actually looking decent so far, but fractured his thumb yesterday. Before the injury, he was 4 for 4 with 53 yards and a TD. He’s hoping to be ready for week 1. Arrelious Benn began with all the hype but has Benn disappointing – get it? The starting WR2 Stovall has a whopping 1 catch for 8 yards in the preseason. Stroughter has 5 catches for 60 yards. But the true sleeper here is Mike Williams (pictured above). The rookie has quickly emerged as the starting WR1 because of his incredible talent. He leads the receivers in the preseason with 74 yards. Draft this man. If your leaguemates check fantasy sites and football news frequently, you’ll have to grab him a little earlier like the 11th or 12th round. If they’re like most co-worker and classmate fantasy leagues, you can grab Mike Williams in the last round – a true steal.
Denver has probably the best situation, but a very unclear rotation. Jabar Gaffney currently tops the depth chart, with colossal disappointment Eddie Royal as the starting WR2. But the the third string rookie WR2, Demaryius Thomas, received the most hype until a foot injury brought that hype to a halt. Someone will be a quality fantasy value pick, and our money is on Gaffney. He leads the Broncos with 8 catches for 135 yards in the preseason. Last season, he caught 54 catches, but Brandon Marshall’s departure leaves a wide open hole that Gaffney may fill. The riskier pick is D. Thomas, who has a very small chance of being a star, and a higher chance of being a nobody.
Oakland had the worst WR performances last year in large part due to having the worst QB in the league. This year, Jason Campbell will turn at least one of these guys (in addition to Zach Miller) into a fantasy flex starter. But who? WR1 Chaz Schilens is very talented but the nagging injury is becoming more and more of a problem. WR2 Darrius Heyward-Bey has 1 target and no catches in the preseason. Second stringers Louis Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins are 4-67 and 4-56 through 2 preseason games. Only Schilens is worth drafting at this point, just for the upside. But keep your eye on Louis Murphy. Murphy led the Raiders’ receivers last year and looks like he has the most talent. If Schilens’ injury doesn’t improve soon, I will start grabbing Murphy in the 14th or 15th round instead of Schilens.
Massaquoi led the WRs last year with just 34 catches for 624 yards. The scary stat is that he had 34 catches on 94 targets. He has the best opportunity entering the season atop the depth chart as the WR1. With a new QB in either Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace, it’s hard to tell which WR will develop the best chemistry with the starting QB. No one is stepping up in the preseason. Massaquoi had 3 catches for 36 yards before incurring a hamstring injury. WR2 Robiskie is 3-32, Stuckey is 3-51, and Cribbs is 5-30. Cribbs can be a play-maker, and a fun guy to watch in return-yard leagues. Otherwise, you really can’t draft any of these guys besides Massaquoi, who has the best situation to excel.