Fantasy Football: 7 Undrafted Wide Receivers to Target, Presented By The Contender
Unlike with the running back position, which we looked at earlier this week, we rarely find wide receivers who come out of nowhere to carry teams single-handedly to fantasy football championships.
There are a few reasons for that. Primarily, it's because we know which players are expected to get peppered with targets in a given season. Those players get drafted in our fantasy leagues. Even injuries to multiple starters don't always throw a receiver from the bottom of the depth chart into a high-touch situation like they can for running backs.
Still, these seven receivers will probably be on your waiver wire after the draft because they aren't being drafted in 12-team PPR leagues, according to FantasyFootballCalculator. Some have the upside (and some have the floor) to give you strong weeks throughout the season on your journey to becoming a 2018 fantasy football champ.
Paul Richardson, Washington
Paul Richardson is headed across the country from Seattle to Washington and will transition from Russell Wilson to Alex Smith. Based on name value, that's a big drop. But Smith was fantastic in Kansas City a year ago. Among 35 quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs, Smith ranked 10th in Passing Success Rate (the percentage of drop backs that increased expected scoring, according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) model). On a per-drop back basis, Smith ranked seventh in Passing NEP.
As for Richardson, he ranked fourth among 85 receivers in Reception NEP per catch in 2017 and ninth in Reception NEP per target. Yes, Richardson is a big-play threat, but Smith's deep-ball passing was on point in 2017, and he led the league in adjusted yards per attempt on passes traveling at least 16 yards downfield.
Aside from slot man Jamison Crowder, no Washington receiver has a grasp on targets. Richardson's field-stretching ability could make him a breakout candidate in 2018, as a result.
Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons
Mohamed Sanu won't be the top receiver for his team -- that honor belongs to Julio Jones -- but he still might be the number-two. Rookie teammate (and first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft) Calvin Ridley is being drafted in the early 11th round, on average, in fantasy drafts. Sanu, of course, does not have an ADP.
In 2017, 60.4% of Sanu's 96 targets led to positive expected points for the Atlanta Falcons, a Target Success Rate that ranked him fourth among 85 receivers with at least 50 targets.
Matt Ryan threw to the slot at the fifth-highest rate in 2017, and that's where Sanu thrives and is expected to live in 2018. Per FootballOutsiders, he was the seventh-most efficient slot receiver compared to his use on the outside.
Sanu, last year's WR29 in PPR formats, shouldn't be forgotten in your fantasy drafts.
Ted Ginn Jr., New Orleans Saints
Similar to Sanu, Ted Ginn Jr. is an overlooked veteran. He also has a new teammate -- Cameron Meredith -- to contend with. In fact, Meredith has the same average draft cost (11th round, 2nd pick) as Ridley does. To complicate things further, the New Orleans Saints also have a rookie in the mix: speedster Tre'Quan Smith.
Meredith, who is returning from ACL surgery, has been dealing with non-related injuries all offseason, giving him fewer reps with his new team than is ideal. Smith produced 48 receiving yards on 27 routes, via ProFootballFocus, in New Orleans' preseason opener. He looks capable.
However, Ginn Jr. still has the deep-play ability. On 26 deep targets last season, the Drew Brees-to-Ted Ginn Jr. combination maintained a quarterback rating of 123. That includes 18.6 yards per attempt and 4 touchdowns.
Ginn Jr., last year's WR34, deserves to be on your radar in case he's the most prepared option to be Brees' number-two pass-catcher opposite Michael Thomas.
Tyrell Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrell Williams has a shot to be fantasy relevant again in 2018. Williams finished as the WR44 in 2017, but the Los Angeles Chargers need to replace the touchdown production from tight end Hunter Henry, who tore his ACL in the offseason.
Don't get it twisted: Williams mustered just one red zone target last year and none from inside the 10. However, the Chargers are losing a combined 23 red zone targets between Henry and Antonio Gates. It's Mike Williams who should take advantage in the red zone more than Tyrell, but Tyrell generated a 113.5 passer rating in 2017, ranking seventh in the NFL.
Tyrell Williams had 23 deep targets in 2017, and those can lead to big plays for your fantasy teams. He was a fringe fantasy option at times in 2017, and he now has a clearer path to build on his 52 targets from last season.
Ryan Grant, Indianapolis Colts
According to FFStatistics, Andrew Luck's WR2 has finished inside the top 50 in PPR scoring just once in his four full seasons. But that was T.Y. Hilton, when Reggie Wayne was the WR1 in 2012. With some talent around him, Luck can certainly support multiple fantasy relevant wide receivers.
Ryan Grant quietly ranked 15th in Reception NEP per target among 85 receivers with at least 50 targets in 2017. His 9.7-yard average depth of target puts him near the bottom of the list for receivers, but that should pair well with Hilton's big-play ability.
Further, Grant is pretty much a shoo-in to be the team's second receiver. If you're buying into Luck's return to form, then Grant should be a name to watch as the season unfolds given his role in what should be in a prolific passing offense.
Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans
Taywan Taylor is a bet on his potential rather than buying low on production.
Taylor's rookie season last year yielded just 28 targets, which he turned into 16 catches, 231 yards, and 1 touchdown. His Target Success Rate of 35.7% ranked 111th among 118 receivers with at least 25 targets. He generated 1.31 yards per route run, via ProFootballFocus, ranking him 70th among the same 118-receiver sample.
We shouldn't get overly worried about that, however. Taylor accounted for 38.6% of Western Kentucky's offense in 2016, a 77th-percentile production rate, via PlayerProfiler. The Tennessee Titans also invested a third-round pick in Taylor, and he has been getting first-team reps this offseason.
Quincy Enunwa, New York Jets
That should allow him to work underneath while Robby Anderson (13.0-yard average depth of target last year and 16.9 in 2016) lifts the lid off the defense (Enunwa's average depth of target in 2016 was only 8.9 yards).
Enunwa finished as the WR46 in 2016, thanks to 58 receptions, 857 yards, and 4 touchdowns on 105 targets. He played 84% of snaps that season, ranking him 22nd at the position. For a receiver-needy team -- both the Jets and possibly your fantasy squad -- Enunwa can produce, thanks to anticipated volume (we project him for 79 targets).