Wide Receivers Undervalued in Best Ball Drafts on Underdog: Part 2
We are a couple of months into the Best Ball season of drafting, and we have some clear indications of what the public is thinking. Here are some early edges when it comes to building your WR group, of guys who the market is simply too low on right now. The interesting thing is it’s not just late-round receivers that the market has mispriced, we see clear issues even in the top 10 rounds. Given the number of players, this will be split up into two pieces. Guys in the top 100, and guys in the 101+ range.
ADP 101+ Undervalued Wide Receivers:
JuJu Smith-Schuster– WR 51, ADP 109.9
Smith-Schuster is a WR that fantasy owners love to hate, and honestly, there really aren’t any good reasons why this is the case. Smith-Schuster is only going to turn 27 years old in November this year, so he’s not nearly as old as people make him out to be. He’s missed 19 games in 6 seasons, but 12 of those were in 2021, meaning he’s missed 7 over the remaining 5 seasons. When he’s been on the field he has been productive finishing as WR 18 in half-point PPR in 2020 and 29th last season (despite missing a game). Though he won’t likely ever be a top 10 WR like he was in 2018, he can still be a guy who can give you a number of usable and good weeks.
Though he does face a QB dropoff from Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger, Smith-Schuster also has less real competition for targets than he did in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. Unless the Patriots do sign DeAndre Hopkins, Smith-Schuster only has to overcome DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton. Unlike those two receivers, he will have the slot role which has been a productive role in New England over the years. Jakobi Myers finished as WR 28th last year primarily in this role, and that is with the Patriots’ offense being so inefficient. New England prioritized Smith-Schuster this offseason, signing him to a 3-year $25M deal with $16M guaranteed. If Bill O’Brien can get Mac Jones back on track, JuJu has a great chance of being a top-30 receiver again.
Van Jefferson – WR 63, ADP 140.6
Jefferson missed the start of last season due to injury, and by the time he got ramped up to fully playing, the Rams’ offense was in absolute shambles, missing Stafford and Cooper Kupp. At the end of the season when he was basically an every-snap player, he was catching balls from John Wolford, Bryce Perkins, and Baker Mayfield who barely knew the offense. Jefferson is fully healthy again this year and looks poised to be the Rams’ clear number 2 WR. If Kupp and Stafford are back and healthy themselves, he can massively outplay this ADP. During the Rams’ Super Bowl run, he was the team’s number 3 WR, playing behind Woods early in the season and OBJ later in the year, in addition to Kupp. Despite that, he had over 800 receiving yards and 6 TDs, finishing as WR 35 in fantasy that year.
Jefferson is a deep threat big play WR, so spike weeks have already been part of his appeal, now he could add some additional volume as well. Even if the Rams’ offense or Stafford aren’t as good as they were in 2021, Jefferson should have no problem outplaying this draft position and giving your team usable weeks.
K.J. Osborn – WR 67, ADP 150.3
Though it’s likely that Osborn ends up as the number 3 WR on the team and 4th option behind Hockenson, he’s still being overlooked at this ADP. Osborn was on the field for 75% of the Vikings’ snaps last season, up from 68% the year before. Minnesota had one of the best passing rates in the league last year, and that figures to continue with a veteran QB like Kirk Cousins. He has back-to-back seasons of 50+ catches 650 yards and 5+ TDs. He finished as WR 38th in 2021 and 45th last season in total half-point PPR WR points, and you can get him as WR 67. While Adam Thielen missed 4 games in 2021, he and Justin Jefferson played every single game last season, and Osborn still finished as a Flex play.
Minnesota might even rely on the passing game more as they parted ways with Dalvin Cook this offseason. Cousins also saw his lowest completion percentage, TD% and Yards per attempt since joining the Vikings, so if he gets back to his normal efficiency levels there should be more catches, yards, and TDs for his pass catchers. Even if nothing changes about the Vikings offense or their efficiency, Osborn is a great pick at his ADP, and his value could go up even more.
Darius Slayton– WR 85, ADP 201.5
Slayton was on the Giants’ chopping/trade block all last off-season and wasn’t even active the first game of the season. Despite that, he ended up leading the Giants in receiving yards and was 40th in the NFL among receivers, in only 11 starts. The Giants rewarded him with a 2-year $12M deal with about $4.9M guaranteed and an additional $4.5M in incentives. Even with the production and contract, he’s an easy target in the 17th-18th round and the 5th Giants receiver being drafted.
Isaiah Hodgins and Parris Campbell are going around 175 and are projected starters as well, but Jalin Hyatt and Wan’Dale Robinson are also both going ahead of Slayton. Robinson might not even be ready to start the season. Potentially Hodgins or Campbell end up with more fantasy points, but Slayton could be the top option this year. He’s also likely a better in best ball type of player as he’s always had a deep threat element to his game. So if the Giants do end up throwing more and attacking downfield, Slayton is the guy who could have a couple of random 20+ point spike weeks, as well as a couple of solid 10-15 point usable games.
Robert Woods – WR 86, ADP 203.7
The Texans went out and made a lot of WR additions this offseason as they look to reshape their offense under a new staff. Most of these were relatively minor moves, but Robert Woods stands out as different with the team giving him $10M guaranteed over 2 years and a $15.25M total. They essentially guaranteed 2/3 of his contract, which is a pretty strong indicator that they believe he will be on the field for them.
Despite this signal Woods is going over 70 spots past Nico Collins and 20 spots past John Metchie. That’s a pretty big gap considering that Woods has a fair chance to end up being the most productive WR on this team. Yes Woods is coming off his worst season and is 31 years old, but he’s now 2 years removed from his knee injury and the Titans passing offense was pretty bad last season. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud should be a step up for Woods as a passer, and Woods was likely brought in to be his veteran safety net. This will likely keep Woods on the field and earning targets. It would not be surprising for Woods to have 75+ catches, 850 yards, and 4 TDs this season. That would be roughly on par with Zay Jones season a year ago, who was a similar veteran receiver who signed in the offseason for a starting role, but no one wanted to draft.
While the argument might be that even if Woods does hit that level of production, he probably won’t ever hit big spike weeks. That’s maybe true, but solid above-average plays are important as well. They can fill in for bye weeks, and even end up on multi-million dollar winning line-ups. Last year the winner of the BBMIII had scores from Jacobi Myers 13.9 and Tyquan Thornton at 13.5 to round out his line-up. Keep in mind the baseline you are hoping for at WR is 10 points, so Woods is absolutely capable of producing multiple 10-15 point games for you over the course of the year. He might not be much of a threat to crack 20, but he can give you usable weeks as an 18th-rounder.
Josh Reynolds- WR 103, ADP 215.4
Reynolds is available in every draft in the 18th round, despite the fact that Jameson Williams will miss the first 6 weeks. Reynolds was 2nd in WR snaps for the Lions last season, despite missing 3 games due to injury. He only needs to fend off Marvin Jones and Kaliff Raymond to ensure the 3rd WR role this season. Reynolds has played with Jared Goff since entering the league in 2017, and offers the best combo of size, speed, and youth of the three veterans vying for the role.
The Lions could be a top 10 passing offense this season again, and you can get their number 3 receiver who’s shown some spike week potential before for free in the 18th round. On top of that Williams missing the first 6 weeks creates even more opportunity for Reynolds to have a functional role, and some big weeks early in the season. Those could be the difference between you advancing to the playoffs or not. I think if you are either drafting Williams or taking a couple receivers with Weeks 5 or 6 bye weeks, Reynolds is even more attractive as an option. Even if that’s not the case, Williams could do enough as the Lions 3rd receiver.
Check out the OVERVALUED receivers 2-part article here: Part 1 – TOP 100 | Part 2 – 101+
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