Chris Conley
Fantasy football is not unlike NFL betting in that sleepers and underdogs can often come outta nowhere and save the day. Like Tom Brady, who is neither a wide receiver nor a sleeper fantasy pick but was selected by the New England Patriots with the 199th overall pick in the sixth round of 2000 NFL Draft. With the benefit of hindsight one would never select Brady that late, nor would one pick these wide receivers in the early rounds – which are reserved for the likes of Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., etc. but the following aren’t going until the 10th round in standard fantasy football leagues.
Chris Conley

On the plus side Conley played the most snaps of any Kansas City Chiefs receiver (818) and recorded 45.47 Reception Net Expected Points in 2016 even though he did not score a touchdown. On the downside quarterback Alex Smith ranked second-lowest in intended air yards per attempt in 2016, and the Chief ranked 25th in pass plays (577).
Tyler Lockett

Locket’s 0.71 Reception NEP per target in 2016 placed him behind Seattle Seahawks teammates Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham (0.75 and 0.74 respectively) and matched Antonio Brown’s Reception NEP per target. Locket had just 66 targets overall, but had at least six targets in five of his last six games before breaking his tibia and fibula in week 16.
Zay Jones

Sammy Watkins was dealt away, Jordan Matthews is injured, Anquan Boldin found a higher calling, and Brandon Tate, Walter Powell, and Dezmin Lewis all had only 22 catches last season. all of which opens the door for rookie Zay Jones – who is the all-time NCAA Division I career receptions leader (399) and all-time NCAA Division I single season receptions leader (158) – to potentially become the Buffalo Bills’ top receiver.
Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants 26th-ranked offense in 2016 (they scored 110 fewer points than the previous season and had 25% fewer red zone receiving opportunities) did not prevent Shepard from finishing with 65 catches for 683 yards and eight touchdowns. His output could actually increase this season if, as expected, defenses focus on Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall.
Ted Ginn Jr.

Ginn has become a Saint in receivers’ heaven – also known as New Orleans – presided over by Breesus. While the Cam Newton failed to reach 4000 passing yards in both of Ginn’s stints with the Carolina Panthers, Drew Brees has passed for more than 5,000 yards in four of the last six years. Furthermore, Brandin Cooks, who had 117 targets in 2016, was traded to the Patriots. Ginn is something neither Willie Snead nor Michael Thomas is; “the fastest player on the field,” according to Saints head coach Sean Payton.
Taylor Gabriel

Gabriel had a 1.03 Reception NEP per target among receivers with at least 50 targets last season; better than his Atlanta Falcons teammate Julio Jones or anyone else for that matter – the league’s Reception NEP per target average last season was 0.66. Gabriel sure made the most of that minimum 50 targets he had.

Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

Sidney Rice
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

One of the players who may benefit the most from the arrival of Brett Favre in Minnesota is third year receiver Sidney Rice.  The former second round draft pick has shown flashes of brilliance, but knee injuries in each of his first two seasons have derailed his opportunity for continued success.

He has appeared in 13 games in each of his first two years, only once amassing as many as 82 yards in a game.  In fact, last season his biggest game saw him log just 31 yards.

The selection of Percy Harvin in the first round this past season just muddies the waters even more.  It adds another weapon to a team that already has Bernard Berrian as it’s top receiver, Bobby Wade getting a significant opportunity and possibly the best running back in the game (Adrian Peterson) who requires the offense run through him almost exclusively (not to mention Vishante Shiancoe at tight end).

So, how exactly does Rice benefit from Favre’s arrival?

While Favre will do a lot of handing off of the football, he didn’t sign on with Minnesota to not get his chance to throw the ball downfield.  He’s going to look to make plays.  He’s going to continue to be the cowboy on the field that he has always been, taking chances when he puts the ball in the air hoping that the risk pays off in a big play or a big score.

We’ve seen it time and time again from Favre, and with it has come results.  While we are all quick to write him off, let’s not forgot that he steered the Jets to an 8-3 starts last season before the wheels completely fell off.  Both Jerricho Cotchery & Laverneous Coles had over 70 catches and 850 yards, showing he’s inclined to spread the ball around the field.

In 2007, his last season with the Packers, there were six receivers with at least 30 receptions.  Granted, that team also ignored the running game for the most part, but he’s not one to focus on one receiver and try to force-feed him the ball.  He’s going to spread it around and try to make things happen.

Does that mean that Rice is going to get the opportunity to get 60 catches for over 1,000 yards?  It’s doubtful, though not impossible.

He also has the potential to become a big-time target in the red zone, standing 6′4″.  He’s had 4 touchdowns in each of his first two seasons (of his 46 career receptions, 8 have gone for TD) and is by far the tallest receiver on the team (along with TE Vishante Shiancoe).  That potential is what is going to really help his value.

As for my prediction:

Receiving – 47 receptions, 675 yards, 7 TD

Those are not blow away numbers, nor are they ones that I would want on my active roster from week to week.  With Favre at the helm, however, he could fit in as a great bye week replacement with the potential for more.

What are your thoughts?  How good could Rice be?

By Josh Dhani,

There comes a time in the NFL where there is a player that no one expects to be a star or even make an impact for his team. Countless times, we have seen players who make a difference despite being a drafted late with little expecations.  Guys like Terrell Davis, Terrell Owens, Robert Mathis to name a few.  A guy who could breakout this year is Johnnie Lee Higgins.

Coming out of Texas-El Paso, he was drafted in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He didn’t make an impact in his rookie season and some doubted him because of his size (5’11″ and 185 pounds).

He second season started slow until a 84-yard touchdown in the Raiders’ 24-23 loss to the Buffalo Bills.  Higgins offered a glimmer of what he could do with that explosive play.

He did little the next few weeks, but in Week 12 he had an amazing return for a touchdown in the Raiders 31-10 rout of the Denver Broncos.

Higgins struck again in the 49-26 loss to the New England Patriots with three catches for 66 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown.  In the 27-16 win over the Houston Texans, Higgins had three grabs for 56 yards and one touchdown. In the last game of the season, Higgins had a career-high in catches with six, along with 52 yards and a touchdown.

He finished with 22 catches for 366 yards and four touchdowns last year. He added 842 yards in kick returns, 570 yards in punt returns, and taking three Punt Returns to the house.

So that brings us to what is going to happen this year.  He is entering the magical third year for WRs and should have a solid role with the Raiders.  He can return the ball, he can run, he can catch, he can just about anything you want him to do.  You can’t deny that. Higgins has been making a name for himself and I think he already has in Oakland. Can he make it bigger? Can he be Mr. Hot-Shot? We’ll see next year.

So when you watch the Raiders play, NFL fans and fantasy football players, watch out for Johnnie Lee Higgins next year.

Strong Wide Receiver Plays

20 October 2008

San Diego has been terrible against the pass this season allowing 255.5 yards per game and 9 TDs.  They have officially joined the ranks of Defenses you follow to look for solid QB and WR play each week.  Last week Trent Edwards (25 of 30 for 261 yards, TD) and Lee Evans (8 catches for 89 yards, TD) were the latest to take advantage of them.  Next week they face the Saints minus Reggie Bush.  I expect Jeremy Shockey to pick up some of the slack, but a player I look to have a strong game is Lance Moore.  Moore has 32 receptions for 341 yards, and 2 TDs.  He’s second on the Saints in receptions, trailing Bush’s 42.  With Bush out look for Moore to see more action underneath.  Moore is also third in receiving yards behind Bush (366) and Devery Henderson (465), who I also endorse over the next few weeks.  Coming out of New Orleans’ Week 9 Bye they face Atlanta (231.7 ypg, 10 TDS), who is in the bottom third in Pass D, and Kansas City (195 ypg, 5 TDs), who is just plain bad.  Moore should have a nice string of games until Bush is back.

DeSean Jackson is another player I think will have a big Week 8.  He’s coming out of a bye and facing the aforementioned Falcons.  Two factors working in Jackson’s favor.  After that he faces lowly Seattle, who is allowing 242.2 ypg and 10 TDs making DeSean a nice play for the next two weeks.

I’m going to preface this by stating that in this day and age there really are no “sleepers” since there is so much coverage that a fourth string WR can’t make a one-handed grab in practice without the world knowing about it.  That said, here is a list of WRs that I feel will exceed expectations this season.

Anthony Gonzalez – OK, he’s not a sleeper to most fantasy football fans, but I see Anthony Gonzalez leapfrogging a lot of WRs that will be picked in front of him.  With Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, and Dallas Clark demanding attention, Gonzalez will be the posion most defenses will pick.

Nate Burleson – Nate had a rough start to his Seattle Seahawk career.  He turned it on down the stretch last year though grabbing five TDs in the last five weeks.  He meshed well with Hasselbeck, and should be his go-to-guy this year.

Sidney Rice – I thought Rice was decent at times last year.  His numbers would have been even better if his QB (T-Jack) could have hit him when he was open.  With Bernard Berrian working the deep routes and Bobby Wade working the slot, Rice could find himself with plenty of opportunities.  I like his size (6’4″) in the red zone.

Bryant Johnson – Bryant is going from Third Fiddle to First Fiddle in San Francisco.  He’s also moving to a Mike Martz offense.  With Isaac Bruce taking some of the pressure off, he should have a solid year by the Bay.

Ted Ginn, Jr.  – If his small frame can avoid big hits, he could be a nice surprise for fantasy owners.  He’s super quick and has big game ability.  He just needs to stay focused.  He should be playing from behind quite a bit increasing his opportunties. 

Deeper Sleepers
James Hardy
– Dude is 6’7′.  He should be money in the goal line for the Bills.
Devin Hester – Is this the year he does better at WR than KR since he’ll be avoided at all costs in the return game?
Jacoby Jones – Has the build (6’2″, 210 lbs).  Does he have the game?
Troy Williamson – Will he finally produce or will he just produce more drops?
Devard Darling – Will the move from Baltimore pay off like Priest Holmes?  Ha.  Could be decent though.
Robert Meachem – Flopped as a Rookie.  Will he show strides in Year 2?
Chad Jackson – Big and fast and plays for Tom Brady.  Good combo.
DeSean Jackson – Rookie for Philly could have solid Freshman Year.
Limas Sweed – Big Red Zone target for Big Ben.
Devin Thomas/Malcolm Kelly – Washington’s Rookie Wideouts could be produce.  Kelly bigger red zone threat.

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