You are approaching the 10th Round in your fantasy draft. You have your starters, and your “my guys” that you’ve been watching and silently praying no one else takes. You’re now left staring at names that may have left a bad taste in your mouth last year, or names you think are now obsolete. Now what?
Continuing the series after RBs and TEs to Remember in 2019, let’s take a look a few wide receivers who may have fallen out of favor or dropped out of our minds completely. Keep in mind, these are not players you should be reaching for in your drafts. These are players that have a high potential upside that you can snag in the later rounds.
Curtis Samuel – Carolina Panthers – ADP 11.03
Plagued by injuries for the last two years, Samuel tip-toed onto the fantasy dance floor behind D.J. Moore in the last seven weeks of 2018. His 2017 rookie year was quiet with only 26 targets, 15 receptions for 115 yards and no touchdowns in 9 games. During the first six weeks of 2018, it seemed he was doomed to repeat himself with 16 targets, 12 receptions for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Samuel and Cam Newton seemed to find their chemistry together in Week 7 against Detroit, where Samuel was targeted a season-high 7 times for 5 receptions, 55 yards, and a touchdown. The trend only continued to climb through the remaining weeks, until he was injured, missing the rest of the season after Week 13.
Of course, D.J. Moore didn’t just disappear from the team during that time, but the pair’s numbers aren’t as skewed as one may think considering Samuel only played 13 games while Moore played all 16.
Remember, Moore played 3 additional games, Samuel didn’t really start gelling with Newton until half the year was over, and Newton’s throwing was severely limited.
He is entering 2019 with his rookie and sophomore woes and injuries behind him. He is healthy, Cam is healthy, finally, and head coach Ron Rivera has commented on Samuel’s improved route running.
In fact, Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception highlights just how successful Samuel is in route running and the ability to create separation. Below are two charts that map out success rate by route for both Moore and Samuel.
The green, yellow, and red routes are pretty self-explanatory, but you can really see what qualifies as their corresponding colors by the designated percentages. Your eyes are not fooling you. Samuel has that crazy amount of success on practically every route he runs. He exceeds Moore in his ability to create separation, specifically on his comeback route.
Success rates on routes are only one part of the equation. You also need to have a clear picture of how many times they actually run these particular routes. You can get full access to the Reception Perception in the 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit. These charts and player breakdowns are incredibly useful targeting guys for later rounds and finding sleepers and potential breakout candidates like Samuel. Plus, you can use these charts in-season to help you decide who to start and sit against a given defense.
While D.J. Moore remains the more popular, highly drafted wide receiver on the Panthers, it’s important to keep Samuel in your pocket during the draft. He is going around the beginning of the 11th Round in early mock drafts, and has the potential to break out this season.
For even more Curtis Samuel hype, check out: Late Round Wide Receiver Fliers for 2019
DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles – ADP 11.09
The speedster wide receiver started his career in Philly in 2008 and continued through 2013 amassing 649 targets, 356 receptions for 6117 yards, and 32 touchdowns. He solidified his role in the NFL as the deep threat, averaging 17.2 yards per reception in his first season and never having less than 14.7 y/r each season for the Eagles.
He is unbelievably fast and has an uncanny way of creating separation downfield. He has an average 55% catch rate over 11 years in the NFL, on 3 different teams, with a whopping 67.1 yards per game. Reception Perception data shows he has a 77.1% success rate on curls and 78.6% on comebacks proving with data what we can see with our eyeballs.
To see Jackson’s route percentage and success rates check out the 2019 Ultimate Draft Kit.
Jackson’s targets and receptions dropped when he went to the Washington Redskins, then slipped even more during his two years in Tampa Bay. Now, Jackson is all but forgotten in the fantasy spectrum, falling near the end of the 11th Round in Half PPR scoring formats.
However, Jackson is back home in Philadelphia in 2019 where he started his career and he couldn’t be more of a necessity in their offense. The Eagles sorely missed their downfield threat, Mike Wallace, after he got hurt in Week 2 and Jackson is the perfect solution to the problem. Plus, he won’t have a Mike Evans to snipe his bread-and-butter deep targets. He is still one of the fastest and elusive deep receivers in the NFL, who now has Carson Wentz’s cannon of an arm.
I am not saying Jackson is going to be the WR1 for the Eagles, but with an ADP at 11.09, he is a steal with incredible upside potential.
Demaryius Thomas – New England Patriots – ADP 13.11
While the Patriots are showing off their new toys like N’Keal Harry and Dontrelle Inman, the men upstairs quietly ushered Demaryius Thomas into the building through the back door. At best, this wide receiving corps is a jungle of mouths to feed with a total of 13 wide receivers on the depth chart that I could find.
So, why would I suggest remembering Demaryius Thomas? It’s quite simple, he is a 5-time Pro Bowler, 2-time All-Pro, and a Super Bowl Champ, playing with Tom Brady and you can get him for dirt cheap.
Let’s not forget, Thomas had to receive passes from the likes of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch for two years after Manning retired. Of course, when you do not have an elite QB passing you the ball, your production is going to suffer. The same applies to being traded in the middle of the season. Despite the mediocre passing game and team upheaval, Thomas still saw 373 targets, 232 receptions for 2709 yards and scored 5 touchdowns in those three years.
While Thomas is another forgotten wide receiver in fantasy football, it seems Bill Belichick remembers exactly how good his newly signed weapon is. Thomas posted 3 different 100 plus yard games against the Patriots, including the 2014 AFC Championship game.
Even with mediocre QB play, Thomas was still able to produce at a level comparable to his Patriots counterparts arguably in the same role that he will be taking over.
While Julian Edelman will maintain his WR1 position, the WR2 spot is completely up for grabs with Chris Hogan gone, and a ton of vacated targets with Gronkowski retired. Josh Gordon is suspended indefinitely so that realistically leaves Phillip Dorset, Dontrelle Inman, N’Keal Harry, and Demaryius Thomas to complete for outside WR snaps.
There is absolutely nothing wrong taking a shot at Thomas at the end of the 13th or 14th Round for his potential upside with Brady. He has proven he is dominant when paired with an elite quarterback and could be a valuable steal.
Samuel, Jackson, and Thomas are all players currently being drafted after the 10th Round, so carry little draft risk. Don’t be afraid to take a shot at their fantasy potential in 2019.