The path to mastering fantasy football drafts and winning fantasy titles is a long and arduous one. Championships can be won and lost in a variety of ways, but no matter your draft strategy of choice, assessing position and player value continues to be the optimal way to prepare for drafts and find gems to help round out your roster.
Quarterback is deep, running back is thin and wide receiver is arguably somewhere in between. However, like any position, there are plenty of savory value buys to be had.
Using current ADP (Average Draft Position) results, let’s pinpoint when and where you can find some of the top values at the wide receiver position in 2014 fantasy drafts:
Andre Johnson (Houston Texans) ADP – Round 4.11
Yes, Johnson has a weak quarterback, is going to be 33 and is threatening to holdout. But he’s going to play, Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t quite as hopeless as Case Keenum, and Johnson didn’t show his age in 2013. In fact, the guy put up his third career 1,400+ yard season on 109 receptions.
I’m sure he’ll hit a wall eventually, but as long as he’s Houston’s #1 weapon in the passing game — and healthy — I doubt it will happen in 2014. The concerns are valid, to be sure, but do they make Johnson just the 19th best fantasy receiving option? Absolutely not. He deserves more love than that.
DeSean Jackson (Washington Redskins) ADP – Round 5.5
Jackson moving from Philly to D.C. appears to be a negative on the surface, as he’ll be catching balls from RG3 instead of a much more stable QB in Nick Foles. But he’s still D-Jax, and he can still fly.
He’s also coming off a ridiculous career year that saw him finally turn into the player everyone thought he could become. That translated into 82 receptions, over 1,300 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. That made him fantasy’s 10th best receiver… yet now he’s the 22nd receiver coming off the board? Think there’s some value there? Uh huh.
Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints) ADP – Round 7.2
Colston isn’t the burner that Jackson is and he’s never been as productive as Johnson from a volume standpoint. And make no mistake; he won’t suddenly become elite in 2014 either. The Saints do a great job of getting everyone involved, while Jimmy Graham is the unquestioned go-to red zone target.
With that being said, there is real WR2 upside and a ton of draft day value here. Despite being a little banged up in 2013, Colston still put up 943 yards and five scores off of 75 catches. He even missed a game as well.
The talent around him is getting younger, but a healthy Colston is still in store for a solid role. He was fantasy’s #27 receiver during a down year in 2013 and is now being drafted as the #30 receiver. The value is about right if you’re basing your decision solely on last year’s stats — but he should produce better in 2014.
Eric Decker (New York Jets) ADP – Round 8.6
There’s no denying the obvious drop off from Peyton Manning to Geno Smith/Michael Vick. There’s also no denying Decker’s solid talent and being the top upside target with the Jets. His scenery has changed, but Decker has an even bigger role in New York and likewise no longer has to compete for targets with Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas.
There is some downside here, but Decker was the #9 receiver a year ago and is now being drafted as the 36th. His value should at least find a nice middle ground in between those two extremes. If Decker can even barely crack the top-25 in 2014, he’s going to be a major fantasy steal.
Danny Amendola (New England Patriots) ADP – Round 10.10
Last, but certainly not least, is the seemingly forever injury-riddled Amendola. The injury risk was very real going into last year, but we did see right off the bat in week one that Amendola had the talent to be a Wes Welker clone (10 catches). Injury prevented it from happening, however, and it was Julian Edelman (not Amendola) that mastered the slot on the way to a top-20 finish in 2014.
There’s opportunity for a second chance in New England, as a healthy Amendola should still be a week one starter and could wind up being a huge steal in fantasy drafts. Fear is your greatest asset — everyone is scared of him now, so the value is insane in the 10th round or later. That means you could land Amendola as a mere bench option as the 47th selected fantasy receiver. If he can stay on the field, he’s sure to return substantial value to risk-taking owners in 2014.