We started this series with late round running backs and a couple of late round flier “archetypes” that seem to spring up every year when scouring mock drafts, average draft position (ADP), and early rankings. Before we look at WRs, let’s get on the same page of what we mean by “late round flier“.
A late round flier is simply a pick used at the end of your draft with the ultimate goal of finding a player with major upside at minimal cost. In 10-12 team redraft leagues, we are talking about players taken in Rounds 13-15 that fill the last available spot on your bench. We’ll be looking at a number of WRs that are the 2nd or 3rd options on their team.
Note: We must remind ourselves that buying a lottery ticket in fantasy football is not an exact science as much as …. well, buying a lottery ticket. There is a bit of randomness involved alongside the puzzle pieces of injury, opportunity, and offensive schemes in football. In other words, these are simply suggestions which have the possibility of striking fantasy gold.
Check out some of Andy, Mike, and Jason’s favorite late round WR sleepers in the Ultimate Draft Kit.
The Underpriced Target Vacuum
Even the most conservative of passing offenses in 2017 (Buffalo and Miami) threw the ball nearly 500 times during the season. In other words, there are still targets to go around if you miss out on the team’s WR1. Any player who hits over 100 targets is a rosterable player in terms of fantasy production. Rishard Matthews became a viable WR2 option and a TD machine in the middle of the season at a rock bottom price. In an inept offense, Jeremy Kerley led the 49ers with 115 targets, good enough for 26th in the league. The key is finding WRs currently able to sustain a solid market share of the team’s targets while fending off other ancillary weapons of the offense.
The Forgotten Teammate
When a team offers an “alpha-dog” type weapon at WR, it’s easy to forget that there are other options in the passing game. In fantasy, these players are not the most exciting to own as their week-to-week totals can be frustrating. However, there is still ample upside built into these “forgotten teammates” as players can get injured as well as yards and TDs can be spread around. Mike Wallace was a forgotten man in 2016 slipping behind teammates Breshad Perriman, Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith Sr. all the way to being selected as the 61st WR off the board in PPR leagues. Yikes! He finished as the WR24 and hauled in over 1,000 yards, leading the Ravens in that category. In 2015, Doug Baldwin was taken in the 13th round on average before finishing as a top 10 WR. Don’t overlook these guys.
The Freak Athlete
This person has teased you for years with their measurables to the point where you still try to convince your friends that this is “the year”. WRs with elite 40-times or college production can often not always translate to the pros especially when it comes to becoming a route-running technician. For some, it takes years to develop and this provides ample opportunity to try and strike gold with a late round flier. This might be the most boom-or-bust flier archetype among the positions. In 2016, for my last pick in my home league, I selected Terrelle Pryor on a whim after hearing training camp reports that he looked more like a WR than simply a former QB. On average, he was the 14.02 pick in PPR leagues. We all know the immense weapon Pryor became in Cleveland last year. However, I got gun shy before Week 1 and swapped him out for a defense to prepare for Week 2. Whoops.
The Grey Beard Baller
I get it… especially after the NFL Draft we want to embrace the latest hotness and revel in the glory that can be with future stardom. However, there are some card-carrying AARP members of the NFL that still have something to say. Old timers at the WR position can look like crumbling, slow-footed pass catchers but that doesn’t always mean they are exempt from being fantasy relevant. James Jones was supposedly a washed-up, old fart the Packers brought in for mere pity. Instead, Aaron Rodgers rekindled some old magic as Jones was a fantasy revelation catching 6 TDs in the first 6 weeks before flaming out. Before bidding these geriatric patients “adieu”, check out some of these fliers which could fill out your final WR position.