Fantasy Football Absurdity Check: Back End Backup Wide Receivers

It’s August, which means that it’s time to look closely at fantasy football drafts. Evan Hoovler has your auction strategy covered, but it’s time to figure out the time-honored tradition of snake drafts: exploiting ADP to your advantage. Below you will find the second of a four-part series. These “back end backup” players who could make a huge difference for your fantasy football leagues.  

For the purpose of this series, I defined a “back end backup” as a player whose positional ADP is outside 1.5 times that of the number of starters in a 1QB/2RB/3WR/1TE league. Assuming a 12-team league, that means that these players are outside the top-54 at wide receiver. By ADP, these guys aren’t priority backups for most people. However, finding room for them on your roster could be the difference between winning and losing. Between hoisting the trophy at the end of the season or being the guy who has to accept a weird and disproportionate punishment in the hopes that Matthew Berry retweets your thirsty post about your fantasy football league.  

We’ve finished with our quarterbacks and running backs, so it’s time to move on to the wide receivers. These guys are varied. There are two sophomores, and a couple of journeymen. However, they are all shoo-ins to outpace their average draft position and could be total steals in your fantasy football drafts.

Average Draft Position (ADP) is from FantasyPros aggregate data, so if you quibble with these, don’t @ me, @ them. And by them, I mean the fantasy football community writ large, because they did this to you. 

Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears, WR56, 152 overall

Anthony Miller quietly was #2 among rookie wide receivers in touchdowns last season, and he did it with only one shoulder. The injury only cost Miller one game last season but necessitated surgery in the offseason. All reports are that Miller should be ready to go come the regular season. The Bears added Riley Ridley, but he serves a different role, and he’s markedly worse than Anthony Miller, so he shouldn’t take targets from Miller. However, Trey Burton is recovering from a core muscle surgery that doesn’t carry quite as rosy an outlook for the start of the season, which means more targets for Miller. Miller was extraordinarily productive in just 54 targets.

Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys, WR57, 164 overall

Somehow, Michael Gallup’s expert consensus rank (WR46) is far higher than his ADP (WR57). Just another instance of the fantasy football community thinking that they are smarter than the consensus on something. Let me tell you: they’re not. Michael Gallup was one of my fantasy football sleepers last season, so I have to admit that I am genuinely biased towards a player that I thought would have a big rookie season.

Gallup struggled mightily without Amari Cooper but garnered plenty of attention after Cooper arrived. He had at least six targets in seven-of-nine games with Amari. He failed to convert these in a major way, but the opportunity exists. Not only did he have six targets in seven-of-nine games with Cooper, he also had more air yards than Cooper in four of the nine games they played together as well. He’s literally free and has as much upside as anyone in that range.

Donte Moncrief, Pittsburgh Steelers, WR58, 165 overall

Lean into the uncertainty in the WR2 position in Pittsburgh, as the consternation over who will take over the #2 role is leading to some serious values on draft day for the would-be fillers of that position. Preseason has everyone buzzing over James Washington, but for my money, the more experienced Moncrief should absorb a good number of the 200 missing targets in Pittsburgh. Moncrief is a veteran receiver who never outplayed the quarterback throwing him the football but does rise to the level of his QB. He peaked briefly in 2016, scoring seven touchdowns in nine games and being a top-36 WR before falling to injury. He has a better chance of being that player in Pittsburgh than the 5’10” James Washington, and he’s being taken outside of the normal draft range.

John Brown, Buffalo Bills, WR67, 191 overall

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Cole Beasley and Josh Allen after the first preseason game, but Allen’s skillset fits best with John Brown. Brown ended his 2018 campaign with a good-not-great 715 receiving yards and five touchdowns. However, Brown’s campaign could be described as a tale of two halves. With Joe Flacco, Brown played on a pace for 60 receptions, 1,068 yards, and seven touchdowns. Once Lamar Jackson took over, he absolutely cratered, playing on a 261 yard, two touchdown pace over the last seven games as Jackson dinked, dunked, and ran his way to victory. Now, Brown is once again with a quarterback who matches his skill set and should produce again as a WR3 for fantasy football purposes.

About Jeff Krisko

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