Throw Your Fantasy Football to These Underdog Receivers

Aug 23, 2017

Chris Conley
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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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